We’ve called in children’s party pundit Lorraine for the lowdown on party protocol for small sorts.
I work for The Party Times and we are an online magazine that specialises in all things party! I have two children aged 2 and 8, and am lucky enough to now be able to work from home so I juggle work with school and nursery runs, watching endless clips of Peppa Pig, trying to lose baby Annabel and arguing about homework.
Here are my top ten tips for children’s party bags!
1. Back to Basics – Remember that no child cares how much money has been spent! Bright colours and their own name on the bag are what count. For the teeniest tots simply taking home their own balloon, a board book or a bath toy will give them plenty to smile about.
2. Beat the budget – Throwing a party can become expensive, especially if you’ve got lots of guests. Cost-cutting corners could include decorating brown paper bags with stickers, felt tips and writing on the child’s name. Filling each party bag with a handful of sweets and some bubbles is an easy and inexpensive option too. Ready-to-pack party bag kits are often an economical alternative.
3. Food Allergies – Check first that none of the invited children have any food allergies. If they do, then avoid putting any sweets, chocolate or cake in them, or keep special bags separate and clearly named.
4. Be Prepared – Always have a couple of spare party bags up your sleeve just in case someone who wasn’t able to come suddenly appears.
5. Varied Ages - Quite often siblings will come to younger parties so don’t be afraid to have some different party bag bits for older guests.
6. Out of Sight – Don’t have a table of bags in the room throughout the party as they will distract the children’s attention away from food, games and other fun. Keep the bags hidden away till the end and bring them out as an exciting surprise at home-time.
7. Get Crafty – If you have a craft activity during your party such as painting or cookie decorating, guests can take these home as a souvenir of a great day. They could decorate their own party box or bag as an activity too.
8. Lucky Dip – Instead of a traditional party bag, saying goodbye at the door with a lucky dip is a fun idea. Wrap all the little gifts for extra excitement – cotton bags are cute and can be used again. You could have a dip for the boys and one for the girls.
I love these cotton ones we stock over on Party Pieces:
9. Party themes - If you are hosting a character or themed party then surprise them by ensuring the party bag goodies all relate to their chosen theme! Peppa Pig and her brother George are popular with boys and girls so these kits will keep them amused for hours.
10. Party Cake - When sending pieces of birthday cake home with little ones use delightful little cake slice boxes to avoid the gorgeous cake being squashed before it gets home. You could make your own or buy in some like these ones.
Of course, every party bag needs a slice of cake. For something a little different how about this fairy cake recipe from Fiona Cairns?
Blueberry yogurt fairy cakes
These delicious cakes, oozing with blueberries, will convince even the most health-conscious that eating cake can be a fairly wholesome experience! Ring the changes by using raspberries or blackberries, or a mixture.
For the cakes:
36 paper fairy cake cases
300g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
220g plain yogurt, at room temperature
2 eggs, lightly beaten
170g golden caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
For the topping:
600g cream cheese (half-fat, if you prefer)
120g golden icing sugar, sifted
grape violet food colour paste
3 tbsp caster sugar
squeeze of lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 160°C/340°F/gas mark 3½.
Line fairy cake trays with the paper cases. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, eggs, sugar and butter using a large spoon. Add the flour mixture, berries, vanilla and lemon zest. Stir until combined, but do not over-mix. Divide between the cases and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until the cakes spring back to the touch. (You may need to bake in batches.) Stand for a few minutes in the trays, then remove to cool on a wire rack.
To make the topping, beat together the cream cheese and icing sugar. Add enough food colour to make a pale lilac. Divide the cream cheese between the cakes.
For the decoration, place the blueberries in a pan with the sugar, lemon juice and 1 tbsp water. Very lightly stew together for a minute or two, then strain the blueberries and dry on kitchen towel. Reduce the blueberry syrup in the pan until quite sticky and, when cool, swirl a little on to the frosting on each cake using the back of a spoon. Just before serving, place about three of the blueberries on each cake.
(If you don’t wish to poach the blueberries and drizzle over the syrup, then simply top each cake with a few uncooked blueberries.)
From THE BIRTHDAY CAKE BOOK by FIONA CAIRNS, published by Quadrille (£18.99, hardback)
Photos ©LAURA EDWARDS