Monday, December 6, 2010

A Fuchsia Pinata Party

If I could have conveniently timed my babies I would not have had one at the end of November (too close to Christmas) and end of March (bad timing in terms of school start resulting in him repeating 3 year old kindergarten).  But of course you can't plan these things.  At least I couldn't.   And for me the Christmas season can't really start until we get my daughter's birthday done and dusted.    I thought it would be pretty straightforward to do her 8th birthday party at home this year. 

I didn't count on having the flu at the same time.  Which made everything take 10 times longer to organise.  And whilst I usually forget something critical (like the date on the invitations or buying lemonade) this year it went off without a hitch. 

A tip if you are planning a party at home: don't.  Seriously, this is what I have learned over years of these events.    You can read and then make an informed decision!

(I am getting good use out of my pink tablecloth. 
This is the one I used for my Family Argument Lunch a few weeks back.)

First off, the games.  

Rule no 1: a game you spend ages preparing for takes 5 minutes to happen. Blink and it is over.   Even if you stretch out the pass the parcel to Lady Gaga for as long as you can, it still only takes 7 minutes.   Simple arithmetic tells you that if you have an hour to fill in, that is a LOT of party games (although technically musical statues and musical bobs are two different games, aren't they?)   This means that you need some activity which  takes up lots of time.  See Rule no 5 below. 

Rule no 2: every one's a winner.   So in pass the parcel, which in my youth was fiercely competitive because there was only one prize, is now a bit of yawn because there is a gift in every layer.

Rule no 3: 8 is a hard age.  They are not little girls and not into fairies and glitter.  But they are too young still for many types of parties.  Still, a couple of the guests turned down the offer of a balloon on departure.  Too  childish, I guess.  

Rule no 4: treasure hunts take 3 minutes and consist of Lord of the Flies style carnivorous screeching around the house looking for the little hidden packages.  See rule 1 above.  I think my treasure maps took maybe 20 times longer to make than the game took...

Rule no 5: everyone loves a game which involves bashing something half to death with a stick.  In this case, a flower shaped pinata.  These girls must have some stress going on in their lives, because the pleasure they took in beating this thing to a pulp was a sight to see.  Even when all the lollies inside had spilled out, they kept hitting and hitting until it was in tiny pieces.

(I strung up leaves and lamps from the maple trees. This is also where the pinata massacre occurred)

Now to the all important food.

Rule no 1: the food you have proudly taken ages to prepare will be of least interest to the party goers.  This year my meringues went weird (I blame the humidity) so I crushed them, mixed with strawberries and cream and made mini Eton Messes in shot glasses. They were amazing.  And no one ate them. 

Rule no 2:  simple and sugary is best.    Caramel popcorn (see above image) is universally loved.  And at the other end of the spectrum, chopped up watermelon is always gobbled up. 

Rule no 3: don't bother with the elaborate cake.  In my time I have made a Miffy, a giant cupcake, an echidna, an Ariel mermaid on a sea bed and a dinosaur.   This year I went round and simple (from Feast by Nigella Lawson).

Rule no 4: there is always one girl who complains there is not enough food and another one who eats nothing at all. 

Rule no 5:  serve frankfurters.  I know that these are barely food but how they love them. 

Finally.... have the party in the late afternoon so you can pass out conveniently when it finishes without having to get through the rest of the day.....


Makeminemidcentury said...

Jane, you're gorgeous and so funny and so correct.

I have a five-year-old's and a then a six-year-old's birthday, six days apart in January, and I'm dreading them both! I'm completely paralysed as to what to do for them, because until now, they've been too young to realise they've never had a party!

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Oh Jane,
That really took me back. Everything that you said is so true....there is no pleasing everyone and, 'nice' food is definitely not needed.....bring on the frankfurters !! Loved the bashing the life out of the pinata and the Eton mess in the shot glasses that they didn't touch....that is so typical.
Anyway, you put on a great party and, I'm sure that all of your little 8 year olds had a great time. You can give yourself a big pat on the back and have a lay down in a darkened room !! XXXX

Raina Cox said...

I shall print this out for future reference.

My nearly 4-year-old has a New Year's Day birthday which will be fun for her in about 15 years.

Right now, I couldn't even bribe a parent to bring their bairn to party on that date.

P.S. You're a good Mum.

Lee said...

Jane, I think you deserve a medal for making through the party! Everything looked gorgeous and I bet your daughter absolutely loved having the party at home - even though it obviously entailed a significant amount of labour on your behalf.

brismod said...

You are so brave. Those rules are hilarious too. And I would've eaten the Eton Messes if I had been invited. xx

Millie said...

If I asked the 5 sons to recall any of their childhood birthday party's, other than remembering that their Mother was positively demented with the preparations at the time, I reckon the silence would be deafening. Would I do it all over again - YOU BET!
Millie ^_^

Just Martha said...

So true Jane so true!! I did a treasure hunt/ scavenger hunt for Miss T when she was 10 and despite it covering 1 km and took me a good 2 hours to prepare with all the clues and hiding stuff, it was over in 15 minutes. Phew!!! tough crowd...

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Ah yes they're definitely the toughest critics those 5-6-7-8-9 year olds. I was laughing and nodding my head at everything you said Jane. I was almost relieved when my 7 year old asked if this years party could be at The Craft House, although I did miss the old pass the parcel.

Heidi said...

What a beautiful party!

Your description of the pinata made me laugh. My son's 4th Birthday party was our first experience of one. It was like a scene out of "Lord of the Flies" with a frenzied attack - my son leading the way shouting "rip its head off" They shredded it into little pieces. I've never seen such violence in 4 year olds before.

I only put fruit out for the other mum's so that I don't look bad for the sugar. It's usually untouched.

Emma said...

The lanterns in the maples are divine and the table setting looks so beautiful. Happy Birthday to your daughter. x

Mise said...

It's all ahead of me. Eldest will be 6 soon and has started muttering about having friends around. I will reread this post every day till then. I have Meredith's sleepover cake stashed away in the back of my mind as an easy-peasy one to make. Would love to see a post about those past cake creations of yours, if you took photos back then...?

Charlotta Ward said...

Looks fabulous and sounds like it was a success, despite taking out the stress on the pinjata and passing up the balloons..! :)

x Charlotta

Amanda said...

Great post - I can see the truth in all of your hints and tips. The pink table looked wonderful! x

24 Corners said...

For my four year old nephews birthday party last year I spent hours creating a "pin the tail on the lion" because he requested a lion picture...and once at the party, he looked at it for two seconds, went on his merry way and only a handful of two year olds even bothered to play the game. Needless to say, I was nodding in agreement to all of your "rules" Jane...lessons learned!
You did a fabulous job by the time, have it all be for all the moms, and send the kids off to the pizza parlor with a few baby-sitters! ;)
xo J~

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