A strawberry high-tea for Sara’s birthday

strawberry_high_tea strawberry_high_tea_13Sara turned nine (nine!!) a few weeks ago, so last week we organised a birthday party for her and her friends. I always ask what sort of birthday my kids would want (we’ve had themes like horses, knights, disco, cooking, sushi and a treasure hunt before), and this time, Sara came up with the idea of strawberries. A cute idea I thought!

So she invited 9 girl friends to come home with her after school, and we decorated the table for a sweet strawberry high tea. With finger sandwiches, cakes, strawberry tea, real cups and saucers, and lots of strawberries of course!

strawberry_high_tea_2 strawberry_high_tea_4As activities, we let the girls clean the strawberries for strawberry jam. They made labels for the jars, and together with Oma made the jam and filled their little jars.

strawberry_high_tea_5 strawberry_high_tea_9 strawberry_high_tea_6 strawberry_high_tea_11We also bought a terracotta pot and strawberry plant for each of the girls to decorate, plant, and take home.

strawberry_high_tea_7 strawberry_high_tea_8 strawberry_high_tea_10It was a lovely afternoon, and the girls (and Pim) had a wonderful time!

xxx Esther

Family tradition: the birthday crown

birthday_crown

In the Netherlands, it’s a tradition to give a child a birthday crown for the day when it’s his or her birthday. Typically it’s a home-made, simple crown made of thick paper, decorated with some curls and colours and usually there’s the number with the child’s age glued on it. When the child is old enough to go to school, the teacher in class will make the birthday crown for the child, who will be so proud to wear it during the day!

A long time ago in a little shop in Antwerp, Courtney and I bought sweet fabric crowns with a plastic sleeve in which (felt) numbers can be inserted. These crowns have really become part of our families’ birthday traditions. The morning of the birthday, the crown with the correct number will be waiting next to the presents and a decorated chair. It’s become so much a part of the party!

Do you have any special birthday traditions in your family or in your country? Maybe you know the birthday crown as well? I would love to know — I love family traditions!

xxx Esther

A Flower Fairy 5th Birthday

It was Ivy’ 5th birthday on Tuesday and I think (hope) the day really lived up to her expectations. She started talking about her birthday about three months ago and together we counted down the days every day for the past 60-something days! (Not sure if it’s a girl thing… but she was more excited for her birthday than either of my boys have ever been. I remember being the same when I was little!)

Here is a little re-cap of her day…

We have a little tradition in our family of hanging up bunting and wrapping presents the night before a birthday, so when the birthday girl/boy wakes up, they walk into a happy kitchen with bunting and balloons and presents to open! We made Aebelskiver pancakes for Ivy (her choice), she opened presents, and then we brought her to school wearing her birthday crown.

I made ‘flower fairy’ carrot cake cupcakes (again, her choice) and brought them into her classroom so all her classmates could sing happy birthday.

Ivy was allowed to invite five friends over after school for a little ‘Flower Fairy’ party. We played the Frozen soundtrack on repeat (will it ever get old?!), the kids danced and played dress-up (mostly fairies, although we had a couple superheroes too), and then we played pass-the-parcel. The kids ate dinner, followed by a dance party, and then we had icecream cake from Ruby Violet! It was so fun! Even I was dressed as a flower fairy with a crown and a tutu (I will spare you the photos).

The lovely Charlotte from The Carousel Show got in touch before Ivy’s birthday. When I told her Ivy wanted a Flower Fairy themed party, she told me she had the perfect decorations and tableware for the party. She generously sent over a boxed set containing everything I needed for the party: plates, cups, straws, napkins, confetti, balloons, candies, baggies for the goody bags, etc. Literally everything I needed! Even cute toys like fairy gliders and fairy wands. It was SO nice to have everything sorted for the party; all I had to do was set it all up (which is the fun part!). I’ve decided that ordering party kits is the way of the future!!

Thank you Charlotte for the pretty party! Ivy was a happy girl!

xx Courtney

p.s. Remember Ivy’s Fairy Princess party last year? I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since then!

Pim’s seventh birthday party — an adventurous treasure hunt

For his seventh birthday party, Pim wanted to organise a treasure hunt. I love treasure hunts at this age, because children are just learning to read and write and they love practising their new skills. But we wanted to take the concept of a treasure hunt a bit further and make it a bit more adventurous. So here is what we came up with…

Each of the invitees received a letter from the ‘Club of the White Lion’, along with a card with a few letters on it. The letter was addressed to the children personally, and explained the history of the Club, which had been around for centuries and had always consisted of a group of talented children, who each owned a necklace with a special secret badge. Sadly, the club had been dismantled in the ’50s of the last century, and had for the last time been seen in action in the neighbourhood we live in. The last member of the club had thankfully been able to hide the badges in a secret location, sixty years ago, and had now written this letter to a group of selected children, with the assignment to fulfil a range of missions which would lead them to discover the hiding place of the special badges. And to re-instate the Club of the White Lion! The receivers of the letters were summoned to gather at our address at the time and date of the birthday party, and bring the special letter card with them which would help them solve the first mission.

The concept of the letter was derived from the house we bought next door (and which is currently being renovated; we will hopeful move in this summer) — it was built in the ’50s, and had two white lion statues at the garden gate. We figured we could use the house as the place where the badges were hidden 60 years ago! The letter itself was written in adult language, to make it extra serious, and to involve the parents as well. We even developed a logo for the club! (Our babysitter Maria is a talented illustrator, she made a great lion drawing.)

And this is what happened the day of the party:

- While the kids were busy eating cake and handing out their presents, our neighbour (he’s in his 70s) dropped off little bags we had made for the children and a letter. We briefly explained the concept of the party beforehand and he was so into it! He had put on his long coat, a hat and his sunglasses. He said he had something for the children out of the name of the Club of the White Lion, which he of course remembered from his youth ; ), and handed over the letter and the bags. The children were so impressed! Pim didn’t even recognise our neighbour!

- In the bags, we put some items to help the children solve the assignments: A keyring with a key and a steel washer. A laminated card with secret coding. A little notebook and a pencil. Two strong magnets. A small candle. (We had sewn the bags the evening before and used fabric pens to write the name of the children on the bags).

- The letter which the neighbour brought asked the children to line up the cards they had received with their ‘invite’. The cards together spelled the name of a book they had to allocate in our bookcase. Inside the book, we had created a secret space by cutting away part of the pages.

- Inside the book, there were letters in code for each of the children. They could use the laminated code cards in their bags to figure out the next mission.

- The next assignment for the children was to find the treasure chest upstairs (my dad once made this treasure chest for Pim). We had put 11 padlocks around the locks of the treasure chest — each of the kids had to try the key they had found in their bags on each of the locks, until they had opened all the locks and the treasure chest would reveal the next letter.

- This time there were two letters, splitting the group in two subgroups. One group had to go to the flower stand around the corner and ask for the South African Lion’s Tail Flower. The other group had to go to our local hotel and ask if they were hosting a special guest, mr. Vanderlion. Each group received an envelope at their location after asking their mystery questions (and a lollipop of course). In these envelopes, there were scratch cards for each of the kids. They could use the washer on their keyring to scratch the card, and each card would reveal a word, together forming a sentence, urging them to go to a specific statue in our local park where they would find the next assignment.

- In the park we let them kick a ball around, gave them a drink and a candy, and meanwhile, suddenly the next letter of the Club of the White Lion was revealed. The group was split in two again, and each group had to go to a specific address (of friends) where they would be handed a special package.

- Each package revealed one of the two lion statues that once lined the gate to our new house. The accompanying letter asked the children to return the lions to their old spot, where they had been guarding the special badges for 60 years, and to enter the house to look for the next envelope.

- The next envelope contained a handful of white papers written on with invisible ink! The children had to carefully hold the paper above a flame (with adult supervision of course), which would reveal the next tip.

- We had hidden the next envelope behind the plaster of the house, and they had to use a hammer to demolish the plaster and to reveal this next envelope. (At this point, even Sara was convinced the whole story was true!)

- Now, the children had to find a key which was hidden underneath the floor…. In the hallway, there’s a hatch which gives way to the crawlspace underneath the house… (and where the gas meters etc are). The children could see a key through the latch, but couldn’t reach it! They had to combine all of the magnets in their bags to form a magnetic stick and use it to grab the key!

- And now, finally, the last step… Upstairs, there was the old safe, 60 years old… And inside, there were badges for all of the children. They had succeeded!

For days if not weeks, the children have been talking about this treasure hunt. I think this had been one of the most exciting things they had done in their lives! They wore their badges at school, and the parent said they talked so much about it at home… (Of course they heard snippets of the party — They had to demolish a wall? The had to unlock a gazzilion locks? They found lions? Etc. Funny!)

As usually the case with the parties we organise, this entire party was put together the day beforehand. We just came up with the concept the evening before that and wrote the letters/invites to the children so Pim could hand them out to his friends the next day (one day before the party).

Here’s a quick how-to for some of the activities (a big thank you to my sweet friend Erika from Mikodesign for her many ideas!)

- I created the secret code cards by laminating a code alphabet I printed from the internet (you can laminate in most copy/print places)

- For the scratch cards, we painted a few layers of black paint mixed with a bit of dishwashing liquid over laminated word cards.

- The ‘invisible ink pages’ were made by writing on them with lemon juice. The text will magically show up once the paper is put above a flame!

- The badges were made using good old shrink plastic — I traced the Club logo, cut it out, punched a hole and shrunk them in the oven.

We had so much fun putting this party together! And by all the feedback we received later, the kids had a great time as well. I think Pim will remember this day for the rest of his life!

xxx Esther

‘Out of the Blue’ birthday party

Quin turned seven this week and since his birthday fell during the school holidays, we were able to really make a day of it. We ate pancakes for breakfast, opened presents and enjoyed a slow and lazy morning. Emilie and her girls are in town, so it felt extra special to have friends to spend the day with. We took a double decker bus down to Camden, walked along the canal to Regent’s Park, had a picnic and spent the afternoon on the pedal boats in the ponds. We then came home in time for a little dinner/dance party followed by ice cream cake from Ruby Violet! It was such a fun day, and one that I think he will always remember.

Quin didn’t want a specific theme for his party, but he did request his favourite colour of blue. I spoke to Natalia from Little Lulubel and she helped me create the perfect decorations for a blue-themed party. She sent over the cutest party kit which included everything I needed (table settings, decorations, etc.), and Quin was SO excited to be surrounded by all the blue!

Little Lulubel specialises in party kits and decorations for all sorts of fun occassions. Beyond the simple colour themes, you can also find some really sweet and original ideas: a science party, a Snow White party, a pyjama party and many more fun ideas!

x Courtney

Easter decorations from Little Lulubel

We’re coming up on ‘birthday season’ in our house, where 5 out of the 6 of us have springtime birthdays! It’s always a busy time in our family, and this year I have vowed to be a bit more organised than I was last year. (Last year all of my children’s birthday parties were planned and organised the morning of!) This year, at the very least, I need to buy the party supplies and tableware ahead of time.

In my attempt to be organised, I started browsing the party kits section over at Little Lulubel (they have such cute party theme ideas!), and I stumbled upon their Spring Party Kit which is so perfect for Easter celebrations.

I also love this Bunny Ears dress-up kit for kids to make and wear on Easter day. So cute! (Last year, we got similar ones, and it made for a very festive looking Easter with loads of little bunnies sitting around the table.)

Anyway… I’ve gotten a bit distracted thinking about Easter when I have a birthday party to plan first!!  But just wanted to share these with you before I forgot. Easter is less than a month away now!

x Courtney

p.s. Little Lulubel is currently offering Babyccino readers a 15% discount. Details here.

Birthday party: Decorating cupcakes

One of my childhood friends always had the best cake at her birthday parties. Her mum would make (or buy?) the most ordinary cupcakes, and set the table with different sort of custards, frostings and toppings. I loved to pile up my plate with candy, and create the most enormous cupcake possible.

For Sara’s birthday party last year, I did a similar thing. I made cupcakes, and cream cheese frosting (simply mix cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar), and used my vintage fondue plates for the table setting. Chocolate sprinkles, heart sprinkles, mini m&m’s, candy… It was all there. And it was funny to see how the children enjoyed themselves (and how in the end, lots of the candy was left un-eaten on the plates, but all of the raspberries, blueberries and strawberries were gone)!

xxx Esther

An 8th birthday party with a cooking theme

It was Pim’s 7th birthday last Monday so I’m planning a little birthday party for him, and I realised that I never posted about the cooking party we had for Sara’s birthday last year!

Sara has enjoyed food since she was a baby, and she loves helping me in the kitchen. So it was no surprise when she asked for a cooking party for her 8th birthday! She invited 8 of her girl friends, and like always, party preparations took place the day before the party (let’s just say, I’m at my best the very last minute).

I bought a huge pile of cheap, unbleached cotton at the market, and together with my mother-in-law sewed 11 aprons out of it (of course Pim and Ava were invited too). I also bought cutting boards, knives, notebooks and pencils. I made a triangular stamp out of a simple eraser, and decorated everything with triangles. I also stamped the children’s names on all of the items.

We set the table with the different veggies and toppings needed for the healthy Vietnamese Style Rice Paper Rolls I blogged about earlier. The children loved cutting everything on their own cutting boards, and writing down the ingredients and recipe in their little notebook. And even very picky eaters found ingredients on the table that they loved!

Afterwards, the notebooks and pencils came in handy for the treasure hunt we had organised in the neighbourhood. And of course, they could all take home a little party bag with the items we had made for them. It was a really fun party!

xxx Esther

Sycamore Street Press birthday cards

Sycamore Street Press is a family run paper company that you might remember from the exquisite Baby Milestones Cards I reviewed a while ago. It is run by husband and wife team Eva and Kirk Jorgensen, who raise their two gorgeous kids together and come up with the most beautiful letter-pressed and printed designs. I love their original birthday card collection — so playful and fun!

Sycamore Street Press is giving away a $100 gift voucher to the winner of our second gigantic give-away. What a great prize to win, together with 15 other awesome prizes! You can enter this give-away HERE. (If I were the winner, I know what I would choose from Sycamore Street Press: the citron, poire and pomme letterpress art prints — so pretty!)
xxx Esther

Cute costumes from My Shiny Shop

This past weekend was finally dry and sunny so, despite still being cold, my kids asked to set up the teepee outside and play cowboys and indians! They looked so cute in their costumes from My Shiny Shop that I had to snap a few shots of them in their teepee. (Poor Ivy in her little indian dress must have been freezing cold, but she refused to wear a coat. I could only coax her into wearing leggings!)

The selection of dress-up costumes from My Shiny Shop is really great. I love the Indian Chief head dress – it makes such a statement with all the colourful feathers!

My kids are constantly playing dress-up. It must be one of the most common play themes in our house and always inspires the most creative kind of play. They’ll dress up as kings and queens and then build castles, they’ll be pirates and sailors and sail off in their ships, they’ll be baddies and goodies and cowboys and indians and everything in between. I hope this innocent dress-up phase never ends!

x Courtney

p.s. More info about our teepee here.

Marlow is one!




My baby girl is one today! One year old! I can’t believe it. I always find the first birthday to be the most emotional one — the birth still feels so fresh in my mind, the hormones still maybe not completely settled back to normal yet, and a baby who seems to be growing and changing by the day, walking and developing so quickly, those precious baby days slipping by. I’m fighting back tears as I write this — sad that time seems to be flying by, but also so thankful to celebrate such a wonderful, happy year.

I thought I would share a few photos from the little party we had in our kitchen this morning. We made waffles, lit a candle, sang happy birthday and threw confetti all over the place. It was perfect. I think she really knew it was her special day. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

xx Courtney

p.s. The confetti came from Knot & Bow, and I have previously blogged about the sweet little party hats here.

Jailhouse Rock Birthday Party

We have just celebrated Nico’s birthday. This year we made a Jailhouse Rock themed birthday party. It was so much fun! Both kids and adults really enjoyed it!

A little cell as a stage. And black, white and turqouise as star colours!

Very sponsorized food table!!!

And of course merchandising of the band!!!

It was so much fun, the kids were on stage singing all evening. By the way, the microphones are real ones, so you can imagine… they were amazed!!

Happy Birthday to Nico and hope you like it!

xo Maria

To read more from Maria and see more photos from this party, visit her lovely Spanish blog here.

Numero 74 — perfect for parties

This year we celebrated Ava’s birthday in Paris! We happened to have booked a trip there that weekend, so we invited our Parisian friends over to the apartment we were staying for a little party. Of course Emilie came with her girls, and we asked the local bakery to make a chocolate cake — Ava’s favourite! For decoration, I used a few party supplies from Numero 74, which I had brought over, and it worked out so well! The magnetic fish looked so pretty on the table (plus, they provided for some immediate entertainment). There were also little butterfly gift bags with little Numero 74 party favours, like cute crochet cherry necklaces and bracelets. They were so cute and the girls loved them.

Numero 74 is a French/Italian brand established by two cousins with the aim to create a selection of party kits that appeal to children as well as to parents. The collections are poetic and dreamy, with pretty muted colours. There are a variety of themes (like butterflies, pirates, and unicorns), in which you can find gift bags, invites, garlands and notebooks. There are tasteful party favours, like the adorable crochet details I mentioned before, so pretty! I’m really impressed with the sweet and simple, understated but tasteful styling of it all — such a far cry from the flashy commercial party merchandise one can get in the supermarket.

There is also a beautiful line of Numero 74 party clothes, which are rich in design and materials used (organza, velvet) and are of the sort of quality that they will be used for years and years, and will then be handed down to friends. Adorable!

All Numero 74 products are handcrafted by artisans and women co-operatives in Thailand, providing these women with a steady source of employment and income whilst being able to work from home and look after their family. All good!

xxx Esther

Happi Yumi cake toppers

Nash Alpine, a graphic designer by trade, started her small business Happi Yumi after becoming a mother. Unable to find lovely, personal pieces for the parties she was organising, she started creating her own customised partyware – et voila!

Nash made some darling Fairy Princess Cake Toppers for Ava, and they are so, so cute! She was so proud, taking them to her crèche today. It made the cupcakes look super special, and so very ‘Ava’!

Nash designs other personalised products too, like original invites, fun party bags, and cool balloon hangers. The ordering process is super easy — just send over two of your favourite photo, and Nash will create something wonderful and personal from it. Sweet!

xxx Esther

Easy DIY goodie bags

We just brought Ava to her creche with 14 of these cute bear goodie bags. I thought to share this with you, as they were totally easy to make! (We did it late night yesterday evening!)

Just cut the top part of a paper carrier bag, and cut out two ears from the left-over top part. Put some little presents in the bag, pin the ears to the top to help them stay in place and close the top on the sewing machine. (Or, just use glue if you don’t have a sewing machine — you can keep the ears in place with cloth pins when they’re drying.) Use white gouache to paint the eyes and snout, and when dry, use a permanent marker to add some details. Done!

xxx Esther

My Little Day: Un Super Anniversaire


There are people in this world who know how to throw a birthday party for their children with panache (Esther being the prime example). Then there are people like me, who draw a blank when it comes to entertaining 10 kids in my house for a few hours! (I am really good at entertaining adults, by the way: I can mix up a mean cocktail and know how to put together a great playlist to get the party going. I don’t understand why I am so intimidated by kids parties!)

Anyway, help is at hand as my absolute favourite birthday supply shop My Little Day finally came out with their very own book about birthday parties. You can find inspiration for party themes, recipes and a whole list of games divided up by ages, which is super practical.

The little hitch is that the book only exists in French, but even if you only understand a little bit, it is totally worth it. I actually think it is really interested to see what games children play in France (I did not know half of them)!

- Emilie

P.S. My Little Day also does amazing party kits.

A Fairy Princess Party

It was Ivy’s birthday yesterday and she had a few friends over after school to help her celebrate. I have decided to embrace the girly princess stage she’s in right now, and so we had a proper Fairy Princess Party complete with lots of princess dresses, pink balloons… and fairy wings!

I didn’t plan any games for them to play — I simply let them dress up and run around the garden.  It’s amazing what fun they can have with some simple balloons and some imaginative play. (And it helps that the weather was nice enough for them to be outside.)

The fairy wings were a big success! The girls loved ‘flying’ around the garden with them, and it was a special thing for them to take home from the party (rather than a goodie bag or party favours).

You can buy the fairy wings from Belle Enfant — they are handmade in metallic gold fabric and have soft elastic straps to keep them in place. So cute and really such a big hit with the 4-year-old girls!

x Courtney

Homemade Cupcake Toppers


This craft idea is so simple I almost did not write about it, but I quite liked the result, so I wanted to share it anyway. Last weekend was Violette’s birthday and she had gotten it into her head that it was going to have a bunny rabbit theme and that we were going to have carrot cake cupcakes (we used Courtney’s amazing carrot cake recipe). I, on the other hand had gotten it into my head that it would be cool to have some rabbit cupcake toppers (I just need to point out that rabbit cupcake toppers are pretty much the only impossible thing to find in Paris!)

So Coco and I made some, and we had a great afternoon of painting, cutting and glueing. First Coco painted a picture of a rabbit. We then scanned it in, scaled it down and multiplied it. We printed it out and cut the little rabbits out in circles. Then we glued 2 together and sandwiched a tooth pick between the 2 pieces of paper.

Voila, the party can begin!

- Emilie

Crochet creations at 2good2betrue

2cute2betrue is a small Dutch label set up by Judith de Ruyter when she was pregnant with her 6th (!) baby. The label offers a collection of crochet toys and accessories which are designed by Judith here in the Netherlands and are handmade in Thailand as part of a Thai government project to support local communities.

The crochet collections include darling party accessories (I really love the cake toppers!), cute dolls and darling BFFs that come with their own mini house. I just know my girls would love to play with these! Another favourite is the cloud mobile — we have one hanging above Ava’s bed and it looks so sweet in her room.

All the crochet 2cute collections are available from the website (go to ‘collections’ and move your mouse over the photos to discover the different products for sale).

xxx Esther

Decorating a baby’s christening party

I had so much fun decorating this party for a newborn. I always thought of white and craft for the occassion and sweet details for a baby girl. It was all made by hand, so it is really a handmade and natural party!

If you want to see more pictures you can see more here and here. Hope you like it and it gives you some ideas for spring parties! It seems like spring has finally arrived after a long long rainy winter!

- Maria

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