A Tasteful Halloween

I know it’s all for the kids, but if you are as horrendously particular about your house as me, you’ll get that shudder at the thought of covering it it with vulgar bright orange decorations, plastic spiders and replacing your beautiful cast iron door knocker with a battery operated skull that roars….you get the gist.

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Easter is pretty and pale with yellows and blues and fluffy chicks (that I can do) Christmas is understandably a complete delight (bar tinsel, tinsel makes me cringe) but Halloween is just such an ugly holiday. Whether my mums hatred for the holiday has rubbed off on me i’m not sure but I will rarely venture further than a carved pumpkin when it comes to October 31st.

stylish halloween

It crossed my mind that Pintrest is where all the inspiration is at, so I searched for ‘Classy Halloween’ and was pleasantly surprised that one I am clearly not the only mother with house OCD trying to keep everyone happy, and two there are some great ideas for non offensive (and actually quite nice) decorations to inspire your Halloween decor.

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There is hope for us yet!

Thanks for reading and I hope some of this inspires you if you are also not a fan or bright orange and plastic!

Georgie xx

http://www.lifeinthecottage.com

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Top Tips for Throwing a Kids Party

Tips for throwing a Kids party

My daughter Arabella turned six last week and I threw a rather large party for her this weekend. Having never done a party this big before (30 kids and all the parents and our family) I thought it would be good to run through my tips (well basically the mistakes I either made this time or have made in the past) an why it is key to avoid them.

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Organising your own kids party is stressful (I’m not going to lie about that) BUT if you do it yourself you will end up with much more for your money, and a much more ‘special’ occasion for your little one.

So here are my top tips:

  1. Organise it early

Send those invites out early and make sure you give a way for parents to RSVP. You need to make it clear on the invite that if they don’t RSVP there won’t be a place at the party for their child. This avoids the numbers being completely out on the day. I sent Arabella’s invites out two months before the party, firstly to make sure that the most important friends were able to be there and secondly to kick start me in to starting to organise things avoiding the panic of last minute ordering and hanging out of the front door waiting for the postman on the morning of the party because he’s bringing the party bags!

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  1. Sandwiches

This year is the first year I actually considered using a caterer to provide the sandwiches, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. DO NOT GO NEAR CATERERS.  I was quoted £45 + Delivery for 30 sandwiches (and that’s not fancy fillings, that’s ham, cheese and jam) To make 8 loaves worth of sandwiches it took me two hours on the morning of the party, I bought fresh bread from Aldi that morning that cost me 55p per loaf. Turn up the radio, get your little production line going and do it yourself. Caterers will absolutely rip you off for something that is really quite inexpensive and lets face it easy to do.

My other sandwich tip is making sure you always butter both sides of the bread. I have no idea why I don’t do this naturally anyway (perhaps I’m just lazy) but by habit I only butter the side that the filling is going on. When you are making sandwiches that need to not fall apart on a tray it is key to butter that second side. They will stick together nicely and the bread won’t dry out half as quickly.

  1. Entertainment

You may think some cake and party hats would be enough but from experience I can tell you it’s not. Kids need entertaining (always) so make sure you have some entertainment, i have never used ‘paid’ entertainment in the form of a person but there is always some kind of attraction. We have done, various pets, racing pigs (battery operated don’t worry) disco with a mic so we can play various games with them, a bouncy castle twice and various planned party games at festive parties. The one party there was no entertainment and we had riled parents and bored children so that’s not something I would do again!

  1. Don’t open the presents on the day

You can imagine it now, thirty children all running round, screaming, eating sugar and loud music. That is not a place you want presents to be opened, they won’t be appreciated, cards get lost, nothing gets written down and it’s a free for all with all the other children. I was really strict (much to Arabella’s frustration) that we weren’t going to be opening any of the presents at the party and we would open then a few days later (or consecutive days later as there were so many) with a pad ready for the thank you cards in a calm environment where she actually has half a chance to take in what she had received.

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  1. Attach the cards to the presents if they aren’t already

As a parent that attends a lot of parties this is my pet hate, lots of people don’t attach their card to the present which basically means you have a lot of nameless presents and a lot of separate cards. I stood with a roll or cellotape and every time I spotted a present with a precariously balancing card I taped it down. This means that every present has a person attached to it. I would personally hate someone to think I had forgotten the gift!

  1. Provide something for the parents

In all honesty how much fun are kids parties for parents? Exactly. So they need something to get them through. I wouldn’t recommend gin and tonic, unless you have a huge budget, but making enough food for the parents to be able to eat and providing them with caffeine (either in the form of tea or coffee) makes a huge difference to how bearable a loud kids party is. I know if I’m sat down with a cuppa I can dull out the noise and catch up on social media for a couple of hours.

  1. Make more party bags than you need

We had a little hiccup this year. It’s easy to forget that with the invite for a child it does mean their siblings could also end up coming along. I hadn’t allowed for siblings when I made the party bags so we were two short at the end of the day which brought tears and all sorts of upset. Always make about five extra and you won’t be let down, you can always give any leftovers out at school the next week or save them for friends that weren’t able to come. Believe me it’s a much better alternative to feeling like the worst person in the world when they realise you haven’t got them a party bag.

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  1. Check for allergies

Always worth a check, one of Arabellas school friends has a severe egg allergy. Luckily her parents emailed me and let me know the things she did eat. I made sure all the food was labelled so her parents knew what she was safe to eat. I made her a special egg free sponge cake and labelled it for her. They actually ended up taking the rest of the cake home with them which was so nice. Allergies or not no one wants to be left out at a party.

  1. Shop around for party ware

Being a complete Amazon prime addict my searched naturally started there, once I started to shop around online and in shops I started to realise there were cheaper options I ended up looking all over for the best price. I put a lot in my basket on Ebay, working through a list I had made of what I needed. I then went to the Poundshop and looked at what  could get from there saving on the postage then the rest ordered from various shops on Ebay, the only tip I would give for doing it this way is make sure you allow time for things to arrive, the dates they give you for delivery aren’t always what you get!

  1. Take lots of pictures or get someone else to do it

I had my big photography camera at the party for taking pictures of the kids on the princess castle backdrop but when it came to actual pictures of the party, the parents and the set up, I failed miserably. I got caught chatting to a lot of people and topping up various sandwich plates and to be completely honest didn’t have time to even think about picking up my camera. If I could do it again I would definitely ask a friend or family member to take some photos for me as I have barely any memories to save from this party.

So there you have it, my top ten kids party tips. If you have any others please feel free to leave them below.

Thanks as always for reading!

Georgie x

http://www.lifeinthecottage.com

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The Country Life

Though I spend a huge chunk of my week in front of a computer linked to corporate entities and dealing with high flying clients, at heart I am a complete and utter country bumpkin.

We live in a breezy, character filled old cottage outside of Bristol in the UK and have enough animals to almost qualify as a farm (I’m not sure what the actual definition of a farm is but it can’t be far off our set up).

Muddy Boots family photography

What I love the most is the divide, and it’s quite possibly the only way I cope with such a busy life. During the day i’m dressed on trend (well ish, I like to create my own trends) clean shoes, made up face and technology at my fingertips (Two phones, laptop, Ipad, Desktop, Alexa in every room of the house) then by night i’m hand rearing weak chicks,  cleaning out chicken coops, collecting eggs, training the dogs, riding the horse or generally covered in mud somewhere doing something outdoorsy.

Muddy Boots family photography

I was lucky enough to grow up in various beautiful old houses, always rural and always waking to the sounds of cows mooing, horses whinnying or sheep bleating so living in a city is not something I think I could ever cope with. Don’t get me wrong i’m in no way remote to local towns but just having that little bit of space and daily interaction with a variety of animals is almost a coping mechanism.

I rode throughout my whole childhood, spending most weekends at shows, peeing in a buckets and always with the faint aroma of ‘horse’ lingering round me. naturally as I matured this lessened and I learnt about deodorant and started to venture in to the world of fashion (as a youngster on ‘dress down days’ at school I would literally turn up on my jodhpurs) that’s how bad I was.

So the natural progression saw me start to find other things in life that drew me away from the stables, work, socialising, boys (I was never that keen on them) but there were always animals involved. When I became a single mum in 2012 all of a sudden I didn’t have anyone to answer to or opinions to consider and ‘Life in the Cottage’ began. We currently have the following pets:

  • 6 Purebred Chihuahuas
  • Archibald the rescued cat
  • Fox the Gelding
  • Daisy the miniature Shetland
  • Pete the 100 year old tortoise (that we sort of inherited)
  • Olive the Syrian Hamster
  • 28 Chickens (12 newly hatched chicks)
  • And for the next three weeks until they go back we have Haggis the school bunny in the field too.

Muddy Boots family photography

as you can see it’s a full house (though there’s always room or an animal in need) Admittedly it’s very stressful at times, especially when there is illness or the Fox decides he wants one of my hens but i wouldn’t change it for the world. Every morning before work I potter out to the field in my dressing gown feed and water the chickens and just take a big deep breath of the countryside and it honestly sets me for the day (some of which can be incredibly stressful) At the other end of the day it’s the horses and again there’s peace and space. I struggle with Anxiety for various reasons but if I feel an attack coming you will find me sat in the field watching Chihuahuas trot about and chickens clucking away while they peck on their corn.

If any of you want to see our lives first hand and very raw, we share a weekly video on YouTube that covers the good, the bad and the ugly:

Thanks for always for coming to my little ivy filled corner of the internet

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