Under The Sea Birthday Party

Aviya’s 1st birthday is just over a week away, and while knee-deep in preparations for it, I realised that with the mayhem and madness of visas and flying to Australia in October, I never posted the photos from Ameli’s 3rd birthday party. For her party we had an Under The Sea party at a Puck’s Oak Barn in Compton. It’s an absolutely stunning venue and it happened to be one of the rare beautiful days of last year, weather wise. It didn’t rain, and in fact the sun came out and cast that golden hue around the orchard. It was simply breathtaking, even though it was still a little cold.Under the Sea

We didn’t have entertainment, because we were in an orchard, and while it took everyone a little while to ‘warm up’ to the venue, once they did I think everyone enjoyed just being outdoors. The kids made up a treasure hunt with pretend maps and it was – to me, at least, – an idyllic afternoon.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (10)[pinit] The barn is attached to an orchid with a great play area, wild forest bit and a stream. It’s the most perfect place for outdoor play.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (9)

As guests arrived they walked through the door with hanging fish garlands* (US Link) meant to represent the ocean, like they were ‘swimming’ through a school of fish. I had some of these same fish on the floor inside the hall.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (1)

There were also “bubbles” – aka clear balloons (US Link)– strewn across the floor. This provided great entertainment for the little ones. Here’s Aviya crawling after a balloon.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (2)We had a great big blue sandpit shell that we borrowed from a friend. I set up balloons around it – they’re missing in this picture – and put a white blanket inside and set up a camera on a tripod so people could take photos of themselves in the shell, like perfect little pearls.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (6)

I spent a lot of the days leading up to the party planning and preparing food for it. There were octopus red peppers on the home made hummus, and a platter of vegetables to choose from. I had a treasure chest – far right- with Starfish Haribo (US Link) pouring from it like treasure, and kiwifruit lollipops covered in dairy free chocolate with edible fishy printed ricepaper. Under the Sea Birthday Party (4)These icecream cones are an unhealthy favourite in our house, originated from the icecream week we did for Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home. Not quite under the sea, but close enough to the sea to be welcome.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (7) These ice cream cones were gluten free, with cheese and chicken or ham, pressed out of bread with cookie cutters (US Link).
Under the Sea Birthday Party (8)
And there were white and brown bread fishy sandwiches (US Link) with Tuna and sweet corn and home made mayonnaise .
Under the Sea Birthday Party (3)

A lot of effort, but worth every second for this, my beautiful princess, my three year old.

I hope, my gorgeous child, that every year affords me the ability to make your birthday as special as your life has made mine.

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*If you purchase through any of these links, you will not be charged any extra, but Amazon will pay me around 5% of the purchase price. If buy without an affiliate link, Amazon just keeps the whole amount!

** You can find many more ideas on my Under The Sea Pinterest Board

Birthdays, Presents, And The Great Taboo

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘birthdays’? I think of themes, of décor, of food, a table full of sweet treats and being super excited – me, that is. I’m sure Ameli will be more into it this year too.  And of course, presents. As a Blogging Mama, we receive more than our fair share of goodies through the letter box, and my kids think it’s Christmas every other day. I’ve been struggling with this for the past six months or so, and have drastically reduced the toy-related reviews that I’ve been doing, because honestly, the fact that my child had zero appreciation for her toys really bugged me.

If you get something fun every couple of days, you’re not going to appreciate the big things, like birthdays and Christmas, are you? Blogging and a bit of savvy organising have meant that for Ameli’s birthday this year, I’ve bought and popped a dolls house in the cupboard. However,  I’ve been able to get her a gorgeous play kitchen for her birthday now, so I’ll put the doll’s house away for Christmas, I think. She always makes a beeline for kitchens and the related toys at other people’s houses, and she’s going to be over the moon.

Presents are a sensitive issue with a lot of people though; something of a taboo. I was speaking to a friend recently who has the largest collection of wooden toys, yet her mother-in-law will arrive with some large, plastic monstrosity at every visit. These toys often ‘disappear’.  Since you have to put up with the toys once the visitors leave, I totally understand her reasoning, and have done the same on an occasion or two.

Right now, I’m wondering about Ameli’s third birthday. Do I give people a list of toys that we’d like? Something that can complement what she has – like furniture for her dolls house or pots and pans for the new play kitchen? Or do we ask for Amazon vouchers? (I love Amazon vouchers, because then I can buy things we need as we need them. I receive a few pounds worth for Aviya’s babyshower and a few weeks ago used them to buy new nappy wraps, because she needed them. That’s a gift I was grateful for, and I think of our friends every time I put a new one on her!)

Rather than a bunch of stuff she’ll probably rarely play with, I’d ask people to contribute to dance classes for her, or pay towards playgroup fees, or put it in the girls’ bank accounts to save up for later.

It’s not as much fun as unwrapping a present, I know that, but buying toys for children should be done in conference with parents, shouldn’t it? Or is that just one of the things that we learn to put up with when we have children? I know prescribing gifts annoys some people, some find it even rude, but when you don’t have money to give your children the things you really want to, isn’t it better to ask than to half-heartedly receive?