As a busy mum of two, my time is stretched at best. Any chance to relax is oh so rare, so why is it I regularly steer away from the ‘easy options’ in life. I wonder if it is a deep scar from years ago when my school reports were frequently summed up with quotes such as ‘ nice girl, could try harder’. I am also a frustrated creative, so my choosing not to take the easy options helps to feed this.
My daughter Lily recently celebrated her 5th birthday. She was very keen to have a party so I decided to hold one. Despite the chaos of hosting a child’s party at home, I am holding out from having to hire an expensive and dreary hall for as long as I can. I set the guest limit [12 including Lily] and Lily set the theme [Princesses].
At this point most sane mothers would text those lucky enough to be worthy of one of the 12 places, or maybe pop into town to buy some party invitation – I’m sure Lily would have loved the Disney Princess invites I saw and turned a blind eye to. But I decided to hand make them. And I didn’t stop there I made the party bags too, plus giant tissue paper pom poms [Lily isn’t keen on balloons]. I decorated the room with the Poms and then gave one each to the children to take home with them.
My starting point for both the invitations and the party bags was a letter writing set, some fabric scraps and an old magazine all from one of my favourite stores Cath Kidston. I felt that the nostalgic pretty prints lend themselves well for a 5 year old’s party of carefree fun, games, dancing and cake.
The invitations were great fun. A selection of pretty papers, glue, alphabet stamps and some crimping scissors were all that were needed. I then followed the pretty floral theme through to the party bags. I simply purchased some cheap Calico fabric which I cut using crimping scissor [resulting in no need to hem] into long rectangles. Then using my floral fabric [and for the two boys that attended the party, blue spot fabric], I cut small rectangular patches and sewed them on. Finally, I them folded them in half and using my sowing machine stitched up each side. Once filled with goodies I fasten them with ribbon.
For the contents, I stuck to a bit of a nostalgic theme – focusing on little bits and pieces with a nod to yesteryear. Sweet treats are a must for any party bag and with Lily’s birthday falling in the Easter season a foil covered chocolate egg is a must. Then I made up small bags of retro biscuits fastened with a pretty ribbon. For girls I did hair slides. I replaced the cards that they originally came on with pretty cards I made using a fabric print from a magazine as a backdrop. The boys had a toy car.
Then I bought some nasturtium flower seeds and divided them up into tiny brown envelopes, I wrote some simple instructions on the back and using some printed paper and the alphabet stamp decorated the front of the little pouches.
Louise’s Ice-Cream Birthday Cake
Along with the decoration and party accessories, there was the birthday cake to make. This was my first ever attempt at an Ice Cream Cake. It is a bit of a cheat and very simple to make.
1 pack of biscuits for crushing
2 500ml tubs of ice-cream
Chocolate for melting
White Chocolate Sticks
 Using a loose bottom cake tin make a ‘cheesecake’ biscuit base using crushed biscuits such as digestives and melted butter.
 After greasing your tin press the biscuit base in the base of the tin and place it in the fridge for 20 mins or so to set and harden.
 Next you need two 500ml tubs of your favourite shop bought ice cream. I used a chocolate ice cream and a cookies n’ cream ice cream. Take your first tub out of the freezer and allow it to soften slightly. Decant it into a bowl and give it a bit of a mix with a wooden spoon. Spread the ice cream out over your biscuit base making sure it completely covers it.
 Level the top and cover with cling film, pressing it down into the to the tin so that it rests on the surface of the ice cream. Freeze until hard [overnight is ideal], then repeat the process with your second choice of ice cream. You could then leave your ice cream cake as is, but I decided to finish it off with a thin ganache layer [a melted chocolate and cream mix] which again I froze to set.
 Once ready to serve the cake needs to defrost a little. It’s a bit trial and error, but 30 mins in the fridge should do it. Run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the tin to help ease the cake out on to a stand or plate. I then decorated mine with white chocolate sticks, fresh strawberries and blueberries and of course and candle!
Lily loved her party and I hope her friends did too. I certainly enjoyed creating it. Maybe next year I’ll take the easy option, but I can’t help thinking I may have started something here that Lily will expect every year!
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at email@example.com