You may remember last year, when I made a Yoda cake. Or the year before, when I made a light-saber cake. Or both years when I made an actual effort and had plans and lovingly hand crafted pool-noodle lightsabers for Dash’s birthday party.
This year, I totally half-assed it. I tried to plan, I really did, but we had no cohesive theme (he wanted Star Wars again; I put my foot down) and somehow my vague searchings on the Internet weren’t bearing any fruit. And yet, things came together. Here’s how you can duplicate this amazing feat of lassitude:
Forget to buy fruit. Have some clementines at home. Decide they’re nice and colourful and some kids might even eat them. Be vindicated as you see at least two boys (lovely, wonderful, fruit-eating boys) happily helping themselves.
Fail to consider the need for party favours or goodie bags until, while vaguely wandering in Target, you spy some foam cutlasses. Buy just enough, without having any sort of pirate theme in mind. (Mabel exclaimed dramatically, “A foam cutlass of my very own! I’ve never had one before!” I had thought that with all the swords floating around our house at least one must have been hers, but apparently not.)
Make cupcakes three days earlier and freeze them, so you only have to pull them out and ice them on the morning of the party. (This is a bonafide actual helpful tip.) (“Bonafide” always makes me think of George Clooney in Oh Brother Where Art Thou.)
Fail to buy “pigs” to go in the “blankets”. Make the blankets (crescent rolls from a tin, half sized) anyway. The kids prefer them this way.
Invite too many children. Be miffed when half of them aren’t coming. Be even less motivated to plan anything in particular. Invite a spare sibling to make up numbers. End up with just the right amount, enjoying themselves perfectly well.
Be really lucky with the weather so the kids can run around outside.
Make a round cake, not any sort of fancy shaped one with icing that requires food colouring. Put chocolate icing on it. Hear no complaints whatsoever because they are perfectly happy with it and anyway it’s delicious. (Nigella’s sour cream chocolate cake, if you want to do it yourself.)
Tell your husband his job is to set up an obstacle course of some sort. The kids will spend most of the time watching/”helping” him faff around the garden. The course, when it is finally completed, will be a roaring success and manage to bring in the totally off-the-cuff pirate theme when he orders them all to do the whole thing with their foam cutlasses in their teeth.
Make sure a few convivial parents stay to drink wine with you while you all watch your husband caper in the garden from the safety of the pleasantly removed kitchen.
Enjoy a self-congratulatory cup of tea/more wine after everyone goes home, safe in the knowledge that you don’t have to do this again for a year, and that once you’ve cleaned up your house will be marginally cleaner than it was this morning.