Real Parties: Tips & Tricks from everyday Mums 1


Welcome to the first in the Frog Goose and Bear Real Parties series where we’ll be taking the ‘daunting’ out of at-home parties by interviewing fellow everyday Mums for their party planning tips and tricks.  The first cab off the rank is my friend Jane who lives in Hungary (how cool is that?!) and blogs at Mama Pea Pod.  Jane is Mum to two girls aged 4 and almost 7.  I have been following Jane’s blog for years and she’s a creative, party loving Mum who always inspires!

Jane – Mama Pea Pod

How far in advance do you start planning a party?

This will sound crazy, but I usually start thinking about them at least 6 months in advance! That’s because it is difficult for us to get many party supplies here in Hungary, so I have to order items through Amazon and often have to have them delivered to a friend or family member (since Amazon is usually not able to send them here), and then wait until they visit and bring them to us. This takes months of planning ahead to be sure I’ll have them in time for birthdays. Then I keep an eye out for anything I spot around town that might fit our theme and pick things up when I see them, and start collecting cool theme ideas on Pinterest. (Right now my nearly 7 year old has not made a final decision on the theme for her birthday coming up in 2 months and it’s really stressing me out because I need to place my orders now!)

mamapeapod1

What are your top 5 party planning tips?

1. Lists! I keep a notebook just for party planning and have a separate page each to plan for food/drink, games/activities, guest list/invitations, goody bags, decorations, shopping list, things to make, thank you notes, etc. so as not to forget anything.

2. Classic party games are always fun and we always include at least a couple – pass the parcel, musical statues, egg-and-spoon races, etc.

3. If you have prizes, make sure everyone wins one by the end of the party, especially for little kids. I always gauge a party’s success by the amount of tears shed – no tears = a successful party!

4. Plan some unstructured play time (preferably outside – even better if you can hold the entire party outdoors!) into the schedule as well as the organised games. For younger children (up to 4-5 years of age), play ‘stations’ set up that kids can wander freely among are better than organised games.

5. Send kids home with a fun goody bag – if they leave happy, they remember the party as a great time!

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Out of all of the parties you’ve planned, which one was your favourite and why?

Oh gosh, that’s hard to choose! Our Mermaid Party (for my daughter’s 5th birthday) was lots of fun and laughs, and we had great fun with the games in particular! Our most recent party, a Dinosaur Party (for my other daughter’s 4th birthday), was really easy to prepare and run and the kids loved it. And one of our earliest parties, a Rainbow Party (for my elder daughter’s 3rd birthday), was so fun to plan and so pretty because it was so colourful!

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Where do you draw your party inspiration from?

I collect pins on my Parties board on Pinterest throughout the year on various themes that look fun. My favourite party blog, of course, is FGB! But really my kids pick their themes from their own imaginations and then I use those as my inspiration source, creating or seeking out food and activities, etc. that fit with that theme and that I know they’ll appreciate. So really my kids are my main inspiration.

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What is the next party that you are planning at your house?

Well, it’s looking like it will be some kind of science fairy party – whatever that might be! – for my daughter’s 7th in June. She likes to challenge my creativity, I think!

Thanks so much for being a part of this series Jane!

You can find more pictures of Jane’s parties here on her blog. She also ran a wonderful series on her blog entitledABC’s of Kids Party Ideas which showcased lots of different party themes from DIY party bloggers all over the world which you might be interested in if you are having trouble coming up with a theme.  Another thing that Jane does that I think is just gorgeous is that she interviews her kids each year on their birthday to capture what their thoughts on life at each age. As well as her blog, you can also find Jane on facebook, twitter pinterestinstagram .

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Every fortnight on a Friday morning I’ll be asking a different party loving Mum the same five questions and sharing their party pics.  In the alternate weeks I’ll be sharing photos and details from parties that I’ve been involved in recently. If you’d like to share your party tips & tricks and be interviewed as part of this series, I’d love to hear from you too!

I also know that lots of you out there have some awesome diy party ideas yourselves so, as a way of continuing to inspire each other, we’ve started posting DIY party pics on facebook and instagram under the hashtag #diypartyfun.  You are welcome to re-tag older party pics on instagram or to post pics to my facebook wall and if you are not on either of those platforms and you’d still like to be involved, you can email me your diy party pics if you like.  Every Monday morning, here on the blog, I’ll be posting my favourite pics that you (my lovely readers) have shared!

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An ‘Around the World’ themed birthday party

Last week, at the beginning of Melbourne’s heatwave, I helped a friend organise a fun party for her daughter’s fifth birthday.  As a well travelled little girl with parent’s who travel often and extended family and friends living all over the world she chose the perfect theme!  She also desperately wanted to wear her new traditional South Korean costume that her Mum had brought back from a recent trip overseas.  All the children arrived in costumes from all over the world.  Adorable.


As the day was over forty degrees celcius (that’s over 104 degrees faranheit) and the party was at 10.30 in the morning, the food was simple with nothing that required the oven being turned on! 

Along with some cupcakes with flags of the world toothpicks and aeroplane shaped fairy bread, there was food that represented each continent of the world:
Asia – sushi platter , fruit in ceramic spoons (pictured above)
Europe – cheese platter
North America – Oreo cookies
South America – corn chips and guacamole & popcorn
Australia – vegemite sandwiches
Africa – bread and dips
Antarctica – drinks station with lots and lots of ice!


When the children entered the house they were each given their own passport in which they had to write their own name and draw a picture of themselves.  The birthday girl’s Dad did a superb job of making the passports by photocopying his own passport, blocking out some details and then stapling the pages together.
The party guests were also given their own travel bag to collect all their goodies that they would make and collect throughout the party.
Around the house, there were seven activity stations set up.  Each one representing a different continent.  When the children travelled to each table (aka continent) they could complete the activity and receive a stamp in their passport.

The children decorated paper fans in Asia

Made their own Guatemalan worry dolls in South America
(Big thanks to Steph for this timely idea!)
Made American Indian head dresses in North America

Threaded wooden bead bracelets in Africa
Coloured in Babushka doll pictures in Europe

Had their face or hands dot painted in Aboriginal style in Australia along with an Australian flag tattoo …
And splashed their feet in ice and water in Antarctica!
There were also ice slushies and the drinks station in this area.
As well as these fun activities there was also a giant globe pinata 

 a Japanese game of giant Mikado (aka pick up sticks) as well as a paper plane making station, a dress up station with costumes from all over the world and a book reading corner with a selection of books from all over the world.

My kids had such a great time collecting stamps from each of the continents and doing the activities.  This has now become one of my all time fave party themes!  There is just so much scope to be creative and to change things to suit the weather, your child’s age or interests and whatever props you happen to have on hand.  Such an educational theme as well!
If you’re looking for more party ideas, you might like to check out some

http://froggooseandbear.blogspot.com.au/p/party-ideas.html

A Fancy Nancy Birthday Soiree

Apologies for the suspense folks, but here are the long awaited pics from Frog’s fifth birthday celebrations.  
Just a little warning – there are quite a lot!

Food:

fruit wands – watermelon stars, grapes & blueberries
pink meringues with silver cachous
crown shaped fairy bread
edible tea cups
white chocolate grissini wands with silver cachous
oreo pops dipped in white choc with silver cachous
strawberry cups (chopped strawberries in cupcake cases)
apricot & coconut balls
ham sandwich pinwheels with toothpicks
sausage rolls
mini quiches

    

                        


Activities:

Ooh la la Nail Salon
finger nail painting
foot spa (bucket with marbles & warm bubbly water)
toe nail painting

Ooh la la Hair Salon
hair chalk
hair & face glitter
mini plaits with beads

dress-ups
basket full of fun & fancy clothes and accessories
fancy frame for pics
large mirror

make your own handbag
decorate paper plate handbags with ribbons, lace, buttons, stickers & watercolours



pin the jewel on the tiara

decorate your own cupcake

pass the parcel

Wrapping paper decorated by the birthday girl.

Some crazy woman put sequins in between each layer to bling it up a bit as well as an el cheapo plastic necklace and ring.  The two year old niece adored it!

Party Favours

The fancy little ladies each took home a homemade ‘pen-with-a-plume’ (as Fancy Nancy only ever writes with ‘pen-with-a-plume’) along with a fancy notepad and some edible candy jewelry (not pictured).  All of which they popped in their fancy new paper plate handbags.  

This is what it looked like after they’d all gone home…. 
and let’s be honest – it looked like that for days afterward…


You can see pics from more FGB birthday parties over here….

Tell me – have you heard of Fancy Nancy?  
How do you feel at the end of a party?  
Utter relief that it is over?  Or itching for the next one, like me?

*An enormous thank you to all of the Mums and family who just got in there and enthusiastically helped out on the day.  As always, I couldn’t have done it without you!  An extra special thanks must go to my beautiful cousin-in-law Kirra who so generously took most of these wonderful photos.  Thank you.  xo

Childhood Birthdays {some reminiscing}

Today is my 38th birthday.  I have always loved birthdays.  Although they do seem to get a little more uneventful as the years go by.  I don’t seem to put any where near as much effort into the celebrating of my own birthday as I do for my children’s birthdays.  Kudos goes to my own Mum for coming over yesterday though with a delicious afternoon tea to help me celebrate … and for cleaning up afterwards (which, if truth be told, was just as wonderful as the afternoon tea itself).  Maybe the desire to make birthdays special for our children never disappears.  My Mum has always been a birthday queen.  I inherited my love of going over the top for kids parties from my Mum.  Back in the 70′s & 80′s, long before themed parties were all the rage, she was getting right into it!  
These photos are from my ninth birthday.  Twenty nine years ago in 1984.  The theme was ‘Snugglepot & Cuddlepie’ from the classic May Gibb’s storybooks.  The chalk board that I am holding in the photo above says Beware of the Banksias written in the squiggly writing of the gumnut babies.  The handmade poster behind me says ‘Gum Inn’ – shake the bell (referring to the gumnut covered dangly thing in front of the poster).  That’s my sister Lou standing next to me.
 

Gum branches covered in blossoms were hung all throughout the toy room.  We had the best toy room as kids.  It was originally my Dad’s veterinary surgery and we lived behind, until he moved the surgery down the road and we converted the space into an extra large playroom at the front of the house that opened out into the kitchen.

We had gum blossom party hats made from brown card and crepe paper and it looks like we were allowed to use the fancy glasses and candles too!

My friend, Felicity is holding up a menu with bush type names for all of the food we are eating – written in the squiggly writing of course.  

She even decorated the plates with gum blossoms & wattle sprigs on the plates and piped the names Snugglepot and Cuddlepie onto the cupcakes.  They’re meringues on the plate at the front, in case you were wondering.
 
Every year, Mum made our birthday cakes out of vanilla icecream.  She moulded the icecream into shape, then melted small amounts to colour with food dye and use as paint over the top to decorate.  I’ve never known anyone else to have done that.

That’s me and my Dad in the photo above and my face covered in flour in the picture below after playing the flour game – one of our all time favourite party games!  You can read more about how to play the flour game in this post.  I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane and maybe even some understanding of how I got bitten by the party bug!  
I think I have mentioned before that I have two younger sisters.  My sister’s birthdays are only 5 days apart and mine is a few weeks later.  Mum went all out with a separate party for each of us.  She involved us in all aspects of party prep and I have fond memories of all of us sitting down together making invitations, party hats and party bags.  We even decorated plastic plates with each persons name on them and then cover them in clear contact so they could still be eaten from.  We played the best party games like animal noises, the flour game, treasure hunts, dress up games, I could go on.  We even had lollies and stickers in each layer of pass the parcel long before it became fashionable.  She was way ahead of her time!  As we became teenagers they continued with Dad putting on big ‘It’s a Knock Out’ style games (remember that TV show?) set up in the farm shed which involved lots of mess!
 
This is really a thank you post to my Mum, who is an avid supporter of this blog and also an avid supporter of me.  Thank you for supporting me for the last 38 years and for throwing the best parties ever!  You always knew how to make each of us feel special and I can only hope that I’ll be as wonderful a Mum to my children as you are to us.  xo
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THE LEGO PARTY part 2

Welcome to the second instalment of ‘The Lego Party’!  
A quick run down on the games & activities …

I like to have “stations”.  Mostly because it takes the pressure off me but also because it cuts down a little of the awkwardness when you first arrive at the party and not everyone is there yet to start any group games and you can just get right into the fun!  If you’ve seen any of our other parties, you’ll know that we do this set up often!  There were a lot of kids at this party (27 in the end – what on earth was I thinking?!) so we had lots of stations and only 2 organised group games.

ACTIVITY STATIONS:
Sounds a bit formal doesn’t it, but it was really a very relaxed, play whatever takes your fancy, kind of set up.  

1.  Lego Tattoos –  I actually made my own tattoos.  I still love saying that!  These ones were made by photocopying a page from a sticker book onto tattoo paper.  You can find a full tutorial here.

2.  Lego man colouring table - I just googled ‘lego man printable’ to find this pic.  This activity was surprisingly popular with both boys and girls.

3.  Free play with Lego - I was so impressed with the things the kids created!  Many thanks to my mother-in-law who purchased the giant bargain bag of mismatched lego earlier this year!

4.  Pin the mouth on the Lego man - thanks to the great artistic skills of my friend Jess for helping me make this baby!  Made with coloured card stuck on a large piece of card.

5. Lego Straw game – move the Lego pieces into the cup only using a straw. 
Tip: small lego pieces and bendy straws made it a little easier for this age group.

6.  Lego Toss - How many lego pieces can you get to land in the plates.  Can you tell that it’s meant to look like a giant lego brick …. ? Probably should have given the kids a chance to score points and get prizes for this one, but ran out of time to organise it properly.  Not sure anyone minded though.


7.  How many lego pieces in the jar?  There were 109 lego pieces in that jar … 
8. Lego Man Photo booth – Thanks to the talented Jess once again for drawing this one! The kids and I had great fun painting the fridge box and on the day of the party the kids loved poking their heads through and getting their photo taken.  It is still a popular feature in our house (?!)

GROUP GAMES:
Pass the Parcel - We play this game a little differently than most.  There is no music and an activity written on each layer.  For eg. the person wearing the most items of clothing, the person who can stand on one leg for the longest, the person who has the next birthday, the person who can make the funniest face.  The person with the parcel at the time is the judge of that round.  In the pic below they are all doing crab impersonations!

Lego Hunt – Goose hid Lego all through our garden – front, back and sides.  Each child had to find four pieces of Lego – one of each colour – and exchange it for a small prize. A simple, but fun, game to get them running around and to tire them out a little!

The prizes for the lego hunt were chocolates that I made using a fantastic Lego man mould that I borrowed from a friend.  I forgot to take a picture of these on the day, so this pic below is of the ones that we made for Bear’s school friends on his actual birthday last week, all individually wrapped.  Tutorial on how to make these here and I just used white chocolate and yellow gel food dye.  I’m pretty sure they sell the moulds on ebay.
The take home goodies were simply a small lego set (a bargain on ebay) and some candy Lego bricks I purchased on my recent trip to the US that I popped in a treat tube (my new favourite thing).


You can find part 1 of the Lego Party here with the pics of the food & decos and pics of the invites & party prep here

You can also find more party ideas from previous Frog Goose & Bear parties over here


If you have any questions about preparing your own kids party, don’t be scared to ask – I’m always happy to help if I can!

THE LEGO PARTY part 1

Sorry to keep you all waiting lovely people!  Here are the pics from Saturday’s Lego Party to celebrate Bear’s 6th birthday!  

I made the sign by downloading the free lego font and printing it out, sticking it onto yellow card, cutting it out and then sticking it on to red card.  


 Lego bunting was made from coloured card and the dots were made by using a large circle punch stuck on with padded double sided tape.
The water bottles were decorated using the same method.


FOOD:
Having a party at 2pm means that you don’t need to provide as much food as you would at a party that falls over a meal time – makes things a lot easier!  We had… 

Strawberry cups
Lego sandwiches and Lego cheese biscuits 
(in case you were wondering we used the tip of an icing piper to make the circle shape)

Lego jelly (thanks lou xo)

Marshmallow Lego heads - I died the marshmallows yellow using this method and then drew the faces on with an edible ink pen.  You can vaguely see in the background the chocolate grissini sticks – simple tutorial here.


Lego biscuits.

Of course, as per usual, I started taking photos after everyone had already begun to attack the food … you can see what was popular first – the marshmallow heads, the jellies and the blue, yellow & red biscuits!

We also had a sushi platter (from a local Japanese restaurant), some corn chips, popcorn, jellybeans, kabana, sausage rolls, my favourite mini egg & bacon pies and a fruit platter (red, yellow and blue fruit of course!)


Lego Brick Birthday Cake – totally thought that I was taking the easy way out here by making lego bricks, but those oreo cookies were quite painful to ice with butter icing!  Don’t even ask how much red food dye (I even used the gel stuff) was in the red lego brick!  Did not cut that one up at the party!  Note to self: avoid party themes that require a red cake!

Stay tuned for all of the games and activities in the next post…


Click on the cake for more Frog, Goose & Bear parties!

* No, that sharp knife is not pointed at my four month old niece!

In Preparation for a Lego Party

Preparations for Bear’s 6th birthday party are well under way.  In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever been this organised for a party two weeks ahead.  Time will tell whether I can keep up the momentum!  

 Thanks to some inspiration from here the invitations were super easy to make.  At under 10c an invite to print, they were cost effective also.  No need to even write on the back, as all the info was right there in the photo.  Bear wrote the names on the envelopes before we handed them out at school (in a secret squirrel kind of way as I just couldn’t bring myself to invite the whole class – always such a tricky one that one! What do you do?!).

We stuck a piece of magnet on the back of the photo so the recipient could pop it up on their fridge.  We just cut up the free advertising magnets that seem to multiply in this house and taped them on using double sided tape.  In case you were wondering, that yellow contraption in the photo below is one of the best birthday gifts my mother ever gave me – a double sided tape gun.  Love it!  

To keep with our tradition* of making something from a fridge box for each birthday party we made a lego man photo booth!  Thanks to pinterest for inspiration once again and the artistic skills of our friend Jess.  The painting was a joint effort between Frog & myself before you go thinking she’s a genius 4 year old for painting so perfectly in the lines. ;)

Thanks to Jess once again for helping me create this pin the mouth on the lego man.  I love him!  As soon as I showed Bear he told me that he liked it also, but told me that he did not want to play that game at his party anymore.  ?!?!?!  So after a little discussion (no way that effort was going to waste!) we decided that it would still be ok if some of the other kids at his party played it.  Phew!
We’ve been doing a little pre-party prep in the kitchen as well and popping them in the freezer or in airtight containers and we’re currently in the middle of whipping up some lego bunting and making juice boxes look like lego bricks.  Gosh I love party time!

Stay tuned for more lego party adventures!

Feel free to follow my lego party pinboard on pinterest if you’re looking for inspiration for your own lego party.

In addition, some of you will be pleased to know that, as of last week, I am now on instagram!  You can follow me over there under @froggoosebear as well as good old facebook as I’ll be far more likely to be popping lego party pics on there sooner than I’ll be getting around to putting them on the blog!
You can check out previous FGB parties on our party page over here.
Are you preparing for a party of your own?  Have you had a lego party?  Do you use pinterest to collect ideas?



* I pop out the back of our local ‘Good Guys’ store and they are always happy to give me a box or two.  For previous parties we’ve made a princess castle, a pirate ship and a rocket.

TILLY’S HORSE RACING PARTY

As this seems to have become a month of birthday party posts here on Frog, Goose and Bear, I thought I’d share with you some pics from my niece’s first birthday party that I’ve been meaning to share since last October!  The perfect theme for a one year old in the middle of Spring Racing Carnival here in Melbourne for a little girl who was off and racing long before she turned one!  My sister-in-law did an amazing job!  Love that cake!

You might recognise a couple of props from a certain farm party and pirate party.

Do you have a party coming up?  How are you celebrating?

For more kids party ideas head on over here…

A Tree Party

Yes, you read that correctly, a “Tree” party was the theme of choice for my 7 year old nephew a couple of weeks ago.  Just a small do with a couple of school mates and his extended family.  

Game #1: Pass the parcel.  
For details on how to play this version of pass the parcel see this post.
Game #2: The flour game.
For details on how to play the flour game see this post.

Game #3: Pin the bird in the nest.  

Tree painted and names written on the birds by the birthday boy.  Love kid involvement in birthday prep!  In fact the whole party was designed by him!  Love this kid.


Game #4: Worms tied to string on the clothes line.
The kids had to eat the lollie worms with their hands behind their backs.  
Game#5: Tree pinata.
 Containing glow in the dark bugs, bouncy balls and wrapped sweets.

Some pinata action shots!

As well as some sushi and hot dogs at the birthday boys request, for dessert we had Chocolate Birds Nests

Fruit Cups with Tree toothpicks

Choc Grissini Sticks (aka ‘tree branches’) 

and a wonderful tree birthday cake!  It was dark by the time the dessert came out so along with glow sticks and sparklers.

The party was a week earlier than his birthday as his Mum (my sister Lou who many of you know) was due to give birth within the following weeks.  Not sure exactly how she managed it, but a week after his party, at 11.15pm on the day of his actual birthday, he received the best present of all – a new baby sister.  Seven years apart, brother and sister share the same birthdate!  Which ironically enough is the same date as our Dad, their Grandpa, who is of course quite chuffed.

How close together are your children’s birthdays?!
How much scope do you give your children in party prep?  
Do you run with whatever theme your child suggests or steer them in a particular direction?  Or is the whole ‘theme thing’ just not for you?

If you’d like to see some pics of some more diy parties, you might like to head over to the Frog Goose & Bear party ideas page…

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