Monday, 30 January 2012

DIY - Giant Paper Flower

Morning! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Katie and I are heading to Bubble London this morning to be inspired by new trends in the world of childrens fashion, interiors and gifts.  So today I have a little DIY post for you.  Well it's not so little actually! I found this tutorial last week and thought what a fab idea for creating a little whimsy at a fairy party or to add some giant magic to a garden themed party.  This giant paper flower tutorial has orginally been posted on Green Wedding Shoes as an idea for a wedding decoration but I think it lends itself so well to childrens parties I couldn't resist sharing with you.

For the full tutorial please visit Green Wedding Shoes

Have fun making and be sure to say hello if you see us at Bubble today.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Lego Party Inspiration

Morning! It's Friday and I am sure we are all ready for the weekend.  Today I have something bold and bright to end the week.  Lego is still a valued toy in many households and we have collected plenty of it over the past few years.  This year is all about colour so what better theme choice for a party than Lego?  Primary colours of yellow, red and blue are still very popular but I know that Lego is also available in a rainbow of assorted colours.  There are some fantastic ideas available from stationery designers and cake makers so today I will round up some of the best to offer you some inspiration in planning your Lego party.

Lego Party Stationery & Printables

Great ideas for table dressing from Parties & Holidays blog.

Quick & easy treat or party favour from Flexible Dreams blog.
Stick half a small marshmallow on a large marshmallow, dip in yellow icing & draw face on with black writing icing!

This cake is easily achieveable.  Bake a flat rectangular sponge that can then be cut into block shapes.  Add cupcakes on top then cover in buttercream, choosing different colours for each block!
idea from Blisstree / image from Betty Crocker

Great party favour ideas available from Etsy.

I  love this lego brick pinata! The full tutorial can be found on Delia Creates blog.

I really hope these ideas will help in your planning a Lego themed party. Be sure to share your photos with us if you host a Lego party this year!

Have a fantastic weekend

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review - Carddies

Morning! Today I am thrilled to share with you a new product that will brighten up these grey winter days and stop your children saying 'I'm bored', or at least it will keep them busy for a  little while.  Also this great new toy can be packed away and taken in the car, to grandmas, to the childminders or even on an aeroplane. What is it I hear you ask? Carddies. No not a woollen garment to keep you warm! Carddies is a fantastic new toy that allows your child to play and use their imagination and my three daughters have had lots of fun testing out three different sets.

School Set

Esther and Raquel are the designers behind this great new idea and with seven children between them understand what children want and love to do. After a wet summer holiday of drawing people on the back of cereal packs to keep their chidlren amused the idea for Carddies began. Before long the two sisters had created several hand drawn sets which they soon turned into Carddies.

fairies set

In a world where children are swamped with hi-tech gadgets and toys Carddies offer them hours of fun through imaginative play and the toys can easily be packed away and taken to grans or out to a restaurant. Carddies are made from high quality card here in the UK and have eight different sets available. Although Lucy, Amber and Kitty have already made a list of other ideas for future Carddies! So it all sounds fabulous but the true test comes with the appeal to children. My daughters love making, colouring and creating, having spent hours recently making houses and clothes for peg dolls, which I promise to share here very soon. Honestly my daughters could give Kevin McCloud a run for his money with their house design skills!

family set
I will now share what my three daughters thought of Carddies.

"I liked colouring them in the best. I want a vet set and the ballerinas next please. I really like playing with the fairies now I've finished colouring them in."
Kitty, aged 5, tested the Faries set
"I liked colouring in the background the best and love the little babies in my set! I would really like more backgrounds for the house and family set, or maybe a nursery school or a farm. I would also really like a duckpond and horses with jumps!"
Amber, aged 9, tested the Family set.

"I think they are fun and a great idea. I would definately like more sets, especially a space set with a rocket and aliens and a backdrop of the moon. Or maybe a beach holiday, a circus or a snowy day. Overall I love Carddies and recommend them to anyone who likes colouring!"
Lucy, aged 10, tested the School set

knights set
Carddies would make a great activity at a party or as a gift. I also think they would make a fantastic toy for children to have at a wedding.  The sets do not take up a huge amount of space when being played with so children could easily play at the wedding breakfast table.
Carddies can be purchased from their website or on Amazon.
Happy colouring!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Marshmallow Sheep Cupcakes from Annabel Karmel

Morning! Yesterday we shared a great guest post from Annabel Karmel with some fun ideas for party food.  Today Annabel has kindly shared a recipe for Marshmallow Sheep Cupcakes that would be perfect for many party themes or for a special treat.

Marshmallow Sheep Cupcakes
Cupcake Ingredients
  • 125g butter at room temperature
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Quarter tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (medium)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Marshmallow Sheep
large white marshmallows
mini white marshmallows
tube of black Writing Icing

100g (4 oz) butter, softened
225g (8 oz) icing sugar, sieved
1 tbsp water

To make the cupcakes preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F / Gas 4. Line a muffin tin with paper cases.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl; and beat until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl.

Beat the eggs and vanilla and add to the bowl. Beat until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until risen, golden and firm to the touch.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, sieve the icing sugar. Beat the butter until creamy in an electric mixer, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Finally beat in the tablespoon of water.

Spread a layer of buttercream over the cupcakes using a palette knife and making a small mound of buttercream in the centre.

Cut the mini marshmallows in half and arrange them in two circles around the edge of the cakes.

Cut the large marshmallows in half. Place one half on top of the mound of buttercream for the face.

Cut the other half of the marshmallow in half again and place on either side of the sheep’s face for the ears – the marshmallow ears will stick naturally as the cut side of the marshmallow are very sticky. Arrange some halved mini marshmallows on the top and behind the sheep’s head.

Draw eyes and noses on the sheep’s face using the black Writing Icing.

Makes 10 animal cupcakes

Thank you Annabel, I will be trying these at the weekend.

Don't foget to share your photos if you make these yummy sheep.


Monday, 23 January 2012

Party Food Ideas from Annabel Karmel

Good morning and I hope you all have had a lovely weekend. I had a great time baking with two of my children yesterday and the cake tins are now full again for the start of the week.  When planning a children's party the food is going to be a very important part and whilst we love to serve sugary treats at parties it is also important to offer healthy options too.  Today I am thrilled to welcome Annabel Karmel to help you all with planning party food treats.  Annabel has written twenty six books on baby and childrens food and nutrition to encourage young children to eat healthy food, often without them realising that vegetables are included and providing parents with quick and easy recipes.  Now you can get great recipes, meal planners, shopping lists and more to your iPhone with Annabel's new app 'Annabel's Essential Guide To Feeding Your Baby & Toddler'.

Now without further ado let's find out Annabel's party food ideas.
Having your own children’s party can be a lot of fun, and as the trend for ‘Do it yourself’ is getting more and more popular, there are great ideas available to get you inspired whatever the size and budget you have.  The most successful parties I have had are when my children got involved, this can take a bit more time, but they can take so such pleasure from creating something themselves and having a say in something like the theme or some of the games.

caterpillar sandwiches - image source

I think cooking parties are great, as all children love getting involved and getting their hands messy. If you are doing this you want to make it as simple as possible, just make one or two things that don’t involve too much cooking and no sharp knives! Try making different shaped sandwiches and see who can come up with the most interesting character using cookie cutters and brown and white bread.
cookie cutters from cookie crumbles

Make up lots of cookie dough (gingerbread is a nice easy one to use) and divide up balls of dough and give everyone a rolling pin and a variety of cookie cutters. Cupcakes are also a great idea for a cooking party. You can make a whole batch of cupcakes in advance and freeze them, then you have lots for children to decorate. Just put our some bowls with different coloured icing and lots of sweets to decorate, you could have themes such as animals or faces.

Jelly boats from Annabel's Kitchen- My First Cookbook

Make your life easier by not overcomplicating the food you make. Children are often drawn to the most colourful and fun looking food, which is often the shop bought brightly coloured sweeties and cakes, if you make your food as attractive and fun as possible it is much more likely to be eaten. Jelly boats are a great classic and look fantastic, why not print out a map and have them sailing on the sea as a centre piece for a pirate theme party.

Thank you Annabel for some really great ideas.  I love the idea of jelly boats at a pirate party and my own children love making sandwiches using cookie cutters. 

Tomorrow I am delighted to be sharing with you a recipe for Marshmallow Sheep Cupcakes from Annabel Karmel, especially for our readers.  In the meantime if you are stuck for ideas for meals take a look at Annabel's website or better still try the  new iPhone app.

Have a fab day,

Friday, 20 January 2012

DIY - Party Hats

Good morning, I hope you are all well.  I thought today I would share a great tutorial I found just before Christmas to make some fun party hats.  The great thing about making your own hats is that you can choose the colours and pattern of the hats to fit your party theme. 

So grab your scissors and glue and head over to Oh Happy Day for your party hat template and tutorial.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and enjoy all the parties!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Real Party - Le Petite Prince

Good morning, I hope you are all well.  Last week the lovely Alex of The Inspired Occasion in Australia sent me an email filled with fabulous images from a Le Petite themed party she recently created for a clients son's first birthday.  I will now let Alex tell you all about this party.

Our Client wanted a unique theme to celebrate her son's first birthday and loved the french book Le Petite Prince for the challenge was set for us to research and create something unique and a talking point.  There were 50 guests in attendance and we started by designing an invitation to set the scene for the party, They looked so unique and were a perfect way to invite the guests!


For the party, we added in lots of elements from the book such as stars, fresh red roses, figurines and lanterns to represent space.

Starting with a colour palate of blue, yellow and hints of red we created a dessert station enjoyed by all. The stationery was designed by us and our all baked dessert items where created in-house to incorporate the colours and theme.

Items on the dessert station included cupcakes, sugar cookies, cake pops and jelly cups all appreciated by the big and small guests.
There was also a themed chocolate mud cake cake which stood centre on the table with a hand made sugar figurine of the character himself and was a big talking point of the table. A selection of colour coordinated candy also added to the theme of the table.
Each child took home a loot bag filled with candy, a Le Petite Prince colouring pad and crayons.

We created the space feel by adding a backdrop with stars and hanging blue and yellow lanterns. We also had a French themed entertainer to host the children with an array of activities, games and dance.
Thank you Alex for sharing a truly magical looking party.  I love the bright bold colours and how you created a such a fantastic party from a childs favourite book.  The cookies and cupcakes look delicious and I am sure the guests and birthday boy all enjoyed the fabulous birthday cake.
Would you like to share a real party here on Let's Plan A Party? Be sure to read our guidlines, here and send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
See you all soon,

Monday, 16 January 2012

Photographing Children At Parties

Morning! I hope you all had a great weekend.  Today I am very excited to welcome my fabulous photographer friend, Courtenay, to share his secrets in taking fantastic photos at your childs party. So without further ado I shall pass over to Courtenay.

So you are photographing a child’s party, well what could be simpler right! Well I guess it could be, you could do what most people do and stand back and watch what's going on and snap away, but will that get you the best results? Well it will get you some great pictures, but to get the best out of photographing children's parties you really need to become one yourself...a child that is!

What do I mean by that, well simply you need to get into the mix. Children aren't stupid by any sense of the imagination, quite the reverse in fact. They are extremely acute and sense change almost immediately, this causes extremes in behaviour from complete shyness to outright obstructive behaviour. To overcome this you need to gain a child's trust, especially when they can gang up on you in a group situation. How do you do that? Simple, become one of them! You may be a stranger to them an outsider not a parent or friend, so you need to become one of the tribe and quickly.

Put you camera gear away, in fact don’t even get it out to start with. Get down on the floor with the children get involved in their games, be jumped on act the fool take an interest in what they are doing, get involved, take one for the team! Spend this time ten minutes or so, just getting to know the children and let them get used to you, do NOT tell them you are a photographer, you are just their friend. Once you have gained their trust you are now in a privileged position, you have entered the inner circle the magic world of the child, you are one of them and you can now push some boundaries.

Get the camera out, but don’t be obvious, keep the gear simple, one camera body one lens that’s it, what ever you do DO NOT USE FLASH! Flash will put you back 100 years, you will quickly become a grown up again and leave the fantasy world of the child, you have become obvious. You need to continue to blend, and flash will just distract and ruin that special trust you have taken time to nurture. So make sure your lens has a wide aperture crank up the speed and get on in there and be one of the crowd, your a knight defending the castle right? Or a racing driver screeching round the track or perhaps a super spy hiding from the enemy (the adults in the room, which you are now not one of!), be part of that world and capture it on their level.

Thank you Courtenay, this is a great insight in how to get fantastic photographs at childrens parties.
All the images in todays post were supplied by Courtenay and to see more of his work or to book him to capture magical moments with your family or on your wedding day please visit his websites.

Have a great start to the week everyone.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Chinese New Year

Morning, a chilly start here but at least it's Friday.  With just ten days until Chinese New Year I thought I would share some ideas to help you celebrate.  We always have a big feast of delicious homemade Chinese inspired food, which my children love, especially as they get to eat with chopsticks. 

Great styling ideas from Party Pieces

Dragon themed ideas from Etsy

2012 is the year of the dragon and I am sure children will have lots of fun crafting some bright dragons and paper laterns. I think I might try the fortune cookie idea this year.

Have a fab weekend everyone,

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Party Trends for 2012 - Part 2

Good morning. I hope you are all well and getting back into work and home routines after the holidays.  As promised in  last Friday's post I have more party trend ideas to share with you, this time from different areas of the childrens party industry and other party bloggers. 

I think that in the UK creative parents and party stylists alike will continue to draw inspiration from the US and Australian party markets. There is a focus on the detail, making each party unique, personal, not off the shelf and visually stunning whilst still appealing to children. Take Anders Ruff Lego party, so many unique ideas but a real hit with children as well. The wow factor is still important in children's parties.
 Katie Burnett, Event Director, Les Enfants

In 2012, I expect to see alot more of the bright, bold, and modern style party designs. While the rustic and romantic will continue to be a hit, I think that we will start seeing more mod and bright patterns, dessert tables with a graphic appeal and more simplistic elements. I think less will be more when it comes to the amount of foods presented and the wow factor will come through from the design elements like the backdrop, the paper items, the linens, and original food presentation ideas.
Kori Clark, Paper & Pigtails

I think with the prevailing global economics, customers and designers are going back to basics and creating lovely, but more "realistic" parties. The huge dessert tables and extravagant set ups are giving way to a more cosy, handmade style - from decorations to the food!
Owner, Bird's Party
Joanne as a pirate - Act One Parties
Looking at my bookings already for 2012 I can see a bit of a shift away from Pirates and Superheroes as top themes for boys and a move towards more Transport based themed parties.  I am sure the release of Cars 2 at the cinema and on DVD last year has something to do with this move.  Space and Robots seem to also be very popular and I'm sure the release of Star Wars in 3D at the cinema around February half term will perpetuate this.  However I am confident that when the Aardman Animations film Pirates is released later in the year, we will see Pirate themed parties being rejuvenated.

For girls princesses will be eternally popular but there seems to be a move towards more "Fairytale" themed parties to include Knights and other non-princess characters.  I am also seeing a rise in girls parties wanting to do some sort of performance which I am sure is influenced by the many talent shows they see on television.
Joanne McGowan,  Act One Parties

With the renewed interest in home baking and decorating cupcakes I  have had more requests for Cupcake Toppers, Mini Cake Bunting and custom Food Labels for the most wonderful desert tables with  inventive names to go with their party theme.  So I could see more Tea Parties and Teddy Bear's Picnics maybe baking and decorating their  own cookies and cakes.
Catherine, Owner, Bumpkin

Best of British…
At Notorious we feel this year is going to be all about British spirit what with the Olympics, Queens Diamond Jubilee and also clients still running on the back of the Royal Wedding. We have been asked to create many Royal Wedding parties for little girls and boys where the girls learn how to move/dance like a princess and boys learn soldier skills with inspired crafts such as crown decorating or royal crown cookie decorating led by our very own Prince & Princess.
With the Olympics coming up we are creating some sport themed parties reflecting team GB as well as other countries. Entertainment such as team games & races, learning new skills such as gymnastics & football, there is such a wide scope of fun ideas to be explored with this theme.
Strictly, X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent….
As we are in a media frenzy culture the TV shows our children watch are a huge influence on trends. With Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor & the up and coming Britain’s Got Talent we are creating some really fabulous performance parties based around these themes.
Children can learn new dance skills and funky moves with professional choreographers, vocal coaches teach favourite songs which can be performed or recorded in a studio, and we can even create full makeovers for the ultimate celeb look. This will be loved by both boys and girls.
With Britain’s Got Talent we can explore other skills such as circus skills, football freestyling, magic, different styles of dance, the list is endless..

Victoria Pearce, Notorious Productions

In harder economic climes, people are looking for ways to save so ranges that work for both adults and children are very popular. There will be many reasons for the whole family to celebrate together this year, with the London Olympics, so these ranges are perfect for large indoor or outdoor gatherings. Bunting and helium balloon kits will be at the top of the party shopping list. Let's hope for a warm and dry summer so people can celebrate outside!

Cupcakes are still a big hit when it comes to planning party food, but fun cake pops have already hit the scene in a big way and will be even bigger this year we think.
The vintage tea look will be big again, as people increasingly hold bridal showers and baby showers. Our Utterly Scrumptious Range is very popular 

As ever, themes are very popular amongst children and largely depend on what's they are into at school, Moshi Monsters are big right now for example, but perennial favourites include Disney themes, Lego, Peppa Pig and Super Mario.

With the focus on sport in this Olympic year, many people will opt for outdoor parties around this theme, so parties featuring games and activities will be popular. 
Sarah Reynolds, The Party Times
Food presentation is gaining momentum - not just for dessert tables but for savories as well. Anything served in bite size or individual portions is a winner, especially when served in unexpected containers like glass votive holders, shot glasses, etc.
After a 2 year love affair with vintage styling, we'll see refined glamour making a come-back. Look for modern design with gilded elements, graphic patterns, and brilliant colors.
Less is More. The elaborately styled dessert tables with budgets the size of a small state will make room for "real life" sized tables with more homemade items or store bought items that the host can embelish her self.
Chris Nease, Celebrations At Home

The Inspired Occasion are keen party followers and we a seeing a trend towards attention to detail, specifically dessert stations being themed around our all time favourite story books weather it be Alice in Wonderland, The Hungry Caterpillar, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Pinoccio, The Little Prince. We love making these children's novels come the life, with some parties being very specifically themed around a specific chapter, element or favourite character.
Alex Shaw, The Inspired Occasion

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped with this post.  Now we all wait and see what 2012 will actually hold and if our trend predictions are correct!

Have a great day everyone,

Monday, 9 January 2012

Real Party - Aqua, Lime & The Movie UP

Good morning, I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.  It was back to reality in our house, with hockey practices and a school musical rehersal, but we still found time to bake some cakes and play a game of Scrabble!  Today I have a a fab real party to share with you, inspired by the Disney movie, UP.  I will now pass you over to Isa Maria to share how she created her sons third birthday party.

Today I'm excited to share my son Joseph's birthday party! He will be three tomorrow and at the weekend we had a small family get together with little handmade touches.

The original inspiration was the film Up which was the theme Joseph requested. He loves the film which is a great story of hope and friendship so I wanted to honour his wishes for an Up theme without having to buy lots of film merchandise

If you have seen the film you'll know there is a house that gets lifted up in the air by a huge bunch of balloons. My Mum's friend made a house shaped cake with the two main characters from the film out of icing. It turns out she had never seen the film so she only put a couple of balloons instead of the hundreds that were meant to lift the house but Joseph didn't seem to notice.

The rest of the theme was based on balloons with a lime and aqua colour scheme. I used crepe streamers all over the place and attempted a tissue paper pom! I bought some patterned digital paper from Sweet Papers on Etsy and was able to use my circle cutter to make lots of circles out of card. Joseph helped cut them out and passed them to me to thread for garlands which we hung from the balloons. He also helped with gluing them together with a wooden cocktail stick in the middle for cupcake toppers.

We had cupcakes in polka dot cases echoing the balloon/circle theme. I also made round sugar cookies which I baked with oven proof lollypop sticks to look like balloons on string. I covered these with Royal icing in pale blue and green and dipped some in round sprinkles.

Favours were mini glassine bags full of jelly babies. Each bag was topped with a patterned circle and stuck on with green gingham Japanese deco tape. We also gave out the balloon cookies wrapped in a food safe bag secured with deco tape and mini bottles of bubbles which also tied in with the balloon theme! I removed the labels and added some more deco tape for decoration. 

 It was so easy to add some handmade touches to the day and it didn't take long to put together. Most of the items like the glassine bags, deco tape, circle cutter I had already but you can find similar on Etsy or most craft shops. The digital papers are so versatile.You print them out yourself on either paper or card and can print them as many times as you need. I had plans for paper chains and pinwheels but just didn't have time. The possibilities though are endless!

Thank you so much Isa Maria for sharing Joseph's party.  The details are gorgeous and just shows how easy it is to create an amazing party once you have a theme, some creative imagination and of course some time.

Do you have a party you would like to share here on Let's Plan A Party?  Please email me with the party details and photos.

See you all soon,