Saturday, 16 March 2013

Cupcake birthday party

Sophie's 7th birthday party was last Saturday and it was a great success.

I had done a fair amount of preparation for it over the last month, so the last few days before the party were really rather relaxed - all I had left to do was bake 50 odd cupcakes for the girls to decorate, colour up a gallon of butter icing and make the birthday cake.

I didn't plan to do much in the way of going home gifts as the girls were having a personalised apron each and were going to decorate and take home four cupcakes each; but one thing led to another and they ended up with a lovely selection of other things too.

There is a wonderful tea and cake shop in Twickenham called Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery, and I knew that they had gorgeous paper bags with cupcakes printed on, big enough to hold a four cupcake box. I often pop in for a cup of tea and a warm scone with cream and jam (well not that often otherwise I would have to run twice twice as much as I do!) and they very kindly let me have 10 bags for the party girls. I found and downloaded a cute cupcake tag which I personalised and attached to each bag.
In addition to the personalised aprons (see my previous blog here) and the box of cupcakes (I was really lucky in the timing when I bought these as they were 50% off in Sainsbury's), I also created a personalised laminated mat for each girl and I was given some amazing cupcake decorating books by the very generous Ann Pickard (who makes all the cupcakes for a brand new magazine called Cupcake Kate). We also popped a fortune cookie into each bag for luck!
The party was held at our local community centre (Sophie has had her last few parties there as it's five minutes away, amazingly cheap to hire and has a fully functioning oven which is great for cooking pizza). There is loads of space and the tidying up takes very little time. It worked very well this year as we set up four "stations" for each of the party activities: a pizza station; a cake decorating station; a smoothie station; and a food table. We decorated the hall with some beautiful cardboard bunting, some pink tulle and crepe flowers that I had kept from Sophie's fifth birthday, some paper honeycomb balls and lots of balloons - pretty!
The "pizza station" had a personalised paper plate for each girl and they put the toppings of their choice onto a pitta bread. Toppings included ready made tomato sauce, ham, pineapple, olives, sweetcorn, yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes and cheese. The named plates meant that once cooked, we could be sure each girl had the pizza she had made!
The "cupcake station" had the laminated mats for each girl with a decorated paper plate. There was a choice of five different coloured butter icings, bagged up with a selection of different nozzles, and sealed at the end with a couple of twists of the bag and a bag clip to stop it getting too messy.
I chose a selection of sprinkles that I thought wouldn't be too messy (ie avoiding the non-pareils/ hundreds and thousands I could picture going everywhere) including tiny butterflies, silver and pearl balls, red heart sprinkles, some loveheart sweets and M&Ms plus a few fondant flowers and stars that I had pre-cut. I also provide the girls with a selection of bright coloured fondant sugar paste and some cutters (flowers, leaves and stars). 
Essential items also provided were a couple of simple chopping boards that I use for my cake decorating, various small rolling pins and an icing sugar shaker for use when they were cutting shapes out of the fondant. I also placed a damp j-cloth for each girl to wipe their hands on if they got sticky and these were brilliant (I cut a full size one in half for each girl).

Each girl got to decorate five cupcakes - four to take home and one to eat at the party. Once I showed them how to hold and use the piping bags and how to cut the fondant shapes, they let their imaginations and creative skills run wild and we were all really impressed with how lovely the finished cakes turned out. These then got put into their cupcake box (which I had named) and the filled boxes then got put into their party bag, ready to take home.

I provided milk and various fruit for the smoothies: frozen strawberries and blackberries that we had picked at the end of last summer; bananas (that I peeled and froze the day before); tinned mango; milk; and apple juice for those who didn't like/couldn't have milk. The frozen fruit meant that we didn't need to add any ice or ice cream to thicken the smoothies. The finished blended smoothie got poured into a glass bottle with a cute pink stripe paper straw.
The bottles were another amazing find. I have seen lots of parties with gorgeous glass bottles for the drinks and I wanted to do the same. Doing my research before the party, it turns out the old school milk bottles that can be bought online only hold 100ml which really is about a mouthful and a half. I was really lucky to visit a garden centre cafe near to my mum's house and saw some perfect bottles on their tables holding flowers. After asking if I could have some (nothing ventured, nothing gained) the cafe told me they had no glass recycling facilities and were very happy to give me some. I took five with me and my mum collected the rest a week later (labels already removed to boot!) I tied white and pink raffia bows around the top and added a pink stripe paper straw to finish.

The "food table" was covered in a cupcake table cloth which was pretty but the bottles didn't really show up that much - a plain cover may have worked better but I did like the bright cupcake cloth.
The pizzas were served and I have to say the girls ate every bit of them, so much so that they took a long time to eat their food and didn't get around to the other bits of food on the table and their fifth cupcake until just before the parents arrived.
Despite a few tears from the party girl at the beginning (isn't that part of every party?) the whole thing went really well. Even Justin enjoyed it, despite being surrounded by 10 big girls; he made his own pizza and decorated his own cupcakes, eating half of them there and then! I even heard a few of the girls telling their parents that it was the best party they had EVER been too and that they wanted the same thing for their parties!

I really couldn't have done it without the support of my amazing family, Mr Snowballs (in charge of pizza making and helping with cakes) big sis (in charge of smoothies and helping with cakes), my mum (being everywhere she was needed right when she was needed) and my dad (in charge of the vacuum cleaner at the end of the party)! I really do value their support and know there is no way my children could ever have the parties they do without them - thanks xxx
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

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