pre festive party shopping with Stella & Dot

stella & dot CollageA life full of work, London meetings, school pick-ups, after school activities and racing up to Staffordshire from Bucks and back for my father recently, has taken its toll on the old social life – I literally hadn’t seen any of my friends for ages, so what better excuse for a coffee morning than a Stella & Dot coffee morning…no seriously…how could it be more perfect….cakes, friends and jewellery – need I say more?


We all need to make time for our friends, they’re so important and I love mine to pieces. Which is why I was so pleased we had our little jewellery gathering at a friend’s house the other day. I walked away from this little party with a few fab Christmas gifts for my family and a smile…happy festive days…

pop-up party wares


The 70’s saw my mother holding a party with a little group of rural ladies who wore masses of polyester in orange and purple, seated demurely listening to a lady selling her tupperware at our farmhouse in Staffordshire – mum prepared this phenomenon in true retro style, and went to great lengths to ensure her guests could see the benefits of the mountains of different sized, shaped and coloured plastic, filling them with her  buffet style nibbles….but that was then..

Fast forward 30 years (I think), and there’s no end to the choice of celebrity cooking utensils/fashion/books/gifts/sex toy parties one can hold or attend in their own premisis’…or ‘Pop Up Parties’ as I like to call them. Which is why I probably went a little overboard last night and organised a sort of Easter Gift Party Extravaganza with 3 different suppliers…but you can’t go wrong with Juicy Lucy and Usborne Children’s Books? And my friend Kelly has started a little company called Ginger & Spice selling pretty home pieces, so it was all very civilised…hubby served the wine like a true gent and our little girls stole pretty much most of the nibbles..

But to be fair and honest, it was a fab excuse to invite over a few friends for a catch-up and drink wine….well it had ‘Party’ in the title!!

Crisp Thief!

a perfect birthday

Each year, hubby kindly requests for our children’s parties for once be held at an alternative venue other than our home. I ignored him and planned at our address again as we have done for the past 5 years. And each year, poor darling also asks to keep numbers down at least to a minimum of 15 children per party…..again ignored!

For years I’ve planned and executed lots of press shows, birthday parties, and with the help of my mother, my wedding. So am quite happy to hold a quick 2 hour event at my house, because it’s easy right? OK, it’s not that easy, and if I’m brutally honest, I wish I’d listen to hubby more – this is something my best friend, (AKA Bandy), also commented on, prompting me to turn into an incredibly immature and snappy teenager and responded with a ‘WHAEVERRRR” using the ‘W’ finger sign!!

As it turns out, with much planning and maybe a little help from here and there, both my little ladies and all their friends, (nearly 60 in total between the two parties), had a super time. “What did you do and what is your secret?” I hear you ask – well, I had a few guaranteed tricks up my sleeve – these party tricks require a bit of land and a budget though:

1) bouncy castle 

You JUST can’t go wrong with a bouncy castle – kids and adults alike love a good bounce, and that is what we did. Because I own a pair of princesses, they normally request a pink one and Bounce Krazee never fail to provide the perfect bounce!

2) the cake

I am the LUCKIEST girl in the world, as I have a hugely talented mother who makes fantastic cakes – I can’t give you her details as she is too much of a perfectionist and would spend her LIFE trying to make you the perfect cake – seriously, she’s up all night doing them – and I can’t count the times she’s said that to me….”I’m having a nap because I’ve been up all night doing that bloody cake for your daughter” – ahhh, bless my mummy – love you mum x

3) entertainer

I’ve hired a few entertainers in the past, (Barbie and Cinderella were fab from Party Belles, but the latest star had to be Dell from Cheeky Monkeys – he was absolutely BRILLIANT and the children were totally entranced by the man – he’s an actoooor you know! His number is 07767 881932 if you need someone to ‘make’ your little one’s utterly happy on their big day

4) make-shift gazebos  

It rained at Lady P’s birthday, (on and off), but I have to say, this fab marquee looking tent thing housed the parents while the kiddies were fully entertained in the small summer house, so it made the perfect place to catch up on some much needed gossip whist avoiding the wet/dry/sunny/cloudy/ohmakeupyourbloodymind day!

5) goody bags

My children embarrass me at other parties, insisting the location of the goody bags once the party is over, so this has pushed me into ‘goody-bag paranoia’, ensuring all effort and research has been focussed into providing a worthwhile parting gift. I use Party Pieces for the actual bags and my lovely Kelly to fill them, if you live in Bucks, Kelly can fill lots of bags with all sorts of fun goodies and deliver to your door on 07863 349671

6) picnics

I HATE MAKING BLOODY SANDWICHES – could I be any clearer, so if someone else can do them for me – PERFECT. Luckily, I have the BEST sandwich and snack making company literally around the corner from me – I use them for Lady I’s school lunch as I currently work, (yeah, it’s a good enough excuse for me). They fill gorgeous little bags with all the essentials, egg, ham and marmite animal shaped sandwiches with fruit, cut veg, a cake and juice – LOVELY. I add to this with bowls of crisps dotted around the place and have jelly and cupcakes and jugs of juice on hand just to pretend that I actually do something culinary!

7) visuals 

Balloons, streamers, paper cake stands, cake toppers, cups, serviettes – I love creating the ‘mood’ and go to great lengths and get a little carried away with this – Talking Tables are genius at creating the perfect atmosphere at any party and I highly recommend their gorgeous wares – Lady P had the Flower Fairy range which was just so her! She loved it, she even had the wings from the range – in fact, the decs are still up in the kitchen – don’t mind a spot of bunting after a do!

8) bubbles

And we’re not talking the soapy kind here…no no no…hubby is the perfect host and couldn’t bare the parents to feel left out during all these manic festivities, we normally have a bottle or two of Pol Roger at hand to relax any frazzled mums & dads – any excuse really!!

The final result of all of this? Well, I was a tad squiffy by the end of the day, but an amazing time was had by all and compliments were given for a great party. The final piece of advice I wish I would listen to is this…always…ALWAYS… make sure your child opens the presents with a sober adult present, writing down who gave them what pressie…..WHY DO I ALWAYS FORGET TO DO THIS!! Any parents reading this who attended Lady P’s party, apologies – she ran into the house once all guests had departed and immediately started ripping the gifts open – I was too squiffy to take note!

P.S. – I was not paid to mention any of the above recommendations – I personally purchased all of the above and was more than happy with their services….even if they were full price damnit!