Since having my kids we’ve clocked up 18 birthday parties between the pair.
Only a handful of those involved professional entertainers and hall hire. Amber’s sixth party is note-worthy.We shared the party with her class twin, a girl born on the same day. We chose a cheer-leader theme. The entertainer gave us such a bizarre experience that when we detailed our grievances her booker gave us a full refund. She’d had them put on a show staged for the final 5 minutes when parents returned to the hall for collection. They were met by dwarves wearing David Cameron and Gordon Brown masks performing a can-can. It looked so wrong. I’ve kept the our 4 page email complaint for it catalogues the shortfalls better than I am doing here and it makes for a hilarious read. I keep it in Amber’s baby journal – she’ll especially enjoy it if she becomes a mum herself. The booker apologised profusely and said I described a party package she could not recognise! A day later she’d unraveled the mystery. The entertainer we’d hired was double booked so the girl asked her friend to stand in for her. A woman who normally catered for stags and hens.
Since then I’ve opted for home parties – simple, nostalgic and cheaper by a long shot. It’s also a very creative process and one I can involve the kids in too. In May I’ll have my son’s birthday and Holy Communion just a day apart. The festival tent will go up in the garden with meters of bunting that seems to expand with the kids. That’s my blank canvas and I’ll work from there. I have yet to settle on a theme. We don’t have as many options with my daughter’s February date though minutes after dropping the guests home from her tenth party last year we started planning what we’d do for the eleventh. We had to trump shopping and sipping. As her birthday this year fell on Pancake Tuesday and the day before the Lenten fast we decided on something around chocolate indulgence – a sweetie send-off. Those girls would be so sugared up they wouldn’t want to touch the stuff for at least 40 days.
Last year it was canvas shopping bags, this year chefs hats. With fabric pens, flowers, diamond beading the girls set about creating bespoke caps which after decorating they chose to wear for most of the party. We had blind chocolate tasting. The rhubarb and vanilla was pleasant but difficult to name. The mango, lime and chilli made no sense at all. Why would you do that to chocolate! There’s a skill to oreo stacking unlike our chocolate bingo game that depends on your call sheet.
Things got a little raucous with the flan decorating. With squirty cream, icing bags and a load of toppings, it was inevitable things were going to get messy. After over-working their cakes they were rendered inedible so someone suggested a face dive. Pony tails held back, glasses removed and the diving commenced. The girls took pictures of their cake faces. Four and a half hours later carriages were called. Oh we somehow managed to squeeze in a chocolate fondue and pancake flipping. The girls were sent home with toothbrushes in their party bag and a group pic. Sweet.