Monsieur Baby's Safari party

As you know, our little tiger was born in the middle of Christmas week, which is great as it means we'll probably get to celebrate most of his birthdays in the Alps during our skiing holidays, however it makes it impossible for him to have big parties with his friends as everyone is out celebrating the holidays... However, I didn't want Monsieur Baby to grow up without the fun of annual parties with his friends, how sad, so instead he'll be having a Summer party each June before the big holidays.

Yesterday was the first of these parties (and honestly I will need a year to recover after how hectic it all was), and seeing as Monsieur Baby is almost as much in love with animals as his mamma, the choice of theme was pretty easy: Safari party!

Now, before I leave you with my party pics and some tips, here is what I found out about myself in the two weeks that it took to get this party organised: first, I love nothing more than decorating the house with a theme,... it can get a little bit out of hand! Second, I am a little too obsessed with detail, Hubby Dearest even mentioned compulsive at some point! And finally, it's a fact that lots of little children running around in a closed space make me slightly dizzy, here's to looking forward to the bowling parties in a few years...

Now, to the planning... as you can imagine I had a tick-off list to help me go along with all the organisation and not missing anything. I really made a point of preparing everything myself, instead of hiring a company to do this, it's in line with cooking for Monsieur Baby, it makes me feel like I'm not just paying for people to take care of his needs. All-in, it's harder work, but to be frank it feels much better to get the compliments once it's all done but most importantly to hear the squeals of my little tiger when he saw the decorated kitchen (and, by the by, it's cheaper!)...

1) Get some inspiration...
My day job is finance, not party planning and certainly not entertainment, and though I love organising themed dinners I knew I needed a little bit of help in the ideas, so I checked out Hostess with the Mostess' website, to see what interesting safari party themes I could adapt for Monsieur Baby's party. I love this website, all the party themes are very polished and the attention to detail is unbelievable! Just check out this Jungle party which gave me the idea for a drink station, so cool!

2) Order some cute party themed paper goods
I find that the UK is really lacking in terms of party supplies which don't look tacky and cheap. In that regard, the US websites are much better equipped, and I especially like Beau-Coup, a website recommended by TinyPrints, where you'll literally find hundreds of gorgeous and not tacky at all party goodies, from cool invitations which you can print on to gorgeous little favour boxes. I ordered the Jungle Safari Party Kit, and it all arrived within days of ordering, with no need to pay customs duty as the value was lower than 100£! You can't imagine how many compliments we got for the invitations and the too cute for words bottle labels..

3) Amazon everything else!
Amazon is a fabulous place where you can find virtually anything these days, so to make it all more Safari-like I ordered some hessian for the vines and table displays, cheetah-print balloons and green ones for the entrance, lots of other bits and bobs for my decoration, and even a raffia skirt that I used to decorate the party favours corner and make some braids for the drinks station.

4) Get to work...
You can order everything you want but if you don't put some elbow grease into making it all personal it will all look a bit bland. It makes all the difference, but that meant I was cutting exotic-shaped leaves most of last week in the evenings (it's therapeutic at first but then it gets slightly boring) and then was running around frantically most of saturday creating the jungle cascade on our kitchen mirror, a high grass savannah around the drinks station etc. Not to mention the mess it all left on the floor (hessian is a messy thing to cut into vines, make sure you hoover before the party...) Oh and did I mention about the little knots for the napkins and the raffia braids? My legs still hurt from all the work!

5) Don't forget the food!
Getting food right for a toddlers party means you need a good mix of healthy fruit and raw veg, some breadsticks for the little teething party animals, and of course a variety of cookies. I went for simple but cute, with Oreos and animal-shaped Organix toddler cookies, and my Greek favourites: Caprice cigars bought on my recent trip to Athens, aka chocolate canes! Also I was mindful of the mummies who were watching their own waistlines and their babies' sugar intake, so prepared a platter of veggies with a Dolcelatte dip, and some fruit skewers. Drinks were easy, home-made iced tea (much tastier than the bought version!), apple juice, water and champagne of course (this is, after all, a little French boy's party...)

6) No party is ever complete without some cute cupcakes...
That, my friends, is where I admit my failings: I am a dreadful baker, and no amount of cookbooks from the best chefs in the world is ever going to fix this. Instead, I looked up some cupcake bakeries and after getting a couple of no replies, a terribly snotty proposal from one of the better-known London bakeries who didn't even bother to send me pictures of their bespoke work and quoted an extortionate price, I found the lovely Lucy at Vanilla Frost Cakes. She listened to my requests, suggested some ideas, and delivered in the morning of the party 24 absolutely perfect cupcakes and matching cake pops, prepared exactly to my specs and which tasted absolutely delicious. I cannot recommend her highly enough, she is quite amazing!

7) Setting up the scene, music and all!
It's all fun decorating the house with leaves and vines but if you want to take it one little notch higher, a bespoke play list is the way to go... I went for songs from The Lion King, Madagascar, and some African choir hymns, and despite the rain outside, it felt like we were transported for tea in the middle of the Serengeti!

8) Prepare the little party favours ahead of time...
One of things I remember most about going to children's parties as a kid was the party favours... I always loved looking into the little package to see what was inside. However I'm appalled to hear about the E20 and E-whatever components that are packed in the gummy treats that these come filled with, so I took a slightly different approach, and packed some raisins and a little finger puppet with a Safari theme... All packed into these little mini chinese take-away boxes... ready to be taken out!

I'm all party-ed out now... thankfully Hubby Dearest was at hand for me to outsource the tidying up, a part I loathe when it comes to entertaining! It's good the next children's party isn't for another year, as it's pretty exhausting, especially when you insist on doing everything yourself!


cewek said...

What a gorgeous party! Monsieur Bebe is one very lucky little man! Btw, I love your wardrobe choices! I bought the Twenty8Twelve dress from TheOutnet also! I can't wait for it to arrive :)

LittleS said...

@cewek thank you! I'm not sure he realised how much effort went into his first social event but I'll be sure to keep the pics! You'll love the Twenty8Twelve dress, its shape and fabric are pretty cool.

Mona P said...

I love all the wonderful details, like the labels for napkins and water bottles!

It must have been exhausting, but SO worth it at the end, when you see him smiling and happy :)

My daughter is a July baby, so at them moment we are in the process of planning a birthday party for her as well.

It gets a bit difficult with the age though, as it is not as straightforward. This year she told us she would like to have a bowling/disco party :)

LittleS said...

Thanks Mona! A bowling/disco party sounds like a lot of work, good luck!!!

frifri63 said...

PS I am writing down some of the sites you kindly shared with us...merci:)

Lonely Greenshoe said...

You are a genious! Next time I'll organize a party at home, I'll ask for your help!!


LittleS said...

@Frifri, thank you, it's hard work but so well worth it!
@LG, I'd love to help!!! xxx

Lucy, Vanilla Frost said...

Sandra this looks amazing! I had no idea that my cakes were going to be part of such a fabulous party. The attention to detail is fantastic. Love the jungle juice! Thanks so much for your kind words, they are very much appreciated. Lucy x

LittleS said...

@Lucy, thank YOU for making such perfect cakes. Everyone commented on how pretty and delicious they were, I'll be calling you for help more I'm sure, and so will my friends!

sam said...

SO SO impressed - The room looked divine, the detail amazing and the food delicious and healthy ( hate all the crap everyone feeds children at parties!) You now have to repeat this for the next 16 years ( at least) getting bigger and better each time!!!
Please don't let my children onto your blog EVER they will be so disappointed by their Mama!!

LittleS said...

Sam, I'm sure you're throwing them amazing parties, and they could never be disappointed with you! Thanks so much for your kind comment, so so kind as always! And I totally agree: it's time kids birthdays got away from the junk and over-processed foods and back to the more natural stuff!

Hind said...

Hello there !
One of our common friends to me about your blog so as I was checking it out, I came access this post. Being myself a mum of 2.5yo little man, I admire the dedication ! for his 2nd birthday (I didn't even do anything special for his 1st...gulp!), I went for a similar theme (kit from Party Pieces) BUT didn't go anywhere near your attention to detail - bravo :)
Well done you!

LittleS said...

Thanks Hind!!! Just had a look at your lovely blog, so witty and cool! Do I read right, are you from Casa? Me too!!!! We must meet.

hind said...

I am from Morocco indeed (grew up in Meknes but my parents mainly live in Casa these days). We sure should meet, I understood we live in the same area as well :)
Drop me an email (hind@whathindlikes.com and e can arrange something!)
Take care!

Colette Horter said...

Hi there,

What an awesome blog and the party was just to die for!!!

I'm having a Tiger Jungle party for my 5 year old and have been looking for a template for leaves like the ones you made... do you not by ANY CHANCE still have the template? Pretty pretty please say yes and that you'd share :-)

(From Sunny South Africa)

LittleS said...

Dear Colette, thanks for your sweet comment. To be honest I didn't use a template, I just cut shapes starting with a flat-topped heart shape, then I did the cut-outs on the sides. However, look what I found for you: http://living.weelife.com/2009/01/leafy-templates.html