Sunday, November 11, 2012

Indigo's Fairytale Birthday Party

You may remember Indigo's sixth birthday post in August, but it took us forever to actually host her birthday party. I was in full swing wedding season and lots of Indigo's friends were away over the summer. We finally booked it but then we had to cancel due to weather and were so glad we did because the rescheduled day of the party was perfect - not too hot, not too cold, but just right! These images are not edited or played with as I would like, but I wanted to share her Fairytale party which was just the most magical day for all her friends. Later that night, after the last guests had left and a healthy dinner of chocolate fudge cake had settled in her belly, I lay in Indigo's bed and asked her about the best bits of the day. I secretly admitted to her that I thought it was the best birthday party yet, and she instantly responded that it wasn't. My heart sank and I even spoke of how sad that made me, for I had really really tried to make it truly special. "Mummy," Indigo replied in that way that only she can. "Every birthday party I have ever had has been the most special - there isn't one favourite - they are all the bestest ever." My heart splintered into a thousand pieces in that moment and if I wasn't already sure before, I knew in that moment that I must be the luckiest mama bear in the whole world to be able to share my life with someone as wise, wonderful and kind hearted as my sweet six year old girl.

In the weeks leading up to the party, I had asked my mother (super mama!) to help make the signs I planned to hang around the garden. Of course the day of the party, there suddenly seemed to not be enough and I had forgotten all sorts of ideas so I was madly painting at the breakfast table the last details like this welcome sign above.

It was so crazy preparing everything the morning of the party that I had no time to photograph the scene so snapped these once people had already started arriving so I was a little sad not to have had the chance to shoot the entire scene, but be prepared, this is a beast of a post so you will get the idea all the same!

Our birthday parties always have a theme and the kids love to get dressed up in costumes. In the months leading up to the party, Indigo was obsessed with being Christine from The Phantom of the Opera since she loves the main song and has scene it performed on Youtube. I hardly wanted to explain that that is actually verging on a horror story so hoped she would change her mind. She didn't so on the day of the party, I had to convince her that we didn't have the right things for Christine and why not go as Little Red Riding Hood since that was what she was in her invitation. Probably still traumatised from the experience of that shoot, she refused and ended up saying she wanted to be Gretle and wear her favourite Indigo coloured dress. When I tried to explain that Gretle was so poverty stricken that her father left her and Hansel in the woods since they couldn't even afford to buy bread, she asked who she could be in that dress. So to be frank, when the guests arrived, we hadn't had a chance to brush her hair, (almost forgot knickers!) and hadn't decided who she was from which Fairytale. None the less, she looked gorgeous and had a wonderful time, especially since she was allowed a lollipop which is usually never on the menu.

In contrast, Oslo knew for weeks that he was going as Robin Hood, though of course in typical "us" fashion, we didn't get the costume things out in time so there was a lot of scrambling to find tights, the right shirt and a red feather! Oslo had been counting and sorting his Halloween candy since the kids are not allowed to eat it so he couldn't wait to set up a sweets stall at the party. He wanted to sell his wares but I explained how totally inappropriate that would be at a party so he convinced me to allow him to give tickets at some of the games and they could "pay" for the treats with their winnings.

My sister took this one below of our darling neighbour, Charlotte. Littles love this daybed.

This is Oslo's best friend, Sebastian. He ran the candy stall with Oslo and it was particularly fitting since his dad used to be in a band called Candyland!

I thought the below sign was such a cute detail but all these kids kept asking me if they were really poisoned and the bowl was as full at the end of the party as it had been in the beginning so clearly not a wise choice in theme!

My magic mirror just looked so cool and doesn't Jasmine make the perfect Snow White?

My incredibly awesome sister showed up as the wicked queen with her own poisoned apple and so I couldn't resist getting a shot of her in the mirror too. Now I am dying to do a concept shoot with this theme and also can't wait to find the time to actually edit properly and play with the below image as I know I could make it magical but for now, it just has to be as is as can't justify spending any time on these photos with so much work piled up.

Amanda also took this photo below - how cute is Sebastian, but I thought princes were supposed to save damsels, not put them into distress!

Our friends had brought a wolf costume for Ben to wear but not in time so he ended up throwing together a crazy mish mash outfit of elf/robin hood helper/who knows what! Ben decided that the amazing wolf costume shouldn't go to waste so he asked our friend Arhat to wear it and come out to scare everyone. Indigo was too shy to come out to warn everyone that the wolf was coming so instead, her "bff", Sarah told everyone to hide.

Out of the bushes flew Oslo and Seb and they fought valiantly against the angry wolf.

Ben had prepared most of the mums for how it could be a little scary for the little ones, though of course one tiny love was not warned and she had an absolute heart attack. I ran to her rescue and carried sweet Susannah to her mummy and told her it wasn't real, so sadly I didn't actually capture the scene as it unfolded but you get the idea from these couple shots. It was actually all a little Lord of the Flies at the end with Seb and Oslo coming back with body parts to show their victory - perhaps a little gory for a six year old girls' party, but then again, no more gory than the average fairytale in Grimms'.

To lighten the mood, we had all the kids head over to the crafts tables where they could do some decorating. I had three tables set up where the children could pick either wands, crowns or terracotta pots to cover in glitter, sequins, ribbons and the like.

My mum had covered these sticks with the remaining bits of fabric left over from Indigo's 5th birthday party's Lucky Dip with the capes made from old shirts. I do try my best to be as eco as possible at these parties which is not always easy and these wands were so pretty on their own, but with some more bits of fabric ribbons and sequins, they were amazing.

The crowns were so simple and the kids loved decorating them and the best bit was that they could just get on with things rather than need any help from an adult which was nice since there was still so much other stuff going on.

I picked up most of these pots at a house sale and then bought the last few from the garden shop to make sure I had enough for all the guests and their siblings. Loved all the ideas the children came up with to put their own stamp on the pot.

After all the pots were decorated, I had the children bring them over to the centre of the garden and make a large circle. Ben filled each of the pots with soil.

I was dressed as a Fairy God Mother so it was only fitting that I should run the seed planting ceremony where we called upon the fairies to come help our seeds grow into beautiful blooms. I had a silver chalice with magic seeds and went around to the children and they all selected a seed and buried it in the soil of their pots. My sister, Amanda, very sweetly took these photos so I could do the little planting ritual.

So in the early hours of the nights leading up to the party, I needed to sleep with a pad and pencil next to my bed as I would be plagued with ideas and the number of things that had to be done. I know I am such a dork that I get so into this - perhaps I should have been a party planner instead of a photographer - but anyway. One of the things that floated around in my head as I tried to get back to sleep was a little poem I made up to say at the seed ceremony to call the fairies to come help make the seeds grow. But then of course I didn't write it down nor did I think of it again until suddenly it was the moment I was supposed to recite the charm, and so I stumbled in a rather embarrassing way. Think my uselessness was lost on the kids but all the grownups cracked up and I just said something totally unpoetic instead which had no rhyme or ring but did the job.

When we finished the seed ceremony, we headed up to the upper and back gardens to start the Scavenger Hunt. I made up all these rhyming riddles and used the same fairy tale font as Indigo's invite and soaked the paper in tea and coffee and ripped the edges so that they looked old. I have no idea if the kids even noticed, but it all added to the feel of the magical world they were in and was worth all the effort! I tested the riddles out on Ben the night before the party and he had no idea what the answers were so I realised it was perhaps a little tricky, but it made it all the more fun to get the older kids involved too.

You may recognise this sleigh from Oslo's birthday party last year. Sadly, it is on its last legs (well not even - its swirly sled bits deteriorated) but it is still a fun feature in the garden and was the perfect spot to hide a clue.

I bought this boat off emoo and have only done a couple photo sessions in it so far but I have high hopes for future concept shoots. But on the day of Indigo's party, it was the perfect prop to continue the magic.

The final clue led the kids to look up in the trees where they saw the pinata hidden amongst the branches. I had filled the pinata with all of Indigo's Halloween candy and covered a catfood case with paper. I then spent ages one night while Ben was out doing drawings all over it on four sides and of course forgot to photograph it but you get the idea from these two sides.

The kids used this sword my mum had made for Oslo which was so in keeping with the image of the whole fairytale so I loved it, though I always do find the pinata so stressful as kids creep closer and closer and I get a little neurotic.

Oslo was a cheeky monkey and tried to use the handle and stab it but that wasn't allowed and Ben made sure he turned the sword around. Pretty clever though.

Seb hit so hard he knocked off the tip of the sword! Good thing we let the younger girls go first before the older boys.

Indigo was playing in the boat and lifted the umbrella stand that was holding the mast and dropped it on her toe so she was a bit upset so when it was her turn again, Ben helped out.

And speaking of bigger boys and their strength, Ben whacked off the whole wooden blade with only the handle remaining.

This actually seems to happen every year and we go through several implements before the pinata releases its goodies within. This time, we just grabbed a stick from the very elegant pile of garden waste behind!

Oslo ended up dealing the final blow before the kiddie chaos clambered to the ground gathering the goodies.

When we came back from all the adventures in the back garden, all the decorated pots in which they had planted thier seeds suddenly had sprouted beautiful blooms. This children were so confused at first, and then amazed - I knew this was the last year I could do this for next year, I know it won't fly and already, Oslo figured it all out and yelled out before I swept in and ushered him away so he didn't ruin anything for the littles. I was a little (ok - a lot) stressed out - I was just so desperate for it all to be perfect for Indigo after all that work and so got a little upset when the older boys were unveiling the truth. I would love to say that I am one of those mums who are so yogi that everything just washes over her, but sadly, no, I am so not uber mum who keeps calm throughout all this - I was the stress bunny of the century trying to make all the magic unfold! I saw a really funny quote on facebook the other day saying "sure, you can look like the perfect mum on fb, but we know you in real life". That is so this blog post. I tried to keep positive and up beat, but I was so not "let it all happen" on the day - it was chaos and so was I!! But hopefully Indigo didn't notice my crazy energy and just had the best time.

 I found these heavenly antique ink bottles at an auction a month before the party and was so excited to make them part of the goody bags. So in the centre of the ring of flowers, this chest had all the bottles nestled in some lace and the children picked his or her favourite after finding the flower pot. I had some sweet fairy spells printed out and did the same tea staining and edge ripping before I rolled them up in scrolls and attached them to the bottles. I filled each bottle with silver glitter and some sequins and then had to carve corks to fit - an insane amount of work which took weeks in the lead up to the day but I actually found it so therapeutic - some people knit or watch tv - I carve pour glitter though a funnel and carve corks.

At this stage of the party, I was pretty run ragged. It had been non stop all day but I was so excited about the cake. Ben had made a flowerless chocolate cake which is the first time we have made this one for a birthday party. It is pretty rich and intense so previously, we had thought that much cocoa might not be great for littles but decided for a six year old party, it was fine. I was also very excited about trying out this idea I had seen on Pinterest. If you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, you should definitely check it out - it is a magical world where ideas are born and the perfect first stop for party planning ideas! All I did for this cake was lay a piece of lace on the surface and sprinkle icing sugar through a seive - voila - magical elegant cake - so beautiful.

Indigo had originally asked for a crown cake, but when the cakes came out of the oven, they were a little over cooked and so a hint crumbly  I just sliced off the square edges of the cake to fit it on my round cake stand (I love cake stands!) and suddenly light bulbed that I could use the extra bits to make the crown. It was a little rough around the edges in terms of an idea but it works and Indigo loved it so that was the most important. I ran out of organic fruit chews as jewels for the crown since I only had one wee packet but used a couple grapes for the missing points and they worked a charm.

I suddenly realised I had no candles so my neighbour, Tina, came to the rescue and ran home and brought these darling little candles - how psyched am I that we ran out - ours are never that fabulous!

My sister Amanda kindly grabbed the camera once again and took these pics of cake time. Always so eternally grateful when she shoots these family occasions so my kids will know I was actually there during their childhood, for looking at our photos, it would be possible to think otherwise.

As you can see - we have impeccable table manners in this family.

Below are the ever amazing Arhat and Alexa, who came over early to help myself and Tin Tin get everything ready. Alexa dressed the kids and Arhat and Ben hid the treasure hunt clues around the garden and they were the ones who helped the fairies with all those flowers while we were in the back garden.

If you have ever seen any of my posts of previous birthdays, you will know that all our parties end with this game. I recently got rid of our sofa from the den as Ben has become allergic to dust mites so we now have day beds and I sealed the mattresses in those hypo allergenic cases. So this time, we had to drag out an entire mattress which was a bit more of an effort, but definitely more safe than previous landing pads. I always think Reid Robinson of Inside Out Wellness (chiropractors) love it when we have parties as their calendar must get filled up shortly after this game. Some of the kids' landings are so cringe worthy but they just think it is the best.

I have to say, Ben is always such a good sport. He makes every party such an event and always plays up which ever character he is dressed as and gets fully into the spirit. This is the first time he has tried the hoop jumping though so a new record, and again, Dr Bari from Reid's practice will probably be receiving a visit from Ben soon too.

So once again, we had the most amazing day. Each year, I think it can't get any better and each year, it feels like it does, though Indigo says they are all good. I think these parties are an analogy for parenting. I keep saying life with the kids is getting better and better, when really, they were always just incredible and so I guess because it feels so good to be their parents, it must be getting better when the reality, all of it is just wonderful and if we dropped back into any age, I am sure we would feel it was the best age. So happy birthday, once again, Indigo. Not only was this party a fairytale, but indeed, life with you is a happily ever after dream come true. xxx


  1. WOW! Tears filled my eyes looking at these photos and reading this blog. Felt like I was at the party with Indigo!!! What a good mommy and daddy you both are!!! It's things like this that the kids will remember forever. Well done!! xx

  2. That looks and sounds like the most magical birthday party ever!
    I read it to inspire myself for my 6 year old's party.. little Max who will be 7:-)
    Those photos say it all. It will be such a beautiful memory for her. Thank you for sharing.
    When I'm rich and famous my fairy tale will come true and I can ask you to take our photos as a family. Your such a talent.I found you on face book through my friend Adam James.
    All the best,
    Bonnie engstrom


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