How to have a sizzlin’ summer party at home!

Summertime…

Good food.
Good people.
Good times.

We’re not going to let lockdown take away our summer completely are we?! With the sun shining away this week, why not get into the kitchen and cook up a mean treat for your family at home this summer. There’s no need to go away just yet and a summer party or mini-BBQ at home might be the best way to go. If you have a slightly bigger space and are seeing people in your social bubbles, you could even try to organise a mini-festival!

I took the kids to visit a friend in our social bubble this week and she has a massive outdoor communal garden where we were able to create a mini-retreat space for the kids. We had a pool so the kids could take a dip when it got too hot, a healthy picnic lunch, games for the kids to play and we ended the evening with kids yoga. It was an awesome day and we all had an amazing time!

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Family Lifestyle & Travel
Our Kiddo’s Retreat! / Instagram: @mannyngo_yoga

How to throw a sizzlin’ summer party…

Depending on how much effort you want to put in, you can still throw a decent party by doing the following:

  • setting the scene
  • save time by preparing easy to make food
  • get the music and drinks flowing
  • get out the party games
  • take photos to remember the day
The Greenwich Mummy Blog | London Family and Lifestyle Blogger
Credit: William Montout / Unsplash

Setting the scene: have a party theme

If you’re stuck for inspiration or your Google search is not you any justice, I’d highly suggest checking out Pinterest. It’s an amazing media platform where you’d find photos for absolutely anything. I usually like to do a brief search on Google before heading over to Pinterest to find examples of what my theme/concept is. There’s usually many variations and interpretations of “summer party idea” so try to be as specific as you can ie. ‘summer tropical party idea’ or ‘vintage summer party idea’.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | London Family and Lifestyle Blogger
This adorable citrus summer theme is perfect for garden parties / Photo Credit: Pinterest

Eco-Friendly Partyware

If you’re also going to be hosting for friends and family in your social bubbles, it might be easier to use disposable party-ware but forget all the plastic stuff. Party-ware has officially stepped up their game with recyclable, compostable and biodegradable disposables so it’s more friendly to the environment.

Swap your plates, cutlery and straws for these beauties. They look so pretty too! I’ve found a whole range on Party Delights and Amazon offers both square and round plates.

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Eco-friendly Partyware / Photo Credit: PartyDelights.co.uk

I’ve got my eye on a super-cute children’s 6pc bamboo set on Amazon- they’re easy to wash and nicer to use than plastic tableware which we have quite a few of now.. no more breaks and chips woop woop!

Save time by preparing easy to make food

pasta-pestoAs much as I love to cook, I actually hate preparing food for a party. I find it’s too time consuming and so much planning need to go into it. I’d simply rather buy something already made well than trying to DIY for the first time, or get a caterer in. However, there are a few simple dishes that I love making for a party which don’t require too much time, I’ll have to upload my own recipes for some of these but here’s my list of easy-to-make dishes:

Egg & Potato Salad
Here’s an awesome recipe from Foodie Crush

Homemade Coleslaw
This recipe by Inspired Taste is on-point with the red cabbage!

Chocolate Brownies
This BBC Good Food recipe is my all-time fave and forms the base of all my brownie creations. If brownies are too tricky for you, buy a pre-made mix like this one from the Bottled Baking Co.

Apple & Banana Bread Loaf
This recipe adapted from Melissa Hemsley’s version is simple and so tasty

Homemade Vegan Chickpea Burgers
This is my own recipe and I love it so much. It’s vegan-friendly too! No time to prep? PEP Kitchen‘s got you covered with ready made meals.

Need more recipe inspiration? Tesco have 10 quick BBQ recipes that are simple and easy to follow. They look super tasty too!

Summer Party theme
Photo Credit: Google

Get the music + drinks flowing

No party is a party without music. The easiest way is to connect your phone or electronic device to the speakers and you’ve got your own sound system. You can also play music straight from your TV if the speakers are loud enough. We have our own mini speaker that’s mega-powerful for its tiny size. Forget all those big name brands, the name you need to know is ANKER. My friend told me about this brand and I’ve not looked back since. I got my SoundCore bluetooth speaker for a third of the price I would’ve paid for a Sony speaker. Simply connect it to bluetooth on your phone and that’s it – music! On my phone I use Spotify and another music app to play YouTube videos so I can use my phone whilst the music plays.

Having a variety of drinks at your party is a good idea. We’re not drinkers in our house so I’m not sure what is the best one to choose but from what others have told me, summer alcoholic beverages are a treat, such as PIMMS, strawberry daiquiri cocktails, rum punch, sangria, and prosecco. Binary Botanical offer a range of gluten-free, vegan beers

If you’re T-Total like us, then these drinks might quench your thirst:

  • Alcohol-free alcohol – Kopparberg do an alcohol-free cider, Shloer is another great supermarket name and alternative to wine, Seedlip offer a premium range of alc-free botanical gins. For mocktail lovers, try Sipling cocktails which are alc-free and Outfox for a range of non-alc wines
  • lemonade and ginger beer are summer party staples – I love the shop bought stuff but if you want to get more involved, try making your own homemade version
  • summer fruit smoothies – The Honestly Good Smoothie Co. for ready-to-blend smoothie bags help cuts down prep time and saves on wastage
  • naturally spiced soft drinks – with choices like tamarind, ginger and sorrel, Carisips have got you sorted

Get out the party games

Party games are fun for everyone. Best children’s games include giant ring toss, giant snakes and ladders or connect-4. You can usually purchase these from Argos. Other kids games that only need a few or no props include:

  • team races – eg. relay race, egg and spoon race, sack race
  • hide & seek
  • scavenger hunt
  • charades
  • who am I (using post-its or sticky labels)

We nabbed a cheap plastic kids bowling set for £5 from a cheap store. If you want games that won’t cost a penny, Thifty Parent and Buzz Feed have a decent list of games you can play.

Take photos to remember the day

Take photos of the day to remember either on your phone, tablet or electronic device. Snapfish (10cm x 13cm) and SuperSnaps (6.7cm x 7.7cm) offer retro square prints that have that cool, polaroid picture effect to make your day really memorable. I’m still torn on getting an INSTAX square camera for Little Man’s birthday but that’s an extra splurge I don’t think I want to get into.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | London Family and Lifestyle Blogger

How to plan a quarantine birthday party for kids

With London in lockdown for five weeks now and counting, the government have said that restrictions are NOT going to be easing up any time soon. As the country tries heavily to control and slow down the risk of more deaths and a second wave, more people will be celebrating their birthdays indoors this year. Last week we celebrated my little girl’s fourth birthday and next week will be Daddy P’s birthday. Little Man’s and mine are in August so hopefully restrictions will have lifted by then.

Firstly, I can’t believe it’s been four years since Little Miss was born! Time really does fly by – with it comes many tears, tantrums, angry moments but also many loving memories, best hugs, lots of laughter and love. These two little monsters really have turned my world upside down but I don’t think my life would be as interesting without them!

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Throwback to four years ago…
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…Four years on (a rare moment!)

Little Miss’s birthday in lockdown

It’s been the first time we’ve celebrated the kids’ birthday at home. We don’t usually celebrate their birthday at home simply because there’s so many family relatives and friends to invite so we usually book for an activity venue instead.

We did two birthday calls via Zoom; one with friends and the other with family. It was fantastic! It was quite easy to set up and the video quality was pretty decent. There was a little bit of a lag-time with the audio but it wasn’t a major issue. Little Miss really enjoyed seeing her nursery school friends even though they were all a bit shy on the Zoom call (including us!). It was also my MIL’s birthday and she chose to do her call via Skype which was good but I found the video quality not as good and also couldn’t work out how to get all callers on one screen like I could on the zoom call.

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It took me around 2-2.5hrs in total to hang up all the decorations, blow up the balloons and tidy up the living room. Our space is not big as we live in a city flat but it was spacious enough for a little girl’s birthday with just the four of us. Please excuse the broken TV unit cabinet door. That’s what happens when your kids decide to play with the furniture and lose the screws that goes with it. It’s on our long list of things to replace in the house… (¬_¬’)

Birthday parties are as unique as the person celebrating; whether you choose to go all out or just get a few things to add around the house. Here are some helpful points to consider when planning your party…

How to plan a quarantine birthday party for the kids

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Credit: William Montout / Unsplash

1. Plan your party at least a month ahead

Seriously, a quarantine birthday party needs a little more planning than you’d think. Mainly because it takes that bit longer to source things for the party and there’s no way you can chance leaving things to the last minute if you want everything to go to plan. I started planning Little Miss’s party a month before, well as soon as London’s lockdown was announced in March I started to plan out what we’ll need for her party.

Things like party decorations, food, presents and birthday cake should be at the top of your list. Try to have a back-up plan in case it doesn’t go to plan or things you order go out of stock. If you’re inviting family and friends to join you online, you can even make party invites online using sites like Canva which you can then send as an image via email, text or whatsapp.

If you’re setting up your decorations on the day, make sure you’re up early enough to get it all done. When I was checking the time, the hanging decorations took just over an hour but it was blowing up the balloons that took me forever. If you have a pump use it, if you have a helium tank, even better! You could potentially put up all the other decorations the night before and leave the balloons for the morning.

Note: make a list of things to do, buy, organise with a checklist so you can tick off the completed tasks as you go along. Get those birthday pressies in advance!

2. Save money buy ordering party decoration sets

I ordered Little Miss’s party decorations from Amazon. I have Amazon Prime so everything arrives in good time but I ordered early to avoid ordering for next day delivery – just to be considerate for vulnerable or priority customers. I found this fantastic 79-piece birthday decoration set which was excellent value for money. I also bought a smaller set of decorations with hanging lanterns and honeycomb balls to add some variety to the decorations. Confetti balloons are a great touch to any party, even if you can’t get helium to blow it up (we didn’t!) the balloons still look fantastic. We got confetti balloons as part of our 79-piece set. 

If you also have any party decorations from previous years that you can use again, bring them out! No-one is going to judge you for having mis-matched party decorations. 🙂 These are the decorations we had for our party: Happy birthday banner, bunting, balloons and confetti balloons, ribbon swirls, tissue paper pom poms, honeycomb balls and lanterns, confetti cannons, party cups, party hats and poppers. You could also include party streamers, birthday crowns, plastic medals (for games), glow sticks, sparklers (use safely outdoors NOT indoors), glitter confetti to sprinkle on the table, party napkins, cups and cutlery.

Note: love sparkles? Get yourself a confetti cannon like this one or a glitter cannon. They’re cheap and you really get loads even in a small cannon – be aware, there’a lot of clean up though! If the glitter cannon is too messy for you, make sure you get a pack of party poppers for a true celebratory feel.

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3. Save time (and money) with a supermarket birthday cake

We usually order a traditional Chinese birthday cake but with health and safety regulations, the Chinese bakers are not making any cakes – boo! I know that there are a few bakeries in London still open ie. Cakebox however we don’t drive so we wouldn’t have been able to collect. So we opted for a supermarket unicorn birthday cake instead which cost us £12 and tasted great! Asda do a range of celebratory cakes and birthday cakes from chocolate to vanilla sponge, in popular designs like unicorns, drip cake, Peppa Pig, Marvel superheroes. There’s even an option to create your own design in store. I think other big supermarkets like Sainsburys and Morrisons also have a great birthday cake department.

Note: if you decide to order a supermarket birthday cake, you can make it look extra special by adding a sparkler or number candle, personalised cake toppers, or anything else you’d like to decorate with. These can be also bought in store or online for personalised.

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4. Prepare your party food the day before if you’re a big family

If you’re going all out with party food and have a large family, you might want to prep some of your food the night before. Most party foods can be cooked in the oven which cuts down cooking time, and whilst they’re in the oven you can concentrate on the other party foods you need to get ready.

For us, we’re only a family of four so I decided to make our party food on the day. Little Miss asked for burgers so we had burgers with chips, and crisps, sliced apples and animal cookie bags for snacks. We skipped making dessert as we ate the birthday cake -we still had so much cake left over it took us 2 days to finish it.

Note: whilst you are preparing the food, keep the kids entertained by giving them a game or challenge to keep them occupied. When you’ve finished or can leave the food to cook in the oven, you can join in on the fun!

5. Get the party started with a party playlist

With apps like Spotify to help you out, you can’t really go wrong with this one. Download Spotify, select a playlist and you can leave it running in the background. Failing that, YouTube playlists are also great. You can select chart toppers or cheesy children’s birthday songs, it’s completely up to you. If you fancy compiling your own, you can do so on both platforms.

Our top songs to include in a children’s birthday playlist:

Happy – Pharrell Williams
Happy Birthday – Stevie Wonder
Move your feet / D.A.N.C.E. – Trolls movie
Girls like you – Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B
Mi Gente – J Balvin ft. Willy Williams

Note: why not have a game of musical statues or musical chairs just to have a bit of silly fun? If your children are older, they might not want to play but perhaps a game of guess who musical version ie. “guess who sang this song?” by playing a snippet of the intro or playing an instrumental version of the song. 

6. Ask friends & family to join in with you (virtually!)

Don’t party alone! Let the children enjoy their birthday party with family, friends and school friends. If you created a special playlist on YouTube you could even send a direct link to them so they can party along in their own homes.

We just kept it simple for ours and because our computer speaker isn’t that loud, we had our party with minimal music. We used ZOOM to host our birthday party call which allows up to 60mins of free unlimited calls of up to 20+ people. We only had 8 and that was big enough for us! We used the computer and could see all callers on one screen in the ‘gallery’ viewing mode. The screen is also much bigger than my iPhone 7 screen so I like using ZOOM on the computer for that reason.

Note: host your birthday party call on ZOOM or Sype or another conference calling platform. There’s so many you can choose from that there’s no excuse not to connect with others on your birthday.

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Zoom birthday call

If your child’s birthday happens to fall on a Sunday, you can party along with events organiser, Big Fish Little Fish events who host ‘virtual kitchen raves’ with their resident DJs every Sunday at 2-4PM via Facebook LIVE stream. It’s a family rave and has become so popular since the lockdown. I’ve been a fan of them since five years ago and still love the stuff they do.

Just log onto Facebook on their page and join the thousands of other families partying LIVE online. You can even request birthday shout-outs too! Check out their previous virtual raves here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/bigfishlittlefishevents/videos/?ref=page_internal

Bonus tip: be prepared for the after party (clean-up!)

Once all the fun is over, the clean-up commences. It’s no small task I’ll tell you that, especially if you went crazy with the confetti and glitter cannons like we did. I still manage to find bits of confetti hidden around the room but I don’t mind. It’s a nice little reminder of Little Miss’s special day.

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Credit: The Creative Exchange / Unsplash

She still wore her party hat and party dress two days after her birthday and we left the birthday decorations up for the whole week because I was too lazy to take them down. Plus… they looked too cool to take down earlier. 🙂

Do you have children celebrating their birthday in quarantine? If so, make sure they have a great time. Having a birthday at home should be just as enjoyable as going out. Sure, it is hard right now as we can’t visit family and friends but with all the technology around us we are even more connected than ever before so utilise it.


p i n  t h i s  p o s t !

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | How to plan a Quarantine Birthday Party for kids

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - GOMO with Eventbrite

End FOMO and start GOMO with Eventbrite

Lesson #1

FOMO (abbrv.) Fear Of Missing Out

GOMO (abbrv.) = Going Out More Often

So many abbreviations to remember!

YOLO… GOMO… FOMO… MOFO… 🙂 But GOMO (Going Out More Often) is a new one that I really like.

Last month was the summer holidays and that’s when most people are out and about with their kids and just enjoying life but it’s not really a time to go out for me. Since I started my fitness journey, I have had loads more energy and have come across so many health events last month and for the months ahead on my Eventbrite app.

If you’ve never used Eventbrite before or don’t know what it is, it’s an online events planning platform and app (available on iphones and androids) – a bit like Wahanda, now known as Treatwell, but is for anything related to events. You can find everything from gigs to Knitting workshop to health retreats and business expos. You can even host your own events and post it online which can be seen on their website and app.

In August, I came across HealthFest London 2016 on Eventbrite which was a real eye-opener for me. At HealthFest I was able to get my body fat percentage measured as well as my BMI calculated, my blood glucose level and blood pressure checked and more. It was the start of my GOMO quest. Continue reading “End FOMO and start GOMO with Eventbrite”

It’s That Time Again… Birthday Planning!

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Last year’s party was easy to plan but stressful to execute…

It’s that time of the year again. Last year was wonderful but soooo stressful and exhausting. It was LO’s first birthday and I wanted to do it BIG which I manage to do but it wasn’t easy. I thought I would be able to sit back and enjoy and let everyone else take care of things but that wasn’t really the case. Luckily, I had A LOT of help from friends and family so things did manage to run smoothly-ish in the end but I overlooked some aspects of the party such as music and food.

I had hired out the play area at the local leisure centre, formerly known as The Arches. They have a room filled with soft play, rody spacehoppers and a bouncy castle available for the ‘Toddlers World’ sessions every day of the week and I thought it would be a wicked idea to hire it for the birthday party. I think it was about £100-120 for 2 hours; one hour in the studio with all the soft play equipment and one hour in the side room for the party lunch and cake cutting. Here are some photos of last year’s event:

The Greenwich Mummy | Birthdays
LO’s 1st birthday party

We did our very own home-made cask smash. It was a good first attempt for us as we wanted a professional look but ended up with something that looked very unique, home-ly, and I loved it. We really captured LO in his moment and he had soo much fun with that cake! For those who would prefer a professional one, there’s loads of good family photographers out there that can offer you a cake smash shoot. Take a look at the stunning work from Mellz Photography who specialises in cake-smash shoots. It’s not cheap but it’s definitely value for money in terms of what you get for the quality and standard of the photos and cake too. The cake (made by Dinahs Desserts) is also included within the price of the shoot – hurray! 🙂

This year, I am thinking of two things to do for LO’s birthday:

  • Birthday party at The Rainforest Cafe in London
  • Toddler Sensory party at home
  • BBQ garden party at grandma’s house

The latter option is dependent on weather so I am not too keen on it in case we have rain on his birthday. Toddler sensory would be a great option but I’d then have to organise all the food which is the problem I was faced with last year. The Rainforest Cafe is the most ‘safest’ and slightly boring option out of the three but at least the food will be sorted, we also get a free cake if there is over 7 children in the party (which there definitely will be, we always have a large party) and it gives me a chance to plan another day out for just me, LO and Daddy P. I’ve been hinting about taking us to Legoland Windsor so fingers crossed we can do that then have The Rainforest Cafe the week after.

It also doesn’t help that my birthday is just one day before LO’s so that may mean that I will need to compensate on having a small one to have enough to plan his – I don’t mind. I’ve already decided about mine. It’ll probably be just a meal as that’s what I usually do though I can’t figure out if I want to have a river cruise dinner on The Thames…… or afternoon tea at the stunning Sketch London restaurant?

… or a night out with a meal and live music at Quaglino’s?

I’m just spoilt for choice! Bring on August and the birthday planning!

Manny | The Greenwich Mummy Signature