The big fifth pirate party!

Pirate party spread

So it’s finally happenedĀ  – the event that I dreamt up and began planning months ago is over – and my little boy is suddenly a big five-year-old schoolboy!

This is the fourth party I’ve thrown since having children (JJ had a second birthday party and EJ has had a 1st and a second) and with each experience I am learning how to be better and make it more impressive and at the same time stress-free. I spoke about the idea of a ‘kids party life hack‘ when I was preparing for EJ’s big circus party back in July, but even then I hadn’t got it quite right, giving myself the most massive headache of preparing 23 clown cake pops (and me, a complete cake pop virgin!). This time round I opted for marshmallow pops – just as impressive to look at but soooo much easier to make (assuming you have the right tools for the job)! Here’s a shot of my little army:

Pirate pops

I also bought a fair bit of party ware and the Pirate theme is awesome because there are so many different places that carry pirate party wares and you can shop around. I got some of mine from the online party site Party Pieces, some more cheaply from Amazon and even some from the 99p shop!

The one thing JJ had specified as a non-negotiable was a bouncy castle with a slide. I managed to source one with a pirate theme!

I also chose to bake a cake from scratch this time round and found an easy chocolate cake recipe (it really is very easy – I’ve made three of them!) but opted for some ready made chocolate fudge icing to cut down on the faff of one more little job. I really dislike fondant icing; although it looks absolutely amazing when people sculpt and design it into amazing pieces of artwork, I’m all about the fact that it’s a cake for goodness sake and should look and taste like a yummy cake in my opinion! I decorated it by creating a homemade pirate bunting topper (the skull and crossbones got a bit washed out by the glue unfortunately) an X marks the spot in Smarties and a pack of five pirate themed candles which was perfect as it was his fifth birthday! It had been my intention to buy a cake stand of some sort but in the end I covered a small tin in red paper and created some more pirate bunting to go round it, then sat the cake on top. It would have been nicer if the platter it sat on hadn’t just been the plastic tupperware lid of the cake box but that’s where my imagination ran out I’m afraid!

I had felt that things had fallen a little flat at EJ’s party to begin with because of the fact that I hadn’t really planned any organised games, so this time I chose to package up a pass the parcel. I had planned for there being up to 22 children involved, all needing at least one turn at the ripping (and subsequent Haribo mini prize). In the event there were probably about 16, what with the toddler drop outs and a few no-shows and I’d also completely forgotten to bring any music so attempted to run the game using music on my iPhone (not nearly as loud as I’d hoped!!). It all got a bit tedious as I’d suspected it might, and I was constantly distracted by this and that no one could say that it was the most organised game ever invented! Still, at least now I know for future reference that it’s not worth the bother when there’s that many children!

Other than that and an attempt to get some parachute games going, I basically left them to it. When there’s a massive bouncy castle outside a big hall, balloons bouncing around and a constant flow of tea coming out to all the mums and dads, you don’t really need structure – everyone seemed to be having a lovely time!

After the faff at EJ’s party with the food I opted for simple individual lunch boxes for the party tea this time, filling each one with either a ham or cheese sandwich, a bag of grapes, a bag with a few cocktail sausages, a packet of Hula Hoops and an individual jelly pot. Then they were offered a very lovely looking cupcake thanks to Mr Sainsbury (which I’d jazzed up with some pirate flags!).

The lovely thing about this party was that so many of JJ’s friends could make it and even his cousins travelled up from 60 miles away to join in and this was the first time that they’d all been together for a party so we made the most of the opportunity for a little portrait opp!

Pirate party cousins portrait

Another slight fiasco of the ‘herding cats’ variety (two two-year-olds – what can I say?!) but at least we got them all together if not smiling and facing the camera!

Despite my mum advising me not to give myself a headache with too much planning and prep and asked whether everyone goes to this much trouble, I actually enjoyed putting it all together and enjoyed the experience of throwing this amazing party for my little boy. I hope it will be a lasting memory for him.

By strange coincidence one of JJ’s friends (who’s just a couple of days older than him) was having his own party the day after this and not only that but another pirate party! It was an eye-opening experience to see how my friend interpreted essentially the same brief. She is super creative and she’d built a massive pirate ship out of cardboard:

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I was suitably gob- smacked! The party was the anti-thesis of mine – run like clockwork, like a military operation with games from musical squares (which was really good fun for the kids!) to the ubiquitous pass the parcel (with real music!) and a big ‘dig for pirate treasure’ in the sandpit.

Lovely ideas but I felt it wasn’t my style to be so structured and that’s not just an excuse, I really think that the structure and organisation side of it would be the biggest headache for me and I just wanted to make sure that our guests were fed and watered and given the tools to entertain themselves essentially!

I think if I were to throw another children’s party in the future I would consider hiring an entertainer (although this is an expensive option) as the children do enjoy the games but at the same time it frees you up to socialise with the parents and relax a bit. Having said that maybe future parties will be ones where the parents don’t hang around!! :-/ now there’s a scary thought!!

When all is said and done, this is what makes it all worthwhile:

Pirate party birthday boy

One happy little Birthday Boy!

 

The boy turns 1!

As I write this I am breathing a big sigh of relief. One of the things that noone tells you when you decide to become a parent is that you will need to brush up on your organisational skills because, at some point, you will be expected to fulfill the role of party planner and hostess. OK, nobody is actually expected to do this and whilst a party is a popular choice, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to take your child for a family day out instead. I do enjoy a good party though but never realised how much hard work it would be to make it haone balloonppen. And I say this with no particular pride at the amazing job I did because, quite frankly, I was a bit all over the place and there were no organised activities or games (although I did have a couple up my sleeve if they’d been needed).

The most panicky bit for me was realising that I had organised an outdoor party (not altogether unreasonable – late July, middle of a heatwave) and the weather forecast the night before was non-stop rain, thunder, lightning, hellfire… To my great fortune, one of my lovely friends called the morning of the day and told me she had found a perfect venue (lovely church hall with big outdoor area too) and it was (unbelievably) free that day and bargain price to boot! I honestly cannot thank her enough and have definitely learnt a jolly good lesson about party planning for the future. Having said that – I’ve also learnt a lesson about trusting the weather forecasters because we had glorious sunshine for the vast majority of the afternoon.

Its not a cheap option but one of my favourite bits was sourcing lovely bright food boxes and creating a little impromptu picnic, and getting all the little bits and bobs together for the party bags. Guess I’m a sucker for accessories!