Party planning 101 – entertainment

This last instalment of the party planning series is so extremely last because this is unfortunately the part of Sophia’s party that is sorely lacking because I figured, even if I were to engage a magician and the like, She would have absolutely no idea what its about anyway. So all I did was to lay out a children’s picnic mat (the colourful sort complete with alphabets and bears) and place some toys on it. There was also a tent filled with balls from toys r us which kids from 1 to 7 years old all seem to enjoy.

Next party’s entertainment will probably be more entertaining (and expensive!)

Party planning 101 – Food

I started off my food planning with looking at caterers. Then I realise that there are many in Singapore with prices varying from about $10 per pax to $30 or more per pax but they generally offer similar not-very-delicious food. Plus I had a japanese theme and it was impossible to find japanese food catered. So I looked around and planned and looked more until a stroke of genius struck. I’ll order japanese style pizza! How does teriyaki beef, unagi and country greens and wasabi seafood on pizza sounds? Mighty yummy I say. I’ll supplement these with some sashimi and sushi (takeout from some restaurant), as well as some homemade wafu salad, potato salad and soba. For drinks I’ll get bottles of mineral water, as well as water bottles from Daiso that I’ll fill with homemade green tea. Perhaps also make some pink lemonade for the children.

That was the grand plan before reality set in. To start with, it  seemed like a tremendous feat to prepare the dessert table as it is. Food will generally need to be prepared on the day itself i.e. by noon which is the time the party starts. Then my parents had to plan a trip just before the party such that I will not be able to cook/bake/prepare on a couple of days. And the last item that spoilt the entire plan was that the japanese pizza restaurant that was going to supply the pizzas was closed on the day of the party. That killed the entire food plan.

The fallback was boring but reliable old Neo Garden. I placed my order less than 36 hours before the party and they were able to deliver on time. They could also include a sushi platter with the buffet which tied it in somewhat with the japanese theme. I did also manage to supplement with potato salad, soba, wafu salad and tori karaage. My mum contributed some bbq ribs which were a hit.

On Neo Garden, the food was as usual good but not fantastic. The service was prompt but for some reason even though the same guy came for set up and removal, his attitude on the 2 occasions were opposite extremes. When setting up he was jovial and friendly. When removing the food after the party he was very much the grinch. I was very impressed they were able to accept my order at such late notice.

Party planning 101 – favours

Packing the favour packs was really fun for me. Because I didn’t go out and buy one of those party favour packs and bags, but rather put together a lot of things that I separately selected or made. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with store bought favour packs, the kids love them equally much or possibly more. I’m sorry to report that I didn’t save any money on the favour packs and possibly spent more than average but I do feel it shows more sincerity. I’m kind of sad that almost half the kids who rsvp-ed didn’t turn up so it was almost like half the time and effort I put is actually went to waste. Oh well, they had good reasons and its always better to have more than have less. Anyway, lets take a look at what went into the favour packs:

Item 1: Homemade sakura cookies – Everything from the cookies to the royal icing to the fondant used to make the sakura was homemade. Cookies from flour, eggs, sugar etc, not premix, royal icing from meringue powder (avoiding raw egg yolks because its for children) and confectioner’s sugar, and fondant from marshmallows, confectioner’s sugar, butter and water. Each cookie was then wrapped into a plastic cookie bag and sealed with a card that was designed along the same theme as the invitation, banner, etc.

Homemade cookies

Item 2: Homemade jam

Little containers of homemade jam

I made a full sized jar of blueberry and strawberry jam to go with the scones at the dessert table and at the same time made extra to divide into little baby food containers for the favour packs. These were again made from scratch by boiling the fruits with lemon juice and very little sugar.

Item 3: erasers – I was very lucky to come across these cute erasers that were so apt for the theme of the party, especially the kokeshi dolls, but they were probably too girly to be in a boy’s favour pack so the boys got the cats while the girls got the dolls.

Kokeshi doll eraser

Cat eraser

Item 4: Recipe cards – I printed out the recipes for items on the dessert table and put them into envelopes sealed with kokeshi dolls that form the theme of my party decor.

Recipe cards

Item 5: A piece of the same kokeshi doll stickers used to seal the recipe cards and the favour pack itself was also included in the favour pack. A tad girly for boys but I can’t think of a boy equivalent unless I went out to get store bought stickers.

Item 6: Snacks – Baby biscuits for those under 18 months or so and hello panda for the bigger kids. From meiji and pigeon, in accordance with japanese theme of course.

Baby biscuits

Hello Panda

Item 7: Bottled water with party theme label. I got the idea from the party pictures from other countries that I saw online. For many of the parties the dessert table also had bottles of drinks personalized with a label designed along the party theme. I thought they looked really pretty so did something similar. My husband wrned that many may not dare to drink the water but I can’t see why since people will eat kit kat personalised with party labels and bottled water with labels of various companies. The seal of the bottle was clearly unbroken so what can be wrong with drinking it?

Personalised bottled water

Item 8 – Crayons. To me this is the filler, but the children may appreciate this the most, I’m not sure. I got 3 different kinds for children of different ages. The oil pastels are for older kids who are already able to draw well, the wax crayons for slightly younger kids who probably do not yet have the coordination to deal with messy oil pastels and the pen type for the babies so they won’t dirty their hands when using the crayons. These are just $2 a piece from Daiso. Again very japanese. I’m constantly amazed how Daiso produces such quality products at such low cost.

Crayons

What do you think? A pack of rubbish or a thoughtful pack that guests appreciate?

As for the birthday girl, she was just happy to use the boxes I stored the favour packs in as climbing aid to get onto my bed:

Party planning 101 – decorations

I can’t believe I lost the post on party decor! It just completely disappeared, its not in my drafts folder and not posted on the blog either. And I spent so much time writing it. Grr… I don’t think I can reproduce it so guess this will be an abridged version.

Decor planning started with looking at what the stores had to offer but since they were generally too gaudy and cliched, I did my own:

Completed Sophia's birthday flag banner while she was sleeping

Origami butterflies were folded nightly after Sophia slept then strung together and tied to dowels:

Origami butterflies

Origami butterflies were also scattered around the dessert table. Balloons filled with helium were delivered tied up in bunches and floated around. The balloons were the most costly of all the decor items and arguably the most dispensable, at least the helium version. Normal air filled balloons would have sufficed and pleased the kids just as much. Here’s a look at how the room turned out:

Butterflies over glass door

balloons and butterflies over play area

Banner

View of the room plus guests

Hope this post gives fellow mummies some inspiration that a special party does not need to be costly. It was exhausting but fun to be DIY-ing so much for a party but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

 

Birthday planning 101 part 2 – Decor

Commercial party decor in Singapore are generally gaudy and of poor quality. They’re also usually cliched, children’s’ programs character themed. The closest fit I could find to my theme was a hello kitty flag banner that I’m sure was made out of cheap paper or plastic and cost S$11.90. So I decided I could make my own banner. Here’s the end product:  

Completed Sophia’s birthday flag banner while se was sleeping

Not too bad eh? And the thing is it is really not that hard. All I needed was some thick paper (I used 160gsm which I found was just the right thickness), a printer, some twine, scotch tape and a glue gun. The glue gun was not even necessary if you don’t have one lying around at home. Its so simple to do I feel like i’m insulting my readers’ intelligence if I include instructions. Here’s how the banner looked behind the dessert table:

Banner

I’ve also folded origami butterflies using japanese style papers that I bought at $2 for 60 pieces at Daiso. Then I’m strung them together and tied the strings of butterflies to dowels that I also got for $2 for 4 at Daiso. You can get cheaper bamboo sticks at say Artfriend but its $2, its not forth the trip. The butterfly chain curtains went above the glass doors that led to the swimming pool and next to the children’s corner. I actually even had some left overs that I scattered around the dessert table. Here are the butterflies hanging out in my apartment.

Origami butterflies

To finish off, got some helium balloons and floated them in bunches on the ceiling of the function room. I do think that next time I plan a kids party I’ll just get normal balloons on sticks. They are about 1/5 the price and kids probably enjoy them just as much. Here’s a look at the end result. Not too bad I thought.

balloons and butterflies over play area

Butterflies over glass door

View of the room plus guests

So there. birthday parties can be special without breaking the wallet. In fact, they almost can only be special if you don’t go out and spend all those money on the commercialized party supplies out there. I had great fun D-I-Y-ing these decorative items as well!