Thursday 28 November 2013

Coco's Sixth Birthday Party

Coco's birthday banner made by me for her first birthday

I'm quite a contradiction when it comes to birthday parties.
I really really don't like the waste that comes along with children's parties, the uneaten food, the useless bits of plastic that make up party bags and just generally the enormous amounts of money that get spent on parties (there is an establishment near here that I recently found out gets an average spend of £1100 per party. yep, mental).
Plus, like weddings I feel like children's parties are becoming these crazy events, type a typical party theme into google and guaranteed you'll find images of the most ridiculously colour-matched over the top super-styled parties put on for one year olds who will never appreciate or remember the effort that has been put in on their behalf.

I love these hanging honeycombe balls from Papermash and Tiger Stores

And yet...
I want to throw my child a lovely party for her birthday... and I like doing it. I want to challenge myself to come up with activities and nice party bags and to try to make a gingerbread house. It's what I kind of call fun, in that way that other people call marathon running fun - does anyone call marathon running fun? - Oh, you know what I mean.

So this was the plan for Coco's birthday this year...
We invited 11 of her friends over for a making and baking party- I'm slightly ashamed to say it ended up being an all female affair; mainly down to the fact that Coco's list of people she wanted to come was pretty much all girls and in order to keep the numbers manageable and not to offend people I went with it. And I'm kind of kicking myself. But hey; there's always next year. 

Basically the formula for the party was that the children arrived, made their own party bags (literally), made some stuff to put in their party bags and then baked some pizza to eat. At the end of the party they took away all the stuff they had made either in the bags or in their tummies.

Oh, and our non-cake eating daughter was getting a gingerbread house instead of a cake. I might have mentioned that here somewhere before.

Coco's sixth birthday party preparation

Athough I went on-and-on-and-on like a stuck record to Hugh about wanting to be organised in advance of the party of course I wasn't.
We had a little flurry on ebay last weekend and got a few supplies and we pretty much agreed on our activities:
1) Decorating party bags - these were plain white paper bags that Hugh got at Gardners on Commercial St (made infamous by Spitalfields Life blog)
2) Customising their own plain white aprons with fabric pens (pretty similar to when Coco coloured in her plimsoles)
3) Make name necklaces using some wooden letter beads we got on ebay.
4) Make a paper feather headress - this was actually a last minute addition to the schedule after one of the attendees requested or assumed that hat making was going to be one of the activities.
4) Make a Christmas decoration from felt and stick on jewels - classy, I know.
6) Ice gingerbread men/butterflies
7) Make pizza.

Coco's sixth birthday party preparation - gingerbread and headdresses

So on Thursday night Hugh went into mega gingerbread production mode... while I started prepping activities.
We borrowed a gingerbread house template which was brilliant and Hugh followed the Biscuiteers recipe for gingerbread which also seemed pretty good - including their instructions on rolling out your dough between grease proof paper instead of flouring the surface - top tip.
Meanwhile I was making paper feathers with a bit of help from my Dad who did some good vector drawing for me on the computer, and putting together the componants for the activities.
We went to bed on Thursday night feeling ahead of the game. ish.

Friday evening wasn't quite so straight-forward. In fact there are no photos, probably due to the fact that Hugh and I were too busy fighting. Putting together and decorating the gingerbread house should have been a task undertaken with love. But no. It was late we were all frazzled and having to make half a tonne of royal icing and get to grips with piping it... plus make pizza dough, tidy up etc etc.
Even though we roped Hugh's brother into help we still stayed up stupidly late and although we managed to make up before going to bed it was a close run thing...

Coco's sixth birthday gingerbread house

But the next morning Coco did wake up to this.
And she was suitably impressed...

Coco's sixth birthday party preparation

Last minute preparations...  (by parents still in their pj's)

Make a paper feather headress kit

Coco could not contain her excitement and was asking how long until her party every five minutes...

And then, finally the doorbell went and we were underway.

Coco's party underway with gingerbread house and coffee in foreground

At which point Hugh and I lent back and had a coffee... seriously. They were engrossed from the beginning...
It was lovely.

Coco's party the kids decorated their own party bags

All their party bags decorated with random bits of old cards and wrapping paper (no expense spared here).

A few of the finished items - Coco's necklace, a Christmas tree and mine and Coco's headbands.

Coco presiding over the great demolishing of the gingerbread house. 

Except for our near divorce moment and the fact that we hadn't got around to eating the pizzas when all the parents started arriving to collect their children this was the best and probably cheapest party we've done.

Our biggest expense was buying the aprons for £3.89 each and I spent a whopping £11 on stick on gems in a panic at Poundland on Friday... but we hardly used any of them so I'll be adding these to my stash in the present cupboard, the beads were about £5 on ebay
Pizza and gingerbread ingredients were all out of the cupboard more or less and all the other crafting bits were from my current supplies; I do keep pretty much everything for exactly these kind of affairs.

As normal I wish I'd got a few more photos - the way the biscuits were iced was priceless - it was like a competition to see how many smarties you could fit on a butterfly, but hey, it was all good and now it's all done for another year.
Now it's on to Christmas...

OH YES... and if you want a free children's gift idea which is very easy to do I've done a guest blog post over at Hattie's blog Free Our Kids - go have a look >>>


  1. The party looked fabulous. I know how silly it gets spending money on parties, but I must admit I don't think I've ever gone much over £110, let alone £1100. I'm sure if I had it to spend, it would be nice to be able to do it, so I'm not knocking it. It just goes to show though, that kids really do not need you to spend a lot to keep them happy and entertained. A bit of thought and preparation goes a really long way. Well done.

  2. This is absolutely genius and i need to book mark it for the future!
    Well done on a great party, and not getting a divorce!
    Love your post too on hattie's have skillz!!!

  3. I would have loved this party when I was a kid! The paper feathers look great :)

  4. And all over again, I want to either be you or have you be my mum - haven't decided yet ;) YOU ROCK!

  5. I am storing this party idea for a few years for Josephine. Love it all Alexis. Good job Mama xx

  6. Your blog officially hates me. Every time I leave a comment it eats it up, never to be seen again! I'm going to give it another go – I love these party ideas and will definitely be keeping them in my brain file for a future party. I've had a blog post in my drafts for ages on what I call 'Pinterest Parties' and yours is refreshingly relaxed and gorgeous without being too perfect if you know what I mean. Looks like a lot of fun. x