If you have a birthday at Christmas it seems fun to have a party celebration at the half year. Midsummer is a great time for an afternoon party in the sun.
This half year party celebrated three and a half years. Parents mainly came too and the friends there were a diverse mix of neighbours and friends from quite a wide distance and there was quite a wide age range of children. I was a bit worried that it wouldn't all gel together, but it was a gloriously hot afternoon and everyone seemed very relaxed. I did elderflower cordiale made with elderflowers from the garden to drink and also pimms.
When i kicked off the idea of a party I had no money and we had a game that was animals split into two halves of a jigsaw. As this fitted the half birthday idea and worked quite well but i had intended to do more with the animal theme but then i suddenly got massively busy jus before the party and so the animal theme got a bit lost in the hurry just to get everything together. I was quite pleased by that in the end- themes can be a bit restricting and this party had a diverse range of guests so it worked better being a bit more relaxed.
Things I learned
Get help! It's impossible to entertain children pour drinks, take coats, distribute food, sort games, unwrap presents etc all at once. I had some great help but even still discovered lots of food and drink still in the fridge at the end of the do. I didn't really brief them properly enough.
Facepainting is fun even if you're as old as five or six.
I was impressed with how well the face painter went down. I didn't have a magician because of expense and because my three year old and her friend had been scared of one at another party. But I was worried that the boys might be bored by make up. In fact, as I winced as I took the cash out to pay for the facepainter I had a fantasy about me doing it as a job- how hard could it be?
Just a few minutes after the facepainter arrived I revised my ideas. She transformed little faces into every animal they wanted in minutes and managed to get them to sit perfectly still as well. Even swaggering seven year olds were keen to get one. All the little girls loved it and some of the mummies even had their shoulders done with birds and butterflies too.
I got some animal masks for little ones who were too scared to get animal faces painted on their faces.
Fun ways to play with food.
I've very precise memories of the effort my mother made for party food when I was a child: there was a humpty dumpty cake - humpty was a goose egg from the local farm- and boats made out of bridge rolls and squares of processed cheese. Processed cheese was about the only processed thing I think I ever ate when I was a child. We once complimented my mother on her gingerbread biscuits saying they were 'almost as good as shop- bought'. So processed cheese sails on boats was a big treat. In honour of the memory I tried to make some processsed cheesed boats but the sails sagged to half mast and I'd forgotten how disgusting cheese squares taste- so I gave up.
Noughts and crosses cookies to play while waiting for face paintingThe weapon of choice for a kiddie partymaker is the icing syringe.
Right :Edible jewellery- marshmallows, apricots and all sorts on licorice bootlaces.
Left: This didn't work as well as I hoped but it is a good idea -it's jelly in a huge bowl set in colourful layers at an angle so that it looks tipped up all the time. I didn't take enough time setting the layers carefully enough but it looked better than in the picture. I put in some jelly snake sweets as well. But most children don;t like the texture of jelly, in my experience.
There were some toddlers there, and some with allergies, so I did some sensible food too. This came from an Annabel Karmel book. They're supposed to look like ants on sticks. I'm not sure about that, but they tasted very good. They're philadelphia, celery and raisins.
All the sandwiches were cut into different shapes with cookie cutters and the shape helped make it clear which were which. Cutting shapes in sandwiches is incredibly wasteful on bread- or would have been had we not had the off-cuts for lunch!
These were half good for you- fruit dipped in chocolate.
I chalked the donkey on our blackboard and we had a paper tail. All the older children enjoyed trying to cheat by looking under the blindfold.
Jumping for sweets hanging from the washing line.
A box for prizes with a hole in the top- so it's a lucky draw. Well, I sort of helped it a bit, so that the boys got cars and the girls got pink stuff and the toddlers didn't get the stuff to poke their eyes out- how sexist and ageist of me.
A treasure hunt - just little sweets and silver change and knick-knacks in silver foil at levels that all ages could find. Finders keepers.
Balloons. I love balloons - for the front door, for the garden. I love helium balloons - so magical- but this time I tried out sticks. They worked quite well in terms of looking like helium balloons stuck to the fence - and the children enjoyed carrying them away.
Music for adults and music for children. The children played musical bumps, musical statues and pass the parcel. I made the parcel with magazine pages and put sweets in each layer so that everyone was a little winner. The children enjoyed the games and they came and asked for them to be repeated.
All parties end with party bags. I've friends who've suggested that this is an avaricious, modern habit but I remember having party bags at my party aged about five. They included little red telephone books and rubber balls. These party bags weren't that interesting. I think there might be more creative and less expensive things to do but I was pleased that I'd lined them up by the door or I might have forgotten to give them out.
Clearing up was the bad bit. It seemed to go on and on!