See you next week!

kids on bainbridge island

Emilie and vivi copy

Esther's house in France

We’ve decided to take a little blogging break this week to enjoy some time away from our computers. We are each in our favourite summer spots enjoying slow, lazy days with our families, and we hope you won’t mind if we push the pause button this week and resume as normal next week? In the meantime, here are some of our favourite blog posts from the past year in case you missed them:

See you next week!

Courtney, Esther and Emilie xx

P.S. Photos above are from our Instagram feeds (Courtney, Emilie & Esther) where you can follow along this week if you miss us. ; )

A dolls’ garden party for Ava’s 5th birthday!

dolls garden party dolls party

Ava recently turned 5 — the age where a birthday party really, really matters. We had family and friends over on the day of her birthday (the so-called ‘family party’), but she was also really looking forward to the party for her little friends.

dolls_party_9 dolls_party_18 dolls garden party Babyccino Kids

I had been really, really busy with work and all sorts of end-of-school activities, so I didn’t have the energy or time to prepare anything before the day of her party. But it was all fine — that Sunday morning, the warm sun came up (familiar?), so we transformed our back yard into a big dolls’ house.

dolls_party_21 dolls garden party Babyccino Kids dolls_party_6

We put up the playhouse and the wigwam, and also created some other spaces using sticks and fabric. We made a dolls’ hospital, a dolls’ kitchen (using our wooden toy kitchen), a dolls’ dressing room and bedroom (we used baskets and baby blankets to make extra beds), a dolls’ play area with miniature dolls — we even had a dolls’ bathroom (the old baby bathtub and hooded baby towels came in handy here!).

dolls garden party babyccino kids dolls_party_3 dolls garden party Babyccino Kids dolls_party_8

It was really fun and easy to set up, and so adorable once finished! I asked all of Ava’s little invitees (4 girls plus her 3 siblings of course) to bring their favourite doll, and that was all it took, really. They took over the garden immediately and had such fun.

dolls_party_16 dolls_party_20 dolls_party_11 dolls_party_19 dolls_party_13We were lucky to have the garden that day, but of course such an idea would also work perfectly indoors. Definitely a recommendation if you have little ones who love dolls!

xxx Esther

The Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping cloth

Have you heard of furoshikis? They are square fabric cloths used in Japan to wrap everything from lunch, presents, picnics, pillows, groceries, you name it! Made from gorgeous printed cotton fabric, furoshikis are as beautiful as everything coming from Japan.

furoshikis japanese wrapping clothBesides the primary use of a wrap, furoshikis are also great to be used as scarfs, napkins, picnic blankets, table cloths… The biggest size can even be used as a beach bag and once on the beach, it doubles as a perfect beach sheet. The uses really are endless!

Furoshiki japanese wrap cloth
You can find a lovely range of gorgeous furoshikis in different sizes at Musubi London, and here you can learn about the different wrapping techniques. (Don’t you love the wine wrap? What an awesome present to bring to a dinner party!)

xxx Esther

Birthday gifts for a six-year-old girl

Ivy colouring chalk blocks

chalk blocks

Birthday season has just come to an end in our family, which consists of five birthdays in quick succession. Marlow is our odd one out with a birthday in November, but the rest of us all have birthdays in the springtime. Our birthday bunting literally goes up and down and up and down from April to June. It’s quite fun, but I’m always so relieved when it’s over.

Since it’s all fresh in my mind, I thought it might be useful to write down some of the favourite gifts each of my children received for their birthdays (not just gifts from us, but from friends and family too).  I’ll start with Ivy, who turned six in May, and who only asked for a compass for her birthday. : )

Gifts for a six-year-old

1. A pretty journal for writing down thoughts and discoveries (the same one her mama uses)
2. Cat ears headband — a fun accessory
3. A flower press to preserve her first 4-leaf clover and other pretty flowers and plants (a thoughtful gift from my sister!)
4. Eco-crayons that draw on paper AND glass! So fun!
5. A brass compass in its own leather pouch to learn her directions
6. An intricate and beautiful ‘Colour Therapy‘ colouring book
7. The ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ books because I remember how much I loved them when I was young (we also bought her audio books because she’s really into listening to stories while we’re in the car)
8. A blackboard blocks and chalk set to create her own houses, towers and towns


Please feel free to share other gift suggestions if you can think of them! (And obviously many of these gifts are great for boys too — I only specified a gender because it felt appropriate for some of the gifts.)

Courtney x

Ivy’s colouring party

Ivy's party

colouring in

ivy's colouring party

Ivy turned six last week and we hosted a little party in our back garden to celebrate her big day. It’s become a tradition in our family of hosting parties at home and on the actual day of the birthday rather than waiting for a weekend day to celebrate — it’s our way of keeping things small and intimate, and I always think it makes their  birthday that much more special for them. Ivy got to invite a few friends to come over after school, and we spent a sunny afternoon celebrating the birthday girl.

Ivy’s favourite thing to do right now is to colour and draw, so we loosely themed the party around colouring. We bought her these cool, eco-friendly Kitpas markers which colour on windows (seriously cool!) and the kids had so much fun colouring our glass sliding doors. We also gave each of the kids a pack of sidewalk chalk to decorate the pavement and write messages to Ivy.

happy birthday to you

ivy colouring at party
party decor from Little Lulubel

Marlow at party


Ivy on her birthday

window grafitti

writing on windows

I picked up some colourful party decorations from Little Lulubel and ordered their colour-in party kit, which, in addition to all the cute tableware and accessories, included colouring sheets/placemats for the kids to colour in. I’ve mentioned before how much I like party-kits — they make it so easy to decorate your table and throw a pretty party together at the last minute, which admittedly is always the case for me.

What I liked about this party was that we really didn’t need to organise games or provide any entertainment. It was super relaxed — we played music, the kids danced, they coloured, they chalked, they ate, they played… and that was really it. Just good old-fashioned party fun!

Courtney x

A Spy Birthday Party for an 8-Year-Old

Elias Spy Party 1

This year Elias wanted a ‘Magic’ birthday party. Not being a member of the magic circle myself I was thrown a little by how I was going to pull that off – so I started to brainstorm other possibilities with him – we decided upon a ‘Spy Party’ and I immediately got Pinteresting.

There were so many brilliant ideas that I just knew this party would be fun to organize – and it really was but I did have to be more organized then I usually am for parties and with 8-year-olds I knew I couldn’t pull the wool over their eyes – the spy games would need to be good.

Elias Spy Party 2

First we sent out an invitation inviting his guests to attend Spy School. Included in the invite was a fake moustache (to ensure no one suspected them) and a Cipher Wheel to decode the secret password. I downloaded a template for the Cipher Wheel here and just ‘re-branded’ it a little.

Elias Spy Party 3

Then it was time to plan the actual party! We decided to break down the party into 8 parts – 7 tasks for the ‘spies’ to complete before the final challenge – this was the order of the day:
Arrival – Spies are given their identification tags (1) and scanned (2) to ensure they are not bringing any weapons into Spy School. They then needed to choose a Spy Name by picking one word from one jar and another from another and then this was stuck into their ‘fake’ passports – I got these ideas from this great blog post and they even had downloadable printables! – Inside the passports was a list of the tasks they would need to complete – I stickered them as they passed each level (but actually I’d recommend using a stamp for that bit – the stickering was a little fiddly!).

Task 1 – Observation: My husband had a lot of fun setting up a table with a Playmobil ‘scene’ on it – he tried to make it quite detailed. The kids were told to study the scene as they would need to observe if there had been changes to it later on. We set this up in our living room were we did the arrival and it was a great game for them to be getting on with whilst we waited for everyone.
Task 2 – Interrogation: Downstairs into our cellar (usually a place for laundry but on this day it was Spy HQ!). Another idea from the above blog – each kid had a character, animal or famous person stuck on their backs – they had to walk round and ask each other questions to try and find out who they were – but the answers could only be yes or no – the kids found this one pretty hard and we had to give them some helpful tips but they all managed in the end.
Task 3 – Code Creating and Cracking: We taught them a way to write a hidden message by writing or drawing something small with a light blue crayon and then scribbling all over it with a red crayon so you can hardly see the blue message. Then take a sheet of red acetate and hold it over the message and you will see the blue message clearly. They had to create a message – then swap with a friend and try and discover what had been written or drawn.
Back to Task 1 – Now we went back to the observation table – in the meantime my husband had made 6 changes and they had to discover what as a team. They loved this one.
Task 4 – With 7 boys and a girl we knew by now they’d need some running about so this was Time Trials. I got my husband to take the kids over to the park to do some races for 15 minutes. Whilst they were gone I roped my Mum and Dad into setting up task 5 …
Task 5 – Laser maze. When the kids arrived back we made them wait outside the door and explained the next task – getting through a laser-maze without breaking it. Our hallway is a perfect corridor for this – we used red crepe-paper and washi-tape to create a maze for the kids to climb through – it looked great and the kids really enjoyed that surprise to come back to – tip if you do this: put some lasers very low down – the kids quite quickly worked out they could slide through underneath most of our maze.
Task 6 – the controversial one … Target Practise. I have never bought these ‘exciting’ Nerf guns for Elias although whenever he goes to anyone’s house who has one he really loves them. I’m just a pacifist and don’t like boys playing war but … they do anyway – my boys often take sticks or their fingers and shoot eachother. I remembered how much fun I had with water-guns as a kid and knew that I would be making my son’s day if he got to have a play with some of those ‘exciting’ guns. So I bought the littlest one I could find (3) and a second one with a laser (4) (because that seemed quite Spy like) and we set up a small target (5) back down in the cellar – they all got a go with the laser gun first and had to try and score 100 points on the target and then they had a go with the small pistol – there were strict rules to not shoot at fellow spies and actually they all really enjoyed it. Elias had about 5 days of carrying these guns around with him after his party and now they are at the bottom of a toy box somewhere and don’t seem to be too exciting anymore – maybe he got the shooting out of his system for now!
Task 7 – Bomb detonation. By now the kids were ready for some food and drink – I made chocolate brownies and ‘bomb’ biscuits and we put sparklers in the brownies to detonate them. (Whilst they were eating I sent my Dad and husband on a little mission to get something ready for the next stage).

Elias Spy Party 4
Task 8 – The final challenge. I bought out a suitcase that was locked with a 4 number padlock. The kids were told there was another bag inside this one with a 3 digit padlock on it and that their party bags were inside the 2nd bag. In order to get their party bags they would have to crack the codes. They were given a ‘Top Secret’ box with some helpful tools inside. There was:
● A clip board with a pen and paper with 7 boxes ready to input the numbers as they found them.
● A piece of fabric with 8 pins in it.
● A couple of code-crackers – A number code, an alpha code, a piece of the red acetate.
● A mobile phone – yes an actual phone (can you imagine how excited they were)
…and this is where the genius of this task was – again credit due entirely to this blog who introduced me to QR codes and this generator. It was really simple to set up; I could just input the questions to our ‘treasure hunt’ and then fix the QR codes up so the kids could scan them to get their next clue – they felt like real proper spies!!! Just a little tip – when you create the codes I copied them into a document and printed them and just wrote at the top of each code where I needed to hang it – this won’t ruin the clues for the kids as it will only say the location they have already reached but it will help you to remember which clue to pin up where! At each location the kids got a spy task to crack to get the number and the next clue where to go. Most of these clues we did as code-cracking tasks but my favourite one (and this is what my Dad and husband were busy with whilst we ate cake) was the bomb detonation – we filled our trampoline with 50 black balloons and the kids had to pop them to find the number – it was a little scary having 8 kids on a trampoline holding pins but luckily no injuries and lots of fun!
So they cracked the code and secured their party loot – each got a pair of spy-glasses, invisible ink pen, note book and some popping candy.
We were shattered at the end – it was full-on but I think it was the most fun party we’ve ever done!

(1) I bought these clips to create ID tags
(2) This scanner was not too expensive and really added to the official feel of entering Spy School – the kids have also enjoyed playing with it since.
(3) We bought this Nerf Gun and this (4) laser version and this is actually a very nice (5) target practise

A LEGO party for Pim’s 8th birthday

Lego Party decoration (Babyccino Kids)Birthdays are a big deal for children, and we like to celebrate it appropriately. We make a big deal out of it. Our children get a party for family and close family friends (the ‘family party’), and then they get to invite a few classmates for another party (the ‘friends’ party). For his 8th ‘friends’  birthday party, Pim had decided he wanted a LEGO party.

I honestly admit that I was a bit at a loss what to do with this theme. I mean, a strawberry high tea, a cooking party, or a disco party — I didn’t have to think long with coming up with some fun activities and decoration for those. And in the end, the interpretation of the adventurous treasure hunt of Pim’s party last year was quite straightforward as well, once the concept was there. But Lego?

And then I thought — the best thing about Lego, is Lego. We don’t need to provide anything else, than lots and lots of Lego! So we went to Ebay, and bought two second-hand batches of Lego bricks. We got loads!

Lego-party-cups Lego-Party-centerpiece Lego-Party_boat Lego_Party_decorationTable decoration was kept simple. I drew Lego faces on little glas jars, and poured orange juice inside. Pim made the center setting for the table, his name in giant 3D letters! And above the table, we strung yellow balloons, again, with Lego faces on them.

Lego birthday party - Lego-Party Lego-Party-Lego-Brick-Cake

We served rectangular carrot cake with M&M’s on them to resemble Lego bricks.

Lego Party cracker with cheese (

And later, I prepared some ‘Lego’ cheese crackers, with cheese dots on them.

LegoParty tower babyccinokids.comAnd then, we dunked all of the Lego on the floor and the kids could play! We gave them two ‘missions’ — the first one was to build the highest tower in three groups of three (which were properly measured afterwards of course). Simple but super exciting! And then, we asked one group to make a vehicle for the land, one group for the sea, and one group for the air. After 10 minutes we rotated the groups, and again a bit later.

Lego_party_cleanupIt was a really fun afternoon! And a perfect party for the lousy weather as well — it was raining outside the entire time, but cheerful and bright inside!

xxx Esther

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


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

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