We timed the birth of our first child wonderfully well. It falls on the Queen’s Birthday (WA) long weekend which of course is also the AFL Grand Final weekend. It doesn’t really affect any birthday party plans too much but we do find that a handful of kids often can’t make it due to school holiday vacation plans and inevitably, parents do the drop-and-run more than usual in order to get back to The Game and any post-match shenanigans.
Given that, I decided that my son’s seventh birthday party was going to be simple. Well reasonably anyway. My son was happy to only invite the boys he liked from his class (that left two boys out – sorry!) and much to his disgust, he was strongly advised to invite the girls who had kindly invited him to their parties earlier in the year. It’s a hard lesson in social niceties for a first grader.
I also chose not to invite any of our adult friends, something my husband probably wasn’t aware off until the day before the party. I didn’t want to have to worry about feeding and amusing kids as well as feeding and amusing larger kids. I was also keen to ensure that hubby didn’t morph into a party guest after a Corona or two. I invited the Bestie and my other good friend to maintain some sort of kid/adult balance though. Sadly the heavily pregnant Bestie wasn’t up to an afternoon full of loud children but on the plus side, one guest’s Mum and big sister hung back to lend assistance.
Fortunately the weather could not have been better that day. Quite often September can be hit or miss so it was a matter of some concern until the Bureau of Meteorology assured us that all would be well. My husband was determined to have a splendid party in our newly renovated backyard so nothing shy of a hail storm was going to convince him otherwise. If not for this, I probably would have opted for an indoor play centre party quite honestly.
I wanted to keep the food side of things very, very simple. First graders don’t typically look for form and aesthetics in party food so I happily cast aside my wannabe MasterChef apron and doled out plates of sausage rolls and party pies. We did up a bowl of those dreadful (ever looked at the leftover water after boiling them?) red cocktail sausages that, in spite of all their deficiencies, never fail to get consumed.
I did do up a batch of my crowd pleasing alien jelly cubes though. I renamed them SpongeBob’s rockpool jellies this year given the absorbent and porous one was our theme. I got the idea from a friend’s mother but I am sure it’s hardly a major discovery. It’s essentially just packet jelly mix made up with either extra gelatine or about 100ml less water (the latter will be slightly sweeter than usual). I made mine two-toned this year and carved them up with a serrated-edge butter knife for a wavy effect. Really easy but you won’t believe how magnetic they are to kids. I only just managed to take some pics of the leftovers! Easy to pick up and hold, these cubes are nice and cool and keep the kids hydrated :D
Speaking of MasterChef, the one thing we did want to do was give our young guests the chance to design their own cupcakes. If you recall the birthday party challenge this series, letting kids in charge of cupcake decoration was a total winner. I simplified things by doing the basic white icing mysef (hubby wanted three different coloured icing for the kids to use… like, no…) and letting the kids use decorative pens and icing in a can to decorate. I had mini marshmallows, jelly beans and sprinkles aplenty, as well as special SpongeBob cupcake toppers. Hint: Have kids come up in groups of no more than four. It’ll save you equipment costs and your sanity!
We also had a lovely face-painting lady (Jenni Ash) to keep the kids who weren’t decorating cupcakes amused and they later enjoyed a good old SpongeBob pinata bash. Pass-the-parcel is always a firm favourite but be warned that most kids expect something in every layer these days :( Unbelievable! I’m not really down with this concept but I capitulated by putting a small trinket in each layer for each child and one large prize at the end for a random child to win. Even then I had one little girl exclaim how unfair that was. Life isn’t fair princess!
My husband had suggested that I get a square sponge cake and cover it with yellow icing to make a SpongeBob cake. I vetoed that (s&^t-canned may be more accurate) and opted for last year’s sterling idea of ice cream cake dished out into cones on the spot. Sounds simple but you’d be surprised how few people do it. Instead most parents feel compelled to have some sort of heavily iced mudcake that generally gets abandoned after two bites. Ice cream cakes are universally loved and instead of bowls and plates you just scoop up some ice cream into cones and send your young guests off on their merry way. That’s right! Ice cream cones are portable which means no futile attempt to keep seven year olds seated.
I also didn’t overdo the lolly bags this year. I had noodle boxes prepared with a handful of treats which acted as a bed for the designer cupcakes to sit on. The pinata provided more than enough sweeties for the wee beasties anyway.
Overall the afternnoon went swimmingly and most importantly our boy had a fantastic time with his buddies. I think he would have had just as much fun with half the effort put into the party. Compared to other years and other parents’ child appeasing endeavours, we really didn’t do that much either. I guess I could pare things down even more next year but to be truthful, it’s kinda fun running around getting party goods together. Reminds me of my own childhood parties.
What the heck. Until I have a pair of teenage children shunning parties in favour of sleepovers and pizza binges, I may as enjoy the moment.
Happy birthday my beautiful boy! <3