Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Party planning tips and ideas

Ella's 2nd birthday is next month, and I've been busy getting my party planning list ready - so I thought to share some of my tips and ideas here on the blog.

I'm definitely no party planning pro - but I do enjoy it, and love the DIY part of birthday party planning.

Plan the theme:  First of all, about two months in advance, I start thinking about the theme, or in Mia's case, I chose her first two birthday themes, and then the rest she chose - with some guidance from me: I would research some theme ideas myself, and then find a few images of parties in these themes, and then show them to Mia.  This works quite well!

Set the date:  I normally choose the Saturday closest to their birthdays - but also often need to check with the grandparents that this date suits them.

Choose the venue: I alternate between using venues and doing parties at home.  Sometimes it's convenient having the venue do all the decor, party packs, and tidying up afterwards, but sometimes it's also nice to do it all myself - except for the cleaning up part!

Plan a budget:  It's so easy to overspend, especially when finding lots of cute decor goodies, seeing big fancy cakes, or hiring equipment or entertainment for the party.  I set an amount beforehand, discuss it with hubby, and I usually stay within the budget - but only thanks to the way grandparents help out with party food!

Write the guest list: Between the ages of 1 and 4, I pretty much decide who to invite - it's my own friends with kiddies in the same age range, and close family.  At Mia's 4th birthday party, out of the 20 kids who attended the party, she only played with the 3 friends from her school! For her 5th birthday party, it was such a relief to slash the guest list almost in half, having her choose who she wants to invite.

Send out the invitation: I like to send the invite out about a month in advance, and then with the rsvp date at least a week before the party to give me enough time to prepare for the amount of guests.

Shop with the colour scheme in mind:  Something that helps my party planning flow smoothly, is that I don't leave all the shopping to the last minute.  Weeks in advance I start collecting bits and pieces like serviettes, balloons, party pack goodies.

Party food: Some of our parties have been at midday, then we make hotdogs for lunch.  If it's a morning or mid-afternoon party, then we plan a savoury dish and a sweet dish for the adults, and the kids have a variety of cake, chips, sweets and fruit to choose from.

Ask for help!  I'm not afraid of delegating tasks:  I always ask family members to help out with the food, it's a great big help.  Also with setting up for the party, and tidying up afterwards - many hands sure do make light work.

Cake: Plan the cake well in advance: I've mostly had very talented friends and family make the beautiful cakes for our birthday parties.  I must say, the cake is quite an important factor - it's the "centrepiece" of the party, and it must make the kids, especially the birthday girl, go "wow!"

Party packs: I always do a party pack, it works well as the kids can have something to eat out of it at the party, and choose what to take home for later.  I usually put about five items in, of which it could include the following: packet of chips, choccie, marshmallow sweet, sucker, fizzer, jelly sweet, Smarties, sherbet, raisins, dried fruit flakes, or biscuit.

Birthday girl's outfit: I always want the birthday girl to feel super special in a special outfit.

Plan games and activities: I always hire a jumping castle, the kids love it and it definitely gives off a huge "party vibe".
At Ella's first birthday party, we put her play pen on the grass and filled it with balls, the babies loved that.  We also did some messy play with jelly and spaghetti.
At Mia's third birthday party we did a little planting station, where each child could plant a seedling into a pot, and take it home afterwards.
I made a lil photobooth for Mia's 5th birthday party, with all sorts of props on a table for them to dress up in, they loved it and the photos came out so nicely, even the adults had fun playing there!
More party games and activity ideas:  cupcake decorating, treasure hunt, arts & crafts activities, jewellery making, pin-the-tail games, etc.

Party favours:  I like giving a little gift to each guest, as a "thanks for coming to our party".  Often it's in the theme of the party - like with Mia's Minnie Mouse party, each guest got an alice band of Minnie Mouse ears.

Expect the unexpected: It sometimes happens that more people arrive than you catered for! Not such a problem with adults, but for kiddies, it can be a hassle if they're expecting a party pack and there aren't enough...  This has happened to me, but then there are also often one or two last-minute cancellations when kiddies are sick, then there are extra party packs - except if the names have been written on! Also, have a back-up plan for in case it rains!

Thank you notes after the party:  When we open gifts, I write a list of who gave what present, so that I could personalise the thank you message.  I find the "thank you" quite important, and feel the need to send the thank you email out within a week after the party.

Remember to take lots of photos!  I don't hire a photographer, but always ask my sister and sister-in-law to grab my camera and take photos, and then I also make sure I snap a few of my own. This is how the special moments get preserved!

Parties we've had:
Mia's 2nd Birthday: Lollos party
Mia's 3rd Birthday: Minnie Mouse party
Mia's 4th Birthday: Cinderella party
Ella's 1st Birthday: Pink and gold Number One party
Mia's 5th Birthday: Barbie party

Fun times indeed!  A second birthday bunny party coming up soon!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Middle of March already, how can that be?!

How can a quarter of 2016 already have passed?!  Please, time, slow down...

A quick lil update on us:

We're moving at the end of April - each weekend we spend some time either sorting, packing, painting furniture, fixing a few things at this house, etc.  Still six weeks to go, and a whole lot of work to do, but really excited about this new phase of our lives.

Mia's really settled into Grade R beautifully, she's made friends, she's learning so much, she loves her extra-mural activities that she chose (Monkeynastix and Experi-maatjies), and if I fetch her too early she tells me she actually wanted to play more!

Ella is such a lil girl now, more words, better sleep, but oh-so-tantrummy! I'll do a separate post about this, but she sure challenges me with her daily meltdowns.  She's starting school in May, hopefully that'll help her feel less frustrated.

I love this pic of them, they look like two lil angels:

And then I love this pic too - just so much attitude and sass from both of them here!


Friday, March 4, 2016

I'm on a decluttering mission!

Seeing as we're moving house sometime next month, I read a book about decluttering, for some inspiration.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but Marie Kondo.

I made notes as I was reading the book, and definitely felt inspired.  There were a few strange concepts included as well, like the way she feels terribly sorry for socks folded up in a ball and rolling around in a drawer bumping into each other, haha.  Also, having to thank items before you get rid of them... errr, don't think so!

There were a few quotes in the book that I really did enjoy, such as these ones:

And then probably the most important quote in the book:

I really like the concept and idea of only surrounding yourself with things that you love.  To "grace your space with things that speak to your heart.  Your lifestyle must bring you joy."

Another paragraph in the book that really resonated with me, was where she says that "tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in".

She doesn't make any mention of kids toys in her book though, she probably doesn't have any children, as that's definitely worth a whole chapter on its own!  I really feel that my girlies have way too many toys.  I'm going to do a vicious tidy up (when they're asleep!!) and donate anything that is not age-appropriate, not specially loved by them, duplicates, etc.  I also really want to sort the toys into categories so that all the barbies are together, all the plastic animals together, all the duplo blocks together, instead of the big mish-mash they all are at the moment.

Another idea is to have 3 or 4 crates of toys, which then get rotated on a weekly basis - they don't have to play with all the toys all the time.

Okay, I'm inspired, let's get tidying!!