Showing posts with label parties. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parties. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Parties - from Gloria Gaynor to electrofunk

I’ve never seen my best friend look quite so stunned. It was her birthday and instead of walking into Carluccio’s for a quiet dinner with her husband she was greeted instead by a noisy crowd of family and friends. “I had no idea,” she kept saying over and over again – completely staggered that we’d pitched up from all over the place to celebrate her big day.

For some reason I’ve been to lots of birthday parties recently. Some have been very posh – one was in a marquee, complete with speeches and a fancy menu – while my favourite was held at a working-men’s club in Lancashire, with hot pot and mash and a live band.

But right now I’m agonising over my daughter’s 21st and my son’s 18th.  They want to throw a joint bash but can’t decide on the venue, let alone the music (electrofunk or blues) or the guest list. But one thing I do know is that it will be very different to my own 21st, a very sedate affair in Dorset. My dad ordered a keg of beer, we played Gloria Gaynor nonstop on my mum’s old tape recorder and most of my friends slept under the stars.

The one thing I won’t be doing is consulting Pippa Middleton’s new book for party tips. The Duchess of Cambridge's younger sister has come in for a lot of stick following the publication of Celebrate, which she was paid £400,000 to write. I haven’t got a copy but I sneaked a look at Waterstone’s and while the photography (by David Loftus) is stunning, the words leave a lot to be desired. I don’t want to be mean, because Pippa sounds lovely, but they’re along the lines of “tea bags should go in a teapot, rather than individually in mugs” and “flowers are a traditional Valentine’s token and red roses are the classic symbol of romance.”

No wonder a spoof Twitter account called @Pippatips has attracted 9,000 followers. Recent @Pippatips tweets include “a good way to keep warm when heading out into the cold weather is to wear winter clothing like jumpers and coats and hats” and “save time by doing things more quickly.” Take a look – it’s hilarious.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The night I left my son behind

I’m not David Cameron’s number one fan but I do feel a bit sorry for him and his wife Samantha right now.

The papers are full of the day the couple left their eight year old daughter Nancy behind at a Buckinghamshire pub. Speaking of which, take a look at the brilliant Matt Pritchett’s cartoon in today’s Daily Telegraph.

Actually loads of parents have made similar mistakes – me for one. In fact I did it just two years ago, after a party at my sister’s one snowy night in December.

My husband had driven to the bash straight from his office and, tired after a long week, left earlier than me, saying he’d give our two children a lift back with him. So at 11 pm, I said my farewells and drove the 45 minutes home through the ice and snow.

As I tiptoed into our sleeping house, a text lit up my phone. Puzzled, I glanced down and smiled. It was from my son, who was then 15. “You have forgotten me!” he’d typed. Very funny, I thought, and began making my way upstairs to bed. Then suddenly the awful truth dawned. What if he wasn’t joking?

Sure enough, when I woke my husband he muttered that he had brought our daughter home, but not our son. So yes, he was stranded at the party forty miles away. He’d apparently decided to go and watch YouTube videos with his cousin – but no one had thought to tell me. There was only one thing for it. I wearily swapped my high heels for a pair of comfy Converse, shoved my coat back on and grabbed a bottle of water in case I broke down in the middle of the snowy Oxfordshire countryside. Then I set off across the county to collect him.

The upshot was that our son got loads of mileage out of the night his parents went home without him. I couldn’t help laughing when I logged on to Facebook the next morning and saw his new status. “Can’t believe my mum left me behind. Top parenting job there...”

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Pippa Middleton's party book deal

Twitter was awash with amazement yesterday that Pippa Middleton has signed a deal worth £400,000 to write her first book.

And no, she’s not spilling the beans on growing up with her elder sister, the Duchess of Cambridge. She’s being paid to write a guide on party planning for publisher Michael Joseph. They weren’t the only ones falling over themselves to buy the book either. Apparently it was the subject of a fierce bidding war between some of Britain’s top publishing houses.

Most writers would give their eye-teeth for such a contract – but sadly deals like this are few and far between, especially in these tough economic times. Some novelists work night and day for years on their manuscripts – and end up with a few hundred pounds in their pockets. And they’re the lucky ones. Many more never even get a sniff of a publishing deal.

But envy aside, what on earth can Pippa Middleton, whose parents run mail-order business Party Pieces, say about parties that’s new? In a recent blog on children’s parties she wrote: “The key to creating a wonderful party lies not in spending vast amounts but in planning – from choice of venue, entertainer and party theme to the selection of food, decorations and the birthday cake.”

Hmmm. Talk about stating the blooming obvious. I’m afraid Pippa will have to do an awful lot better than that to get people to buy the book.

In my experience hosting children’s birthday parties is hard work, stressful and often ends in tears.

The most successful one we ever held was for my daughter’s fourth birthday. I’d got everything planned to perfection (or so I thought) – a list of party games as long as your arm, food, a cake with my daughter's name emblazoned across it and the all-essential party bags.

My daughter’s birthday is just before Christmas so the centrepiece of the party was a gorgeous tree, resplendent with jewel-coloured decorations. The one thing we hadn’t foreseen however was the exuberance of 25 four-year-olds dancing about and throwing themselves to the floor. During a particularly rowdy game of musical bumps they dived to the ground with such force that the ten-foot tree wobbled violently and crashed over, fairy, decorations, lights and all.

It was a moment of high drama (luckily the tree didn’t hit anyone) and it certainly made the event the most-talked about party in her nursery class for months afterwards.
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