Friday, 17 August 2012

Knights and Princesses party!

We have just celebrated The Boy turning 4 and The Eldest turning 6.  The Eldest has been planning her birthday party ever since the last one, regularly turning up with lists of names from school who she was going to invite.  She did come up with some slightly strange themes ("I want a Crab Driving a Train Party Mummy!"), but in the end I managed to get her to settle on Knights and Princesses because I was going to do a joint party for her and The Boy.

We hired the village hall because I did not fancy trying to entertain 30+ children at my house.  The Eldest invited all the girls in her class (she wanted the boys too, but I figured I had to find some way of controlling the numbers) and The Boy invited some children from his preschool.  By the time we had added in younger siblings, there were more than 30 children.  I also called in as much help as I possibly could.  The Mother In Law came down from Norfolk a few days before which meant that I could do party prep on Friday.  The Father In Law, StepFather, Mother, Sister, Niece and Nephew all arrived on Saturday morning and were a tremendous help putting together party bags, party food and wrapping pass the parcel and prizes. The Boy's godfather turned up at lunchtime and helped decorate the hall.

I made a castle cake by baking 2 large chocolate madeira cakes, then sandwiching them together and using the cut off bits to make towers on the corners.  I rolled out fondant icing and used a bit of black to colour it and make it grey, then cut it into "bricks" which I then used to decorate it with.  My wonderful sister made dragon and princess cupcakes which I used as the cakes to go in the party bags to go home.
The half made cake, showing it's innards!
Finished cake with the cupcakes.

For decoration I ordered the Princess for a day Ultimate Party Kit  from Party pieces and also The Brave Knights Ultimate Party Kit. As well as that, I ordered come foil balloons, some helium, some Crowns to decorate and a Dragon Piñata.  I've used Party Pieces lots of times before (they are local to me, so I can just drive to collect) and I've always been very happy, but this time I'm afraid I wasn't!  The paper crowns were bent in the middle and the table cloths were no way big enough to sit as many children as they said they were, leading to a last minute dash to the supermarket by The Husband to buy more to cover the other tables.  Anyway, the decoration was fairly simple - we tied all the bunting into one long line and strung it across the hall (for some reason I had thought that the bunting would be longer than it was) and put helium balloons at each place setting (which also doubled up as party favours).

I had various ideas which didn't end up coming off properly.  I wanted the children to make place mats for themselves by sticking shapes on paper to make castles - these would then be laminated and they would be able to take them home afterwards.  As a back up, I also had the paper crowns to decorate.  However, having these large pieces of paper to go in the party bags meant that most party bags were not big enough to take them, so I decided that we would make bags and the making of the bags (although they turned out beautifully) meant that we then didn't have time to cut out shapes to make the place mats! So we needn't have made the party bags after all and that would then have left time for more party prep and would have made the whole thing less stressful.  Oh well, you live and learn!  Fortunately, the children enjoyed decorating the crowns anyway and it neatly took up the required amount of time - some of them went on to make pictures with the card meant for the mats, so it wasn't a complete waste of time buying it!  I also meant to make pin the horn on the unicorn and pin the flame on the dragon, but I ran out of time due to those pesky party bags!  I didn't even have time to brush my hair as we were still setting up as the guests came in.

So I split the party into two groups, one group of older girls and one group of mixed younger ones (and one older boy who I thought would be happier in the group with boys!).  The older girls started with crown making and I also did face painting (sticking with butterflies for the boys and Trusty Knights/Pirates for the boys).  My sister, who was going to help me paint faces, was unfortunately called away with an emergency but a very helpful friend thankfully leapt into the breach!  The younger group started with some party games - just very simple ones, pass the parcel, musical bumps and musical statues.  When the younger ones finished the games, we switched them over and they did craft whilst the older ones did the games.  It was almost like running two parties simultaneously and it worked well with two such disparate age groups.
The younger ones played pass the parcel.

Whilst the older girls made crowns...
And had their faces painted.
Dad Dancing?  A helpful Dad stayed to entertain the children.
Then we cut the cake and sang happy birthday.  I had a simple party tea sorted out - sandwiches, cocktail sausages, cold chicken nugget style things, crisps, cucumber and tomatoes.  All things that could be prepared before hand and eaten with fingers.  Pudding was the birthday cake and biscuits.
Blowing out the candles on their cake.

The Mother In Law did a great job of entertaining The Baby.
The Eldest eats tea - you can just see the edge of the party bag too.
After the tea, we did the Piñata - it was super fun!  I limited each child to two hits and then each had a chance to come round for another hit.  By the time we had done all of that and sorted out the party bags (very simple, just had a little notepad, a pencil, a rubber, a cupcake and a helium balloon) and united the crowns with their owners, it was time to go.  Two hours flew by.  Unfortunately, I didn't get enough pictures of the day - I wanted to show how the bags were made (we basically "wrapped" the end of a photo album and then stuck ribbon on as handles) and how the tables were set up, but I was so busy running round that I didn't get the photos taken, nor a full on one of the cake.  The photos I do have were kindly taken by The Father In Law.

The Feral One concentrates hard on Piñata 
I didn't really have much to do with the clear up operation!  My lovely friends who had stayed to help and relatives got on with it while I matched children with parents.  So my major tip for running a large children's party is to call in as much help as possible!

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