Recently we celebrated two years of Ruby with a sweet little party in the park. We originally weren’t going to throw a party at all as Ruby has been quite shy, scared of crowds, and has often burst into tears at other Birthday parties during “Happy Birthay” – has basically shown all the signs that parties just aren’t her thing. In the nick of time however, several weeks prior to turning two we noticed a complete personality change. All of a sudden she was talking fluently, listing off the names of her little cousins and favourite aunts and uncles and friends on the hour every hour. It was like she finally knew her place in the world and where she fit in with the people around her. SO with this realisation a very last minute party was organised. Mainly just family and her two best friends we had 11 kids in total and the morning could not have been more perfect. Determined not to stress myself out, a busy travelling husband and older children with lots of commitments means I’m spread pretty thin during the week days, I made the executive decision, for myself, that this was NOT going to be a stressful affair. And it wasn’t. It could not have been a happier day. So once it was over I thought, you know what? This really wasn’t the ‘best’ styled party in the world (or even close) but considering it was done without a single bit of stress… OR blowing out any kind of crazy budget, and still looked pretty damn cute, I thought I’d share some tips on how I plan my parties, A) so they aren’t too stressful and B) stay relatively affordable.
HOW TO THROW A PARTY WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND:
- Plan ahead: Not something I’m good at, and I say this to friends often. I plan 80% of ANYTHING way ahead, the last 20% of everything I ever do is attempted at the last-minute, of which I generally only achieve 10% of that 20, the result being, everything I ever do is only 90% done… SIGH. I’ve accepted this about myself, but the reality is, I’ve probably set my expectations too high in the first place (birthday party styled by 10 professional magazine stylists with three photographers and a team of helpers vs… ME – ha ha! you get my drift, go easy on yourself, there’s only so much you can do and there is no prize for the best styled kids party… who knew? haha!)
- Decide on a theme early but don’t feel like you have to stick to it COMPLETELY rigidly. The kids really aren’t going to care, or notice. My themes are always loose. This time it was Candy Mountain (after falling in love with the new range of beautiful party ware at Lark Store).. leaving it open to all things candy (der) shades of pretty pastels, and unicorns (because clearly there are lots of unicorns hanging at candy mountain) so basically it was not difficult to find things that were suitable.
- Decide which aspects of the party you are going to photograph, and spend the money on the theming of THOSE things. Do not waste your time styling/theming everything and anything, nobody is going to notice, and if they do they will think you’re just plain weird. Most of our parties involve a lot of adults too. We are very social and our friends and family love to join in our children’s birthday parties. Does this mean I theme all the food, plates, drinks for the adults too? absolutely not… of course these things can still be done beautifully, but potentially money will be wasted on decorations for this element of the party. Instead focus on good quality food, and plenty of it, your guests will LOVE you for it. And perhaps won’t be quite as interested in the unicorn swizzle stick you’ve plonked in their champagne.
- Giant balloons – boy I LOVE them. I would buy a giant balloon for every occasion if I could. Nothing says party like a statement piece. They can be expensive to fill. But they still work out a lot cheaper than buying a million smaller decorations to fill a space and make an impact. The cheapest helium I’ve found is Spotlight. And they allow you to fill balloons you’ve bought elsewhere, like these gorgeous ones I used on the weekend Jumbo Confetti balloons.
- For me, if my children have a party that doesn’t require a lot of organising on my part, I love to make the cake myself. Recently however I’ve hosted a decent number of people, ordering a cake has pretty much saved me every time. I’m the crafty type, I love to feel like I’ve been involved in the cake in some way… So this time I ordered an undecorated pastel marble cake to arrive the day prior, and set about making the decorations for the top myself. Easy, fun, and my kids looked SUPER impressed when they saw me supergluing together my bunting and those hats for the little animals. Time spent 20 minutes – time saved 12 hours!
- BLOGGERS, here’s one for you and I’m passionate about this. If you can, and are lucky like me, get a friend to photograph the day for you (Thankyou Kate). No article/feature/collaboration is EVER going to be worth not being ‘present’ at your child’s birthday party. Usually, I set up early, snap a few pictures of the set up, and then hand over the camera to a friend. We often do this kind of thing for one another and it’s literally the best thing ever, taking the pressure off us Mama’s having to be behind the lens at our own children’s parties. This time I unfortunately woke up super unwell, the setup I have to say was nothing like I planned, I didn’t get the table looking like the magazine spread I had imagined in my head and lusted over on party blogs for days leading up. Nothing like it. I’m sure loads have experienced the same feeling of, oh crap, this really isn’t looking how I planned…. Does it matter? NO!! it’s your beautiful child’s special Birthday. All that matters is they are having a good time, and that they can see that you genuinely are too. If you need images for a blog, or even just for your own personal use so you can print a birthday album to keep forever and you’ve run out of time during the lead up (pretty much standard for me) forget it! enjoy that day, soak up every minute, salvage a few decorations, and sort those styled shots when you get home. You will never regret this, and the extra styled images/mood boards (if that’s your thing) can be super fun to add to your albums and look back on too.
- And on a lighter note..pack a hair brush – or your birthday girl may end up looking like she walked straight off the set of Steel Magnolias – Can you even handle that hair, I can’t look at these pictures without laughing out loud!! But really, it kind of makes the memories even better.
So that’s it! We had so much fun choosing our decorations this year from the AMAZING Lark Store. The range is HUGE and they were literally my one stop shop this time around. After falling in love with the Laura Blythman partyware I basically built the ‘loose’ theme from there. Ruby’s Such Great Heights romper fit the theme PERFECTLY again tying in those beautiful Laura Blythman designs. We of course couldn’t resist adding the matching SGH Wonder Tent canopy to the mix. I then just chose a bunch of things to match from Lark Store, including the adorable ice cream piñata, pastel confetti, honeycomb balls in the same colours, and basically did my whole shop in one transaction. Being two years old, with cousins and friends ranging from 1 – 4 years old, I didn’t need too many games. The ice-cream piñata was a HIT, if you’re thinking about getting one for your child’s party DO IT. Even the one year old lined up and had a go. So much fun. My biggest ‘non essential’ splurge were the unicorn hobby horses I stumbled on in a local store a few weeks prior to the party. I could not resist, and they doubled as a totally brilliant game for the kids, and they could then take them home with them at the end of the party as their gift. They were so thrilled with them and the races were pretty much the cutest thing EVER. So that’s it, a beautiful morning in the park for my beautiful little girl with her favourite people, some super cute party decorations, and a totally UN stressed Mama.