I wonder if there will ever be a time when my daughter’s birthday doesn’t catch me off guard? I remember hurriedly planning her Pumpkin Patch party last year and once again, the date crept up on us and we hadn’t even so much as sent an invitation. Life has been incredibly busy lately and to top it all off, we had just returned from a wonderful trip to Disneyland Paris so I even toyed with the idea of not throwing a party at all. Well, that thought lasted all of five seconds, as busy as I am, I do love a good party and I knew Susanna was at a great age to understand it more so within a couple of hours we had a theme, an invitation and a list of replies from excited family and friends.
I went for a much more laid back approach this year; no hay bales needing sourced or mechanics configured to create a ‘tractor ride’, much to my husband’s joy. Susanna has got very excited by the idea of indoor picnics over the past few months so we settled on a simple Teddy Bears Picnic theme and asked our guests to “Bring Your Own Bear” – see what I did there? Ha, genius! We had also decided a few weeks earlier that on Susanna’s birthday we would take her to Build A Bear for her first ever BAB experience; perfect for the party theme.
With just six days between invitations going out and the party itself I had limited time to create the perfect Teddy Bears Picnic, but in hindsight, that was a huge bonus. It remained simple but effective and practically stress free. The weather forecast was rain all day and so I started to brain storm ways in which to make the most of the space across our kitchen and sun room (playroom). We have a fairly large space to work with but we both have big families and so no affair is small, we always need more room! I took out some of Susanna’s bigger toys and created a baby zone in the playroom, added in the tepee and set out a few toys for the bigger kids to play with. When it came time for the picnic we cleared away all the toys and threw down an extra large rug for the kids and their teddies, it worked perfectly and felt like a real treat to them. Our party slot was two hours; enough time to open pressies, play and eat without any time for boredom to creep in.
I chose a pastel theme yet again, with mint green as our main colour. We had mint tassles hanging around the breakfast bar, pom poms, fairy lights, teddy bear garlands and bunting to create a pretty party atmosphere. Mark had created a super cute balloon arch for Susanna’s birthday morning which thankfully was still intact and really looked the part on the day. We added a giant 3 balloon to the side of the tepee which made it look extra party-ish. Most of the decorations were things we already had but I did pick up a few gorgeous pieces from Sostrene Greene including the cutest little party hats and wands for the girlies and popcorn cups with adorable bears on the front.
We designed our invitations for the day on my phone, Canva is a wonderful app if you haven’t already downloaded it. I also created a Milestones Print & a Teddy Bears Picnic sign to set out on the day. The smaller details always end up being my favourite parts of the décor.
Last year I trialled lunch boxes for the kids and found that it worked an absolute treat; not only are the kids so excited to open their boxes, they end up eating every single bite and the parents have very little, if anything at all, to do in terms of serving their little ones. Their lunch boxes had juice, Pom Bears, Teddy shaped sandwiches, raisins, grapes and Barni Bears. I am not joking when I say silence fell across that playroom as they tucked into their lunches with their bears, it was the sweetest scene. I hate being tied to the cooker whilst entertaining so we set up a ‘Build A Burger’ Bar for the adults and Mark spent a maximum of around 10 minutes out at the BBQ cooking up the burgers, which kept the kitchen free as entertainment space. We set out baps, various dips, salad, nachos, cheese, onions…all the good stuff to make a delicious burger! My advice for any party is keep it as hassle free as possible. I would have been so frazzled trying to cook and serve that many people but this way, we were able to join in the fun.
My Mum is an incredible cook and baker and each year she manages to create the most delicious, eye catching cake to take centre stage. This year I found an idea on Pinterest and sent it through, imagining that she would tell me to tone it down a bit but nope, once again she made a cake that far surpassed my expectations. We had a triple layered vanilla sponge with strawberry cream filling and white chocolate buttercream icing. Mum managed to create a perfect little scene with pastel coloured balloons and mint green stars to decorate the cake. It definitely had the wow factor and tasted absolutely incredible. The only trouble is, when a cake tastes that good, it never lasts long enough. My Auntie brought along scrummy tray bakes, Susanna made top hats and I set out some rice krispy squares to complete the sweet treats for the day.
I only managed to take a few pictures during a party but my sisters’ boyfriend snapped some great ones for us and my lovely friend made sure to capture the candles being blown out. Both Mark and I went to bed that evening with huge smiles on our faces. Our guests had a great time and most importantly, our little birthday girl had an absolute ball. She has talked about her party for days since, mentioning how much fun she had with “all her friends”. The little ones were just a joy and I do think having less (in terms of fuss) is definitely more when they are so small. A toddler’s party can sometimes feel a little bit pointless as they are so young and most likely won’t remember it, but I have to say, the happiness it created for Susanna was worth every moment. This is by far my most budget friendly party ever and definitely the most stress-free one for us but memories really were made and I really am so glad we didn’t forgo the party this year!