So Matilda turned eight last week. My baby girl is now officially a tween (ugh! I hate that word!). And this year is a party year
As we have spent a good deal of Matilda’s lifetime rebuilding our house, this would be our first chance to have a proper “home party”. And I really wanted to make it special. Matilda and I could decide on a theme together and then I would hit Pinterest with great vigour!
So when Matilda suggested that she would most like a party in the evening, when she and her friends could eat pizza and watch a DVD, I felt a little crestfallen: it was a great idea, but it all sounded so very grown up. Had my baby girl outgrown cupcakes and Pass the Parcel?
Matilda must have seen the expression on my face because she put her hand on my knee. “Don’t worry Mummy,” she said soothingly, “you can still put up bunting if you want.”
I soon cheered up when I started to think about it. The girls could wear their pyjamas and bring their favourite soft toy. We could call it a ‘star light’ party and put up fairy lights and pretty candle lanterns and have star-shaped glitter everything!
In the week leading up to the party, I set to work getting ready. I shopped, I made a big batch of gingerbread stars for the girls to decorate (I cut the star shapes and put them on the tray, Harry cut them and put them in his mouth); I baked a cake (Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake, because I was trying to channel Nigella, don’t you see?), I poured jelly into my lovely vintage-Tupperware jelly mould (ditto). And I cleaned like you wouldn’t believe.
You see, Other Mothers would be coming to my house for the first time. And many of these Other Mothers had not already formed (bad) impressions of how I keep house. Yes, I know: vanity, thy name is Kate…
I have been known in the past to write out a full running sheet for my kids’ parties and I had every intention of doing the same for this one, but in the end I ran out of time and had to content myself with a sketchy timetable. They would decorate biscuits when they arrived, then snuggle down and watch a movie with snacks and cosy blankets, eat pizza in the intermission, watch the rest of the movie, sing Happy Birthday and eat cake (and jelly!) and then go home with their lolly bags, happy and contented and full of good cheer.
I had been a little stuck on what to do for the birthday cake. So I asked my friend, Jack Sprout (from Beautiful Parties Magazine) for advice. And, oh, her face just lit up as her brain fired off one beautiful, creative idea after the other. And her enthusiasm was infectious. In a frenzy of inventive zeal, we decided on a bed-shaped cake with royal icing (the type you knead and roll out) for the cover and a tim tam for a pillow. Then Jack almost fell over and couldn’t talk – what if I put a little crochet bedcover on top????
We both went home to think about what to do about the bed head (I deal with serious issues in my line of work). Biscuit stick bed posts? A block of chocolate? Cardboard? Then Jack called me on the phone: “this is probably a little over-the-top, but what about gingerbread?”
Yes, Jack, I thought, that is a little over-the-top. I will not be making gingerbread. And I went out and bought a packet of bedpost-shaped biscuit sticks.
But I couldn’t get the idea of a cute storybook bed heads out of my own head. With little cut-out hearts. And then I figured I’d be making gingerbread stars anyway, and Jack had loaned me her very-cute biscuit cutters, I might as well make a bed head as well…
Incidentally, I used this excellent and very simple recipe from The Green Dragonfly.
This is the only picture I took on the night of the party and it’s not a very good one. I’m really cross at myself for not taking any more pictures, which is why I’m probably going to be spending more time writing about this party than would be interesting to read about.
It doesn’t look as beautiful as it did in my mind. I made a mess of the icing (how are you supposed to evenly dye that stuff?), the gingerbread got a little wonky, and I never made the tiny string of bunting I’d planned to hang between the bed posts (it would have looked so sweet!), but I did remember to put tiny teddies on the bed (after I took the photo, alas!) and Matilda was properly delighted with the whole rigmarole.
On the day of the party, we worked like crazy. I strung up some fairy lights (from the Christmas tree) whilst Harry and Christopher Robin stuck star-shaped decorations (post-it notes) all over the house. Matilda put lollies into little paper bags, Christopher Robin stuck star stickers on the little paper bags and Harry took the lollies out of the little paper bags and ate them. I carefully vacuumed and put down a table cloth with the star biscuits, cachous beads and little tubes of ‘writing icing’. I put the DVD (Disney’s Brave) into the DVD player. Then we all put on our pyjamas (Matilda had a pretty new pair especially for the occasion).
And the little girls began to arrive.
I’m going to put an intermission in here as this is already a long post and we have a long way to go yet (oh boy, do we have a long way to go!)
But the scene is set, at least.