Have you had enough of the Pokemon and Hannah Montaana thermocol cut-outs lurking at centre stage in the party hall? Wonder why kiddie birthday parties need surround sound? Are you perplexed at why we choose to have DJs, MCs and XYZs take over our children's birthday parties? When did ‘pass the parcel' and ‘pin the tail on the donkey' get replaced by dancing acts, and ‘Sheila ki jawani' sound tracks? I miss old fashioned parties. I think games are honest fun and I certainly think kids are ready to go retro. It is incredible fun organising a birthday party and it doesn't have to be so elaborate that you can't manage it - make it smaller, warmer, original and entirely doable.
One take on the home grown version of a bacha bash is this...Have a Bake Fest!
Kids love to bake. A bake party is a great way to get every guest and yourself involved in your child's birthday party. Cookies are a good option - they're simple, not too messy, sport a short baking time and each one can make their own. If you want to turn things up a notch use the few weekends before the party to make some extra treats. Scout down to cloth shop and buy a few meters of fabric to eventually turn into aprons and chef's hats for the little guests. Try fun polka dots or really bright, kitsch prints with giant fruits or dinosaurs for the arpons. For the hats keep it simple and professional - white canvas fabric works well. Crawfort Market purchases will keep you in budget but Premsons/Amarsons and similar shops keep the trip closer to home. If you have a sample of any apron just have your tailor copy it. Even the hats can be a simple version of an actual chef's hat, depending on the proficiency of your tailor. That done, go find yourself the simplest recipe you can for a cookie. Short bread or butter cookies are best; you can jazz up the cookie by giving the kids really fun cookie cutters and letting them do toppings for the cookies with Nutella, sugar sprinkles, jam and Gems.
The preparations at home involve clearing up your largest working space (dining table, kitchen island, breakfast table); covering it with a washable table cloth, removing any rug that might lie below and de-cluttering the room as far as possible to avoid accidents. If your cookie recipe is simple you won't need too many ingredients, and depending on the age of the group of kids either weigh out the ingredients for them in advance or allow them to do it themselves. That's it really ... just make sure the kids are clean, safe and having fun. Stick around to be the master chef if you like and certainly only handle the oven yourself no matter how old the kids. The cookies, aprons and hats double up as perfect return present.
Other fun things to do for home birthday parties:
Have the kids make their own piñata's by using:
- big balloons: let the kids load the balloons with little gems before inflating them and once everyone is done, hold them up one by one and let each toddler try and pierce the balloon with a pen (try and avoid sharper objects!);
- papier mache that they make themselves as a party activity: inflate small balloons and let the toddlers soak newspapers in glue and stick them onto the balloon. After its dry, deflate the balloon and let the kids fill the papier mache globes with candy;
- let the kids decorate strips of simple craft paper with crayons and seal these into a giant bag with a stapler.
- even duplo is terrific and younger kids can make a duplo box, stuff it, sit it on the ground and ‘demolish it' to grab the goodies inside.
Other options for piñata fillings could be home-made pop corn, mandarins, self-made paper planes and chick-chocks, and other little things...the usual fare.
Another super fun game is ‘bite the apple' - fill a bucket almost brim full with water (I'd use purified water) and dunk in a bunch of apples (they will float). When it's someone's turn, tie their hands behind their backs and let them try and pick the apple from the bucket with just their mouth!
Once you've played passing the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs, have the kids trace each other out. If you have a terrace use chalk, otherwise buy a huge roll of paper and let one child lie down on the paper (in any odd way) and another, use a fat crayon to trace out the first kid's profile. Then let each kid fill in his own profile in the way he sees himself or would like to see himself (cowboy/princess/super hero!).
When the troop get hungry, let them make their own sandwiches from things you've laid out - chutney, peanut butter, chicken, jam ,cheese, sandwich meats etc. Once they make a sandwich with things of their choice, let them use the cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches out into fun shapes.
Making sundaes is surest hit activity of them all...let it be your finale. Get a few tubs of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry ice cream; get some bottles of chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce and caramel sauce; slice up some fruit; use other toppings similar to the ones you used for the cookies; and make sure the kids have a huge sundae bowl each and a big, deep spoon! They can get as creative as they like and any which way, every result will be delic. Let your party be an extension of you and your child; let it be warm, simple, wholesome and good old fun!
Very easy cookie recipe:
375 gms plain flour
250 gms butter
100 castor sugar.
Rub the flour and butter together. Add the sugar and knead into a dough. Make individual portions, roll them out and finally cut into shapes of your choice. Bake in a moderate over for 35 to 40 minutes or until just slightly golden brown.