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Children's Birthday Parties

15 December 2008

I mentioned last week (here) that we had a garden party for Roxy's 5th birthday and I thought I'd share some more photos and ideas with you. For decorations I made fabulous tissue paper pom poms from Martha Stewart, via my friend Nathalie (the children's party queen), and paper doilies. The pom poms are so easy to make and they look fantastic. The doily decorations idea came from Real Living magazine. If I was decorating for a more swanky affair I would have sewn the doilies together like Real Living suggests, but instead Roxy and I made them together using my trusty stapler. I used the decorations both inside and outside, together with white butterflies which I hung from the umbrella. The food tables were covered with pieces of patterned oil cloth and there were festive straws and cocktail umbrellas in the drink cups.

The food I made included brown rice sushi and nigiri, ham sandwiches on turkish bread, watermelon and grapes, plain popcorn, fairy bread (cut in the shape of flowers with a smartie in the centre), frozen bananas and ice cream sandwiches. You can see my directions for making frozen bananas here. The idea for the ice cream sandwiches came from an old Donna Hay magazine - they are a big hit and have always been on the menu at Roxy's parties. They are easy to make and both kids and adults seem to love them. I use Chocolate Wheaten biscuits, but they'd be delicious with choc chip cookies, as long as they aren't soft or crumbly. All you do is scoop the slightly softened ice cream on top of a biscuit and then put another biscuit on top, squishing it down. With a knife scrape away any excess ice cream from the sides.

I bought the birthday cake from Babycakes. I am confident cooking practically anything except for cakes. I just don't have the knack and always seem to overcook them. Babycakes make the most delicious creations ever. Their signature cake, Strawberry Mud cake with Strawberry ganache, is to die for. Roxy wanted chocolate cake so I could only suggest Strawberry so many times before I agreed... mind you, their chocolate cake is the best I've ever tasted, and it was Roxy's party after all! To decorate it I made a 5 the same size as the cake on my computer, printed it out and made a stencil. The night before the party I placed the stencil over the cake and sprinkled icing sugar through a sieve onto the cake. When I removed the stencil there was a big white 5 on the cake, over which I wrote 'Roxy' in smarties. Unfortunately we had a power failure for a few hours early the next morning... the cake sweated and absorbed most of the '5'. The end result was a barely there, spotty looking disaster. Oh well...

My big tip for kid's parties is: get some help! For the last 2 years I have enlisted the help of the teenage daughters of a friend. They have been fantastic and the children love 'the big girls'. Last year Roxy had a fairy party and the little girls thought Emma and Laura were real fairies. Too sweet. Emma and Laura run the games and give out prizes, read stories, and generally entertain the kids. Everyone enjoys themselves, the girls earn some money, and it takes some pressure off me.

I did face painting for the children (Roxy wanted to be a 'snowflake fairy') using the most fabulous kit by Klutz - see it here. The kit includes a book of easy to follow step-by-step instructions with great illustrations and photos. Especially impressive and easy are rainbows created using a sponge provided in the kit. It's really not as hard as you might think and it's a sure fire hit with the kids. I bought the Klutz kit from Borders in Sydney.

For party favours I bought fruit rainbows from Sticky. They are fantastic - they're quite big, they look great, taste sensational and are made from 100% fruit with no additives, preservatives, colours, sulphide... nothing but fruit. Roxy made little thank you notes which we attached to the rainbows with mini pegs.

All in all the children had a great afternoon, and Roxy had a ball. (She doesn't look too happy in the photos, but she gets a bit shy when anyone else takes her photo). It was a long day - after being up at the crack of dawn, the last guests left after 9pm - and we all slept well that night. I've been told by friends who've been there done that, that the size of the parties generally decrease after 5. I do love organising everything and entertaining people at home, but that sounds good to me!