Kids Parties And Party Food
At home kiddies parties are making a real comeback. It seems that everyone is getting in on the act since the UK is on a tightening its belt campaign. To host a party for 10-15 children at your local leisure centre, swimming pool or play area can cost from £100- £175 (some places even more!) and that does not always include the take-home goody bags and cake. Throwing your own party and making your own party food is a great way to make memories for your little (and larger) ones by creating a theme just for them and running with it… all guns blazing. All you have to do is adapt the games and activities to match the size of your house or garden and the ages of the children. Once you have your initial idea there are hundreds of ways of making the party magical and one to remember.
This can be butterflies, fairies, pirates, fire engines (you could always ask your local depot to make an educational appearance offering tips on how to stay safe – just offer a donation to their chosen charity for their trouble), pamper parties for little girls – any topic you choose.
First decorate the party room or garden. Again, as I have mentioned, just run with it and go slightly crazy by hanging lots of decorations, balloons and cut outs.
My son once had a pirate party and we sent out paper scroll invites (burnt at the edges) and stained with tea to look like an old treasure map, rolled up, and tied with string. The party food was set amongst skull and crossbones flags and a large pop up pirate ship from a book was on the table. The party guests were only very young so we created a treasure hunt using pictures from an old Argos book (not all of them could read!) and they had to match the real article in the house or garden to the picture to discover the next clue – the treasure at the end was a large bag of gold chocolate coins.
If your house is fairly small, plate up the party food ready with sandwiches, nibbles, fruit (cubes of watermelon look, and taste, great) and crisps on individual paper plates and serve it whilst they all sit round in a circle. Whatever you choose to serve can be notched up a gear with themed napkins and cocktail sticks adorned with a cut out motive. Shape the sandwiches to match the theme (a thoroughly washed large plasticine cutter is fine) and ring the changes with pigs in blankets (sausage in short-crust pastry) and chicken rolls (the chicken version of a sausage roll) – a simple but effective way to serve familiar food with a twist.
You can arrange for an ice-cream van to arrive just for the party and provide instant dessert- that familiar siren with its party beat would excite any little guest. Pre-arrange a price (we are talking bulk discount here!) and a time for the van to join the party. If the weather is unsuitable for sitting outside ask for tubs and little spoons!
Piggies in Blankets
You will need:
- 1 sheet of home-made or ready-made short-crust pastry (ready rolled makes life easier)
- 24 cocktail sausages
- Flour for dusting
- 1-2 tbs tomato sauce
- 1 egg lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/Fan 160˚/Gas 4. Put the sausages on a non-stick baking tray and roast for approximately 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut the pastry into 24 pieces, big enough to wrap around the sausage. Brush each pastry strip with a little tomato sauce and place the sausage on top. Roll it up around the sausage, seal the edge, and brush with egg. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and sausages. Place back on baking trays and cook for 10-15 minutes until golden.
You will need:
- 2 large skinless chicken breasts
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pack ready-rolled puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 25g sesame seeds
Whizz the chicken, salt, pepper and garlic in a food processor until the chicken is minced.
Heat the oven to 220˚C/Gas 7. Cut out long strips of puff pastry and place a line of the chicken mixture in the middle. Roll up like you would a sausage roll. Cut into bite size pieces and brush with the egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place on a lightly greased baking tray and cook for 20 minutes until golden brown.
The All Important – Birthday Cake
You will need:
- 2 packets fondant
- Sponge cake – bought or homemade
- Apricot Jam
- Florist Wire – if required
The cake shown above is decorated completely from two packs of bought fondant at a cost of £3.88, the only real expense is time. Luckily all the decorations can be made days, if not weeks, in advance so you only need to make or buy the sponge and finish it off a couple of days beforehand. The inspiration for this cute garden bug cake was the sales display in Debenhams for Marc Jacobs “Daisy” perfume. (It’s ideal for girls or boys, gardeners, or as a retirement cake).
PS. The bee wings were made from rice paper but you can use white fondant thinly rolled.
Prior to assembling the cake make any decorations like the bugs and flowers shown here.Dr Oetker ready coloured fondant is great because all the colours are there for you and you can use any leftover white fondant to alter the colours slightly if you wish – just like using plasticine! Once you have made the decorations leave to “air dry” so that they become hard.
When you are ready to assemble the cake melt ¼ jar apricot jam and cover the sponge cake in a thin layer (this acts as glue for the fondant covering). Roll out and cover the entire sponge cake with the white fondant, don’t worry about neat finishing, that is what the decorations are there for! Next roll and cut a long strip of the green and cut half way down along the full length to create the grass around the edges and use the jam to stick round the base of the cake (this will hide a multitude of sins). Use covered florist wire to stand the flowers up at the back and place all the decorations on and around.
You will have a cake that would cost you at least £45, if bought from a private cake shop. Use the same technique to create any design you wish – the cake below was inspired by the Ricky Gervais “Flanimals” books.
Party Games – The Oldies Are Still the Best
These are a great way to entertain and break the ice with shy children. Just make sure the games are suitable for different ages. Older children enjoy more memory games like charades and what’s on the tray. There are hundreds of party games to choose from, you will know which are best suited to the ages and interests of the guests.
Pass the parcel – keep their interest throughout by placing forfeits or little gifts in each layer leaving a larger prize for the person holding the parcel at the end.
Treasure Hunt – (preferably outside) Use wooden pegs with different coloured dots in felt pen. Give each colour a number i.e. yellow = 2 points, green = 3 points, etc. Hide them throughout the house or garden and send the children off to hunt as many pegs as they can. At the end of the game, count up who has the most points and award prizes accordingly.
Simon Says – the leader says “Simon says” clap your hands, stand still, hop on one foot etc. Eliminate anyone who is slow to react or does a movement “Simon” hasn’t said, so eventually you end up with just one winner.
Party Goody Bags
Head to PoundWorld and bag yourself a party gift bargain. For just £1 you can buy 8 yo-yos, crayons, books, etc – distribute between the party bags with a few sweets and a piece of the birthday cake and you will send the party guests home with a big smile on their face.
So there you have it, some inspiring ideas to make the birthday go with a bang – a little effort? Yes. A lot of money? NO