Posts in Parties
Minecraft Birthday Party • Once I was 7 years old, my Mama told me...

Every time I get in the car and start the engine the radio shouts at me. See we like the music loud in our family, car discos, sing offs, they are all part of a normal school run at 8am. But over the last few weeks all I seem to hear is the same song. "Once I was 7 years old, my Mama told me..." you know the one, the one that if you really listen to the lyrics makes you feel so sentimental about your childhood, well it does for me anyway!

I look at Sammy, a boy who went through 3 schools in 3 years and can't believe he's been so lucky to find these friends. It's like he was meant to be at this school, found his tribe of traditional boys, who want to get muddy, climb trees and who are in such a bubble. He may not be as streetwise as some but honestly I am quite happy with that. He's not conforming to any stereotype, he's his own boy. Tonight he told me about the sewing club he wants to join and in the next breath begging me to look into karate lessons and a pet tortoise. 

Turning 7 feels like a big leap, a real turning point in his short life. He tests boundaries everyday, wants to reason with us which can often feel like arguing and is fighting against wanting more independence, while still creeping down the landing to sleep in our bed 3 nights a week. Our still love being carried upstairs for a bath and he's got to the point where he's such a weight that he hops on our backs, these great long gorilla length arms flopping over our shoulders and securing around our necks in a suffocatingly adorable bear hug. We duck as we go up the stairs to their attic room and I wonder how long it will be before we can't quite squeeze under the low ceiling.

I was thinking about all the things I want to tell him as he begins his 7th year, about how living for today is all he needs to worry about now. When he's been particularly challenging we say let's start again in the morning and we mean it. That tantrums can be forgiven and forgotten the next day if he wakes up with a positive attitude. Tonight he's gone to bed ridiculously excited about moving up to Year 3 this September, asking me 100 questions about the presentation to the parents that I went to while he was meant to be sleeping. But how can you be cross? I tucked him in and could just about see the twinkle in his eyes in the last light of the day poking through their curtains. 

I wish I could bottle that innocent enthusiasm, and bottle the same genuine disappointment when I told him that Year 3 starts in 10 weeks. 5 seconds of raw emotion right in front of my eyes, the realisation that he'd miss his best friends over the summer, even though he knows he will see them, just not every day. It was so humble and I could have hopped in bed next to him and cuddled him all night!

I tell my 7 year old that you need good friends. People who you choose to know, to have in your lives and share your adventures with. That having a group who you can rely on, who rely on you in equal measure will set you up for life. We watched the film Inside Out at the weekend and I keep thinking about what will our boy's core memories look like? What will be the defining moments of their childhood that they remember. 

And I hope this day might be one of them. Best pals in the sunshine, at home.

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I searched the internet and thought it would be handy to list where I bought all the party ware, party bag prizes and square balloons, which went down a storm with my Minecraft loving boy.

Party Bags

Party Ware

Party Food Ideas

  • Warbutons Thins for square sandwiches
  • Crispy cake cluster "blocks"
  • Chocolate brownie "blocks"
  • Cathedral City Nibbles for cheese "blocks"
  • Squares salt and vinegar crisps
  • Meat "blocks" aka a party favourite sausage rolls!
  • Rice Krispies Squares bars cut into lollies. Use a lolly stick and add an icing block to decorate

I served bowls of fruit and cartons of apple juice and used small paper green cupcake cases for the clusters and brownies and added a leftover icing square from the cake toppers order!

I raided all my grey and green crockery and used black pieces of card as platters. Simple but it all looked really effective laid out together. I bought some plain green cups and dug out some old green and black striped starts left over from Halloween for extra drinks as they were all roasting running around and jumping on and off the bouncy castle. 

Even just of the 6 of them was wild! They raced around the garden, the fort became the secret hideout and the slide the escape route and Rich's wheelbarrow run ups and dives onto the bouncy castle was the highlight. He was exhausted at the end!

Have you got any parties coming up? We had the most amazing weekend for Sammy, with his Horrible Histories party on the Saturday afternoon which I can't wait to share with you. And now we are onto planning a festival in the garden for Ollie.

My google searches are jam packed with neon, colour run powder paint and how to make flags for the garden. Now all we need is a nice sunny long range forecast ;)

Pony Birthday Party for a Perfect Niece

When your 2 year old niece, your clever, adorable, impossibly charming 2 year old niece says "Oh I would love a pony party!" well, this Auntie can't help but get right on Pinterest and start planning. With Natty just having had Logan in January we set about planning Yasmin's 3rd birthday party a few months ago together and apart from the seasonal showers on Saturday, we couldn't have asked for a more lovely day.

Lovely friends, family and family in America on FaceTime, all came together for a horsey themed celebration over this weekend and made one little girl very happy. 

It's no secret I love parties and I get almost as much joy preparing, sourcing bits and bobs and decorating the house and garden as I do helping host the actual 2 hour party itself! Those hours go by so quickly and I absolutely make the most of the anticipation and excitement. A very timely visit to America earlier this month (oh you are going to be bombarded with sweet pictures of my sweet nieces this week!) also meant I brought home some pony party extras for our mini guests - who doesn't love a horse shaped rubber duck?! 

We raided my prop boxes, found an old straw bale that I knew would come in handy one day, and popped a few fake flowers that I bought from The Range in some of my old glass bottles. Yasmin is a girly girl, a walking princess and if she could live in a world of pink she would! Which is so alien to me having two boys, where life at the moment is about negotiating time to watch some chap called Stampy play Minecraft videos. No wait, not watch him, you watch his game, him playing the game with endless running commentary. Aaaaah! 

We found some baskets from her bedroom and popped some marshmallow ice creams inside, propped up a touch with some paper, laid some chocolate horses I bought from Party Delights on the hay bale and covered two faux polystyrene cakes with pink tissue paper to act as lolly stands.

My local baker from The Small Cake Shop made the fantastic horse cake pops and themed cup cakes and I picked up 2 old Observer Guide books in my local Oxfam book shop which made perfect cake stands.

I know it may seem strange, but I always use the birthday cake as the centre piece to the dessert table. I think it's a shame to hide it away, especially as it's often one of the show stopping moments of a party, only to whizz it out for a resounding chorus of Happy Birthday and hip hip hoorays and then rush it away to be cut up. My boys love seeing their cakes and get so much extra pleasure from being able to enjoy them for the whole party and Yasmin is just the same. None of us are huge cake fans so we actually cheated a little this year and bought a basic iced sponge from the supermarket but dressed it up to the max!

I sprayed a letter three cake topper I had in my party box at home silver and sprinkled it as it was drying with glitter, used some of the fabric flowers and popped it on a painted polystyrene cake. The Talking Tables cake topper and party picks set looked wonderful and from a distance you'd have thought it was this spectacular two tiered creation. Super simple but effective is our motto!

We wanted to keep the games simple and fun as most of the mini guests were around 3 years old. So horsey rubber ducks plopped into my old tin bath became Hook-a-Horse and the children took it in turns when they fancied a go to wander over and see how many they could catch in their nets.

My sister and brother in law had painted some pound shop miniature fence panels white and taped around lengths of white plumbing tubes to create a row of garden jumps and all the children lined up and took it in turns to cross the finish line with cheers from the crowd. 

I spied these amazing jockey dressing up outfits, a fabric horse built into a waistband at the Country Living Show on the My Horse stand. They couldn't have been more perfect and they have a new home in the dressing up box. 

Just before all her guests of the human kind arrived we had a surprise for the birthday girl. Well for everyone really. We had hired a real miniature horse called Nutkin from The Cuddly Pony Party who happened to be very local and in fact had met my brother in law many times when they were teenagers!

It is an amazing party experience. Nutkin is incredibly docile, loves being centre of attention and is a dab hand at children' parties.

She was so friendly, posed for pictures and munched on their grass as the children groomed and then painted her and gave her pretty hair dos with bows and clips! The children got to hear all about how she likes to be brushed, what she eats and gave her lots of cuddles.

It's so clever really, all the little brushes must be like a mini massage. I chatted with Izzy about the paints and whether she's ever experienced any negative comments, which she told me she had on social media, mostly from people who haven't read about the parties properly. All the paints she uses are child and horse friendly, wash off straight away and Nutkin barely gave a second glance. She happily munched on her hay bale, had a few half carrots fed to her by the children and you could have thought you'd just spent an hour and a half with a big stuffed toy! So placid and calm around the children who were all so loving and nurturing towards her.

It's lovely that Izzy is so proud of her and after she handed out beautiful traditional equestrian rosettes to everyone, we waved her goodbye and she headed off for a good shower.

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We had braved the great British April weather for as long as we could and then we all came in and played some games and the children ate their Pony party teas in their snack boxes in the warm. Andrew's mum made some delicious fillipine dishes as well as the beautiful floral horseshoes and all the grown ups dived into a huge bowl of chow mein and a drink from the bar. They made rosettes out of foam sparkly templates and lots of stickers we bought in Hobbycraft, drew a little picture or message on the fabric horse as a keepsake for Yazzy's room after her birthday and a game of pass the parcel took us almost to 4pm, with just enough time to sing to the birthday girl and then wave everyone goodbye.

We all headed back into the garden as the last guests headed home and the sun came out in spectacular style! It was like a brilliant summer's evening and we had a mammoth bouncing session on the trampoline followed by apple bobbing!

Sammy is a dunk your head right in, strip off after two goes and get soaked from head to toe kind of player where as Ollie and Yazzy delicately picked their apples up, pretty much on the first try, by biting the stork!

Darling girl it's such a pleasure to spoil you. Yasmin appreciates all the fuss, all the little things that might go unnoticed. She walked out to the sweet buffet and gasped with her hands to her mouth and said "Oh Auntie it's all so pretty! I like da cakes, I like all da cakes!"

My sister plays a rolling gallery of photos on their tv screen and my niece is a girl who is constantly reminded of all the lovely times she's had in her little life. Each one sparks a memory or a story that she's been told and remembers and I know we will all be going over her happy party for years to come.

I'll miss my sleepover buddy tonight, for the last three nights I've slept in her room on a pull out bed and she has loved waking up together! Almost in disbelief that I actually did what I promised. That when she opened her eyes I was really there on the floor! This morning when she woke up she scooted in for a cuddle, and sang at the top of her voice, happy birthday to herself! 

This time is so short really, when parties are the highlight of the year, I know the time is coming for my big boy, in Year 2 there's more group trips to the cinema and individual sleepovers so I am going to treasure being able to help my sister. 

We have had a glorious 3 days together, finishing with a princess breakfast this morning and Natty and I completely surprised her by dressing up in two of my old ball and bridesmaids dresses. We wore crowns, ate pancakes covered with sprinkles and blasted out the soundtrack to all the Disney films. At one point Natty and I started twirling and dancing and she couldn't get down quick enough to join us. I leaned over to my sister as we ruffled our skirts and whispered, this is what childhood memories are made of and we smiled to each other. It makes me ache thinking it's a good while until we see each other next for Sammy's birthday at the end of May. Thank goodness for FaceTime! 

A big thank you to Talking Tables who kindly sent us all the lovely Pony Party theme table ware and decorations. It's safe to say her pony party dreams came true.

Now I wonder she will love next year?!

Ombré Cheesecake Recipe

It's no secret that I love birthdays, or any celebration that encourages a buffet table and decorations!

And this year I was determined to make Rich's birthday cake. So the best thing is to go for something simple and easy right? Noooo, let's go for a multi layer ombré cheesecake!

It's actually easier than you think. The trick is to make it in 2 tins.

This is a no bake, no fuss recipe for anyone wanting to try out cheesecake making like me for the first time. There are lots of recipes on the internet but this is mine, cobbled together with a phone call from my mum and the lovely lady at the cake shop near me, who helped me with the icing colours!


Biscuit base -

  • 1 packet Hobnob biscuits or 300g of the biscuit of your choice.
  • Generous handful of popping candy
  • 50g butter
  • 1 teaspoon golden syrup
  • Handful of blueberries

Per layer - 

  • 500g or roughly 2 tubs cream cheese. I used Philadelphia.
  • Food colouring. I used Sugarflair Paste Colours Navy, Eucalyptus and Grape Violet to add a hint of white for the top layer. 
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 160ml double cream
  • 60g icing sugar


This is a no bake, no real fuss recipe, all you need is patience. This makes a tall cheesecake so be prepared for a cream cheese feast. 

Biscuit base -

Take your biscuits, break them into quarters and place them in a freezer bag or wrap in cling film. Beat them with a rolling pin until you have a lovely bag of crumbs. Add to a mixing bowl.

Melt your butter and pour into the bowl of biscuit crumbs. Stir together and add your teaspoon of golden syrup. Add your popping candy and mix through.

Take your deep 8 inch cake tin (Make sure it has a removable base so you can push the base upwards when removing your cheesecake layers.) and spread your biscuit mix evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle your blueberries over your base layer and push a few further into the mix. 

Now you need to make your first coloured layer. 

Cheesecake layer -

Empty your cream cheese into a mixing bowl and whisk. You will feel it change consistency to a more fluid texture. Stop whisking. You can use an electric whisk but I just used a hand whisk as I didn't want to over beat it. By hand it took about 4 minutes. 

Add your orange blossom water and stir through.

Now it's time to colour your layer. Using a cocktail stick, dip the end in the colour paste and gentle cut through your mix. Mix thoroughly and keep adding a little more colouring until you are satisfied with the colour. I added approximately half a teaspoon full of the navy for the darkest layer. 

In a separate bowl whisk up your double cream until it becomes a thick consistency. Fold into your cream cheese gently. Keep mixing carefully until all the mix is the same colour. 

Add your sieved icing sugar into the mix and sir through.

Dollop your mix on top of the biscuit layer and use the back of a knife to smooth over the top. 

Now place this first tin, with your bottom two layers in the freezer. I set mine for a couple of hours in the freezer then transferred to the fridge overnight.

I told you, you need patience for this cheesecake!

In your second tin, repeat the cheesecake layer steps freezing the first to set whilst you mix up the final layer.

To get your top layer looking white more than cream, add the tiniest amount of grape violet colouring, again on the end of a cocktail stick to your mix. The violet colour combats the yellow tone.

Place back in the freezer for a couple of hours then transfer to the fridge.

The next day you can put your completed cake together. 

This is the fun bit!

Take your two tins and release the biscuit layer one first. Push gently upwards releasing the tin base. Place on a cake stand.

When you release your second tin place it on top. Smooth your two layers together to avoid any hint that they were made separately! Use a palette knife or folded kitchen roll works well too. I like the slightly rough finish.

Top with blueberries, slices of orange and a few blue hydrangea petals if you have them to hand. if not a dusting of icing sugar would look fabulous. 

Eat and feel stuffed :)

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The cheesecake was the centrepiece of a buffet lunch full of Rich's favourites. King prawns to peel to remind him of holidays in Spain, bread from the local bakery, cheese, sticky buns which I added some blue icing to, fancy white chocolates and sugar mice. 

We thoroughly spoilt him on his birthday, we had best friends to stay and the house was full of balloons and decorations from the new Talking Tables Coastal range. Perfect for Daddies with style!

I think the ombré obsession is here to stay. Contemporary and sophisticated mixing rich blues with a turquoise of a Caribbean sea. Heavenly!

The cake matched with the gorgeous fabric bunting, coasters and hanging paper lanterns that I strung up over the dining table. Sometimes I find it hard to find grown up party ware, paper plates that almost feel too nice to use. Style with substance. I love that the cups, plates and napkins come in 2 colour ways. 

For a first attempt I think the colours of the cheesecake were pretty close!

I'm hoping he might make me a pinky version for my birthday out of sponge and decorate with some of the Fluorescent goodies. 

Thank you to Talking Tables for sending me such lovely party ware. Find the full range here.