Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Having a Party


Lately, my scatterbrained and distracted thoughts all turn towards Angus's birthday this weekend, in particular his party. I am writing a lot of lists and trying to make sure I've remembered everything. Trying to balance what matters with what doesn't, the essentials with the extras. And thinking that I blame my ideas about what constitutes a good children's birthday party on this book, Having a Party, published in 1973. It's part of a little collection of books from my childhood which are stashed away for safe keeping. None of them are particularly good books or classics, but they are special to me for the memories they hold. I was fascinated by this book as a child and would spend a long time poring over the illustrations and committing them all to memory.

I mean, look at it. The colours, the clothes, the decorations...it's so rainbowy, so self-consciously inclusive.


I'm sure I'm not the only child born in the seventies who remembers "hedgehogs" made from cheese and pineapple sticks poked into a foil-wrapped grapefruit at all parties.


Lemonade, anyone?


How I wanted to cook sausage on a fire. Even the clean up afterwards looks fun.


I think I'm there. Everything is either bought or coming in tomorrow's supermarket delivery. 


There is a bit of a red and blue theme going on, mainly because I wanted to use up all the plates, balloons and straws left over from last year's little Jubilee party. Angus wont mind.


I very much want to use this bottles - they look so cute with the straws in them - but have paper cups just in case we decide that glass and very excited small children might not be a good idea, Perhaps the older ones can use them. 


And the crochet snake is growing. It's about 70 cm long at the moment. I will crochet as many more rows tonight as I can, then tomorrow I'll start the head. It will be done in time, of course it will! 


What about you? Any random children's books that you adore for no good reason other than they were part of your childhood memories? And any tips for a happy children's birthday party? We are on weather watch at the moment as the forecast for Saturday moves from "sun and cloud"  to "sun and showers" and currently "cloud and showers", and hoping fervently that it's dry otherwise we'll be cancelling our bouncy castle and Googling "fun indoor party activities for ten disappointed and hyperactive four year olds".

38 comments:

  1. My best tip for young children's parties is to keep them short and simple. Excited children tire easily, then all falls apart.

    My other tip is for the Thank You notes your child will send for the gifts received. Young children can't actually write them, but they can "help" by putting stickers on the cards. We always insisted that the Thank You's be taken care of, later that same day, when the excitement to receive a gift was still fresh.

    Have fun! And many happy returns to your son!

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  2. I love that book and I think everything in it is a party essential! You have to have a cheese and pineapple combo stuck into a hedgehog. And I seriously hope you will be serving that custard and banana monster - I think that looks and sounds delicious! Ahh, the good old seventies, we knew how to live back then. Hope the weather holds for you. x

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  3. Such a sweet little book!! Although I have to say I've never seen such well behaved children at a birthday party, helping to put the decorations up, drinking their lemonade without spilling it and clearing up!? ;)
    Love the bottles and paper straws!
    Good luck and have fun! And happy birthday Angus!!

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  4. Great little book. I used to love the ladybird books as a child and have collected some over the years - I used to love Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty but my very favourite was Rose White and Rose Red. Indoor games - you can always resort to pass the parcel and musical chairs! All the best for Saturday and Happy Birthday to Angus!
    June

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  5. I had that book! I wonder if my mom still has it? Your party will be lovely! I can't wait to see pictures! I like the mix of blue and red - very summery!

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  6. Wow I remember that book, children's parties were thin on the ground when I was a kid. Having an early September birthday it always got overshadowed by the return to school. I remember having to explain to my son's friends how to play pass the parcel, musical statues, bumps and chairs. I do hope your party goes with a swing ... Sarah x

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  7. What a lovely evocative book Gillian! I can well understand the allure of those lovely seventies illustrations! And of course you will have to make a sausage roll snake to accompany Angus's gorgeous new crochet one! He's going to be fab and the great thing is it doesn't really matter how long you make him. I found the head took longer than I thought though so may be worth building that into your planning of time available! The pattern increases quite a bit making the rows unexpectedly longer to complete, I found anyway. Happy Hooking - you'll do it! E x
    PS Love your little glass bottles with the stripy straws - so partyish!

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  8. I was glad to find out that they were drinking lemonade - it looked a bit suspicious in the first picture! The style of the book reminds me of the 'Charlie says...' series of public information films from the seventies - remember them? Lovely book though! My kids parties always came from the Jane Asher party book with themes and food for each age group - great fun. Angus is going to have such a wonderful time x Jane

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  9. I wish I had that book. I would have LOVED it as a child. One of my favorite books was a collection of Mother Goose rhymes which had illustrations straight out of the disco era. Fathers wore bell-bottoms and shirts unbuttoned halfway down their chests. Mothers wore mini-skirts. Mother Goose gone groovy, I guess! I think your party preparations look great. I enjoy planning my kids' parties but after the most recent ones, we're paring things down severely for next time. I thought I needed to keep up with the Joneses on that front...but, no, I do not. Lesson learned.

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  10. That book is too groovy indeed Gillian. I had a lot of the ladybird books which hold fond memories for me in the 70's. I definitely remember hedgehogs with cheese and pineapple :o)
    I'm sure you'll do great with all the party treats and fun and games. I have only had parties for Alice and I tended to play traditional pass the parcel and pin the donkey type games. I hope that the weather is kind to you and I'm sure that the kiddies enjoy themselves no matter what it turns out to be like. Look forward to seeing your finished snake, it's looking good so far xxx Penny

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  11. I love the book ... and it does look familiar ... is that a sausage roll snake (the one in the book!!). I hope the party went well!! xxx

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  12. Shopping With Mother(Ladybird) is the book which has me wallowing in nostalgia.

    When my husband was a little lad his mother threw him a birthday party. They had the traditional sausages on sticks and cheese and pineapple on sticks. My mother-in-law had to confiscate the cocktail stick though because the party guests (and husband no doubt) were inserting them into the drinking straws and using them as blow-guns.

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  13. In my mind a party is still not a party without a sausage or cheese and pineapple hedgehog! x

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  14. I love books like that, reminds me of my childhood a little too though I never had my own birthday party (cue sad face!)
    I stuffed my snake as I went along, it might be tricky to start when it's very long? The pattern I used started from the head so it's different to your one. Looking good so far!

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  15. I hope it stays fine for the party, they'll all be so disappointed if it's rained off. The book I always remember from my childhood is The Secret Garden. I remember my mum sitting with me and we read it together, such lovely memories that I did the same thing with Eleanor. Perhaps my love of gardening stems from that book.

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  16. cheese and pineapple hedgehogs were the best (and oh so dangerous!)

    Fingers crossed the sun returns for the party...

    Book wise I loved (and still do) Tom's Midnight Garden. I'm itching to read it to my two...

    ps - thanks for your kind words about my work xxxx

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  17. I RAI remember this book too! I've had at home parties with both my girls and most of the mums thought I was mad! One year we had a 1970s food themed party which went down very well! :) x

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  18. I have a vague recollection of a party cookery book in which segments of orange were magically filled with jelly and little paper sails attached to make orange jelly bats. I never had these marvels at my party but longed to!

    Everything crossed for the weather

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  19. That book looks amazing, such great illustrations. I love how the snake is coming along too. Hope everything goes well at the party and you get some good weather for it. xx

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  20. I love that book! I'm always on the lookout for "Hostessing" and "Housewife" books, so funny! xo

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  21. That book looks fab. I like to collect vintage books my favourites are always the children's books. I love old ladybird books best. The snake looks brilliant :)

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  22. I have fond memories of my party dress. It was long, brown and polyester. It could stun from the static it gave off. I dread to think of what would have happened had it got too near the three bar electric fires that were de rigeur in the 70's!

    I have a few Ladybird books. A favourite is when the children run errands for their Mum. Can't imagine my boys in the butchers buying lamb chops.

    Leanne xx


    In answer to your Betty question - we have a large awning with two sleeping pods. The older boys have one each, for privacy and space. A camper is fab. But a camper with a drive away awning is fabber!

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  23. Hope all goes well for the party. The milk bottles look like the ones in my print.
    Yes, I have favourite book from my childhood, but can't remember what it is called. It was very English and maybe that's where I get my love of England from as well as my English grandmother and marrying a Yorkshireman.
    I will later look for that book and hopefully post a picture.

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  24. That book looks so sweet. My favourite book as a child was called Huff the Hedgehog, about a wee hedgehog (!) who wanted his dinner... Have never been able to get a copy for my own wee girl though:( I'm sure angus's party will be lots of fun and he will have a fabulous time.
    M x

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  25. Hello again, I forgot to say that the animal place from my blog is actually in Chi. Its not huge but its quite a sweet place to go with the kids - http://www.aldingbournetrust.co.uk/
    Also have you ever been to Earnley butterflies and gardens - http://www.earnleybutterfliesandgardens.co.uk/ That's near Chi too and somewhere we quite liked, they have lots of other animals and birds too. xx

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  26. Oh the memories that book invokes as a child of the seventies too! Sorry no ideas for a party both my children loathe party games or anything remotely organised they just have a gang of friends to play on their birthdays with a food and a cake for those that want it, much easier to organise! Hope the weather is kind.

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  27. Beautiful book, Gillian, so sweet!!!! Hugs :D

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  28. Hi Gillian! I love that book, but I do know what you mean. I always over think these things, but I think at the end of the day simply is successful - well that's what I've learnt over the years.

    Nina x

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  29. This book looks wonderful and so colorful! I love the color scheme for the party and the straws with glass bottles are such a cute idea. I know it will all come together beautifully...can't wait for more photos!

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  30. Just have fun and lots of wet wipes.

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  31. What an awesome book! Looks like they really know how to party

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  32. I love the book it reminds me of Topsy and Tim books. I hope the sun comes out this weekend and you have a lovely party. Can't wait to see the finished crochet snake x

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  33. This reminds me of every party I had a child of the 70's. Perfect and it is everything I try to recreate for my boys now. So wonderful

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  34. I think I would have felt the same about that book.....it looks like the party of my childhood dreams! I love the photo of the straws in the bottles, it looks ace! X

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  35. I have a 1970s Topsy and Tim book where they have a BBQ party, which holds the same sort of fascination for me. Hope the weather holds off. I too have a bouncy castle booked for the end of the month, and will be faced with 10 unhappy 6-year-olds if it rains!

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  36. I'm obviously having a senior moment because I can't remember having a birthday party - mine was always in the middle of the summer holidays. I remember other kinds of parties and yes, we had cocktail sausages, cheese & pineapple, cheese & pickled onions, jelly in paper bowls - standard 70s fare. And at one particularly exciting party, homemade ginger beer. It started a craze around our village and everyone had some of the 'starter' yeast thing which you have to keep feeding to make the next batch. x

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  37. If the party's over now Gillian, I hope it went very well! And you had a sprinkling of sunshine for the bouncing bit. I have Js birthday coming up ... I could do with a bit of 1970's inspiration myself! Ah the good old days .... X

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  38. Oh I remember those books! What a blast from the past! You didn't learn to read with Through the Rainbow as well, did you?

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