Question: How does one organise a children’s party at home in winter, while alone with two children?

Answer: Very, very slowly.

Arddun’s 4th birthday party has been and gone, but we are still stretching things out by opening a new present a day. June has turned into birthday MONTH, as far as I’m concerned. I started thinking about Arddun’s birthday party the week after Tony’s 40th party finished. And then it was all about incrementally putting it together.

It was like watching snails mate, it was that slow.

It had been very tempting to lump it all with professional party people, and indeed I had sourced a few quotes. But perhaps it’s been all my casual Pinteresting of late that’s imbued me with this false sense of, “Yeah! I can definitely do that!” What I failed to remember, of course, was how different my life is now. I no longer have long stretches of time in the day with which to plan and execute lavish parties. Even when I was working stupid hours in Corporate Land, I still had more time and headspace to event-manage 50-pax Chinese New Year house parties annually than I do now. For shizz.

Motherhood, in reality, only allows you to think and execute anything in 5-minute bursts. Try putting a strategic plan across that level of chronic interruption. It ain’t easy, even with the best household routine in place. Which is why I needed about a 20-day lead time to pull together a 2-hour party for 7 girls and their mothers.

I had decided on a Vintage Tea Party theme, because lunch was too daunting and I wanted something fun and feminine, but not attached to any Disney franchise (*cough* Frozen *cough*). Thanks to Alice in Wonderland, Arddun has a superficial understanding of what an afternoon tea with friends could look like, but doing it Vintage-style allowed me enough poetic license to go hodge-podge with décor and — more importantly — borrow party gear from friends.

Here’s a peek at the Vintage Tea Party-planning.

Arddun, putting together goodie bags for her friends. Loot includes chocolate chip teddy bears, colourful beads to make jewellery, temporary tattoos, and stationery.
Arddun, putting together goodie bags for her friends. Loot includes chocolate chip teddy bears, colourful beads to make jewellery, temporary tattoos, and stationery.

 

Party bags for friends
Special bags for special friends

 

Pouring milk while making cupcakes
Part of the day’s fun includes cupcake decorating. For that, we first need to make some nekkid cupcakes.

 

Arddun being silly with Atticus while baking
What fun is baking if you can’t make your baby brother wear a funny hat, hmm?

 

Montage of Arddun and Atticus
I must be near the oven, ‘cos my heart is melting. These kids!

 

Edible teacups
Made these in the middle of the night. Let’s just say that icing sugar ain’t no superglue.

 

Edible teacups close up
First saw these at my baby shower when Arddun was still in utero. Seems rather poetic that I’m making them now. Also featuring my mother’s colourful chicken plate.

 

Passing the parcel forfeit
Apparently, Passing the Parcel nowadays means each child wins a present every time the music stops and they tear open the package. True to the vintage theme, we went old-school with ours and each layer peeled meant a small “forfeit” with only a single prize at the end. Nothing too traumatic, and all in good fun. I hope.

 

Passing the parcel Hokey Pokey forfeit
The final “forfeit” before the prize.

 

Dress up corner
Dress-up corner with a chest of vintage clothes (half procured from Salvation Army shop), and jewellery box filled with gloves, lace, pearls and bling. I had no idea how vintage-inspired my bling collection was until I put this together! Borrowed mirror from Fam.

 

Tea party table
Pom-poms and netting put together by daddy. The idea is for the girls to sit at their tea party table and dabble with make-up after having a rummage through the dress-up box. Half expecting drag-queen results. Camera on the ready.

 

Table setting for tea party
Tea party spread shaping up! Gorgeous teacups and teapots borrowed from lovely sisters in Christ who were brave, slightly insane but generous enough to trust seven 4-year-olds with such precious crockery.

 

Teapot and teacups
Arddun and I went shopping a few weeks back and did some tea-tasting at T2. Finally settled on Fruitalicious – a lovely uncaffeinated fruit tea that is suitably pink, like Dorothy the Dinosaur’s.

 

Colourful meringues
Wasn’t insane enough to hand-make everything. These meringues were store-bought purely because they were pretty, and they turned out very yum.

 

Cucumber sandwiches
I’m under the strong impression that very English tea parties require cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, so I cheerfully obliged.

As for the party itself, it never quite turns out like how you envision it… but the end result was still deeply satisfying.

Emma dressing up
You mean, I get to try out all the clothes in this chest? You’re kidding!

 

Ivy in dapper hat
Not really into the girly dresses, but this hat is pretty dapper on me!

 

Charlotte in pearls and dress up
That’s LADY Charlotte to you, thankyouverymuch.

 

Emma dressing Tracey up
Look what I found you!

 

Zahra at make up table
Eyebrows always require deep concentration

 

Birthday girl putting on make-up
I think that’s how Mummy does it.

 

Leila putting on blue make up
That fine line between Make-up and Face-painting.

 

Ivy and passing the parcel
Passing the Parcel forfeit: make a silly face at the Birthday Girl. Ivy shows us how it’s done.

 

Arddun in corner collecting herself
Sometimes, all that attention can just get too much. Introverted birthday girl takes some time to collect herself.

 

Cupcake decorating
Cupcake decorating time!

 

Charlotte with finished cupcake
Almost too pretty to eat.

 

Birthday ice cream cake
The candle says it all. You are officially four!

 

Happy birthday song
A rousing Happy Birthday song

 

So much love put in to the day.
So much love put in to the day.

 

Birthday present line-up
Thanks for coming, everyone! We definitely feel very loved.

There were a few other moments I wished I could have captured. The moment when they all had their first sip of grown-up tea in grown-up china teacups, for instance. My hands were full with having to feed Atticus by then, but it was so precious to watch a tableful of little girls reverently holding their teacups in both hands and sipping solemnly.

Thankfully, there were other mums taking lots of photos too. Can’t wait to see their snapshots! :-)

In the end, I think Arddun enjoyed herself, on balance. And it turned out to be a lot of fun for me, too. Although the pics don’t include them, Tony and Atticus were also at the party, quietly enjoying the festivities in the background. I’m glad we ended up doing it this way, even if it had taken some effort. It’s probably the last birthday party we’ll have in this house before we move, and Arddun’s just old enough now to start keeping memories. I hope she remembers this home.

Not sure what we’ll end up doing next year, but my mind’s already churning. :-)

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