Kids Party ‘Life Hack’

Birthday Cake mummy!

Does anyone else look at some of the stuff on Pinterest and feel a) stunned that other people have the time, skill and creativity to create childrens’ rooms that look like they were designed and commissioned for a Terence Conran photo shoot, or handmade toys, clothes and artefacts straight out of a glossy magazine, b) just a wee bit inadequate?

I’ll admit it, in my ideal world I would not be so rich that I could pay for a professional to do this for me, I would do it myself – brilliantly! But unfortunately I’m a bit lazy and I don’t have much free time.

I know people make their own party decorations and gifts to save money, be thrifty and frugal, but I think they primarily do it because they like to feel like Supermum for a day, show off their hidden talents and prove to the world that they are the loving, crafty, best mums in the world.

But I say screw that – if you’re a bad mum like me, get a life hack. I have to admit I only recently became aware of the life hack phenomenon – but the concept has always existed and it’s great if you don’t mind a bit of cheating and lying! Essentially it is shop bought, jazzed up to look like homemade. Or, if you want to be a bit kinder to yourself, it is ‘customisation’.

So EJ turns two at the end of July and I’ve given myself a mere three weeks to plan and organise his party (other than booking the hall and inviting a few friends – go me!). Over the weekend I began pondering on a theme (gotta love a theme!). I didn’t want a generic Disney or Cbeebies party – maybe in the past that was OK (JJ had Disney Cars for his 2nd Birthday) but since I started blogging (and signed up to Pinterest) my horizons have expanded a little and I have developed some quite specific tastes. Anything vintage to do with childhood works for me, but I also love bright, multi-colours.

I figure that with my last child at age 2 this is probably my final chance to make all the decisions – from here on I’ll have to grudgingly accept the fact that my children are developing their own tastes. I guess you can choose their room theme when they’re young and naiive adaptable, proudly plaster it all over t’internet, but how often do you see parent bloggers showcasing their teens’ murky dens? I don’t know, maybe they do but somehow I can’t see anyone being too quick to share images of dirty pants hung over the end of beds, old applecores flung carelessly on the floor and piles of unfinished homework lying forlorn on desks strewn with hair product and glitter nail polish, while black walls advertise obscure bands?  (I’m guessing).

But I digress.

My first thought on party theme was cowboys/Wild West – a theme that can be adapted and vintaged up to your heart’s content. But it is a bit samey – cowboys, horses…I suppose I could have hired one of those mechanical bucking broncos you see on hen nights as a refreshing change from a bouncy castle… What was that? Did someone mention the word ‘law-suit’? Yes, you’re probably right.

Then I hit on a stroke of pure genius – ‘A Day at the Circus’ – I love it! It’s child friendly, it’s vintage, it’s multi-coloured, it involves lions and fire-eaters (law-suit again? Oh right – better scratch that off the to-do list) and best of all, it’s hackable! OK I admit, one thing it’s not is original (just go to Pinterest and type in ‘circus party’ – this is where I’ve been all weekend).

So far I’ve bought the basics – themed cups, plates, table cloth, some red & yellow balloons, party blowers, 10 metres of bunting, a miniature big top tent (quickly checks bank balance). I’ve even got my Ringmaster’s outfit sorted – that is the kind of sh*t mum I am – got my priorities all wrong (it’s not ‘sexy ringmistress’ though, that really would be beyond the pale, even for me!).

So where’s the ‘hack’ you may ask. Well, it’s the cake that bothers me. I’ve seen some works of true genius during my little online odyssy, let me tell you. But it occurred to me that they aren’t really cakes at all. They are works of art – it would be a bloody travesty to sink a knife into one of those creations. Besides which I am not talented enough and I would end up with something that looked like it was thrown together by a small child.

circus cake - professional

I toyed with the idea of attempting one of those in yer face 6 or 7 layer rainbow sponges…

rainbow cake

and then I got real. I don’t have the time, equipment or food colourings for that. My oven can only cook a sponge through by charcoaling the bottom third, and I’m not sure that rainbow with additional black stripes would impress anyone… Keep it simple – that’s where I’m at right now. I’ll concentrate on one lovely chocolate sponge – chop the bottom third off and then plaster it in whippy white frosting. The decoration will be colourful and there will be a home-made bunting cake topper!

This is what it might look like in my imagination:

'easy' circus cake

As a little additional extra I’m also going to make my own strong man moustaches on sticks for a bit of photo-booth action! (And thereby save myself about £5).

moustache on stick

I was thinking home-made cupcakes, cupcake toppers and a ‘feed the lion’ beanbag toss but come on now, let’s not let this hacking nonsense get totally out of hand!



32 thoughts on “Kids Party ‘Life Hack’

  1. I think it sounds like an AMAZING party. F turns 4 in August and i have done sod all so to me you sound like the best mum ever! cake looks fab too x
    p.s we will probably have a disney cars theme or at least cake as the boy is obsessed! x

  2. I love this post… I identify with all of it!!!

    And about the teenage years… have you been secretly spying round my house???

    Seriously though I am glad I kept my daughters’ rooms neutral because when I decided, relatively unexpectedly, to sell, I didn’t have to do anything apart from hoover and wipe. A customised room might look beautiful, but how long will it be around?

  3. Too funny! And understandable. I was “lucky” enough to be on holiday for my daughter’s birthday this year so didn’t have to do anything. The fact that she’s talking about her fifth birthday party now (it’s next April) is a bit worrying mind, especially as she is on a Doc McStuffins kick at the moment.

  4. This is hilarious! I can’t wait to see the pictures. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll put on a great party and your son will love it. Those cakes really do look over the top. Beautiful, but definitely not something I could do!

  5. Haha birthday party life hack,how fab! We’ve decided to have a super last minute tea party on Fri after school for 4yo’s 5th birthday. Three besties, balloons, pizza, chicken, fruit, chocolate cake and maybe a game (pin the carrot on Olaf?) Big bashes take more time than I have spare right now!! Look forward to hearing what you decide xx #sharewithme

    • You have such the right attitude and, to be honest, those little last minute affairs are often even more good fun than a big party (which can be stressful!). I had such a last minute party for EJ last year (literally got a hall to hire the day before the event and only because the weather was bad!) and JJ didn’t get a party at all poor thing. I vowed that I would make up for it this year. X

  6. Yep, I frequently look at Pinterest and feel totally inadequate at the amazing creations, skills etc that other’s seem to have. But then I think that my attempts are plenty good enough (just not terribly Pinterest friendly!)

  7. Sounds awesome and way more than I have ever even attempted for Monkey’s birthdays! I make a cake… But that’s about it, and with all the vomiting surrounding his 2nd birthday he didn’t even get a cake this year! So yes I feel inadequate reading about everyone else’s incredible attempts!! Fab post and v funny! Xx

  8. Sounds great 🙂 I cheat a lot… I love decorating cakes, but I use packet mixes to save me time and stress. I use lots of printables! When I worked full time I bought absolutely everything and hired soft plays for the parties so that I didn’t even have to do the goodie bags… Now that I’m home I do more myself, but I do have a bit more time, so I can, and I actually do enjoy it. But, I very definitely cheat and cut corners wherever possible 🙂 I guess I life hack too!

    • I wish we had a printer!! It must make things a lot easier for this kind of thing. I have already spent way too much money. My mum will give £100 towards it all though – she has always done this for my nieces – its a grandparent tradition. 🙂 I’m hoping that the little hand made touches will make it look a bit more unique – not that the two year old will give a stuff about that! X

  9. Love this – I am pretty much everything you described in your first paragraph…………. but the complete opposite!!!! I am RUBBISH at homemade anything but who will remember the perfect decorations or the stunning cake? They’ll remember the laughs – that’s the way I look at it anyway. Great post 🙂 #sharewithme

  10. Hahaha I love this and did this for all parties for my son and hubby even, the “customization” love it. But only recently did I make all the decorations for MM 1st birthday and christening. They turned out fab and went on pinterest it felt great. But in reality it took forever and I will be “customizing’ everything for the future. i did it once that’s it. hahaha Failure in the supermom department for me. They wont know the difference anyways. I love pinterest but it leaves me wishing I was better at everything and feeling like a complete fake of a mom that’s not up to par. Thanks so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

    • You did an amazing job with Missy Moo’s party Jenny! No disrespect whatsoever intended to anyone who puts in all that effort but I can understand you saying you don’t want to do it again! It’s occurred to me recently that everyone who posts pictures of stuff on Pinterest might not actually have made it themselves so now I feel less inadequate 🙂 X

  11. That sounds great, we heap the pressure on to make it perfect but really lots of colour and fun is all the kids want. It really doesn’t matter to the kids, the effort and thought you go through is the important part of it. I bet your son will love his party and his cake , and the moustache’s will be great for photo’s! I agree though on the pintrest inspiration pictures – I can only wish for houses like some of the photo’s, my kids rooms are clutter full most of the time! Have a lovely day x #sharewithme

  12. The circus theme sounds excellent, I look forward to seeing the picture … ps I can highly recommend a rainbow cake, the adults and kiddies loved it, the downside was the sugar intake, but by that time I had sent them off packing! Ha ha. Oh and I didn’t make it, a friend bakes cakes. Always pay for it, when its for something so special is my game! x

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