(Note: I’m sad because there aren’t any real good pix taken by me at the party. Mike and I were all too in the mix. However, be warned, this is still a photo HEAVY post!)
(EDIT: Added my favourite part: The invites!)
If I were ever on the hunt for all things 6 year old, after this weekend, I’d know exactly now where to go…You know, magical six year old things like a steady bubbling anticipation of one’s birthday a month in advance already, with regular check-ins on the calendar –how many more sleeps. That’s eventually followed by the ultimate crescendo of unadulterated excitement over another birthday that has finally come. (although truthfully, that’s a lot of adults too.) The inexplicable thrill of sticker books, and the joy for all things crafty. The enjoyment of creating things with your hands – even if it’s just your mom giving you pretend power tools to help her with bedroom décor DIY. All these sweet and adorable things that you’d be crazy to not want to collect and keep for later enjoyment.
I’d also be sure to get samples of all that energy and love for dance and music, even the awkward but cute moves. And I’d definitely grab a few sprinkles of this new found love for certain Barbies. I’d be sure to get double doses of the heavenly and peaceful moments of naptime that thankfully still exist, where the likeness of angels are sure to be found. But mostly, you’d find loads of curiosity, a thirst to learn, a verve for life and a rawness of innocence that is so deeply nestled in love, that you would undoubtedly be assured, that this is truly a collection of all things 6 year old-esque.
So where would I go to find all these magical treasures of a six year old? I’d go straight back to Morgan-Lee’s recent birthday party of course! And if it wasn’t obvious as to where exactly, then the shrieking and unison chanting of a bunch of 6 year old girls would surely give it away.
This year, after much head scratching (what on earth am I supposed to do with the requested and non-negotiable theme of Penquins of Madagascar?), it finally hit me what makes these cute lil’ penguins so badass: They’re secret agents! And these bunch of girls (and the two cute thorns amongst the roses) lapped it all up!
Also, this year, much to my slight heartbreak, we decided to keep the guest list much shorter than usual – tightening the belts and all that. But also mainly because my girl has some special bonds that are blossoming at school, and I felt it was a good time to start crossing that threshold into the real realm of friendship for her – the friendships that they foster all by themselves. And I’m not going to lie, as a fulltime working mom who misses out on all these school moments, it was great to get to witness it all first hand!
Once we managed to get pass all the girliness – you know, the shrieking and the unspoken, yet well understood need to all gather in the girls bedroom – we were able to get back on track with Secret Agent matters.
All agents were to report for finger print clearance…
I know there’s a neat little app for iphone folks, but I’m a Android girl and found a prank “Lie Detector” app that does the trick just as well. (available for free from the Playstore)
We did a bit of interrogation – are you agents of Dave? (Morgy couldnt wait for this part of the party) And once they were cleared they were kitted with their clearance ID badges.
I downloaded a free version of this badge from here (which was perfect!) but modified for penguins theme. You’re welcome to use mine too for free: (just adjust size as you wish before printing)
After that, the agents had a blast just hanging with each other and jumping, and for a moment I actually thought of letting it all just carry on like that – they don’t need me with my silly games. Until I had a whole bunch of them come pull on me, asking for “when are we going to play those games?!” (I forget, my girl had psyched them up about all the games they were in for)
So we first sang and what was really lovely and different about this year, is how all her little friends gathered closely around her when we sang. Which I just kind of fell in love with. How they want to be close and surround her while we all honour this happy day that she came into being. And there’s her, smiling. Beaming. Enjoying it all…
After everyone filled up on meatballs and spyghetti, and all the other loads of food we had, it was onto their mission! The Penguins realized that Dave had stolen the party piñata and hidden it somewhere. So all agents were called upon to help the penguins solve the case of the missing piñata.
First up, they were equipped with special looking glasses to track any penguin feet… it was very Inspecto Clueso-esque that I could not resist!
(I bought a bunch of these at china town for R8, and were part of the take home party pack.)
The penguins had left them all clues, and together they figured out where the next set of clues could be found…
In the lazer room! Each agent had to make their way through the intricate lazer set up, ala-Katherine-Zita-Jones style, just way cooler.
Those clues then led them all the way to the Bomb Site, where they had to detonate the bombs (aka burst the balloons) to find the next and final set of clues…
Either way, the kids seemed to have a blast with this one (see what I did there?)
A daddy helped them piece the clues together where one of our quickest agents found the missing piñata. Then it was whacking time!
Ever want to see just how aggressive a bunch of tiny little people can really get? Then try stuffing a cardboard box full of the promise of sugar, decorate it with pazazz, hang it up, hand them a whacking baton..stand clear… and let em loose!
I loved the gusto so many of them gave…certainly some samurai genes in some of them.
I also loved the chanting and the sporting nature these little kids had for each other – encouraging each as they stepped up. A sign of great things, I think. Keep growing that sisterhood, little ladies! It was pretty entertaining, even if I did have to jump out of the way most of the time. But after what felt like forever, they eventually handed over the baton to the master – my nephew – who after one whack released all the sugary goodness across our lawn. So, over shrieks of joy I handed out candy bags for them all to take home their hard earned candy. And then it was a whole lot of relaxing and kiddies playing it up on the castle.
As for the mamas? This being the first time I even invited school friends over and had the priviledge of meeting the incredible moms (and dads) behind these sweet little friends of my daughter? I had no idea why I was so nervous – what a bunch of absolutly lovely ladies! And I, for one, certainly look forward to chatting with them in the future. Hopefully some playdates too.
Just some black paper bags with a top secret label pasted on, et voila!
(Go to coolest-kid-birthdays.com for a free download of that label.)
I meant to lay down some palm leaves as well, but in the rush of things, it all slipped my mind. But if you have a palm tree in your garden, I’d say grab a few leaves and add em to the table, cake table or walls – they give a nice “Madagascarian” vibe to it!
And look who was at it again!
I wanted to model the cake on that wooden box that the penguins usually find themselves in, everytime they get shipped off to Madagascar by someone. So I used a reactangular cake tin and my mom’s chocolate cake recipe. I layered the cakes with chocolate butter icing in between, crumb iced it all over then went to work with the fondant to make it look like wood.
This was the part that i was nervous about, as I really didnt want to make the cake look dumb – we all know how “honest” little six year olds are, and I really didnt want to disappoint my girl. So I was pretty chuffed that it actually turned out well. Mike was so proud of the cake, and Im not sure why – like was he genuinely impressed by it, or was he just trying to make my preggy hormonal self feel better about it. Either way, I was pleased with it – even if I did forget to add the handmade sugar labels of “fragile” and “this way up” to the box.
Also the penguins we ordered 2 months ago had not arrived, so as plan B, we just cut out a paper printout of the penguins, and secured a kebab stick to the back of it, and stuck that into the cake. Turned out pretty fine too.
And what was even more rewarding, was that the little guests asked me for a slice of birthday cake and expressed their pleasure – you dont know how happy that makes me feel inside. Cause I honestly do these things for the kids – both for our own kids and their little guest. And it’s so nice when you hear & see them actually enjoy it.
My mom, as always came through with her fairy cakes – a usual party favourite. I dressed them up with these awesome cupcake holders and toppers that are a part of this awesome party kit, I found over here. Since this theme is really not something youre going to be able to find in the store, and because I know my current output and energy as preggo right is limited, this party kit really saved my butt! It has loads of bits and pieces that really can help you pull the theme together.
The cookies are my usual fan-favourite and flop proof Vanilla Almond recipe I always use.
My mom was a bit taken aback that I wasn’t going the full hog on decorating the cookies. But, truth be told, I had to be realistic. Im pregnant, my back was in spasm (I had spent a full session with my therapist the day before just to be able to at least walk up straight for the party) and time was generally not on my side. So there was no way I was going to put myself out to make the fish look all fancy. There’ll be more parties where energies and time find that magical crossover and I’ll be able to churn out some cool cookies again. But that day was not the day.
I found some cute (and delicious) fish marshmallows…
We had apricot sweets as mystery balls…
(I was actually wanting to have orange and black sweets in there and was on the look out for butterfly ball candy – you know the type that changes colour, but to no avail. You know where I can get some?)
Then, of course, there was the Spyghetti and meatballs…
The meatballs were thanks to my mom, which my friend dubbed as the best meatball ever! (And she is a mighty fine chef herself, so that says something!)
So, as you can see, I kept things SUPER simple this year, but with enough penguin-ness to bring home the theme.
In fact, there was a lot that kept simple all in the name of rest and being realistic with my current situation.
Case in point, what many came to ask me in the build-up to the party was, “so what craft are you planning for this party?” And truth be told, I just canned the idea of it all. I was thinking of making penguin necklaces as a craft activity – much like Parker-Grace’s Unicorn party of last year. But that activity didn’t quite fit in with the theme, so I thought we’d use these penguin necklace kits as part of the take-home gifts instead. So we had made a few prototypes, but in all honesty, I just couldn’t see myself finding the chance to make a unique pendant for each little guest in time for the party.
But if you’re keen, and plan better than I do, you could totally make these for your party.
All you need is some shrink plastic, some permanent markers (I use sharpies), some elasticated gut or thread of your choice, and a selection of beads. And boom, you have a little craft activity gift for your guests. I would pop these into little plastic containers much like I did here. And if you’re feeling super pinteresty, you can decorate that container in the theme too.
As for the jumping castle – the princess one with the throne that made all these little girls super excited (it’s the small things, really!)- we hired from “Kids just want to have fun”. They are by far the best bang for your buck, offer a truly reliable service and are as friendly as they get. I used them before, and would recommend them without hesitation again and again. Give Danielle a call on 082 374 5827.
Ps. I was not paid to say that, Im just giving credit where credit is due!
And that’s it. Still can’t believe we pulled it all off given my current output ability, and amount of crap that broke around the house in the lead up to the party. But thank goodness for mothers. Both my mom and mom-in-law swooped in and saved the day for us.