9pm on a Friday night and I’m desperately scrubbing a Barbie doll, ready to plant in the top of a cake – the piece de resistance of my daughter’s seventh birthday party. How Friday nights have changed. Fast-forward 24 hours later, when the kids’ pamper party is all done and dusted, and I’m pleased I went the extra mile. It was a party to remember and, I hope, will be notched down in my daughter’s bank of happy childhood memories in years’ to come.
When Frog chose a pamper theme for her party this year I was half relieved and half scared. Relieved, because it meant hosting a smaller number of children and avoided hiring a big venue, but scared because it inevitably meant I’d have to do a lot of the work myself. This meant it would probably be cheaper, but likely be a little more stressful. Swings and roundabouts.
Here are some of the things we did to ease the stress and ensure the party was a big success. (Scroll down for the full video, including behind-the-scenes cake dramas.)
1. It starts with the invitations
Seeing as he’s got a degree in design, I thought it best to leave the invitations to the NLM. He did a great job creating a pink design reminiscent of the Soap and Glory packaging. On the invitation we told kids to bring a dressing gown, and outlined a couple of the activities we’d be doing to help build excitement before the day. Although we only invited seven children and could probably have avoided invitations altogether, Frog loved giving them out and it definitely made the party feel like more of an occasion.
2. Go shopping
I’d ordered a load of decorations, nail varnish and bath bombe ingredients online a couple of weeks before the party, but when the order never turned up I had to make a last minute dash to the shops. I wish I’d just gone to the shops in the first place, it would have saved me money AND hassle trying to track the missing delivery. I managed to get everything I needed for the party from Home Bargains and Hobbycraft, including all the decorations, pamper essentials and treats. (Watch the haul section of the video below to see exactly what I bought.)
3. Plan, plan, plan
We had the party at 2pm, which gave me the morning to prepare for it. On the morning I made a list of the activities and organised the eight children into three different groups. Each child was given a name sticker with their group number on it when they arrived. It probably sounds ridiculously Monica, but doing it this way meant it was easier to do the activities with the kids, because we were doing it with just two or three children at one time rather than all eight. I also had a pretty good idea of how the party would pan out, working out when we’d do the party tea and when all the activities would stop.
4. Pamper stations
Frog is only seven, so the idea of doing a pamper party with face masks and relaxation was a non-starter. I knew we’d need pamper style activities, but they’d need to be interactive enough to keep the kids entertained. What seven year old actually wants to recline for half an hour on a lounger with a magazine, after all? So we set up three “pamper stations” with a sign for each one. We had a “tattoo parlour”, “foot spa” and “nail bar”. The tattoo parlour was glitter tattoos and glitter hair spray, at the foot spa the kids made their own foot scrub using two parts epsom salts to one part coconut oil, then soaked their feet, with the left over scrub put in a bag ready to take home, and at the nail bar we played “spin the nail varnish bottle” before painting nails.
With the children split into three different groups it meant we could rotate each group at each activity (we were able to do this because we had three adults – my friend Elly helped along with her teenage daughter Alice who kept an eye on Baby Girl). That meant no one was left bored or hanging around, another thing seven year olds aren’t particularly good at!
5. Do bath bombs
Our last activity was making homemade bath bombs which turned out to be really easy to do. I bought a bath bomb making kit from Hobbycraft, but I also used a basic recipe I found online. The kids could choose from either rose or lavender scents, and I made sure each child had their own bowl to do the mixing. This activity we did all together around the big dining table, as I thought it’d be easier to clean up in one go afterwards. It lasted about half an hour and then the children got to take their bath bombe home in their party bags later.
6. Keep food simple
I couldn’t be bothered with complicated party food and knew I wouldn’t have time to make it all anyway, as I’d be busy with the activities. So we bought a few pizzas in and I made a few sandwiches, along with chopped up cucumbers, carrots and dips. Every party we’ve ever done has ended up with me chucking a load of food away, so keeping it simple meant we only cooked what the kids ate, and there were no leftovers at the end. Winner.
7. Cheap Party bag ideas
For the party bags, we kept things simple again. The children took home their foot scrub, bath bombe, a piece of the cake and a little tin of handcream that my mum bought for them all, plus a mini packet of tissues. It was sweet seeing how pleased they were with their little gifts and, as a mum, quite satisfying to know that at least the stuff could be used and wouldn’t be chucked in the pile of plastic tat that all families with young kids seem to have.
Watch the video to see it all in action and laugh at the cake drama…
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