Sophie Conran's complete guide to throwing a children's summer party

party table outside
Go all out and 
celebrate your child’s 
big day in style Credit: Talking Tables

The best thing, I’ve found, when planning a children’s party is to get the kids involved right from the start. Give everybody something to do, whether it’s making the invitations, the food or decorations.

Strong colour themes are easy to source and have a great impact on excitable young guests. Bright colours are perfect for summertime, and the shops are full of beautiful pieces this season.

  1. Task your children with drawing pictures for invitations and get them printed. There are also fabulous online services for printing ready-made invitations. Papier is a favourite of mine, as it has so many incredible designs to choose from and personalise.
  2. I love making masses of paper decorations to hang up everywhere. Use folded and cut  tissue paper to make big flowers (there are lots of tutorials online), and if the kids are old enough, task them with making pom-poms and flower headdresses out of tissue paper (which you can either glue or sew on to a length of elastic),  or cutting out shapes for garlands. Pineapples, strawberries, stars – anything goes!
  3. Setting out the food on cake stands can be very effective (and keeps the table clear for little hands), and it’s practical to use colourful paper or wooden plates and cups. Make lollipops with yogurt and fresh fruit, and a batch of raspberry lemonade. If you’re not buying a cake (I adore Peggy Porschen’s designs), decorate a home-made one to match your colour scheme.
  4. For entertainment, don’t forget a music playlist (for pass the parcel, musical bumps, or impromptu dancing). Animals were always a hit when my children were growing up – entertainers can bring all sorts of little creatures, which the kids then get to hold and learn about. If the weather is nice, lay a picnic rug outside and have the games there. One year, I had a fairy theme and got a storyteller, dressed as a magnificent fairy, to come as a surprise. Everyone, of every age, loved it!
  5.  I like to give the children little coloured paper bags filled with tiny treats to take away, such as a set of pencils and a colouring book. You could also give them flowers that you have used to decorate the table. Keep it simple and make little pots of daisies or pansies, which small children love.

sophieconran.com

Orange drizzle cake

SERVES

8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the cake

  • 200g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g polenta
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g self-raising flour

For the drizzle

  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • Whipped double cream, to serve

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and grease a 23cm springform cake tin.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk until pale and creamy.
  3. Whisk in one of the eggs, the vanilla extract, polenta, orange zest and baking powder, followed by another egg and 50g of flour. Repeat twice with the remaining eggs and flour.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your cake tin and spread evenly.
  5. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and leave in the tin. Poke all over with a skewer. Whisk the orange juice and icing sugar together and drizzle over.
  7. Leave to cool and absorb the liquid.
  8. Remove the cooled cake from the tin, decorate as desired and serve with whipped cream.

Recipe from sophieconran.com

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