Real Parties: tips & tricks from everyday Mums 3

real-parties

Welcome back to the Real Parties series here on Frog, Goose and Bear where we’ll be taking the ‘daunting’ out of DIY parties by interviewing fellow everyday Mums for their party planning tips and tricks.  Today I am interviewing Simone from Great Fun 4 Kids Simone has 3 kids aged eleven, nine and six, so she’s put on more than a few parties in her time!  She hails from NZ and will always be the number one party Queen in my book.  Simone is super generous with sharing every aspect of how she puts together her fantastically fun parties over on her blog and her tips that she has shared with us today are absolute gold my friends, pure party-prepping gold.

Simone – Great Fun 4 Kids

How far in advance do you start planning a party?

My kids almost always start thinking about/dreaming of their next year’s party while we are still sweeping up from this year’s but I have a rule that they can’t start talking about their party until the person’s party before theirs has been (they are all spaced out four months apart). Usually they have a pretty good idea what they want well before that though, so I take note of it, and start up a Pinterest Board to collect ideas once they are pretty clear on their chosen theme – which could be six-nine months ahead! The choice of the theme almost always comes from them, sometimes with a gentle nudge from me or suggestions from their siblings. Once the theme is decided, I can grab any on-theme bargains when I see them, so gradually start collecting things, thereby spreading the cost and the workload.

parties at greatfun4kids

What are your top 5 party planning tips?

1.  Plan Ahead – if you know what theme you are having well in advance you can pick up bargains and collect useful items, thereby spreading the cost and reducing the stress

2.  Make a Pinterest Board for each party you are planning. Collect ideas there; you probably won’t use 90% of them but you will start creating the look and feel of what you’re aiming for; this helps clarify the “vision” for the party. Get the birthday child involved in the planning of their party. Get them to sit with you while you search for ides online; ask them what THEY want (for food, for games) and get them to help with the preparation wherever possible.

3.  Have a DIY mentality and keep it simple. There’s no need to hire professional face painters and entertainers, instead drag in funny family members, other parents, older siblings and kindhearted friends to help run the party on the day. Keep the games simple and adapt old favourites to the theme.

4.  Have a written plan. Create a word doc where you list everything you need to do, get, buy and make. Have another list for the menu, one for the decorations, one for the games. In the final week before the party break down everything you need to do into each day leading up to the party. Tick things off once they’re done, then relax until the next day. And have a rain plan!

5.  Use the party inspiration you find online but don’t be daunted by it! Realise that many of the parties you see on Pinterest etc are created by professionals for photography shoots with models, not by mums on limited budgets for actual real-live children. Don’t be discouraged; find ideas that are do-able, and have been created and used successfully by other mums and remember that what really matters is celebrating your child and creating a moment for them to have fun with their friends.

PeterPanParty0249

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

It’s so hard to pick a favourite! I think if I had to pick just one, it would be my youngest son’s fourth birthday Peter Pan Party. I love Peter Pan (not the animated Disney version, the original story) and so we had tremendous fun turning our backyard into Neverland. Every member of our family dressed up as a character from the story; the games were old favourites adapted to fit the theme and it didn’t just look amazing was really really fun. Magical, in fact.

peter pan party costumesWhere do you draw your party inspiration from?

I love finding ideas on the internet, Pinterest etc, and reading blogs (like Emma’s) by other party mums, but most of my inspiration for party ideas comes from what my kids are into at the time, and then I try to adapt that to make a fun, original theme.

collage 1What is the next party that you are planning at your house?

Our next party will be my daughter’s 10th birthday Slumber Party. I’ve set myself a challenge this year to create all my parties for under a hundred dollars each, total. The décor will be using vintage sheets and blankets, patchwork fabrics and things that make you think of bedding (with a few stars maybe thrown in); we’ll be making pizzas, having a dessert bar, toasting marshmallows round the fire then snuggling up to watch movies. Sounds so simple but just wait, it will be fab. After that My son’s twelfth birthday will be The Hunger Games, where I’m planning to make a giant cardboard cornucopia filled with water bombs, water guns etc, give them all a “life” wristband and then let them battle it out. Should be loads of fun for that age!

fun kids party on a budgetThanks so much for being a part of this series Simone!  You really are the Queen of Parties!

Simone’s blog, Great Fun 4 Kids is full of amazing party ideas.  She’s such a generous soul and has made it very easy for you by collating all of her party posts on to the one party loving page where you’ll find pics of all her kids parties as well as how-to’s and tutorials and even free party printables.   You must check out her ‘not-so-plain’ party on a budget challenge that she has set for herself this year.  As well as her blog, you can find Simone on instagramfacebookpinterest and twitter.

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Every fortnight on a Friday morning here at Frog Goose and Bear, I’ll be asking a different party loving Mum the same five questions and sharing their party pics.  In between that 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 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 instagram under the hashtag #diypartyfun.  You are welcome to tag new or old 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 have all shared!

 

more-party-ideas

 

emma

Chocolate Grissini Wands

choc grissini wandsMy two sisters and I all have birthdays within a few weeks of each other and when I was growing up birthday time was my favourite time of year! My mother always involved us in all aspects of party prep. We’d choose a theme, design the decor, decorate party hats, set up our favourite games and help with the cooking.

For me, all of these things helped build the magic and excitement of the big day.  I have continued this much loved tradition with my own three children, although thankfully their birthdays are more evenly spread throughout the year!

One of the easiest ways to involve kids in the preparation for their birthday parties is in the kitchen.  Something that is a staple at all of our birthday parties, always a hit and easy for kids to make are chocolate grissini wands.

Chocolate grissini wands

You will need
  • Small grissini bread sticks
  • Chocolate melts
  • Sprinkles
  • Spoon
  • Bowls
  • Mug or glass
How to

1. Melt the chocolate by putting it into a bowl in the microwave and heating for 30 second increments until melted.  Alternatively, you could use a double saucepan on the stove top to melt your chocolate.

2. Wait a few minutes so that the chocolate is not too runny and then spoon the chocolate over the top third of the grissini stick, twisting as you go so that the chocolate spreads as evenly as possible.

3.  Over a bowl, sprinkle the sprinkles over the chocolate.

4.  Pop your choc covered grissini stick into a mug or glass until the chocolate hardens.

Tip: If the chocolate starts to drip down the grissini stick at this stage, then your chocolate is too warm and you need to wait a few minutes for the chocolate to cool down a little before continuing.

You might like to measure the length of your mug so that the chocolate doesn’t stick to the mug as it dries.  You can do this by simply holding the grissini stick up against the mug, like my 6 year old son is doing in the pic below.

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and then keeping your finger there as you put the melted chocolate onto the grissini stick making sure that the chocolate always stays above that line.

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5. Once the chocolate has set, place your chocolate grissini wands in an airtight container until party time.  They’ll last for weeks so you can make them well in advance which is always a winner!

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It might get a little messy and they may not look absolutely perfect, but in the end it doesn’t really matter because they’ll still taste delicious. Besides, you just can’t beat that look of pride and satisfaction on your kids’ faces from having made something all by themselves!

Believe me, if you start them young, they’ll be running their own parties in no time!

How much do you involve your children in party prep?  

Do you have any tried and true recipes to share that are great to do with kids?

more-party-ideas

emma

A version of this post first appeared on kidspot.com.au in August 2013

Real Parties: Tips & Tricks from everyday Mums 2

real-parties

Welcome back to the Real Parties series here on Frog, Goose and Bear where we’ll be taking the ‘daunting’ out of DIY parties by interviewing fellow everyday Mums for their party planning tips and tricks.  Today I am interviewing one of my all time favourite bloggers, Bron who blogs over at Maxabella Loves.  Bron has 3 cute kids aged 5, 8 & 10.  I first came across Bron about four years ago when we both started blogging and immediately warmed to her honest and humorous look at life and more importantly I knew I’d found a kindred spirit and like minded soul who shared my love of going just a little OTT for parties!  

Bron – Maxabella Loves

How far in advance do you start planning a party?

I’d like to say “months in advance”, because that’s how long I should start planning, but generally it’s just a week or two. I do set the theme about 6 weeks ahead so we can make the invitations and I half-heartedly pin a few things around this time, but otherwise I’m motivated by the deadline! For example, my son has a “Minecraft” party on in 1 ½ weeks and I’ve done absolutely nothing so far.

Maxabella loves parties

What are your top 5 party planning tips?

1. Divide the party into food, games and decorations and keep a list for each.

2. Keep a ‘running schedule’ of party day – both for set up and the actual party – so you know what’s coming up next and approximately how long activities will take.

3. Select party food that you can make as far in advance as possible.

4. Remember, the activities are the most important thing – the kids are happy with a cheezel and a balloon. Oh, and a cake. You’ve gotta have a cake.

5. If you’re feeling daunted, focus on just ‘one big thing’. Every party needs something with total ‘wow’ factor and the rest can be so-so. 

maxabella loves parties

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

Lottie’s carnival party.  It was THE MOST FUN on the day and we loved making all the decorations and food. Adding a special party dress for Lottie made her feel so special. Let’s face it, Carnival is an awesome theme. 

(NB: the pics in this post are from this party)

maxabella loves parties

Where do you draw your party inspiration from?

Mostly my head, but Pinterest coming along has been very helpful! I have a ‘general’ party board, but also about 10 others from various parties I’ve done over the past couple of years.

Maxabella loves parties

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

As above, Max’s Minecraft party. It’s going to kill me (which is why I am procrastinating).

Thanks for having me, Em! x

maxabella loves parties

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

You might be pleased to know that Bron managed to pull off an awesome minecraft party for Max.  Here are the pics & details.  You’ll note while you are there that it is probably the best minecraft themed birthday party that you have ever seen!  

Bron has lots of other great party tips on her blog.  You can find all of the wonderful parties that she has put on for her own kids here and her full of great ideas - ‘Party on Down’ series here.  Bron is currently doing a series sharing other people’s parties if you’d like to check it out or share your own!  As well as her blog, you can also find Bron on facebook, twitter & pinterest.

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Every fortnight on a Friday morning here at Frog Goose and Bear, I’ll be asking a different party loving Mum the same five questions and sharing their party pics.  In between that 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 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!

more-party-ideas

P.S. Did you notice that I have moved.  My new blog address is now froggooseandbear.com.  If you get regular updates from a feedreader such as bloglovin or feedly, you might like to go and update those now so that you don’t miss any posts!  Or of course, if you’ve never done so, you are most welcome to join up and start following now!!

A Possum Magic Birthday Party

possum magic book

Last month, deep in the Australian Bush, we had a little Possum Magic themed birthday party! Every Easter we go camping with my two sisters, their partners and children and my Mum.  We go to the same camping spot every year.  No amenities and no one else for miles (apart from the affectionately known “bogans” that set up camp with their loud music,  generator, dirt bikes and dogs every year about 1 km down the road and who get kicked out by the rangers every year).  You can see pics of previous Easter camping creativity here.

australian bush

While we were camping my niece, nephew and husband all celebrated a birthday, so inspired by our location as well as Jackie from My Little Bookcase (thanks Jackie!!!), I organised a little joint birthday party based on a favourite Australian children’s book Possum Magic by Mem Fox.  My family all rolled their eyes of course, knowing that I just couldn’t help myself where birthdays were involved.

We read the book and played pass the parcel with questions from the book.

reading possum magic
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possum magic party
pass the parcel
pass parcelpass the parcel
pass the parcel
A chocolate koala for the winner!
We went hunting for minties in the bush …
… and had a competition (with filthy ‘camping fingernails’) to see who could tear the longest wrapper.
mintie wrapper
We ate pumpkin scones and vegemite sandwiches as a pre-dinner snack.
We ate a dinner of Steak and Salad from Sydney and Mornay from Melbourne.

dinner prep

After dinner was finished darkness had fallen and we ate a dessert of mini pavlovas, lamingtons and pumpkin scones.  A candle in each.  One for each of the birthday peeps.  If you know the book, you’ll know the significance of these particular Aussie foods.
At our birthday parties when my sisters and I were children, we would decorate brown paper bags every year in a very simple way and write the party guests name on them.  We would hang the paper bags on the back of the guests chairs and throughout the party they would collect lollies and prizes from the games and by the end of the party would have a full goodie bag to take home.
We did the same for this party but added a few goodies as well: some Australian animal activity sheets, a balloon, bubbles, Australian animal shaped cookies and a gumleaf bookmark with their name on it.  To make the gumleaf bookmark I wrote the children’s names on the gumleaves with permanent marker and then laminated them.
Possum Magic
Have you had a party themed on a book?  Have you had a party in the bush?
You can see the camping party I did for my husband when his birthday fell on Easter a few years ago – here.
more-party-ideas


P.S.  This is one of the first posts with my new blog address - www.froggooseandbear.com.  If you have previously followed this blog using a feed reader such as bloglovin, feedly, etc. you will need to adjust your records so you don’t miss any new posts!

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!

mamapeapod2

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!

mamapeapod3

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.

mamapeapod4

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!

more-party-ideas

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