I may have mentioned before, or I may not depending on how I was feeling about this characteristic of mine at the time, but I am a bit organised. Strike that, I love to be organised. No wait, I may be borderline OCD organised at times, but mostly I think that this is a good thing as it means that generally I am prepared and people can rely on me to get stuff done (though this can be a downside as people then rely on you to get their stuff done too!!) I have a large family, and my mum always likes to do little birthday teas or something, when it is someone’s birthday. I help her buy the food, put up a few balloons etc but she generally organises things. However, recently it was her birthday, so I popped on my little organiser cap and organised an entire day of festivities which included a mini party. I discovered throughout the process that I kept finding more things I felt I “needed” for the party and actually by the end felt that I had been quite disorganised!! This cannot happen again…at all… no I will not accept being disorganised, therefore I am making a list ( I love lists!) of everything you might possibly need for a birthday party. I’ll add in elements for the young and old(er!) and lets see how we do…
1. Cake – This is the centre piece of any birthday. You then have the daunting decision of do you have a bash and make it (I quite often do this) or do you order one? As we wanted to make mum’s birthday special I ordered one to collect from Waitrose and it was brilliant and delicious.
2. Candles – for the younger people I’d go 1 candle per year, for the older, not only do they not want to be reminded of age ( I am 30 and I’d like to forget that!) there also may not be enough room, so used however many looks good on the cake.
3. Lighter/Matches – candles don’t look good unless they are lit!
4. Invitations – Obviously these are great for sending out for kiddies parties as parents can pop them on the notice board. However, I also think they are quite good for adults, as people can forget about a text. Or go digital and create a facebook event for the big shindig!
5. Theme – Whether young or old, it is important to have a theme running through a party or it can looked mismatched! I am a bit of a girly girl, so parties for me are generally pink and fluffy! For the kids, it could be disney, barbie, pirates, dinosaurs and for the adults it could be a colour, television program, barbie or pirates!
6. Decorations – This can be any number of things but obviously they need to tie in with your theme. Think about balloons, bunting, banners and a sign for the door so people know where you are!
7. Location – Where are we having the party? A lot of villages have halls that you can rent cheaply for a bigger party or one where space is needed. If it’s a small affair, then move some furniture around and have it at home. Wherever you go, remember you still have to clear up no matter what! If you are having it at home and think it might get loud or late, make sure you let your neighbours know as a courtesy or if you know them invite them along!
8. The Table – whether it’s a single table with a big spread, or a set of tables for sitting and eating they need to be dressed. A table cover to fit in with the theme is a must, then of course you need the plates, cups and napkins. For large numbers choose paper ones (as these can also be recycled) for smaller affairs as long as you have a dishwasher or don’t mind the washing up use your own plates and cups to save on money and just get some napkins. I also like to add some table sprinkles like glitter stars or confetti but this is optional.
9. Food and Drink – What type of party is it? A tea party? A buffet? Work out what food you need or what goes with your theme. Don’t go overboard, do what you can afford not what you think you will need as I guarantee there will be leftovers there always are. If you have the budget, order some ready prepared food in, and if not hit the supermarket and get making. Classic cheese and pineapple hedgehog is still a must for me! If it’s an adult party, decide if you are going to serve alcohol. If so get a little yourself but tell people to bring their own so you don’t foot the cost of the whole bill!
10. Help – If it is a big party then make sure you enlist family and friends to help (especially with kiddies running around). If it’s a smaller party, make sure you are not left doing all the work as this can still be a lot. YOU will enjoy the party a lot more if you are not running round like a headless chicken.
11. Entertainment – A big must if you are having a children’s party. Do you use a DJ or a CD player? Party games? Pass the parcel, Musical Statutes, Chairs and Bumps are classics and for respite there is always Sleeping Lions – Just make sure you have some small prizes for the winners. If you choose sweets for the prizes, make sure they are suitable for vegetarians as there are more of us than you think. Of course, you might not need anything with an adult party as people often just chat and mingle.
12. Party Bags – Is this the type of birthday where you will be giving party bags to take home? If so, again don’t go overboard and do what you can afford. A piece of the birthday cake counts as one thing, and you could always include a “Thank you for coming note.” Also, most major supermarkets now have a selection of mini toys etc that can be included in these bags in their card sections – 4 for £1 isn’t too bad price wise either!
13. Bin Bags – These will be needed for the cleanup (though try and seperate out what you can recycle) but they will also be useful for carrying presents home in if you have had a big party.
14. Gift – Do you need a present for the party to give to the birthday girl/boy/person? This is something you can get done early on in the planning so that you then don’t need to worry about it.
15. Clean Up Squad – make sure you are not left alone to clean up the mess that is left behind. Deploy your “Help” to make sure it’s done quickly so that you can sit down and pop your feet up with a nice cup of tea (G&T that is )