It was Braxton’s 2nd birthday over the weekend (how is my baby 2?!) and we decided, like last year, to have his party at home. When kids start school you don’t really have a choice but to throw them a party where 40 kids are invited, so until that time, we decided we wanted to keep it low key and just invite family and closest friends. As his birthday is mid-October (and because he’s not old enough to demand a Peppa Pig theme!) we decided on an Autumn theme for the party.
We found an awesome company, Herts Party Hire, who rent out soft play packages with different themes. Our downstairs isn’t really big enough to accommodate a whole soft play collection, plus all the adults, so we prayed the weather would be dry and hired it in the hope of having it outside. Thankfully, it happened to be one of the warmest October days on record! It was wonderful as the Thomas the Tank Engine themed soft play and toys were outside for the kids, along with our own small-ish bouncy castle, which kept the kids out in the fresh air and out of the way of all the adults, which was good for the older people amongst us. It meant that the kids all had a fantastic time. Even the babies were able to enjoy the ball pond if they weren’t old enough to climb. Braxton particularly loved the Thomas train ramp.
Although Braxton did have the best day, getting there was all a bit stressful. I had flu last week and because my body didn’t have the time it needed to rest and heal (thanks to Braxton’s 5am wake-up calls! and generally being a mama), my joints piped up and my left knee swelled up like it hasn’t done in years. It was so full of fluid I could barely move yesterday morning. My right ankle was also very painful to move. Remission or no remission, I have had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of 2 and it is always lurking beneath the surface. My lifestyle keeps it at bay but it rears its ugly head as soon as my body encounters stress of any kind, or if I’m not keeping on top of my remission maintenance.
I really could really have done without it this weekend but, as anyone living with a chronic condition will know, you never get a choice. Aside from that my mum caught my flu and wasn’t able to be with us (or help me!) and her absence was really felt. The swelling started on Saturday, Braxton’s actual birthday, and I was devastated that I couldn’t join him and Daniel at MegaJump, where we planned on taking him for the morning as a birthday treat before coming home to prepare for the Sunday. They had a great time together and it gave me the opportunity to cook and bake at my own pace but I felt guilty for not being with him on his birthday.
On the day of the party the knee was so swollen I couldn’t bend or straighten it, it was just stuck in one position and it took me back to the old days. I always know it’s bad when the fluid hardens like that. So once again Daniel took Braxton out in the morning so I could take my time. I had a hot bath with Epsom Salts and Frankincense and took my time getting the table ready. I’d done most of the food prep the day before and most of what needed to be done could only be done a couple of hours before people were due to arrive so once Daniel and Brax got home and we put Brax to bed for his nap, we got back into bed too.
When I got up the knee had loosened slightly, thank goodness and the ankle wasn’t as painful. I put a tight bandage on to make moving a bit easier, put my face on, and continued with the day!
I wanted to share this all with you before I talk about the tablescape and menu because I think it’s important for people to see that not everything is as perfect as Instagram and blog pictures make it look; it was a struggle getting everything ready on time while I was in pain, limping round the house with a bandaged knee. Everyone has their struggles, their battles. No one’s life is perfect and I think it’s important for bloggers so be honest about it.
Thankfully with a bit of rest my swelling started going down and today it is definitely on the mend. Hopefully in a few days it will be back to normal.
In the end, despite my mum not being there, and with thanks to a whole heap of turmeric, frankincense and a wonderful hubby, we really did enjoy the day with our family and closest friends.
As I mentioned in the title, everything on the menu, except for the honey cake which has eggs, was vegan. It was also all gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. We had a few veggies, a few gluten free and dairy frees and a little girl with an egg allergy at the party so all in all it was a good choice to do it the way we did! I always think it’s important that parties should reflect the way we eat normally. I don’t feed Braxton processed food or sugar, so why would I have all that at his birthday party?
The menu was as follows:
- Brown rice pasta salad with sweetcorn & sundried tomatoes
- Black rice with roasted sweet potato, edamame beans, pumpkin seeds, spring onion and pine nuts
- Herby guacamole
- Tandoori cauliflower
- Pearl barley with roasted butternut & caramelised red onion
- Israeli salad
- Homemade hummus
- Homemade tahini
- Fry’s Family vegan nuggets for the kids!
- Crudités, lentil chips & wholemeal pitta
- Lemon cake
- Honey cake
- Chocolate chip oat cookies
- Victoria Sponge
- Mrs Hollingsworth’s Chocolate ‘Cheesecake’ Birthday Cake
- Organic dark chocolate vegan buttons
I have linked some of the recipes to ones already on the blog, and others will follow in due course, like the Victoria Sponge (omg who knew a vegan, GF, DF, SF one could turn out so good!?), Tabouleh, Guacamole and Cauliflower, so do watch out for these recipes to follow over the next few weeks.
I have to give my friend Emma at Mrs Hollingsworth’s a BIG shout out for the amazing birthday cake. It was the only thing I didn’t make because I wanted it to be super special and Emma certainly does special. It suited our Autumn theme perfectly with leaves made using turmeric and spirulina for the colouring. She really pulled out all the stops and I’m so thankful to her. It was so delicious, people couldn’t believe it was gluten, dairy, sugar and egg free!
As for the table, an Autumn theme is really easy to create. Firstly, I ordered some autumnal flowers from our wonderful local florists, Heaven Scent, and had them displayed in glass milk bottles and mason jars. I added some chalkboard hearts from Hobbycraft into some of the bottles and wrote cute things on them like ‘Braxton is 2!’. Tesco had some lovely brass coloured candle stick holders in store a few weeks ago so I bought 4 of those, along with some brown candles from Amazon. I found a lovely little online shop on Etsy, Willow & Dixon, that makes burlap and lace table runners and had the flowers and candles placed along this. I bought stand up label things (what are they called!?) to write what each dish was, also from Hobbycraft.
That was really all the table needed. We bought a rose gold number ‘2’ balloon from Hobbycraft and used mini milk bottles (have had these for years so can’t tell you where they are from unfortunately) with gold and green straws and put fresh lemonade in them. We also had a light box on display.
The last little detail was going home presents. I have these really cute vintage wooden crates that say ‘Home Sweet Home’ on them (which I’ve been meaning to use to plant some parsley and coriander in!) so I used them to put the going home presents in. I bought some cute Teepee-adorned eco-friendly gift bags from Party Pieces, and filled them with mini colouring books, mini crayon sets, sunglasses, bubbles and a pack of stickers each and I displayed them separately to the food.
That was it! The design really was as easy as that, and it wasn’t expensive either.
I hope you enjoyed reading how we created Braxton’s Autumn themed 2nd birthday party, and I hope it has inspired you to create a healthy and aesthetically pleasing birthday party for your little ones, too.
Love & health,