The sweet, cheeky girl child is three. Because she is the second child and her birthday falls about six weeks after her brother's I have, for the past two birthdays, copped out and just done a small family gathering to celebrate, having exhausted my party-organising energies (which are limited at best) on the first child's birthday (BAD, I know).
But this year she was old enough, and had been to enough other children's parties, to be excited about a proper birthday party of her own, so we organised an old-fashioned backyard afternoon tea for a group of friends and family. We did pass-the-parcel, and borrowed some toys (Sydney people: it was the first time I've used this place but they were great, highly recommended) to supplement the trampoline, and hung up lots of paper bunting and lanterns (all of which I forgot to photograph) and had the bubble machine going and party food. Luckily it was a beautiful day, so everyone could sit around in the garden.
I love making party food, but because it was not so long since the last party I felt like trying some different things rather than doing exactly the same spread again. We usually make jelly oranges, but this time I did rainbow jellies instead, which were a big hit with the children and much less fiddly than preparing the orange skins. I just bought some small plastic champagne or wine cups, laid out 17 of them on a tray (because that's how many would fit) and then made up six lots of jelly, in rainbow order, one at a time. The jelly makes 500ml, but I made each packet slightly more concentrated, about 450ml, to help it set solidly. I then poured about 1cm in to each cup, put the tray in the fridge, and waited an hour or so for it to set, and then did the next one. I let the jelly cool for a few minutes in the mixing jug before pouring it on to the set layers to help stop it melting a hole. Although it took a little bit of forward planning it was so easy to do, and they ended up looking really pretty. Apart from the jellies, I did - mostly - the usual suspects: mini panini, homemade sausage rolls, fruit salad kebabs, chocolate brownie, vanilla cupcakes, choc chip cookies, cheese platter, guacamole (I do this recipe from the Food Safari book), humous, and my mum made custard tarts and chicken sandwiches.
For the cake I hired a 3-shaped tin and did two layers, orange and almond cake on the top and chocolate hazelnut underneath. We had the same two flavours for our wedding cake, and because they both have nut meal and are fairly dense, they don't crumble which makes icing easier. I used buttercream icing, and marshmallow flowers inspired by the Australian Womens Weekly cake book, but when I make either of the recipes again for a non-child's-birthday occasion (and I will, especially the orange one) I would just dust them with icing sugar. Both recipes are gluten free, which is not why I chose them, but it's handy to have a couple of gluten free recipes that I know are easy and work out,
And I had fun playing with washi tape - we did glassine bags with doilies in them as party bags, taped shut, and I made little tape flags on toothpicks to decorate the food. Completely uneccesary but fun.
It was such a beautiful afternoon, M loved all the excitement and having her friends and family here to play with, and it was lovely to have the chance to celebrate the wonderful (and funny, and sleep deprived) three years we've had with her.