How to throw an Old Fashioned Birthday Party
posted on September 12 2019
You know the kind-- multigenerational, no entertainer, toys scattered, fun? The most organised activity, if you can be asked, might be Pass the Parcel. That's what we call a Good Old Fashioned Birthday Party.
I was at one last weekend. Sweet little Sylvie who was turning two. There was newborns to 97 year olds, family, friends and neighbours. Cake was the main event and there was even a thank you speech from Sylvie's hugely hospitable dad. Along the wall, they had clipped photos to a string, one for every month of Sylvie's life and lots of the guests made appearances in these. It was amazing.
It reminded me of the wholesome goodness of simpleness. Sometimes the more we have the less we appreciate and when you pare it right back it's all about the relationships and the people in our lives, the impact we can have on each other.
In a world that is so interrupted by our notifications, so short on attention span. The little ways we pay attention to each other, being seen and being heard it's everything right now. Being there for each other creates the most amazing ripple of joy. I almost feel like apologising for all that happiness, where is the jaded creature inside me? ...but I am not going to.
We had one of these for my daughter's first birthday, invited everyone and their cousin. Friends who had had babies yonks before us and friends who were single and footloose along with the neighbours and the paediatrician who had shown extra care. Everyone was invited. We rented a hall, blew up some balloons and put some toys out for kids to play with.
With a little food and beverage everyone was happy. You have to stop to think is there anything more joyful than a child blowing out birthday candles?
That was eight years ago and so much has changed since then, so many of the aunties, grannies have passed away so theses days we find those photos are priceless. Particularly my daughter who looks and learns about her family and heritage and who was there for her, and who would be if they could be.
The memories are hugely cherished. And do you know what from a practical place? It wasn't expensive and it wasn't about what decorations we did or didn't have. It was heartfelt and inviting and everyone was grateful and that's the most important thing.
So here's our guide for throwing a Good Old Fashioned Birthday Party:
1. Move your furniture to the side to make space, make sure there's lots of seating room for the older generations. You'll be surprised how much people help passing out food and cleaning up when they're made to feel really welcome. Or rent a hall, it can be a humble space, the warmth of the crowd will fill it.
2. Invite everyone you know-- if in doubt, invite them. The innocence of kids helps overcome lots of obstacles, even conflicts within families often dissipate on these occasions.
3. Take lots of pictures, or better yet ask someone, your teenage nephew, to be in charge of documenting the party. You'll be so grateful for these for the rest of your life.
4. Give the older kids some jobs, they love responsibility and it will be so sweet to see a group effort handing out the cake. Playing ring around the Rosies with the little ones.
5. Put out some family photos, guests will love to get closer to the little person they're celebrating. Share their milestones.
6. Make the cake a big deal. Bake it, buy it or get one made it doesn't matter as long as there is cake and it's got candles on it. Something we love to do in Latin America is the money shot. Get the birthday baby behind the cake and gather all the children around them, so that when you sing happy birthday you can take a photo of the future generation. I promise you'll go back to this photo time and time again. Can't believe the size of little Peter and all kinds of comments like that.
7. Lay out some great party toys, easy peasy and robust toys that kids can play with while the adults mingle. See edit below for some good ideas.
8. Relax, take a deep breath. It's going to be chaotic, go with the flow. One day this day will mean everything to you.
Wishing everyone a Sweet Good Old Fashioned Happy Birthday!!
And if you need some Old Fashioned inspired party bags, order them here!