Circus Party

January 9, 2012

Martha turned 5 inbetween christmas and new year, but we held her birthday party before christmas to maximise the chances of some of her friends being available to come to it. It was a circus theme and I organised all of it, and thoroughly enjoyed it, I think it was pretty sucessful, even though I did get a bit carried away with the theme.

I booked our local village hall and I made the invites above on photoshop with a little help with some lovely retro circus images from the graphics fairy and some free fonts from here; I also attached a child’s ticket to each invite, as well as some info for parents.

I think all parties should be fancy dress, so asked my girls what they wanted to be for the circus party, Martha wanted to be a circus ballerina, and Alice decided she wanted to be a monkey – can’t argue with that. I made Martha’s costume with a leotard from ebay a tutu pattern from (my new favorite book) ‘Oliver + s – little things to sew’ by Liesl Gibson, and some sequin butterfly sew on embellishents (I picked these up in a recent trip to New York). Alice’s monkey costume I bought from ebay, it was alot cheaper than making one, and up until the last minute was doubtful she would actually wear it! I made myself a ringmaster’s tailcoat from a red velour blouse I found in the charity shop, cut the front short and added the off cut to the back for the tails and added covered shoulder pads as epaullettes with lots of fringing and the spare gold fabric I bought I covered the open front to make faux lapels. I was incredibly camp, just what you would expect at a kids circus! I did have a top hat too but mostly forgot to wear it!

The entertainments were circus sideshows, Hook a duck was assembled with some cheapo rubber ducks from ebay with modelling wire loops inserted in their heads and 3 bamboo sticks covered with red tape with cup hooks glued into one end. I marked a duck pond out onto the floor with coloured masking tape. Elephant Hoopla, was a large piece of cardboard with an elephant’s face painted on with a trunk made out of packaging tube, jointed at the end so there was a hook to it and hoops cut out of card too and painted. Coconut shy was 3 more cardboard packaing tubes painted with 3 coconuts balanced on the top (the easiest coconut shy in the world but at least the 4-5 year olds had a chance of winning), my mum and auntie manufactured some excellent stripey beanbags filled with dried pearl barley for the kids to knock the coconut off with. And pin the nose on the clown, another face painted onto cardboard with a few numbered red circles for noses with blutak on the back and my mum’s scarf as a blindfold. (On the day I had forgotten to pick up the handy sleep mask from the flight to NYC to use for this purpose!). My very talented middle sister provided face painting, and my little sister and her boyfriend were photographers. With a ‘pass the parcel’ game included in the fun and packets of haribo offered as prizes for the games we had enough to keep all 30 kids happy until the birthday tea.

We did hotdogs and popcorn and apple wedges (as a suggestion for toffee apples – without all the sugar), for the circus themed food, which went down really well with the kids. I pre-bagged the popcorn into individual bags before the party – also bought from ebay. These were in each table setting along with a drink and a helium balloon, I bought a kit with the gas tank and 50 balloons again from ebay, most of these sadly ended up in the rafters of the hall to high to retrieve!

The cake was a ‘big top’ made with 3 layers of cake mix cake 2 x chocolate and one vanilla made in a square tin, and stacked with chocolate buttercream in between each layer. I trimmed the sides of the squares to neaten up the shape and then used these offcuts to construct a pyramid shape for the top, sticking the bits together with buttercream and carving it to make the shape. I covered it in white fondant icing, there was two layers on the top to smooth out my slightly lumpy pyramid. I used coloured icing to make the stripes down the sides of the tent the bunting along the top edge and green for some grass at the bottom (to hide the messy bottom edge). I made some paper flags one with a happy birthday message written on it, by gluing triangle shapes to bamboo skewers, these went into each corner and the middle and provided stability for the cake too. I put a couple of circus animal toys through the dishwasher to sterilise them and when dry I dressed them up in icing circus outfits for the elephant got a fancy panel over its back and both him and the lion got party hats. I think these were the touch that made the cake look really circusy.

The children all went home with a party bag (a plain brown paper carrier bag with a name sticker made from an address label printed with the graphics from the invite), which included glow stick bracelets (poundland), a chinese purse for the girls (ebay) a couple of small circus animals (from a 2 collections of african animals from amazon), a small pot of candy floss (ebay) and of course a piece of cake.

It was loads of fun, lots of Martha’s friends came in excellent outfits too, special mention for the tattooed lady and strongman, the lovely trapeze  artist, some excellent and inventive clowns and all the princesses, batman, superman and mr bump!


February 20, 2011

We recently updated the gels at work, I rescued this pink from the bin. As soon as Martha spotted it she put it over her eyes to look through it which gave me the idea to make it into glasses. I saved an empty cereal packet and used an existing pair of kids sunglasses to cut out a few basic shapes for the frames and arms. I cut two of each frame design. and cut some pieces of the gel to fit each of the designs.

Martha and I then glued the two sides of each frame together with the gel sandwiched in between, with PVA glue and let these dry, then we painted the frames and the arms of all 4 pairs of glasses. When these were dry we decorated them with big sequin shapes and glued on the arms.

Martha is particularly pleased with her princess glasses (the ones with a crown above the two lenses), and the ‘Elton John’ ones are pretty fab too! I don’t suppose they will hold up to excessive playing but were great fun to make.

Paper Doll

October 21, 2010

Check out these gorgeous, genius, re-usuable, fabric paper dolls!

I discovered the fabric at my mum’s local craft/fabric/haberdashery emporium ‘the cheap shop’ in Tiptree, Essex (, a panel of the fabric cost £5.40, and has 8 gorgeous vintage looking dolls each with a pet friend and a couple of outfits.

Today we made one of the dolls, Martha chose the one she wanted to make, and I roughly cut them out of the panel. I used bondaweb to stick some super stiff interfacing to the back of the doll and her pet dog, then carefully cut them out, then backed the clothes with a normal iron on interfacing and cut them out too. I pressed the ‘tabs’ on the clothes as you would fold the paper tabs on the original versions.

I think these were the quickest easiest toy we have ever made, no sewing just ironing, and ready in about 10 mins. I plan to make the other dolls as reuested or they would make lovely presents (christmas is fast approaching!)

The fabric is called ‘Aunt Lindy’s Paper Dolls’ and a quick google search found me loads of shops selling the panels online, although the cheap shop is well worth a visit!


June 23, 2010

It’s hot this week, I find that a quick dip in the paddling pool will keep most kids more than happy on a sunny day. We had been out and it was fairly late in the day so I didn’t bother with the big inflatable paddling pool and filled up the lid of the sandpit. It only takes a few minutes to fill and you are not using an excess of water, lets face it most kids are happy with a bucketful. I find that the whinge-ing that accompanies the hunt for (pool and pump), the pumping up and the filling of the bigger pool, when everyone is hot and bothered, takes the shine off the whole experience!

Martha and Alice had a wonderful time splashing about and I was able to get some lovely pics of them with my old and trusty waterproof camera.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Cardboard Box Car

June 23, 2010

At the beginning of last week the weather was pretty rubbish and we needed an entertainment for the one arm girl, fortunately her new car seat had arrived the previous week and the novelty of simply sitting in the box was starting to wear off. We decided to turn it into a car. The basic shape was achieved by using the front flap as the windscreen and cutting the side flaps at an angle to support the front piece, removing the rest of the side flaps from where it looked OK. Use a serrated bread knife to cut cardboard, sharp kitchen knives will be ruined and scissors are too tricky, just hack away with a bread knife making sure little ‘helpful’ fingers are well out of the way. We used masking tape to stick the windscreen flap and the side flaps together – we had a view to painting this car outside when the weather allowed but the car came to its natural demise long before the weather got better. The off cuts of the flaps we used to make the wheels and the steering wheel and column. I used a sideplate as a template. We cut a door, and a petrol filler cap. Then drew on it with marker pen until we planned to paint it. Later we used a kitchen roll tube as a petrol pump – between the sofa and the chair was the garage.

After a day or two the constant climbing in and out and dragging it over the floor the box and my tolerance of it taking up so much space was wearing thin, so it went to the recycle bin and never did get painted.