This year we opted for a small gathering at home. Previously we have been sucked into whole class parties but found that Alice was overwhelmed by so many children and even sharing the party with a friend and splitting the cost with another school mum the whole thing worked out ludicrously expensive.
Not having oodles of space I did ask Alice to limit her invites to 5 classmates, inevitably numbers escalated and in total we had 10 children. I suggested to parents that they were free to drop and go because as much as I love chatting to the other school mums I knew I would have my hands full and wanted to focus on the kids. I asked one mum to stay and help (choose the one that you know will get stuck in and be helpful!) and as well as my husband it was great to have an extra pair of hands. (Thank you Lyndsey).
Preparation was in full swing. Numerous lists were drawn up detailing ideas for games, food, and shopping to include party prizes.
On the day we pushed all the furniture to the edges of the living room, moved any precious ornaments and decorated the house with balloons and banners. I also bought a cheap disco light from Amazon which really helped to set the scene. We organised games; some of which I have fond memories of playing as a child. The chocolate game (bar of chocolate on tray, kids take it in turns to wear blindfold and attempt to cut a square with a knife and fork and eat it) was a huge hit along with limbo. In past parties, Pass the parcel contained a small present between layers – instead, this year, there was a forfeit in between each layer (act like a monkey, hop around the circle on one leg etc..) and everyone had a prize in the middle of the parcel. The more energetic games like musical bumps and statues worked well early on, and for calming things down sleeping lions was a winner.
I kept the food simple. I prepared food boxes before hand containing sandwiches, crisps, yoghurt, fruit, crudités, a drink and a cupcake. On the table in the middle the kids could help themselves to pizza slices. Nobody went hungry! I made a simple Victoria sponge the previous day for the birthday cake.
At one stage, after they had eaten the kids did get a bit ‘hyper’ and I had started to exhaust all the games by this stage at which point we turfed them out into the garden and they charged around and played on the swings and slide. They also all loved bombing around the living room bashing balloons about to the music.
So overall, yes it was exhausting but also hugely satisfying to do it all yourself. I think you have to relax and not expect perfection, accept that you will have to do a fair amount of preparation and tidying up afterwards but you will save yourself a small fortune and your kids will have memories to treasure (as I do) for many years to come.
Pitta bread pizza
Really simple, to make the sauce chop a red onion and sauté in olive oil. Add chopped garlic when softened stir for a couple of minutes and then add a tin of tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Stir and allow the sauce to reduce down on a low heat. Blitz with hand held blender or in the processor.
Spoon a little of the sauce onto each pitta. Top with mozzarella and whatever topping you fancy (red pepper, sweetcorn etc) with maybe a sprig of basil.. pop under the grill until cheese is melted.