Tuesday 20 November 2007

Who ate all the tarts?

Betty thoroughly enjoyed her birthday knees-up on Sunday. She spent most of the time high-speed crawling around the room sneakily swiping jam tarts and fairy cakes from everyone's plates and shoveling them into her mouth like she hadn't eaten for a year. As well as stealing cakes, she also plucked a dummy right out of the mouth of a sleeping baby, which she callously discarded when she realised it wasn't edible.

Betty delighted in the big pink and red balloons, and the wrapping paper, and the candle on top of her birthday cake, and playing pass-the-parcel, and all the attention. She was very graceful and didn't mind the other babies playing with all her toys and trashing her playroom. She even turned a blind eye when a couple of pieces of her building blocks fell out of a toddler's pocket as he was picked up by his mum to leave. The mother looked mortified; the toddler looked gutted.

We had a champagne toast after we sung Happy Birthday, but unfortunately (or fortunately for me and Tom) everyone was either driving, teetotal, or underage, so after everyone had left, we went round knocking back all the untouched glasses of champers scattered around the room. My great aunt, our only remaining guest, watched on and gave me a pitiful look.

Everyone seemed to have a jolly old time though, and several mums were very complimentary. One mum even openly admitted that she was going to copy some of my ideas for her son’s impending first birthday. I looked at her modestly and said: ‘I’ve never had to organise a children’s party before, and had no idea what I was doing, do you really think it was OK?

Monday 12 November 2007

Party preps

How many sleepless nights, panic attacks and hot sweats can a party for a one-year-old cause? Hundreds, if you are ridiculous like me. Tom tells me I need to get a grip. I tell him he is treading on very dangerous territory and if he doesn’t shut up he can organise the bloody party himself. With a baffled look, Tom says: ‘OK, how hard can it be?’

The last time I felt like this was when I was organising our wedding - writing guests lists, designing invites, going on diets, deciding on menus and music, buying pretty dresses, presents, balloons etc. I admit that comparing the organisation of a wedding to that of a first birthday party does seem a little over the top – and as Tom says, maybe I have got things slightly out of perspective.

I have been imagining that Betty and her one year old friends are going to get upset if they don’t like the prizes they are given. Tom gives me a reality check and says they will only be interested in eating the wrapping paper and pulling each other’s hair, and won’t give two hoots about the toys… ‘As lovely as they are,’ he adds.

I bought a pack of modelling balloons, and then phoned Betty’s godfather and asked if he would be the children’s entertainer for the day. He told me that he had never attempted making poodles and dinosaurs out of balloons before and was a little worried about it. I reassured him by saying that there were some instructions on the packet and that if he arrived early he could practice beforehand. Tom pointed out that as Betty and her friends are all fairly young, it wouldn’t really matter if they were given the balloons unmodelled, or even uninflated.

I am using the wedding cake stand that Tom and I made for our wedding, and plan to have different types of cake on each layer – chocolate cornflake cakes, jam tarts, flapjacks, fairy cakes, brownies, butter biscuit hearts, and I have recruited all members of my family and friends to make them, as of course, everything must be homemade. Having said that, I did buy a little Smarties chocolate cake that fits neatly on the top layer. The other night, after a couple of glasses of wine, it looked very tempting perched there on top of the stand, and I threatened to eat it, but Tom put me on a guilt trip and told me that this was the start of a slippery slope. At that point, thankfully unknown to Tom, I had already eaten a giant bag of Dolly Mixtures that were supposed to have gone on top of the fairy cakes.

I am lucky that Tom brings me back down to earth every so often. He keeps reminding me that if I am this worried about Betty’s first birthday party, what am I going to be like in the lead up to subsequent parties when she is old enough to start bossing me around and having tantrums if I don’t get the colour of the icing on her cake quite right, or she doesn’t like the outfit I am wearing, or she demands that I lose weight?

Betty’s party is one week away, and I think that everything is in order. I have made a big banner fashioned out of an old sheet which says ‘Happy Birthday Betty’, and instead of the dreaded party bags, I have made personalized gingerbread hearts, which I will hang from branches. I have also tried to make our house look a little tidier. I asked Tom if he would mind if I started decorating the house with balloons and banners. Tom said that would be weird and he didn’t think he could live in a child’s party for an entire week.