Let me start this by saying that the party I throw every year as a joint celebration for my 2 children’s birthdays, has very little to do with the kids!! It’s mainly about me. And the other guests of course. But mainly me, and the fact that I am in my element when I’m organising a party.
From the guest list (and the people I joyfully exclude from it just because they’re knobs!) to the decorations and food, I enjoy every last second. Except the party itself. By the time that comes I’m exhausted and I just want to sit in the garden drinking gin and Prosecco and admiring my handiwork, without having to make small talk all afternoon 😂
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends, and I adore every person that takes time out of their busy lives to celebrate with us. I’m truly grateful. But the pressure I put on myself to make sure each and every one of them is enjoying it to the max is immense. And exhausting. I quite often slope off for a bit of peace and quiet with the tortoise (that’s not a euphemism, we actually have a tortoise), away from all the hustle and bustle.
So where do I start each year? This actually happens several months before the big event, with the selection of a theme. Just so they feel a bit included (it is their party after all) I leave this one up to the children. The easiest way to avoid the ear piercing screaming (The kraken) and the hormonal sulking (The boy) when they can’t agree, is to take it in turns each year. Last year for example was my weird daughters turn, and, just because it’s dangerous to conform, she chose a Mexican day of the dead theme….(I don’t know what’s wrong with fairies or princesses, but she is what she is I guess 😂)
Next step, I head to my Mecca and create a Pinterest board. I can’t think of anything better than closing my ears to all the annoying things in my house, and losing myself in all things beautiful. I can literally lose house of my life browsing flowers in tin cans or jars.
There’s 2 parts to think about here, the decorations, and the consumables (food and drink) Both equally as important as the other. All have to fit into the theme, obviously (I’m a bit obsessive about that) from table clothes, centrepieces, plates, cups, and cutlery. It all has to fit. Last year was all about bright colours, huge colourful paper fans, and succulent plants in teeny tiny Mexican pots.
The food, my favourite bit. I love scouring recipes, finding the perfect buffet food. In previous years we’ve had a huge antipasti platter (my then 6 year olds request) a picnic with individually wrapped rolls, little pots of different salads, and the hundred pork products that are compulsory at a British picnic. This year was tacos and Mexican salads. The easiest to prepare by a mile! If you’re planning a big summer blowout then this is definitely the way forward. I’ll pop some of the recipes at the bottom.
And finally, drinks. Last year it had to be margaritas! And prosecco, and Mexican beer with lime wedges (I think I spent more money on limes than I did on anything else) oh and a last minute addition of a jug of juice and some bottles of water because I’d completely forgotten there would be children there! This year is a Spanish theme so it’s time to get the sangria out 😁
I chuck in a bouncy castle, turn the heater on the pool (yes, there’s a pool. Not my pool sadly, my parents kindly lend us their garden for this event) , and that’s it. I don’t see my children again until everyone has gone home and they’re begging me to open their presents.
This all takes in reality 3 days solid work to prepare for, not counting the many hours planning, shopping, crafting….3 days of back breaking, exhausting work, all for 5 hours of fun. Do you know what though? It’s worth every second.
This all looks quite expensive doesn’t it? Trust me though, when I say that I do everything as cheaply as possible for these parties. The antipasti platter? All from Lidl, and it cost about £60 for all of it. Bulk out the platters with salad leaves and chopped up fresh and dried fruit. The Mexican buffet? Big platters of salad and fresh salsa. Fill people up with nachos. All the decorations come from China, just make sure you order early and give them plenty of time to arrive. Everything else is homemade. Throwing a party doesn’t have to be expensive. (The alcohol is where most of the budget goes 😂) but make sure you cut corners where you can, because it can be exhausting!
Here are the links to some of the amazing recipes I used last year…
First up, this brilliant recipe for margarita pitchers from twosisterskitchens I’ve tried a lot of margaritas in my time and this is one of the nicest. (I may have whacked a bit of extra tequila in just for luck) here’s the link perfect-pitcher-margarita-recipe but have a look around their site, there are loads of fab recipes on there.
This 7 layer bean dip is amazing. I actually make it quite a lot in the summer as a side dish for a bbq. It’s pretty cheap to make and great for feeding a crowd. 7-layer-bean-dip
This is another recipe that’s great bulked up for a crowd, or just a weeknight dinner. It’s so easy. I used rotisserie chickens from Tesco just because it was easier, but you could always roast your own and shred them to save a couple of pounds. I used 2 chickens and doubled everything else. It was enough for about 30 tacos. She gives some great tips to stop them going soggy, so make sure you follow them. No one wants a soggy taco….baked-spicy-chicken-tacos
I had every intention of making this vegetarian-mexican-rice/ but in the end I decided life was too short and bought packets of microwave mexican rice from Lidl 😂
This is yummy, but I make it with tinned sweetcorn because I can’t be bothered with getting the kernels off and having them ping all over my kitchen 😂 mexican-street-corn-salad
Lastly, do a huge bowl of this. It’s cheap and goes with everything, pico-de-gallo
That’s it. Just stick out some bowls of guacamole and sour cream. Job done. Until the next one. Let the planning commence…