Out first child Austin arrived Saturday evening weighing 8lb 7oz. We’re home now with Mum and Austin doing brilliantly.
Saturday I was meant to be appearing at the Jimmy’s Farm Sausage and Beer Festival in the morning and at a birthday party in the afternoon. But as I was packing the car my wife called downstairs and explained that Austin, due this Saturday coming, had other ideas.
Midwives, in order of appearance
Our stay at Colchester General Hospital was outstanding. We were delighted with the level of care we received. Everyone we met was lovely.
Midwives Saffron, Emma, Elaine, Vicky, Helen, Stephanie, Zoe and Jacqueline kept us informed, calm and, most importantly, confident at every turn.
And a Saturday night at the theatre has never been so entertaining – all the staff we met there were an absolute pleasure.
So I’ve got a bit behind with admin this weekend… if you’ve emailed or phoned about a party and not heard back yet, I’ll be in touch over the next day or two.
And finally, to Kate in charge of events at Jimmy’s Farm and to Mandy in Gosfield, I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it Saturday and thanks for being so understanding
I LOVE this cake and felt I had to take a photo of it as soon as I saw it.
It was made by Amy’s Mummy for Amy’s 6th birthday party this weekend just gone.
I’m lucky I get to see lots of different birthday cakes. I’ve even got a Pinterest board with ones I find online, but it’s rare I see a magic-themed one.
Especially home-made. Well done Kate!
I am delighted to announce I’ll be appearing at Jimmy’s Sausage & Beer Festival 2015!
It’s the weekend of the 25th and 26th of July at Jimmy’s Farm, Wherstead.
I’ll be performing my magic show in the giant tipi on the campsite for the children that are camping for the weekend.
Other acts over the weekend include Justin Fletcher and Mr. Bloom from CBeebies, Toploader, Athlete and Chas ‘n’ Dave!
Does this mean I can say I’m performing on the same bill as Toploader?
Just putting that out there.
The Sausage & Beer Festival won silver in last year’s Festival Kidz Awards and is a great event to take the whole family to.
Camping tickets are sold out but you can still buy individual and family tickets for each day – check the Jimmy’s Sausage & Beer Festival 2015 webpage for loads more information.
Duck Who What?
If you don’t work with kids you’re perhaps not familiar with games for groups of children – the circle game Duck Duck Goose is a classic to have on standby and you can easily fit it into your child’s birthday party.
Circle games are perfect for parties as everyone’s included throughout.
If they’re aged 4 or over, there’s a good chance they’ve played it before. It’s great for burning off a bit of energy and creates a lot of laughter as the chases happen. If you’re getting the children in a circle for Pass the Parcel then play Duck Duck Goose as well.
So how is it played?
The children sit in a circle facing each other, and one is chosen as the Fox. The ‘Fox’ walks around the circle in one direction, tapping each child on the head, saying ‘Duck’ each time. The Fox at any point can call someone ‘Goose’ as they’re tapped on the head.
That’s when the chase starts.
The Fox runs in the same direction it was going with the Goose in hot pursuit. They’re racing to get back to the now empty spot in the circle. Normally, the Fox makes it there first as he’s already standing and knows he’s going to run as soon as he’s said ‘Goose’.
Play continues with the Goose now becoming the Fox, walking around the circle again, Duck… Duck… Duck… until… Goose!
It’s a great game and very, very simple. There are plenty of ways to vary it, including:
- You could use your birthday party theme: Play Elsa, Elsa, Olaf or Batman, Batman, Joker
- Extreme Duck Duck Goose (perhaps for ages 6+?): the Goose runs the opposite way to the Fox and there’s a face-off as they meet to get to the empty spot in the circle – rules on use of fists and feet need to be applied!
- Try different actions for the chase: bounce like a kangaroo, waddle like a duck or roll around like a rock
- If you’ve got a large number of children, play with two Foxes, each going in different directions around the circle
It’s played around the world
Duck Duck Goose is played the world over in slightly different versions. Many involve playing with a handkerchief. The children in the circle stay facing forward. The person walking around the circle drops the handkerchief behind one of them. Once they’ve realised it’s behind them they give chase! In Germany it’s called Plumpssack, and is accompanied by a rhyme sung as the child walks around the outside.
The biggest ever game of Duck Duck Goose was played in 2011. It was organised by a school in Missouri. It had 2135 players and stretched all the way round the outside of an American Football Stadium!
Image “Geese on Valentijnkade” by David Evers is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Theming your child’s birthday party to their favourite film, activity or story book character is a super idea. The look on a child’s face when they first realise the decorations are their ‘favourite’ is priceless.
Here’s my tip for theming your party
Pick two colours.
Whatever your child’s favourite, pick the two most prominent and complementary colours.
For a Frozen themed party – pick turquoise and pink.
Red and blue for Spiderman.
Black and red for a pirate party.
Now, buy everything that’s going to be disposed of after the party in these colours. The paper plates and cups. The latex balloons. The table cloths. The party bags.
They’ll create a great backdrop for the branded stuff you’ll get. The party will have a great ‘look’.
So what shall I buy with the characters on?
The key here is to think about what your child will get to enjoy at home as a reminder of the party.
Buy a few large helium-filled foil balloons with the characters on as they’ll serve as great focal points at the party and your child will enjoy them over the next week or two once you’ve taken them home.
The same goes for banners, bunting and ceiling decorations – they can also be put up at home after the party.
How about a large poster or a cardboard cutout? Yes, really.
And the birthday cake. Themed birthday cakes go down a storm.
When you put it all together you’ll be hailed as a design genius!
That’s right. Having your child’s favourite on some items and having the backdrop of the complementary colours of everything else will look super-professional.
Also, you’ll only throw away the plain coloured stuff and your child will make the most out of the bits you bought that were branded!
Hiring a space for your child’s birthday party is a great idea
Even if you’re fortunate enough to have the room at home, inviting 25+ children is a challenge for anyone’s feng shui.
Most parents will stay for the party – in fact all under 5’s will definitely have a grown-up with them. That means that the guest list of 25 will be 50 in total.
So that’s 50 people plus unnannounced siblings?
Yep. In this instance, hiring a village or community hall becomes an excellent option.
The advantages are numerous:
- There’ll be plenty of tables and chairs
- There will be LOADS of space for the children to run around in
- You’ll have the place to yourself, so no Joe Public to contend with
- The kitchen facilities will be ideal for a large number of people
- There’ll be a car park. Which is so much better than upsetting the neighbours. Again.
Your party will not dependent on the weather and you’ll have a definite finish time too so there’ll be no chance of anyone outstaying their welcome.
How do I find a hall?
There are a couple websites to help you find halls for hire – this one from the Rural Community Council of Essex is great, just pick your area from the map. This one from St Edmundsbury Borough Council is also really good, just pop in your postcode and hey presto, village-hall-io.
Some places offer catering and decoration
Alternatively, you could hire a function room. The Cookhouse at the Suffolk Food Hall is nice or maybe The Essex Golf & Country Club?
They’ll be able to supply catering, decorate the room and do the tidying up.
All you’ll need to do is keep everyone entertained
I’ve heard Magic Iain‘s really great with kids
You’ll want this, whether you’re using a party entertainer or not
No matter the party theme, number of helpers you have or the child’s age, you’ll want this checklist I’ve put together if you’re throwing a birthday party in a hall.
Print it a couple days before the party and get cracking gathering all the items together.
It’s A4 in size and is a great reference of what you’re going to need.
You can thank me after
Hopefully there’ll be room for the presents on the trip home.
Click here to download the pdf: The BIG Party checklist
The professional children’s entertainer trick to stopping balloons from popping
No I don’t mean hold them to your shoulder and rub their backs. That just creates static (although that can be fun).
What I mean is, just before you tie a knot in a balloon, let a tiny amount of air out. Just for half second will do. The balloon size will barely change, but the chances of it popping will be much, much smaller.
Less (air) is more
By letting a small amount of air out, you’ll relax the latex of the balloon and make it slightly squishy. This means it will be able to take a lot more abuse without popping.
Burping balloons for a children’s party helps them withstand:
- Toddlers laying on them
- Children hitting each other with them
- Changes in temperature from a cold car to a warm hall
- Grandparents accidentally sitting on them
- Contact with pointy objects
And if you’re going to go to all that effort to inflate the balloons, then you might as well give them a fighting chance of surviving the whole party!
OK, so the Mum is out of pocket
You’ve seen this news story, right? BBC – Party invoice: Boy sent bill for birthday no-show
Here’s a summary: Mum organises a birthday party at a dry ski slope, pays out £15.95 per child. One boy doesn’t turn up so a couple weeks later Mum sends an invoice for £15.95 to him for the ‘no-show’.
Yes, yes it’s rude to not let someone know you’re not coming. Especially if it’s been confirmed a couple days before. And yes, in this instance it’s left the host out of pocket by £15.95.
She’s picked the easiest way to throw a party! Phone a tourist attraction, tell them how many you’ve got coming. Done.
Why get so angry?
- You don’t have to buy disposable Frozen/Marvel/Cars/Thomas/Sam plates, bowls and table cloths
- You don’t have to lug any tables and chairs about to arrange the children best for serving party food
- You don’t have to remember the tea and coffee for the grown ups
- You don’t need to decorate your home or hall with banners that need sticking (don’t forget the blu tac!)
- You don’t have to blow up any balloons (ditto balloon pump!)
There are no games to be organised, no food to be bought, cooked, and served, and no clearing up to do.
Imagine how she would have reacted to a no-show if she’d bothered to lift a finger to actually help throw her son the party!
I suppose she saves all her energy for invoicing.
Although a Paypal request would have been easier.
Image “IOU in a piggy bank” by Images Money is licensed under CC BY 2.0