Noel and I absolutely love throwing birthday parties for Cherry and Violet. Helping create a magical day for them is one of the nicest things about having children and we're both big believers in making it all about the experience rather than presents.
At this age they are both still really happy with homemade parties, and have yet to start demanding Frozen parties or soft-play parties or similar. I'm sure as they get older the challenge will be making these themed events charming, but for now as long as there's balloons, cake, family and friends everybody is happy.
After a bit of thought Noel came up with the idea of holding Violet's party in the little wooded glade opposite our house. It's already a beautiful space but with a bit of bunting, some balloons and a tiny bouncy castle it became really enchanting.
(The only thing I find about hosting birthday parties is I am always so busy tearing around I have no time to take photos during the event itself, so most of these pictures are 'before' or 'after' shots)
We like to involve Cherry and Violet as much as possible in making decisions about the party, what food they would like, what kind of cake and so on. Violet chose an angel cake from my Annie Bell cake book to decorate with Smarties, sweeties and sprinkles.
The decoration of the cake has become a tradition for birthday parties and Cherry and Violet really, really believe that more is more.
We kept the food quite simple, cheese and cucumber sandwiches, jam sandwiches, fruit salad, breadsticks and hummus, party rings (Cherry's suggestion), juice and, as requested by Violet, sweeties. We put out grown-up sandwiches, a few drinks and nibbles for the adults.
Violet chose the pink tablecloth, party plates, cups and cutlery, napkins, some blue paper party bags and a few little fun fillers all from good old Asda. I chose her dress as she absolutely loves kites. It's from Wild Things Dresses and I love it SO much I could cry. She was so excited she ran around yelling 'my kite dress! my kite dress!' once she had put it on. I just wish I had a better photo of Violet in it but it was all snatched, rushed shots on the iPhone yesterday.
Then all we needed was good friends and family. And a giant balloon in the shape of a number two.
I love everything about birthday parties. The excitement and the buildup, the frenzied fun, the glow afterwards. I love having Cherry and Violet involved in everything, and there was something deeply touching about their wild excitement on Friday when it was clear Violet was excited because Cherry was excited, and she knew she was having a 'birthday party' but she wasn't quite sure what a birthday party was.
Cherry was a solicitous older sister, accosting guests and demanding 'Have you brought a present for Violet?!' I am not sure how selfless her motivation was, truth be told. But she understood that it was Violet's party and Violet's day and that the presents and cards were for Violet, not for her. Although obviously she got to play with everything so she did pretty well out of her sister's second birthday.
After the party was officially 'over' (although several guests stayed for most of the afternoon) Violet finally got a ride on a home-made go-kart that's been left in the playground over the road for most of the summer.
What little girl could ask for more?
I hope they remember these parties, the fun and the adventure. As I put a very tired Cherry to bed she said to me 'I miss the party.'
I remember exactly how that felt as a child. The excitement and anticipation of an event that's over and gone in a flash. Everything seems to happen on fast-foward. Like your younger child, your 'baby', turning two.
It goes in the blink of an eye.