Monday, 5 November 2012


Competitive party bags are a terrible thing and for some parents end up being one of the most costly elements of a child's birthday party. I like giving a small gift to each child at the end of the party, something for them to take home and remember the day by.

My favourite... I love to give each child a book. A simple, relevant, age appropriate book. With so many Book Club style companies on the internet and doing the rounds to offices etc.. offering deals on packs of books, giving a child a book can come in at well under £1 per child. have a good range. At my daughter's 4th Birthday party I bought 2 packs of Quentin Blake stories, beautifully illustrated, all a joy to read and plenty for each childt o have one and enough for me to keep my daughters favourites for her.  Each child was delighted with their book and i am sure the book still survive today unlike the naff pens / finger puppets / balloons / bubbles / bouncy balls / sticker rubbish that you can buy in bulk from the supermarket but when you get home and look at what you have actually cost a comparative fortune!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


It is important to set the table for any party or event with care and thought as to how the meal is going to work. This applies to both children's parties and when entertaining your friends. This post is going to focus on a children's party and give some helpful hints and tips.


Protecting my dining table from spilled drinks and sticky fingers is important to me. Supermarkets sell linen style table cloths for about £3 each that are wipe clean and often have fun patterns of them. If you are looking for something that will last longer, get the measurements of your table and head to the material section of a department store and they will have lots of PVC tablecloth material that can be cut the length you need. Depending on the size of your table this may cost up to £30 however it lasts for a long time and can be used frequently to allow your children to paint and play with play dough, knowing that your table will not be damaged.

I believe it is important, especially as children reach the age of 4 for them to sit up at a table. Obviously space is limited to 8 or 10 children and if you have more than this at a party then you may have to revert to picnic blankets.  The layout of a table needs to be simple with thought to easy access to all food.

Supermarkets are fantastic for Christmas Under Plates - silver / gold / red they are cheap and have lots of uses! As well as a great base upon which to place your white china for dinner parties, at Children's birthday parties, these oversize plates are great for sandwiches, sausage rolls, fruit etc...
I usually place 4 or 5 loaded plates on the table and then a few bowls between them with crisps / fruit etc... I am a great believer in using paper plates for children's parties and keeping the food to finger food removes the need for knives and forks (I can't stand plastic ones!)
Plain white crockery and even paper plates are the most classic and look fantastic with simple accessories such as patterned napkins. Food also looks fabulous on a white plate, clean lines and simplicity.  

Always provide napkins, finger food means sticky fingers and having a set of wet wipes to hand before little ones trot off to the loo and smear said fingers all over your wallpaper.  Again, Supermarkets sell a fantastic range of party napkins.


I don't think balloons or anything that makes a popping or trumpeting sound is really necessary at a children's party. The noise becomes annoying to the adults and it excites the children so much they are likely to end up falling out with one another. Taking a leaf out of the book of many restaurants I usually place pots of crayons (not felt tip pens) on the table and a few sheets of paper under each child's place setting. I will sometimes make a suggestion as to what they draw but generally leave them to their own devices. This keeps them sitting at the table for longer and invariably they eat more.
If you have invested in a PVC tablecloth and don't have a cream carpet under your dining table (if you do you need to have a serious word with yourself) small pots of play dough are also a great idea for children of all ages. 
As children get older you could suggest they make paper aeroplanes and then after the food they can race them.

Monday, 22 October 2012


Deciding what food to provide at a party can be difficult, simple sandwiches don't seem special enough but the reality is that these are young children unlikely to have high expectations of birthday food.If  you are providing food at home or if you are taking it with you to be eaten at a venue nothing beats a picnic style party tea.


Stick with simple fillings, ham, cheese and maybe egg. there is no need to add lettuce / tomato / mayonnaise etc... this is a party not a mission to get them to eat their 5 a day in one sitting. There is also no need to buy the finest ham - a pack of wafer thin is perfect for this and opt for a medium cheddar so it at least has flavour but is unlikely to be too overpowering for some children.

Cut crusts off the bread and cut sandwiches into fingers - usually three fingers out of a slice. While using shape cutters for sandwiches can look nice, it tends to waste lots of bread and filling. Finger size sandwiches are easy to eat and in my experience always go down well.

If you are feeling creative you could do some brown and some white sandwiches and make a pattern on the serving dish.

In my experience parents like a sandwich or three so make sure you have plenty. Chidlren are likely to eat one or two fingers each.


While you may want to avoid crisps for health reasons children love them. I avoid anything cheesy that is likely to stain clothing / furniture / carpets. Just a few small bowls around the table should ensure that children eat something other than the crisps. breadsticks are also popular and could be served instead of or alongside crisps.


Chopped up sticks of carrot / cucumber / pepper and celery are a great way to get the children to eat some vegetables at a party. With a dip such as houmous. Place the houmous in a small bowl in the centre of the plate and arrange the vegetables around the outside, thinking about colour as you do it. Brightly coloured food always tends to be more appealing to children.


Mini Sausages or sausage rolls are a tasty treat if you want to give children something warm to eat. Sausages coated in maple syrup or drizzled with honey and cooked in the oven for 30 minutes are delicious. Serve these with a pot of ketchup and children and adults alike will enjoy. Sausage rolls either bought or made yourself (recipe to follow later) are also delicious.

Continuing on a healthy note, a bowl of grapes or strawberries is also a great idea to have on the table. Easy to pick up with their fingers and parent friendly. 

Yogurts in tubes or pots of jelly are popular with children. They can eat them themselves, they do not cost a fortune and they are easy to dispose of.  You could also make or buy some small squares of flapjack or some brownies, supermarkets often have boxes of biscuit or cake squares that are perfect for occassions like this. Again minimal fuss and effort but happy children.

Cups and juice jugs are in my opinion a recipe for disaster with drinks being spilled, tables ruined and stick floors. While you cannot avoid spillages completely, I find that buying juice cartons or individual bottles is a much safer way of serving drinks. Again this may work out more expensive than a jug of juice but I think it is definitely worth it. Children also seem to like the novelty of having their own carton/bottle.

A party tea using all of these elements provides a delicious selection for any children's birthday party and all with minimal fuss, expense and effort. 

Friday, 19 October 2012


Why is it some people seem to do things so well and with seemingly minimal effort and stress? I love keeping things simple but I also love things to look fantastic! I like my life to have a certain amount of style and sophistication - even when it comes to feeding my 4 year old and her friends and achieving this without spending a fortune or hours of preparation can seem impossible. I am not an earth mother, I am not particularly creative and I am never terribly keen on making a mess! I am writing this blog to show you that while some may consider it cheating there are short cuts and easy ways to do things that have fabulous results, results that often surpass even the most dedicated earth mother or competitive birthday cake / fancy dress costume maker!