We were in two minds about whether or not to host a party for our toddler's second birthday after all the stress of the first one. In the end we decided about a week and a half before that we'd do a small barbeque to celebrate his birthday and show a few friends and family our new house, which we've been in for three months.
We strung up balloons and streamers around the bbq area. There would have been more streamers but the wind took the roll out of my hand as i went to tie it to the pole and it fell straight into the pool, and that was the end of that.
My parents drove up from the countryside where they live, a couple who are hubby's friends came, our neighbours arrived when their baby daughter had woken from her nap, and hubby's (half)brother and shock of shocks, his biological mother. She has never visited us in the entire time we've been together!
Learning from last time, i didn't go overboard in preparing food, but we still had more than enough. On the table i had a platter of fruit (cut up pineapple, strawberries and grapes), corn chips and dip, mini pumpkin and asparagus quiches which my mum made, blue macarons, mini chocolate cupcakes with blue buttercream icing, glasses with blue stripy straws, water and homemade lemonade. I bought two dozen sausages to put on the bbq, intending to use half of them and keep the other half for 'just in case'. As it turned out some guests brought some along so we had more than enough and i kept the other half dozen for dinner during the week. We served the sausages in sliced bread with sauce, which i prefer better than those super sweet hotdog rolls.
I saw on Pinterest some cute little penguins, made from olives, cream cheese and carrots, and while a little fiddly they were easy to make and not as time consuming as i thought. They made a great savoury snack.
Again learning from last time, mum and hubby took round some of the food to all the guests as they mingled, and the food disappeared on each round. The cupcake recipe i used made two dozen mini cupcakes so i had put half aside to take to work, and we had a few left over for us afterwards.
The chocolate shards in the cupcakes were made from Top Deck chocolate (for non Aussies it's a milk chocolate base bar with white chocolate tops of each square. I melted and swirled it together to get the pattern.
The macarons went quite well in the new oven. Little bit more tweaking required, and i think i need a new food processor to grind the almond meal a little bit finer, to prevent the rough tops. Our toddler, who is a rather fussy eater, even though they were good enough to take a bite!
Our guests all enjoyed themselves and the star of the show had a ball! He loves babies and gave our little next door neighbour a kiss... then posed for a photo with his head pressed next to hers! What a little ham :)
Our guests all left (except one) around 3:30pm and i finally got a tired little boy off for a nap. Our overstayer was hubby's bio mother. She eventually left at 5pm when the birthday boy awoke and i started making noises about getting his dinner ready (too early, but she didn't know that). We found out later that hubby's brother had shamed her into coming along (hubby had invited her) because she was forever complaining about his (hubby's brother's) two year old child (interstate with his ex) and how she never gets to see him, yet she had a grandson in the same city who she had never made the effort to see. I swear, hubby's family gets more complex every year.
This year's party was far less stressful than last year's. I think the key is not to make too much (food/decorations), just what you can easily do. And if you can, choose foods that can be made ahead of time. I baked the cupcakes and iced them the night before, same with the macarons and penguins, but it would have been even better if i'd done the macs and penguins the day before that. Cakes obviously need to be made freshly. And our toddler had a great day, which means it was all a success :)