Tag Archives: party

Party like a rockstar, Mister

My Mister’s 40th birthday is on Saturday. We’ve racked our brains over how to celebrate it. We’ve debated whether it’ll be destination party, if we’ll go out for lunch or have it catered. I’m all for all of those options because it means I don’t have to clean up and can spend my time concentrating on paying close attention to my crispy cold Sauvignon Blanc.

Hogsback Inn. Photo: heritageportal.co.za

Hogsback Inn. Photo: heritageportal.co.za

Mister always said he’d like to have his 40th birthday party in Hogsback, a quaint bohemian village in the mountains of the Eastern Cape. And, while we would have loved to have gone back (we spent a few nights of our honeymoon there and it was beautiful and strange), it was just too difficult to organise family and friends to all meet up in such a remote location for a night (it’s like herding cats just trying to get the friends into one car). Hogsback has a labyrinth and many quirky little cafes. It’s high up in the mountains and very misty and pretty. I believe it to be South Africa’s very own Hobitan.

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Little furry footed creatures aside, we decided to have family and friends over to our house to celebrate there. So, come Saturday afternoon, my beautiful new house will see an influx of excitable children ranging from 15 months to 16 years, a host of happy grannies who’ll be spoiling their grandchildren with sneaky bites of Eton Mess, a bevy of boisterous boys telling their big loud man-jokes in deep voices, and a clutch of pretty, patient wives gulping their wine.

Photo: thereaux.net

Photo: thereaux.net

I want to make the day really special so I’ll be doing the food myself (*lowers eyes and shakes head at self*). And I’ve bought a lovely gift. Mister asked for a skateboard (I’m serious – you can’t make that up) but, since our medical aid savings is depleted (their word not mine), that can wait until January 1. He also asked for a fancy watch but, according to my last payslip, my salary is not the equivalent of South Africa’s ministerial vehicle allowance. So, in the end, I decided to compromise (read: buy something I could also enjoy) and bought him a Nespresso machine.

So on Saturday I’ll be alternating between my wine and cups of coffee while I slave away in the kitchen doing everything I can to make sure my Mister has a wonderful birthday. Because he is amazing and I love him a ridiculous amount. And, if you’ll be slaving away too (for whatever entertaining-reason), and need some fab foodie inspiration, grab a copy of the October Essentials and follow our recipes for:

  • a sizzling seafood platter (with J.C Le Roux La Vallée MCC)
  • hazelnut tarts with strawberries
  • asparagus and prosciutto lilies
  • classic Cobb salad

Or visit Essentials.co.za and click on the Food tab for some delectable recipes.

 

 

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It’s my party and I’ll try if I want to

How to host a one-year-old’s birthday party successfully

Holly's party 1

Last Friday was my gorgeous baby girl’s first birthday *sob* – she’s growing up so fast! Just before she was born, I had this quaint picture in my head of what her first few birthdays should look like: mommy would be at home unwrapping presents with her baby, baking goodies in the kitchen, assembling party packs and generally being Nigella and Martha-esque. I wanted to be able to give my baby the kind of birthday and party I always had when I was little. And, on the whole, things pretty much went the way they were meant to go, so I thought I’d share my tips and plans with you.

Owl1I decided on an owl theme for her party because she (read: I) loves owls. I found that having a theme helped guide me in terms of cake, decorations, party packs and gifts (she’s going to have an owl-themed bedroom in our new house). Fortunately, the whole woodland creatures theme is on trend at the moment and everything is easily available. Tip: Pick a theme with easily available goodies. I recommend steering clear of characters that have gone out of fashion years ago like Popeye or Betty Boop. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to find decorations and things.

Paper lantern owl

Paper lantern owl

Because I work full time, I started making decorations and party packs in the evenings a couple of weeks before the party. I’m not terribly good at crafts and my Mister often had to rescue me from the dark recesses of glue-and-glitter hell and finish off my crafts (that picture certainly didn’t match up to what was in my head!). Tip: Don’t make decorations if you’re not very ‘crafty’. I was a little more successful with my party packs: I bought little party boxes from a toy shop that was having a sale and put stickers, a little chocolate, a soft sweet and a toy inside. I decorated the outside with a little picture of an owl so I didn’t have to pay a fortune for themed party packs but the boxes were too small for a packet of chips (party-pack fail). Tip: make sure your party packs are big enough to contain what you want to pack into them!

Check out essentials.co.za for more fab cake recipes.

Check out essentials.co.za for more fab cake recipes.

 I asked people I’d invited to the party to help me out with food and things. My mother and mom-in-law helped out with making sandwiches, quiches, sausage rolls, mini meatballs and the soup (it was freezing cold!). And I asked my sister-in-law, who is a magician with baking, to make Holly a cake. It was amazing AND delicious. I was really lucky because buying a birthday cake can really eat into your budget. Tip: Don’t make too much food (I had heaps left over) and rope in people you know to help with snacks.

I’m really fortunate to work with very talented people and I asked Tahra, our art director to be the photographer. She took the most amazing photos and I didn’t have to worry about missing out on the party while running trying to capture those special moments! Tip: Ask someone else to take photos so you can be entirely present at your child’s party.

Park

Because we’re still waiting to move into our new house (read my blog post Early Retirement from February 2013 for context) and are currently staying in a retirement village with my mother-in-law, we had to look for a venue to hold the party. Ideally I would have liked to have had the party in my own house, in my new garden with our covered patio and my own kitchen but life throws these little challenges at us to make us stronger (serious first world problems, I know). So we decided on Delta Park. It’s really lovely there: there’s a children’s play area and swathes of rolling lawn for the kids to run around and exhaust themselves. Tip: We have some amazing free resources and venues in this country. Do a little research before you hire a kids’ party venue. It may take a little more preparation, but it can also save you a bundle.

And finally, try to enjoy yourself. A first birthday party is really for the parents and family – your baba is not going to remember it and is happy rolling around on the lawn, eating leaves and tearing up wrapping paper.

Birthday bizarre

balloons

A few days ago we celebrated Caryn, our fashion editor’s birthday and with this being a new blog and March being my birth month, I’ve been thinking a lot about birthdays. Particularly mine. I’ve always believed that my birthday is the most important day of the year and fully expect others to see it as such too. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because I have an overblown sense of importance but rather because I get so unbelievably excited about my birthday that I want everyone to feel as happy as I do. I still count the sleeps until my birthday from at least a month before the big day and I start right after Christmas with the, ‘You can get me those shoes/that car/pink fluffy things/those earrings/an orang-utan for my birthday’ to my long-suffering and patient Mister. Bless him – I used to wake him in the middle of the night and demand, drill sergeant-style, ‘When’s my birthday, Mister?’ This may have been a cruel and unusual method of getting him to memorise my birthday, but it worked – he’s never forgotten it! So there’s a top tip for you: If your own Mister has the tendency to forget your birthday you might want to try this tactic. It’ll work for memorising shopping lists and anniversary dates too.

I’ve been trying to decide how I should celebrate my birthday this year, 33 being a weird in-between kind of number that’s neither here nor there, and I’ve been struggling to find something that really excites me. Because I still believe myself to be 17, there’s the part of me that really wants to cake on the make-up, get tarted up and put on my dancing shoes to go clubbing. But then, when I start thinking about the logistics of a babysitter (not too many 17-year-olds have to worry about that), a designated driver, that my dancing shoes are actually quite uncomfortable and will pinch my toes, what to wear and the crucial afternoon nap before the big night out, I get really tired and just feel like lying down.

Tent

So, clubbing it won’t be, but how about a weekend away with friends? I began thinking about possible travel destinations and how to accommodate the incongruous tastes of all the friends. I know my husband is quite fond of rubbing a couple of sticks together and playing with fire, what man isn’t, so he’d quite enjoy eating straight out of a tin of baked beans while camping. But there are the friends who refuse to roll off an air-mattress onto the floor, pick leaves and insect bodies out of their hair and begin the day with a spring in their step. They require a comfy bed, crisp white linen and a hot bath to get a spring in their anything, so camping is out of the question. There are the friends who’d like a sophisticated hotel, with lie-ins in the mornings, fabulous high teas in the afternoon and elegant dining experiences in the evening. Think Sex in the City meets the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

And then there’s me, with a seven month old baby. The words sophisticated and elegant no longer feature in my vocabulary (having been replaced with ‘milestone’ and ‘smelly nappy’) and probably won’t for at least the next 19 years. Right now, with an average sleep count of approximating 4,34 hours per night, an ideal holiday destination for me would be a lumpy couch. Or a yoga mat on the floor. Or even a towel under the tree in my garden. You see, my standards for holiday destinations at this point are not very high, so I’ll be really easy to please.

If you’re also looking for a great place to get away from whatever for a little while, somewhere that doesn’t feature the aforementioned lumpy couch, the March issue of Essentials has some great travel destinations for you to peruse while you soak away your worries in a hot bath with a glass of wine. There’s a beach holiday, a country stay or a couple of bush breaks to choose from. Whatever floats your boat down a meandering river, or blows your hair back on a hike, you’ll find it in the March issue.