My children are so blessed with the wonderful carers that are in their lives, from school and pre-school teachers to their swimming instructors. So at Christmas it’s nice to give a little Thank You to those who invest so much time and effort into our kids….
It certainly was a hot weekend! And didn’t we feel it whilst we enjoyed the fabulous community of people at our local village market.
Although November is a SUPER busy month, we managed to just squeeze in a market date. The day was a little quiet (probably due to everyone being at the beach on such a hot day), but we had a lovely time getting to know more people from our community, chatting with customers and meeting our fellow stall holders. Whilst it was a juggling act with the whole family there (us and the 3 boys), it was really nice working together and being able to share in the event as a family. We were also SUPER blessed to have some wonderful friends next to us who helped with the boys, and some great Grandies who dropped in for a visit too.
Here is a selection of photos from the day.
Event planning seems to come naturally for me (my Mum and I even dabbled in our own Event Planning business many years ago!), and it isn’t rare for me to have numerous Pinterest Boards even months before a given event. (Right now I’m busy planning our youngest child’s 1st Birthday for the end of June, I just can’t help myself!)
So when our middle boy turned four a couple of weeks ago, and even though we weren’t planning on doing a party for him, we ended up just having a little gathering with a couple of his friends.
I realise that planning an event, even as simple as a little gathering can be difficult for some, so I’ve put together a quick run-down of the Water Play Party we had for our boy. It includes theme ideas, healthy foods, activities, budget, the cake and more, and hopefully it can help you to plan your next event to be a smooth and enjoyable time for all.
A small birthday gathering/party for one of our boys to celebrate his 4th Birthday.
(This is the little invitation I created for him. It was fun to play with my Watercolours again and splash around some colour! I’ve obviously ‘blocked out’ our personal details).
We decided on a ‘Water Play’ theme. Our little guy isn’t really into any ‘one thing’, so this way we could enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather, have a VERY relaxed party with just some special friends, and generally keep it simple whilst letting the kids have LOTS of fun!
As it was an outdoor party I kept the decor colours simple and bright, using what I already had in my little ‘stash’. Brown paper table ‘cloths’ with brightly striped straws and serviettes kept it playful and young for my little bright spark of a boy.
* TIP: Always THINK about WHO your putting the event on for and what they would really like. But at the same time (as a parent) keep it simple! Sometimes basic things are the best and allow you to have an enjoyable time with your child, instead of running around like crazy ‘doing’ everything.
We looked at numerous locations in the area, parks, amusement places, play areas etc, but after adding up the cost of a local ‘attraction’, it turns out to be MUCH cheaper to have the event at home, and we’re blessed to have the space.
* TIP: Consider in advance what you’d like your budget to be and work back from there. Do you want to spend your money on an attraction & catering, or would you prefer something simple at home?
DAY, TIME & SCHEDULE
11:30am till 2:30pm on a Saturday.
Initially we couldn’t decide whether to have the party the weekend before or after our boy’s birthday. But after realising that Daylight-Savings was finishing, we decided to hold the event on the Saturday before (the last day of Daylight Savings), to make the most of the longer day, more time to pack-up, and our body-clocks would still be adjusted to that time.
Our casual gathering ran something like this:
11:30am – Guests arrived. Light snacks ready on tables. Our boy enjoyed opening his presents as he received them.
11:45am – Everyone had arrived and we ‘fired-up’ the sprinkler.
12:30pm – Lunch was served and the kids took a little break from the water play.
1:15pm – We started up the slip’n’slide again and tidied up a little from lunch.
2:00pm – Cake time!
2:30pm – Guests started leaving.
* TIP: ALWAYS think about the TIME… when will the attendees be at their best (i.e. not cranky 3yr olds who need an afternoon nap). Consider sunrise & sunset, how long it will take you to get ready for your event, and how hungry people will be.
I really tried to keep it simple for this party. I knew the kids would be playing most of the time, so I needed easy food that I could set-up and then they could help themselves, without me having to constantly bringing things out.
We are also a gluten-free household, so I wanted to make a table of food that I could say to my kids “eat whatever you like”. With it being a lunch-time event I kept the foods quite savoury and ‘lunchy’, instead of sweet & ‘snacky’ like a morning or afternoon tea would probably be. I also asked my little guy what he’d like to eat “for his birthday” and his answers were “sandwiches and fruit”, so… easy done!
The menu included:
Savoury Platter – homemade hummus (my Mr4s FAVOURITE), rice crackers (two kinds – I always buy Sakata brand as they don’t have the ‘nasties’ like the others, but check the flavouring), water crackers (not GF – they were for the ‘other kids’), carrot, celery & capsicum sticks, Basil & Cashew Dip (another one of Mr4s fav’s).
Popcorn – home-popped in my little $15 ‘popper’, with just a dash of salt.
Corn Chips – just plain, salted ones.
Seasonal Fruit Platter – watermelon, rockmelon, oranges, grapes, strawberries and apple. Be sure to cut them into ‘kid sized’, easy to eat pieces. I also prefer to remove all the rinds and ‘leaves’ when serving to children, so there isn’t any mess and they don’t take one bite of a piece of watermelon and think they’re “done”.
Pikelets – a plate of Gluten-free Pikelets (you wouldn’t know it to taste them), with simple butter and jam.
I put out all these finger-foods at the beginning of the party – and then after they had played and eaten for about an hour I served out the more substantial ‘lunch-fare’.
Easy Egg ‘Muffins’ – these were mostly for the parents as I knew the kids probably wouldn’t eat them. I made these the day before and just reheated them briefly on the day.
Honey Mustard Chicken-On-A-Stick – they really gobbled these up and they were so easy and tasty. These I prepared the night before and just cooked them quickly (literally 5-10mins) just before serving.
Bacon Wrapped Dates – strange thing to have at a kids party you may think… but they’re two of my Mr4s most favourite things, so why not combine them?! (Plus I had REALLY been wanting to try them out, and this was a good excuse.) Just roll a date in some bacon, secure it with a toothpick and bake them in the oven till they sizzle and are cooked to your liking. EASY!
Cut-Sandwiches – two flavours, ham & cheese, and egg & mayonnaise. You have no idea how excited my boys were to just eat LOTS of sandwiches! (there was also a plate of sandwiches made with ‘normal’ wholemeal bread). I made the egg & mayonnaise, and cut the cheese the day before, so I only had to assemble the sandwiches that morning.
‘Fizzy’ Drink & Water – we had plenty of water available, and also made up a ‘fizzy drink’ made with a natural cordial and soda water – they didn’t even know the difference!
Birthday Cake – We of course had cake to finish off the party, along with some more fruit.
* TIP: Look at your food as a ‘whole menu’. Try to include both sweet and savoury options, even if just doing a morning or afternoon tea.
**A special note about food intolerances & allergies**
As a Mum of kids with intolerances, we have personal experience in to how important it is to cater for people who may not be able to eat certain foods. At this party we knew that one of the children was allergic to peanuts, so I avoided them and was also aware of any foods that may contain ‘traces of peanuts’.
So my advice is… please check whether children coming to your event have any allergies or intolerances. You don’t need to cater solely for them, but making sure that there’s at least one-two foods that they can eat really makes a difference to their experience at the party. I personally always take a ‘special-lunchbox’ for my kids when we’re attending a party so that they have at least something to eat (as I know it can be hard to cater for special diets), but even just a simple fruit or vegetable platter is usually ok for most kids.
(We recently went to a kids party and the only things that were served were 2 kinds of chips, 2 bowls of lollies, soft drink, and sausages on a roll. I was SO GLAD I packed a bag of food for my boy – but even then, he was still hungry, and did miss out a bit).
NOTE: When serving the cake I made a tea tray for the parents so we were able to enjoy a cuppa with our cake. Remember the parents are guests too and even something as simple as a cup of tea or coffee will make the event that much more enjoyable for them too.
When asked what type of cake he would like Mr4 simply said “Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing”. So, thats what he got (but gluten-free and low in sugar). You can find my recipe and a bit more about it here.
As it was mostly 3-4 year olds attending our gathering, plus a couple of their siblings, we didn’t do any structured games, but just let the kids ‘go’ and just have fun.
We purchased some water bombs (I LOVE the self-filling, self-sealing ones!), some bubbles, setup the slip’n’slide and sprinkler and they just all played together, getting wet and messy and loving it! You can read more about it here.
We really had a fabulous day. My husband and I were able to sit down and enjoy ourselves, chat with the other parents and watch the kids have some good, clean fun.
What are your top tips for children’s birthday parties?
This past Saturday I was again privileged to host a market stall at the lovely French Country Market on the Central Coast.
As my second market it was not as daunting this time around, and I was truly able to enjoy myself.
With my fabulous Mum assisting me, we had a very fresh start as we set up on the crisp Autumn morning. Thankfully we were situated next to The Little Street Cafe, so we had direct access to lovely hot coffee.
I had changed my menu a little since my last market, especially as it was now Autumn and the day before Mothers Day. So there were many different conditions to be mindful of. The customers were lovely, as always, as it’s so nice to meet people who had seen my creations on Facebook and Instagram. (Big thanks to everyone who did, it was so nice to connect with you in person).
We did try to get some ‘happy snaps’ whilst we were there… but were only able to get a small assortment ’cause we were just so busy. But I’m not complaining… it was fabulous!
As well as meeting fabulous customers it’s also really nice to meet other stall holders. It was especially lovely to finally meet in person Uli from Raw Coast, and Adri from Adri’s Shop. A brief visit from Christine at Coastal Chic was also a special treat.
Something I LOVE doing at my markets is giving away a special item. This time I decided to make a cake in honour of Mothers Day, with a Moist Chocolate Cake on the interior, and covered in a purple tinted White Chocolate Buttercream Icing with Royal Icing flowers.
I was able to deliver the cake to the winner that afternoon, which I’m told was to be a surprise for her Mother (who’s favourite colour is purple) the next day.
These jars made their first appearance at the market, and received great attention and feedback. We sold quite a few and I am looking forward to adding them to my online store in the coming weeks.
A HUGE THANK YOU again to my wonderful Mum, who helped me out on the day (and kept my children occupied the day before). It’s so nice to hang out and have fun with you!
The next French Country Market will be held on November the 8th in the same location, and I definitely hope to be there.
In the meantime I’ll be adding more products to my web store, writing more blogs and baking away. So stay tuned.