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Eliza's 4th Birthday! We Reduced! We Reused! And I wasn't the grinch who stole her birthday party...

We had a great day for Eliza's 4th birthday party. I must say I was probably peaking even more than her. I don't know what it is. Part of the incentive for me signing up as a mum was to plan birthday parties. And for some strange reason I keep trying to make the cakes too. Though that was never a goal and while usually they taste OK they always they look TERRIBLE. I'm going by Pinterest standards I realise, but how else do we judge our abilities as mothers? Joking. Kind of.
The hardest part for me was cutting down the guest list. I have loved having bigger parties which we've held down at our local beach in the community hall. It's an *easy* way to invite all the people you love and never quite get to see enough of and of course it's not the best way to catch up but it's something! But this year with Less Is More in mind I just really wanted to reduce guests and tried to keep it to 4 of her friends (because she's 4 and apparently that's what the Dutch do). We ended up with 6. And it was lovely.
Now this was the grinch part of it for me. Personally I would have liked to have said no gifts. Purely because as beautiful as it is to receive a gift, these children of ours have SO much already. More than enough. But Eliza has been to enough parties to know the drill - the birthday girl/boy always gets presents. It's the way it's set up. So settling on the suggestion of secondhand or handmade was a nice compromise for me. I may just add that the Dutch also only do handmade gifts, poems and maybe a gold coin donation to a bigger present the recipient has in mind. But we are not Dutch. And when in Rome apparently.

I was nervous as to how this would be received. Is it bad taste to request particular presents at all?! Is it rude to imply that what was going to be purchased was bad? I don't know. A lovely friend who had bought something new for Eliza said it was worded so she didn't feel bad at all and I can only hope. I've had enough really hilarious (read: not) jokes thrown my way about my zero waste attempts so I know any kind of social-norm disruption can rub people the wrong way. But at the end of the day I'm a relationship person and I would hope that anyone who knows me knows I wont be judging them for using glad wrap. I still have some in my pantry. And that's it's just my idealism that would like there to be a better way for all of us. You know...?!

The Table Setting


- napkins and tablecloths that are in fact made of cloth

- glass bottles and ceramic plates (again, small party means less chaos so there were no breakages. Understand things could be different at a superhero party with 20 kids but that's the challenge isn't it?! We used paper straws left over from last year)

- the kids actually drank water. It had frozen blueberries and mint leaves in it. Yum. With all the sugar no one complained at all and there were empty bottles. Go kids!

- I picked some lavender and plonked a potted flower on the table. Done.

Presents...

Eliza loved opening her presents and got some really special treasures. A good kindy friend whose mum really embraced the idea found a little purse and filled it with trinkets and these amazing little gold spoons - all op shop finds. These have been absolute favourites.
She got an amazing stash of books - Daphne the Forgetful Duck is my favourite as the hero of the day is the herb lady haha. She has a potion that restores the duck's memory (YL Clarity oil anyone? ;) and Esther's Rainbow which is delightfully creative and beautiful to read. I think her favourite on the day would have been the (new) Doc McStuffins activity book and who could blame her. Not a bad role model there.

Other notable gifts were her new (old) scooter from Gaga which is really fun. And dangerous. What are grandparents for right?! And the amazing painting done by her friend Vida and her Dad. The cutest little bunny picture which is now hanging up proudly in her room. I was actually so moved talking to him - they have really tried to limit the purchase of plastic and new toys for Vida and he seemed really grateful that I had put it out there to do things differently. The thought and time that went into their picture is just so meaningful to me and to Eliza too.

And from us she got all things bunny and second hand. Another favourite book (Home For A Bunny), an amazing yellow dress with bunny princesses on it. Sounds terrible. I promise it's awesome. Plus a couple of other little bits and pieces and some new bunny flannel pjs.

The Food...

This was the easiest part. I went to Bin Inn for pick and mix lollies and dried fruit and nuts. Supermarkets are also great for this. I try to remember my own paper bags (Bin Inn provides them). We made popcorn, little Miffy biscuits and grapes. For the adults I took glass jars to New World where they filled with deli stuff and I got some yummy bread from the bakery section in a paper bag. We also made some hummus. Seriously really easy.

Entertainment...

Four year olds are pretty good at creating their own fun. I opted for minimal effort (on my part) and hired Rapunzel. Found her on my local community FB group and she was just lovely to deal with and came and did face painting and princess dancing with the girls. It was pretty magical. I had also set up a little playdough station. My lovely mum made the play dough in three different colours (all smelling delicious with essential oils - I think Stress Away was one - good call mum and I should have grabbed that when I was midway icing that damn cake ;) Eliza's mission during prep time was to collect sticks and leaves so that her friends could make a bunny burrow.

Rapunzel!

AKA Mallory
Rapunzel even brought her special friend Pascal!

The Cake...

Uuugh the cake. Please remind me to never again make a birthday cake?! It all went fine until I iced it. I mucked up the recipe (substituted butter for coconut oil as Eliza's dairy intolerant and it just went weird. I realised I was supposed to put in some coconut milk or cream to help it to spread but instead it just kind of went gluggly and hard. Fail.) At least I didn't burn the toasted coconut which mostly covered it up. And I did good with the coconut custard which was the filling. Again all the ingredients (including gluten free flour) from Bin Inn and bunny cake moulds from the Sallies. Score.

We used a sparkler leftover from Guy Fawkes as I couldn't find any candles in the house. They loved that.
I'd love to say that was spirilina powder or something but nope, just dyed the toasted coconut with dirty old food colouring. I'm using it up ok?
Singing Happy Birthday to the birthday girl!
All in all it was such a beautifully fun afternoon. I love celebrating these milestones and making special memories for my kids. Mostly I love getting to know other mums and families and seeing Eliza's little friendships with others blossom. We are grateful for our community and kindy's and schools do such a great job to foster that. Thanks to you all who sent birthday wishes and who were there on the day! Personally I would love to hear what you think about kids parties and presents and any ideas or things you've tried to reduce or minimise the "stuff" factor. Feel free to leave comments below or message me your thoughts!

Next up is Arlo. We're contemplating Chipmunks ;)


 

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