Monday, 25 April 2016

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary (or how to organise a birthday party in a day)

With many children and a huge extended family, the occasions for celebration are many! We have an average of about 3 birthdays every month.

As for our family the Birthday season starts on the 9th of February and ends on the 5th of June... at least until baby arrives and then it will extend into July if everything goes according to plan.

I really enjoy organising parties, making cakes and I am not afraid of numbers (I have no choice but not to be afraid of BIG numbers) ... I like spending time on details and little touches that will make the whole thing very special and relevant to the person we celebrate!

We have had some lovely 'Birthday Parties' over 17 years of marriage...

... here is a tiny selection of the many fun parties we have had together with family and friends! 

Unfortunately in life we don't always have the strength nor the time to do exactly what we would like, or to achieve the 'perfection' we would want... 

The truth is that a 'Birthday Celebration' is not about the time we take or the money we spend preparing a good party... I mean if you can do it GREAT... It is more about showing the love we have for that person and moreover it is an opportunity to give thanks to the Lord for another year of life together.

It was only on Wednesday that Lucia mentioned she wanted a little party with her friends as well as the usual family get-together.... her birthday was on Friday... Panic struck... I am 7 months pregnant, working almost full time and my day off had passed... could I refuse her sweet request? I didn't really feel I could, in fact I didn't want to. 

The girls put together a quick invitation and while I cleaned the kitchen Pierpaolo put the various details on them.

Before going to bed I a shed a few tears, I cursed having to go to work, had some lovely encouraging words from Pierpaolo, took a deep breath, thanked the Lord for my family and all the good things He has given me... asked for the strength needed and fell asleep.

How to do it all in so little time? What to do???

1. Open the baking cupboard for ideas.

Our cupboards are always bursting with too many things, so it very likely that something can be found and although things were not bought for that specific purpose here was a chance for necessity, lack of time and desperation to turn into 'creativity'... Thankfully I found a few promising items.   

2. Get the children to do and decorate the invitations.

Getting the Birthday Boy/Girl involved in the making of the invitations, with the help of the other siblings, is great fun for them and one less thing for you to do. They scouted around the house for the best paper available and did some embossing on it. 

One important tip is always tell your husband or whoever is writing the invitations, exactly what to write on them. 
When we were giving them out I noticed there wasn't the time nor the address on them... it only said 'come after school for a small tea party', but thankfully my phone number was on them. 

3.  Invite a few friends after school for a snack and call it 'TEA PARTY'.

It is lovely to be able to host big parties when we can... but when this is not possible the alternative is to do the daily routines with little touches that will make the day a little bit different. 

After school my children, as I am sure many children on this planet come back starving... so that was the perfect slot to fit in the last minute birthday celebration. No biggy... a nice table cloth, nice plates, wine glasses for juice a huge section of nicer than average biscuits from the super market, a cake and candles.

4. A party is not a party without a party bag!

Cupcake boxes were all I had in the cupboard, but tissue paper or a little brown paper bags would have done the job equally as long as a treat was placed inside. I had some left over chocolates from Easter, bought a few extra sweeties and bubbles of course!

5. Go shopping the night before to get what is needed.

I love baking and making all things from scratch but when you are working the time available is very limited and whether you like or not to maintain sanity you need to learn to cut corners. It is very humbling and at times not very easy to accept but certainly good for me. Thank God we have 24h Super Markets!

6. Anything that you have hanging around if looked at from a different angle has great potential ;).

Pierpaolo and I organised a 'sushi night' for his birthday and for that occasion I had bought the white flowers in the picture above...
Well that's all I had and that is what I was going to use to decorate the cake... 

Whipped cream, sugar, a little vanilla essence and strawberries is always the quickest cake filler (also the nicest). I kept some cream for the top, added a bit of pink food colouring, lots of pink sugar and edible pink sprinkles... and the dismantled flower all around it. To my surprise the cake looked even nicer than I had planned as my expectations were very low.

I survived another birthday. Her day started with 'special family breakfast' with lovely croissants and huge muffins instead of the usual cereals, 'TEA PARTY' with a few school friends, 'Special Dinner' with some extended family (the birthday girl/boy gets to choose the menu) and cake with the rest of the family.
The Birthday girl gets to sit at the head of the table where Dad usually sits and they see that as a huge honour and privilege for their special day.

Talk to Lucia and she will tell you she had a GREAT birthday! It doesn't take much to show your children and dear ones that you love them, just adding a little extra to your daily routine will do the trick! Thank God for Lucia and another year together!

1 comment:

  1. This made me laugh because I did pretty much the same thing this weekend for our daughter's 6th birthday... She's the last in our birthday season (which only goes from February to May) so somehow I run out of ideas by the time her party rolls around. Plus this year was unusually busy. Still, it was a great party! :) Thanks for sharing what worked for you with #5Faves. :)