December 13, 2013

A Luau Party


Last weekend we channeled our inner hula-hula and threw a luau for Francesca's third birthday party.

We hadn't held a party for her before because, well, who wants to throw a party where the guest of honour is likely to face plant in the cake (one year olds) or snatch things out of the hands of party guests shouting "MINE", leaving a trail of wailing toddlers and distraught parents in their wake (two year olds).

At the age of three, the manners are a little more civilised (although 'civilised' is perhaps too strong a word) and children seem to cope a lot better with copious amounts of sugar, gift mania and adrenalin.

Sort of.

It is also the age where children seem to 'get it'. Francesca couldn't remember her previous birthdays so everything was new and magical and filled with wonder.

On the morning of her birthday, she kept thanking us. Check out this video of her opening her first present. I love Jack's sense of occasion and suspense, and of course he's absolutely gagging to help her (she finally gives him permission, bless)

The day of the luau dawned bright and sunny. I woke up with the birds at 5am and, despite willing myself to go back to sleep, the fun of hanging pom poms and sticking fruit into a pineapple was too inviting so I got up and began preparations. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Whilst playing endless games of 'shops' and pushing the swing 42,000 times a day makes me want to throw my pretend cappuccino at the pretend wall of the pretend cafe, I love organising my kids birthday parties.

I shamelessly nicked the idea of a luau from Kelle Hampton, the queen of kids parties, and I'm so glad I did. It was not only the perfect theme for little kids on a warm summer's day, but it was relatively easy and inexpensive to prepare. Kelle puts enormous effort into her parties, but I knew I would have to take a few shortcuts, so I tweaked the theme to suit me and added a few little ideas of my own. Please feel free to go ahead and perpetuate the nicking of this kids party idea!

It was very considerate of our hibiscus trees to bloom just before the party

What's a luau without a paper umbrella?

Leis waiting at the entrance for guests to don on their way in

Utilising some of my old hospitality skills (fan napkins were all the rage in the 90s I'm telling you!)

Strings of pom poms ($2.50 from the local discount store) prettied up the old gazebo roof

The good ol' Kmart clam shell filled with water and frangipanis made a gorgeous tropical pool (which filled with dirt and grass within ten minutes!)

Polkadot cups awaiting a pina colada non-alcoholic punch

I decided not to run any games. I'm still scarred by Jack's 5th birthday party when every kid made off with their lolly after unwrapping their paper from Pass The Parcel, until only two little kids were left passing the pathetic little parcel between them and looking utterly miserable and lonely.

I think small children, who, let's face it, still aren't fully socialised, are happiest when they can wander around doing their own thing so I set up two little craft stations.

The biscuit decorating table was very popular. Store bought cookies (one of those shortcuts I mentioned - I really was planning to make my own!), choc chips, sprinkles and icing in tubes - surprisingly little mess!

I love the concentration on this little one's face

This craft table held thin foam dolls with cutout clothes which had sticky, peel-off backs (K-mart).
We also had a small jumping castle that a friend generously lent to us (thanks Mick and Tina), and the trampoline was still a big hit.

Of course, it wasn't long before the kids discovered the two clam shell pools and the pretty party clothes were peeled off. One little boy got all his gear off and ran around quite happily starkers, yahooing and whooping it up around the backyard, no doubt amped up on the goodies on the biscuit decorating station. Can't wait to go to his 21st!

Then it was time for food! We served ham sandwiches and sprinkle sandwiches cut into shapes using cookie cutters, mini hot dogs, popcorn, fruit from Mr Pineapple Head and, in a nod to our ongoing love affair with all things Peppa Pig, some Peppa cookies (thank you Coles).

It was just gorgeous seeing all those sweet children tuck in to their party food, squealing & chatting by turns, and being gently guided by their mamas to try the fruit. And of course, there was our girl at the head of the table with her two jaunty pigtails and a perfect plumber's crack.

It makes me laugh, but also feel secure in the knowledge that these same little girls will be acting as each other's wing-women at parties in the future, making sure that no one leaves the house with too much boob showing or their skirt tucked into their knickers or, indeed, a plumber's crack. They'll remind each other not to accept drinks from strangers, to make sure no one goes home alone and they won't care if no boys ask them to dance - they'll tear up the dance floor together and laugh till their mascara runs down their beautiful faces.

A huge, massive, very big thankyou to our friend Riley who is just finishing Year 11 and still found the time to make this perfect Peppa Pig cake. Honestly, it blew me away! Sooo much better than what I had planned to make in my head.

Well that's about it for Francesca's Luau Wrap-Up. I'll leave you with a picture of a clucky looking John and a very contented little 10 month old Lucy in his arms at the party. He does have a way with babies. They love him. (And before you ask, the answer is no, we are too old, but yes, we are looking forward to grandchildren and yes, we will be laughing tears of relief as we hand them back.)

"Thank you everyone!"

A very big shout out to my wonderful blend-daughter (we're trying to come up with fun ways of not saying 'step-daughter'!) Christianne and her gorgeous flatmate Gemma for keeping the backend machinery of the party rolling and topping up the champers & guava in the mummys' glasses!

In case you're interested, I also created a playlist on the iPod for our Luau. I've been playing it as my office music ever since. Loving it!

Here tis:

1. Little Brown Gal - Maile Serenaders
2. Island of Lost Souls - Blondie
3. Over The Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
4. Under The Boardwalk - Rolling Stones
5. Surfin' Safari - Beach Boys
6. Roar - Katy Perry
7. The Girl From Ipanema - Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto
8. Surfin' USA - Beach Boys
9. Better Together - Jack Johnson
10. Limbo Rock - Chubby Checker
11. Kokomo - Beach Boys
12. Yellow Bird - Chris Isaak
13. The Tide Is High - Blondie
14. Rock-A-Hula - Elvis
15. Summer Nights - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John

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