5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Blast off! Anyone who knows me knows I love a good party, and that extends to celebrations for little ones, too. This year, we went to infinity and beyond for Alfie’s 4th birthday with an out of this world space theme (that’s the end of the puns, promise). Having decided not to do parties at home after Alfie’s 2nd (15 children, 30 adults, a lot of prosecco), I hired Exeter Street Hall, an old church hall which has been saved from redevelopment by the local community. It’s a bit run-down in parts and was definitely chilly, but it’s well-equipped and big and the kids loved having loads of space to run around.
We had 22 under fives attending, so I knew Sleeping Lions wasn’t going to cut it. Last year, I enlisted the help of Red Jelly Kids to keep them entertained, and this year was the turn of Cookery Doodle Doo – who run cookery classes for kids in Brighton. The lovely Nancy baked rocket, star and planet cookies in advance (plus two special robots for the birthday boy) and set out myriad decorating items on the tables – edible paint and play dough, marshmallows, candy floss, sprinkles, sweeties – plus there were extra treats (metallic spray, chocolate popping candy) for those brave enough.
The children put on aprons, queued up (strangely politely) to wash their hands and were remarkably well behaved for a whole hour. Then, some of boys broke away to play with balloons, although I felt the girls might have stayed at the tables to cookie decorate for another hour! The children got to take their cookies home in a bag with their own cookie cutter and recipe card as part of the party package.
For the party tea, my mum (despite being ill) came up trumps again with her Mary Berry-beating baking skills. Inspired by endless searches on Pinterest, she made alien marshmallows, alien cupcakes, alien and planet pops and, the piece de resistance, an amazing rocket cake. The cake was a mash-up of a few ideas we found, was delicious and Alfie loved it, although you have to be careful of those horizontal candles. I’m sure she’d be happy to reveal recipe and method if anyone wants it. And, yes, that is a photo of Alfie dressed as an alien (happy coincidence, taken on a visit to the National Space Centre) peeping out of the window.
My dad, the fruit king, made a melon rocket and we served up star-shaped mini pizzas and sandwiches with Organix Tomato Star snacks as token savouries. After tea everyone ran around in a frenzy pretending to be spacemen and rockets. Alfie and I had also made black sparkly space play dough using The Imagination Tree’s recipe, which I put in a messy tray (borrowed from Red Jelly Kids) along with some space figures and vehicles and silver star sequins, which was a big hit.
I decided to do party boxes rather than bags this year as I wanted to include a slice of birthday cake to take home (and I’ve experienced a pretty bad party bag cake squish recently), figuring the children would be full of cupcakes, cookies and cake pops by then. The best value I found were the silver ones at WF Denny (£1.80 for ten) and they were great quality. Inside, Alfie and I put a mini space glider, Glowing Galaxy star stickers, planet ball, finger light (from Tiger Stores) and, my favourite, an OMM Design make-your-own robot, above, which I bought in a pack of 24, £7, from The Kid Who.
Fashion credit: Alfie wears Smafolk rocket top. I wore a rocket necklace from Etsy store GlitterBomb.
Photographs © Lucy Davies, Harry Mole and Gareth Davies