My little one turned ten recently (have I mentioned that yet?!) and I am sat here with a well deserved G&T after the whirlwind of throwing yet another birthday party. Over the years I have been asked lots – accompanied by looks of horror – about why I always choose to throw birthday parties at home, well put simply, it’s because I’m a single parent. When my child was little it was nigh on impossible to look after a little one and run everything needed (to throw a party) to a hall so that’s why I threw them at home instead, and it’s kind of stuck. It’s also cheaper than hiring somewhere but that’s not so much of a driver as parties can be just as expensive at home too (as I learnt those years when I went a bit OTT!). So, yup, it’s safe to say that over the last decade I’ve honed my party throwing skills and have come a long way from madly raiding the local Co-Op for a chocolate cake as I did for Moo’s first birthday! So, I thought I’d share some of what I have learnt along the way…
I first threw a kids’ party when Moo was aged three and almost buckled under the pressure when I ended up with a house full of people and a load of tiny eyes looking up at me expectantly. It was at that moment I naively realised that I had to actually ‘do’ something and couldn’t just get away with leaving them to it. Talk about a sweaty top lip. Not helped by my daughter’s childminder – an absolute whizz with kids, obvs – pissing herself in the corner at my ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look! Plus the music temporarily stopped working and so I had to manically improvise. So my top tip would have to be: have a plan B, C and possibly D up your sleeve!
Also, be aware that children’s games can actually go quite quickly so have plenty in mind as two hours (the typical window for a children’s party, I’ve found) can seem like a looong time when you’ve got a group of children and adults looking up at you with ‘over to you‘ stamped on their faces! At that age, we played the typical pass the parcel, musical bumps/chairs etc. and the children loved it. Plus, these games are super cheap as you only need to raid Poundland for some cheap prizes/sweets. I spent hardly any money that year and had no theme as, to be fair, children that age are so easily pleased! We ended the party with a piñata and it was the first and last time I used one as it was impossible to break it without us ultimately ripping a hole into it to start the kids off. Children that age just don’t have the strength for it and the poor sod holding it took a bit of a beating too lol!
My favourite bit was the treasure chest cake I ‘made’. To be fair, I had never attempted to make a birthday cake at that point so I left the actual baking to Asda lol! I literally then plonked the rectangle chocolate cake on one of those tacky gold cake boards, grabbed a chopping board which I wrapped in tin foil to act as the ‘lid’ which I then covered (top only) with piped chocolate frosting and secured the ‘lid’ in place with metal skewers. I then literally draped some costume pearls across the cake for treasure and scattered gold chocolate coins and jelly sweets all over it. I finally secured a jelly sweet that roughly resembled a ‘key lock’ to the base of the cake and there was my treasure chest!