As last summer drew to a close, a mere moment after it had started, I decided that the impending school year would be cherished and taken slowly, milking every last second, as I prepared myself to deal with the fact that our eldest was in her final year of primary. Yet, here we are, incredibly, slap bang in the middle of the last week of school once more. How on earth did that happen?
As a parent, I feel that so much of what we do comes with a, generally, self-imposed side order of guilt- the things we wish we’d done more of, taken more time over, handled differently. The times we wish we could freeze and hold still, or at least be able to use a pause button occasionally, with a bit of slow play thrown in for good measure.
For all the moments that we wish we had done differently or wish we could re-do, there are also the times we’re glad that happened and the things we are delighted we said ‘Yes’ to, that we know will be talking points for years to come. For us, one of those very ‘Yes moments’ happened at the weekend when a bit of a birthday wish was granted!
I laugh quietly to myself when I recall pre-children claims that I’d never be into the whole party thing for my kids. That I wouldn’t want to be bothered with ‘all that’. Oh how little we know of our future selves. Turns out? I totally love ‘all that’ and wholeheartedly embrace the opportunity to celebrate these milestones with our girls. So, when the request was made a little whole back that this year’s party theme would be a tropical beach one, well, I could hardly say no! 😉
But for the fact I’ve been on the planet for over three decades now, I may have doubted that there was a life before Pinterest, yet, I’m sure like many of you, it’s a kind of automatic port of call when searching for ideas! A few images were latched on to fairly quickly and with minimal eye-rolling from my better half, my wish for a tiki bar was to be granted… who needs a genie when your husband’s a wee star or, as one of the kids on Friday, marvelling at his creation, branded him: a ‘legend’.
While I’d had a few thoughts for invites, our middlest suggested pineapples, which her big sister loved and so, they soon became a frequent feature. Tesco had the most fabulous napkins and even cute pineapple serving plates, well, how could I resist?!
Some gorgeous multi-coloured flamingo cocktail sticks, pineapple stirrers and, of course, obligatory cocktail umbrellas were all ‘necessary’ props, not forgetting some coloured lanterns, DIY palm trees and some inflatable animals… ’cause, obviously, what tropical beach is without them?! A few artificial flowers were used for both the tiki bar and the table decorations and, teamed up with splashes of colour and pretty lights at every opportunity, things were pretty much set.
A limbo pole, bean bag toss game, DIY giant kerplunk (though perhaps the less said about the latter the better!!!) proved great entertainment, along with a photo posing prop and a ‘build your own palm tree’ race, using toilet roll tubes, sellotape, green balloons and a bamboo stick each, the guests were kept busy for a while anyway!
It’s become a bit of a ‘thing’ that we have a craft activity of some sort and, when you’ve had a ‘thing’ consistently each year, it’s pretty impossible to break the tradition, or is that just me?! Anyway, despite a wobble that I might not be able to get it done on time, my wee bolt of inspiration to have pineapple backboard /noticeboards to decorate worked out, much to my delight. It really is the little victories!!
I bought a large sheet of MDF, drew the outlines for the number of pineapples I needed and set to work with a jigsaw! I’d love to have let the kids decorate both sides, but I knew there wouldn’t be time to get two sides painted and dried so, ahead of the party, I used blackboard paint on the main bit on one side and then added the green leaf to the top. As I had acrylic paint, the kids used it, as well as some buttons and mini pegs, to create the notice board sides. They had lots of fun, and chat…. boy can they talk… while they worked and there were some real beauties by the time they were finished!
These were the perfect addition to the wee party bags, which simply contained a packet of sweets, chalk and a beach cupcake… my lazy way out of having to get the cake wrapped up between having food and the kids heading home- this way the cupcakes were already in the bag and the cake could go straight to the table! The cake followed the tropical beach theme too… let’s agree not to comment on the rather obvious scale issues 🙈 We embraced the presence of the tiki bar and created ‘cocktails’ using various diluting juice combinations… some to greater success than others!! Later, it was our ice cream station too, because parties without it are, well, are they even parties at all?!
I still remember the utter fear about how it would all go the very first time these little kids came to a party and now, many years later, it’s been an incredible journey watching them grow! I can’t quite believe that come September, they’ll have entered a whole new stage – how it happens so quickly I don’t think any of us will ever really understand – but, it’s a constant reminder to embrace the milestones, to make the memories and to always agree with your wife’s ideas… it’s sure to be ‘legendary’ 😉