MY CREATIVE SPACE…when a party lives on…

Long after a party is over at our house, the theme seems to live on for quite some time. It’s the same with every party. I could never justify the expense or effort on things that would never be used again, so maybe that’s the reason that the Japanese influence is still strong at FGB headquarters.

We repeated the blossom tree craft last week at playgroup and each and every birthday card leaving our house in the last month has looked very much like this one….

A ‘how to make a paper crane’ tutorial was the Show & Tell last week along with a paper crane for each child in the class – I did mention she was obsessed didn’t I?! We now have them hanging along the kitchen window also and some gorgeous little origami hearts were made for each of us on Valentine’s Day.

Last week, just to use our asian soup spoons we had Chicken & Sweet Corn soup for dinner and on the
menu almost every day for lunch at the moment…

Cherry blossom sandwiches anyone?*

And I can’t forget Japanese Poker. Of course, as mentioned previously, all party decos stay up in the shed until the next party and once a month Mr FGB has a poker night in the shed. So this month the boys enjoyed Japanese rice snacks, Japanese lollies along with some Japanese beer and according to their fortune cookies, not all of them were going home rich men.

Do you find this happens at your house after a party….or is it just me? Maybe after all of the effort it takes, I just can’t let go?

How do you let your creative juices flow? Head over here to see some others.

* We did this another day with beetroot dip and open sandwiches – pink blossoms! A bit of creative fun never goes astray – we must amuse ourselves whenever we can and right now – I really only have room to move in the small things :)

DIY MINI MIKADO


Mikado, or pick-up sticks as it is also known, is a game that we played often as children. The game got its name from the highest scoring (blue) stick “Mikado“. Mikado is the name given to the Emperor of Japan. We played Giant Mikado at Goose’s Japanese birthday party last week and as a memento to send home, we made each child their own set of Mini Mikado. I think they will also work very well in our bon-bons/crackers next Christmas too!

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN:

I personally think the game works better if you can find double pointed, round toothpicks, but you could also make the regular size in the same way by using bamboo skewers. My clever Mum made these ones for me and this is what she did:

1. Color 4 bowls of water, each with different colored food dyes – Mum used Edicol powder to get a strong color.
2. Add the right number of toothpicks into each bowl.
3. Take the toothpicks out after a couple of minutes or until color is right. You can take them out by using a pair of metal tongs.
4. Leave them to dry on some newspaper or paper towel.

I searched all over the net and there doesn’t seem to be any hard and fast rule for which colors to use or how many of each color or even the score each stick is worth, so I just made up my own values and colors. Feel free to print these rules up and use for yourself.*

HOW TO PLAY “MIKADO”

1 Blue Mikado stick – 10 points

8 yellow sticks – 5 points

8 green sticks – 3 points

8 pink sticks – 1 point

Any number of people may play. Everyone sits in a circle.

One person holds the sticks upright touching the ground, then opens their hand to let the sticks fall. The sticks should all lay on top/under each other in a disarrayed fashion (the messier the better). Each person takes a turn at removing one stick from the pile, while trying not to move any of the other sticks.

If the player moves any other stick apart from the one they are trying to remove, it is the next person’s turn. But if he/she moves the stick without moving any others, they have another turn and keep going until they move a stick and then it is the next person’s turn.

When the Mikado stick has been lifted, it may be used for the removal of further sticks.

When all the sticks are gone, everyone counts the value of their sticks. The person with the highest score wins!



Up to your own discretion obviously, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that it’s probably a game for those 5yrs and up. Wouldn’t want anyone poking their eyes out!


* If anyone is tech savvy and could teach me how to attach this as a downloadable pdf document, I’d be ecstatic if you could explain it to me!

JAPANESE PARTY {the activities}

I like the idea of walking into a party and having something to get involved in right away, so I often have a number of different activities going on and the kids can do the rounds. It does involve having other adults to help you. These are the activities we had at Goose’s Japanese party.

CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE PICTURES
I painted a branch and photocopied it onto pieces of card. We provided some geisha girl stickers, some cherry blossom shaped cutouts (punched out using our origami scraps & some Japanese writing) and some leaf shaped stamps & Japanese symbol stamps (that I already had in my stash) along with some red ink and some pink tissue paper to scrunch up and make their own cherry blossom tree picture. This idea was borrowed from here.

ORIGAMI PAPER FOLDING
We had an origami paper folding table set up with origami paper and printed a few simple origami animal shapes from here and stuck them on the wall with one of each that Goose had already made up. This is the first activity most kids headed for. You can see the table in the background of the photo below.

PAPER FAN DECORATING
I found some blank paper fans at Riot Art and the kids decorated them with textas. Thanks Anna for the idea!

GIANT MIKADO (AKA ‘PICK UP STICKS’)
If you’ve never played this game, see here for more details. This was my Mum’s set that she has had for years, but I have seen them for sale at Australian Geographic.

FUKUWARAI
Translated “Lucky Laugh” in English and traditionally played around New Year in Japan. Just like Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, players are blindfolded & must try to stick the eyes, nose, mouth & cheeks in the correct places on the face. Thanks to my sister Clare for drawing the face!
You can find more information on the game of Fukuwarai here and some free Fukuwarai printables here.

We also did pass the parcel on the birthday girls request, which we played to the music of the 80′s classic ‘Turning Japanese’ by The Vapors and had a Guess How Many Japanese Lollies in the Jar competition.


P.S. Some other activities that I liked, but we didn’t end up doing are :
- writing your name in Japanese. You can type your name into this website and it tells you your name in Japanese.
- Get the kids to race each other using chopsticks to pick up cheerios or lollies and transfer them from one bowl to another.

JAPANESE PARTY {the food}

On Wednesday we celebrated Goose’s 7th birthday in Japanese Style!

Please indulge, once again as I share too many details. I just know that when I am roaming the web for inspiration for my parties, I like as many details as possible. My name is Emma and I am addicted to kids parties.

Once again, I will break it into a few different posts.

Here are some quick snaps of the food. It was fun to branch out from our usual party fare and try some different things. I was a little nervous the kids wouldn’t eat much of it, but most of it disappeared. Thankfully not all of it though as I always like to make a little extra so that we can have leftovers for dinner that night!

SAVOURY FOOD:
Sushi platter – made by Mr FGB
Delicious rice paper rolls – made by Granny
Sushi sandwiches – made by Louhow to make your own here.
Rice crackers & dip
Mini spring rolls
Mini dim sims
Japanese coconut peanuts
Assorted Japanese rice snacks
Party pies with Australian flags on toothpicks – it was Australia Day after all!
Melon cherry blossoms
- ie.watermelon, honeydew melon & rockmelon cut in flower shapes with cookie cutter.

SWEET FOOD:
Birthday Cake – Cupcakes with Paper Cranes - tutorial here.
Watermelon & blueberries on Ceramic Asian Spoons
Japanese Dried Plums
Pokky’s*
Fortune Cookies**
Cherry Blossom biscuits
- using the favorite shortbread recipe of course.

Just because she is cute.


- The little flags on the toothpicks said Happy Birthday in Japanese and were free printables from here.
* Deliciously morish chocolate dipped biscuit sticks that can be purchased at Asian supermarkets or sushi bars.
** Purchased at Asian or regular Supermarket. I’ve seen these dipped in melted chocolate & covered in sprinkles and they look very cute. These were the most popular with the kids.


MY CREATIVE SPACE…in Japanese style!


My creative medium of choice would most definitely have to be paper. I feel much more confident with paper than I do with fabric or food or any other type of creative endeavour. I have a new paper crush on Japanese origami paper. In preparation for Goose’s Japanese themed birthday party, Goose & I have been playing around with paper…

I always like the idea of making water a more enticing option at parties so Goose and I peeled off the original labels, googled the Japanese symbol for water and used a free Japanese style font from here to type ‘Water’ (for those who don’t actually read Japanese). Then we stuck them on some of our favorite origami paper with a glue stick and we had some very cool looking water bottles, if I do say so myself!

We also had some fun making our very own cocktail umbrellas with origami paper also. Follow the tutorial here if you’d like to make some of your own. We drank it in little shot glasses – meant to be representing somewhat the little teacups used in Japan – containing some peach tea granita.

To make your own granita there is a tutorial here, but we just made up some Bickford’s Peach Tea cordial and poured it into a metal slice tin, popped it in the freezer for a couple of hours, then scraped it with a fork roughly every hour after that until it became a granita type consistency. To drink/eat, we poured (using a Japanese teapot of course) some soda water on top of the granita for a fun refreshment at the party! A sprig of mint from the garden doesn’t go astray either.

Continuing on our paper theme Goose continued to make literally hundreds of paper cranes, her obsession knows no bounds…

Being summer and all, it was the wrong season for some real blossom branches, so we used some scrunched up pink tissue paper to make our very own cherry blossom tree.

As I am more than a little party obsessed and because my party posts are the most popular on this little blog of mine with people searching for ideas for their own parties (just as I do myself!), I’ll be breaking the party up into many different posts with as much detail as possible, so stay tuned for quite a bit more Japanese inspired creativeness over the coming week!


P.S. While on the topic of Japanese, paper and parties, you’ll find some great Japanese style printables – some of which I used in the party – here, here, here and here.

A JAPANESE GOOSE

Goose learns Japanese at school and really loves it. This year she has decided on a Japanese theme for her 7th birthday party. This week we’ve been making paper fans that double as party invitations.* So much easier having a party at the end of the school holidays as party prep becomes the perfect holiday activity!

We are now beginning to fold a thousand origami paper cranes. Well….maybe not quite a thousand, but since reading ‘Sadako & the thousand paper cranes‘ recently, Goose is keen…20 down, 980 to go! She even chose to continue making them after dinner tonight over her usual reading time – now that’s a big call! Surprisingly, Mr FGB (as he will henceforth be known) has become a little addicted. He is sitting in front of the TV as I type, folding the little birds and is quite proud of himself – and rightly so!

If you are interested in joining our new craze, there are very simple instructions here. If you do visit the link, you’ll also see what we plan to do with some of the cranes.

Stay tuned for more Japanese party prep over the coming weeks.


** The adorable little Japanese printables came from here.
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