Call me fuddy duddy, call me square. But every time I pick my daughter up from a ‘children’s party’ only to find a gang of six-year-olds sky-high on sugar and blue colouring (thanks Frozen) dancing to the entirely age inappropriate Gangnam Style, “Hey, sexy lady”, a secret rage consumes me.
Truly? I think it’s time we put the ‘child’ back into children’s party.
I hark after an innocent time. The fifties: little girls in pigtails and pristine dresses, boys with shorts and scabby knees, dad with his pipe and mum? In the kitchen, icing a cake and pouring her fifth valium-laced G&T: rictus grin in perfect place, naturellement.
Yes, someone’s been watching too many Mad Men repeats, but even if the fifties-reality was a bit rubbish for anyone with boobs, indulging in some rose-tinted cherry-picking can do no harm.
Vintage All The Way
Colour scheme is a great place to start. Chuck out the branding, the brightly coloured cartoon characters, the fluorescent balloons. Replace with gentle pastels: lemon yellows, rose pinks, mint greens. For boys chic and simple works well, try navy and light blue.
Bunting: Yes, it IS a vintage cliche, but it does looks so pretty and is a great way to use up any scraps of fabric you have lying around. Short on time? Use pinking shears instead of hemming each flag. Really short on time? Glue the flags onto the cord. Really, really short on time? Etsy, all the way. LOVE etsy for anything child related.
Drink: Homemade lemonade, it’s got to be homemade lemonade, sweetened with stevia. My mum made the best version and ridiculously drinking that is one of my happiest childhood memories. This recipe is really simple, note the gin for adults. Well, it’s important to keep things retro… http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chefshomemadelemonad_74839
Food: Home made Neopolitan Icecream, with its vanilla, brown and strawberry-red stripes, natural colouring, of course.. Home made Butterscotch Angel Delight, home made Jammy Dodgers all sugar free. Let’s leave out the tinned luncheon meat.
The Cake: Surely you can’t beat a proper moist home made sugar free Victoria Sponge with sugar free jam and butter icing. You can buy some fantastic natural sugar alternatives.
Music: No loud bass, please. A vinyl player would be glorious with a scratchy recording of childhood classics like Wheels on the Bus, Oranges and Lemons (brushing over the reference to violent capital punishment), London’s Burning.
Note to vinyl geeks: please step away from the player. This is a children’s party, not a chance to impress with your rare, late-seventies punk finds. That said, some fifties rockabilly could be fun for older kids.
Games: Pass The Parcel, with a quality wooden toy as the prize. Musical statues, musical bumps, musical chairs. Be warned, though, these games get rowdy after too much lemonade, child and adult versions.
Dress-ups: Scrap all of the above. A wicker dressing up box brimming over with joy and imagination is all you need. Pop it on a picnic rug on the lawn, sit back and watch magical worlds take shape.
Phew, if this all sounds a bit overwhelming then help is at hand. For those in the Auckland area, The Little Vintage Party company creates party packages with not a Frozen character in site. Think distressed dressers, pink cupcakes, flower garlands, teepees and tutus or pirate parties with golden goblets and a proper wooden chest full of piratical dress-ups.
All together now, “Happy Birthday To You…”