It is so unlike me to be so unorganised for a party, but what can I say? I was in denial that my baby was turning two and so her birthday crept up on us very sneakily. I do love a good party theme and I had pretty much decided we would make the most of her October birthday and have an Autumnal feel but it wasn’t until we booked flights to go back to New England that I came up with the idea of a pumpkin patch party. My imagination, as per usual, began to run wild and much to my delight, my poor hubby (who has the job of making my ideas into reality) was totally on board and started getting his own ideas together too. We wanted to make it lovely for our guests, fun for the kids and also make some memories for the three of us but essentially we were going to have a house full so space was a priority. We certainly don’t do things by halves as in the midst of everything else Mark busied himself crafting a full decking, finishing the play zone and just making our garden a bit more functional and pretty so that our guests could spill outside if weather permitted.
The party mostly drew inspiration from our road trip in New England last October. We did our fair share of farm visits whilst across the pond and we knew we wanted to include some pumpkin patch essentials; hay bales, hay rides and pumpkins of course! I thought the small pumpkins would make great party favours in place of party bags for the kids to take home, so we set up our little pumpkin patch with large pumpkins, gourds and smaller pumpkins that the little ones could pick. I stocked up from the fabulous Slemish Market Garden which is our local organic farm shop, if you are local you should make it top of your ‘to do’ list. My hubby and his brother did an amazing job in creating our own little tractor hay ride to complete the whole pumpkin patch theme. This was by far the highlight of the day as Mark took kids (and giggling adults) on countless hay rides round the garden, that man’s patience is amazing. It was just so fabulous seeing the big smiles on everyone’s faces, and so worth the very last minute work to get it all done.
I chose a pastel theme for decorations, not wanting to make it feel Halloween-y. We had pastel coloured bunting, lanterns and pompoms throughout the kitchen and play room and some Autumn leaves scattered over the table. I like to make a point of printing Polaroid’s for Susanna’s birthdays and this year we displayed them on a large decorative fishing net that usually hangs in our hallway. It was covered by the time I had finished. Our balloon arch from Susanna’s actual birthday was still in-tact so we kept it up and just added a giant 2 balloon and a little star balloon to the end of the table. Most of the decorations were either things we already had or little bargain finds in local shops as I wanted to save most of the budget for the pumpkin patch itself.
Mark designed Susanna’s invitations and carried the colour scheme through to a couple of prints for the day. He made an amazing milestones print to set on the table, complete with Susanna’s favourite foods, songs, books and her nicknames, amongst other things. He also made a sign for her pumpkin patch and it just tied everything together so nicely. It’s these little things that I love most. We have a plan to store all her milestones prints for when she is older and combine them all into a keepsake for her.
I wanted to make sure that food was easy and accessible for guests without having to be tied to the cooker for the whole party. We are both blessed with huge families that are only getting bigger, we have another little nephew due in December and our friend’s second baby is due in the New Year so I can only imagine how much fun next year will be. So yes, I was catering for quite a large number of adults and a good few kids. Sticking with our theme I decided that a big pot of chilli, and some hot dogs would mean that the grownups could enjoy some nice, warming chilli dogs, complete with jalapenos, hot salsa, lashings of cheese, sour cream and guacamole. I prepped for this the night before, cooking a mass of chilli which meant that all I had to do was pour it into the slow cooker to stay warm and cook the sausages during the party, it took so much stress out of the day. For the kids I made up little lunch boxes with juice, sandwiches, crisps, pots of grapes and blueberries, Barny Bears and yogurt coated raisins. The little ones were so excited by their boxes and it meant that the mummies and daddies didn’t have to be running back and forward to fill their kids plates as well as their own. Again, I had this all prepped the night before so all I had to do was add in the sandwiches that morning, easy peasy!
My mum is an absolute gem and always indulges my ‘unusual’ ideas for birthday cakes. I described what I wanted and she managed to create it perfectly! The cake looked amazing but I cannot even begin to tell you how delicious it was. Three layers of vanilla sponge with orange flavoured cream cheese frosting and decorated with orange butter cream icing, sprinkled with orange zest, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The guests loved it, as did we. My youngest sister works in Greggs and she arrived with two trays of fresh donuts; out of 24 donuts we were only left with two so I think we can safely say they went down very well. Aside from cake and donuts I made ‘hay bale’ rice krispie squares and my wonderful Auntie brought along the most delicious raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake. Oh my! My sister in law brought chocolate pumpkins for the wee ones and I honestly think they were the highlight of the food table for the kids, they were gone in a flash. I know I’m going to be day dreaming about all the yummy treats for a long time.
It was quite a grey day with some drizzly rain on and off but it didn’t put off our guests, they spent most of the time out by the pumpkin patch with the kids going between the play zone and the tractor rides. My brother brought is camera along and snapped some brilliant photos for us; I literally didn’t take any pictures during the party so I am unbelievably grateful that he did that for us. The chat and the laughter all over the place just totally made my day; nothing makes me happier than seeing people enjoy this home we built. We are surrounded by family and friends who are just so wonderful to do life with and the love that surrounds Susanna from these people just melts my heart. She had so much fun at her party and just completely thrived off it all. I was, as I always am, incredibly proud of her. We made some great memories and even though Susanna most likely won’t remember how much fun we all had, the pictures will definitely tell that story.