My eldest son Gabriel turned six last weekend and we had lovely party for him. We had eighteen children in total, a mix of boys and girls aged between five and six – plus my four-year-old, Tom. Here are some fun ideas from our day that you might find useful when planning your own children’s party!
Entertainment and Games
This year, for the first time, we decided to book a children’s entertainer. For previous parties we have always provided the games ourselves, but by last year this was beginning to feel a little difficult – my activities ran out very quickly and there were lots of moments when the party drifted and had no focus. At Winter birthday parties, when the action is usually confined indoors, I think it’s really important to keep the children focused on specific activities – especially when they are aged 5 and over – otherwise things can get a little crazy!
We’ve been to a few parties with children’s entertainers and I really fancied the idea of an easier time. After a bit of internet searching I chanced upon a local entertainer, Mr Rainbow, who has been doing children’s parties for many years. It looked like the just the right mix of traditional party games, with a bit of magic and puppetry thrown in. We were delighted that he had availability and booked him in about 6 weeks before our chosen weekend.
On the day, we were totally blown away by the show. We had booked him for the whole two hour party, and all I had to worry about was decorating the room and laying the lunch out. All eighteen children were completely captivated by the show – especially the really clever little magic tricks. I was delighted with the traditional Punch and Judy Show – such a classic and I think I enjoyed it as much as the children! It was so simple, yet so good and just goes to prove that children still love proper old-school fun of the best kind. There was even time for pass-the-parcel and musical statues.
Decoration and Theme
This year we decided not to go for a specific theme (previously we have done Space and Knights and Dragons parties) but to go for a simple palette of rainbow colours. I had a lucky find in Sainsbury’s with lots of reduced party plates, napkins and bunting with a lovely rainbow print and everything else led on from there.
We strung the bunting up around the room and tied up some bunches of balloons.
As our entertainer came with his own props the main decorative focus was the lunch table. We had three long tables in a row, which I covered with bright red paper tablecloths. On this were arranged the rainbow plates and some spotty paper cups. To give the tables some height and focus, I arranged three cardboard cake stands (another great find from Sainsbury’s) along the table. To complete the fun theme, I scattered silver star confetti over the tablecloth. The food was arranged on a combination of green paper plates and disposable foil platters. The spotty cups, tablecloths and extra plates all came from Wilkinson’s, which is the perfect place for picking up inexpensive party supplies.
I love traditional children’s party food and this year we had all the old favourites, along with a few new ideas.
For savouries we had three loaves of bread’s worth of sandwiches – ham, marmite and cheese spread, plus cocktail sausages, sausage rolls and mini scotch eggs. I ordered all the party nibbles from Tesco, as their party food is great value. I can never resist a cheese and pineapple hedgehog, and I made four of these to go along the tables. It took forever to get these assembled, but they’re a retro essential and I can’t do without them. I used half a grapefruit wrapped foil for the base. We also had plenty of crisps. I didn’t bother with the cucumber and carrot sticks this year as they take ages and no-one ever eats them!
For the sweet things we had my Magic Wand Biscuits, plus an assortment of Party Rings and chocolate fingers. My mum kindly made some fun rainbow cupcakes, which looked lovely on the top of the stands. I also did some grapes and strawberries.
I was terrified there wouldn’t be enough food, but in the end there was masses, leaving plenty for the grown-ups to pick over. Always better to have a bit too much than not enough – no party host wants to ration the cocktail sausages!
Gabriel had a look through the excellent, Birthday Cakes for Kids by Annie Rigg, and chose the Snakes and Ladders cake. It looked relatively simple and made a change from our usual chocolate cakes.
It was a simple vanilla sponge covered with butter cream, followed by rolled fondant icing. The only change I made to Annie’s recipe is that I decided to split my cake in half and fill the middle with raspberry jam. I’m glad I did this as it helped to keep it moist and added extra flavour.
I did the decoration over two days and it really was very simple and effective. The squares were cut out from more fondant icing, which I bought ready-coloured. I used an icing pen for the numbers and ladders, and the boys loved arranging the jelly snakes on top! I think the snakes were supposed to just be laid on top, but I secured them with a little butter cream so it would survive the car journey to our venue. Ideally, I would have had a better base for my cake but I always forget to buy one!
This year I made little bags of sweets for the children to take home in little paper bags. I ordered these lovely stickers from Half Pint Home to seal the bags up with. Making these was my favourite bit, although I ate a few too many sweets along the way…
As we invited lots of children, having the party at home was a definite no-no. We booked a very reasonable village hall, located just outside Ely, which we have used before. It’s a lovely big room, with an excellent kitchen that has a hatch to the main room. Although we spent more than previous years by having a venue and an entertainer it was worth every penny. My son had a very special day and he’ll always remember it. Next year I’m sure he’ll want to do something more grown up, so I’m glad we had one last big, fun, traditional party with lots of children.