>> Sunday, 11 September 2011
1. Always take your own advice on the subject of chocolate and go for quality over quantity. Otherwise you will find yourself at 10.00pm the night before the party (during your last-minute birthday cake-baking rush) looking sadly at what should be a 'glossily combined' bowl of chocolate, condensed milk, sugar and butter and decided that based on the greying glutinous gloop in the bowl in front of you, yes, it is necessary to go out to the 24 hr supermarket to buy the expensive chocolate you were too mean to buy just a few hours earlier...
2. Just because it didn't rain last year's birthday party treasure hunt, that doesn't mean it won't rain on this year's birthday party treasure hunt. Prepare for a soaking. Dig out the wellies. Abandon any hope of looking stylish. Take heart; the designer-clad Russian mummies probably won't hang around to get the heels of their stillettos caught in the mud during mad dashes across the grass to run relays or arm-wrestle security guards in any case, so frankly, what does it matter if your wellington boots are Homebase specials rather than Hunter trendies?
3. Remember; if the cleaner you paid to come in and help out at last year's party was a disaster then, needing constant supervision and showing no more initiative than a sulky 13 year old girl, the chances are that nothing will have changed over the last 12 months.
4. You can never have too much pizza for kid's birthday parties. Think of a number, and double it. Then add on 10.
5. Don't waste too much time peeling carrots and slicing peppers etc: vegetable sticks really are there just for decorative purposes and to save face in the Healthy Eating stakes. (FFS - it's a party. Do you really expect them to eat raw broccoli?)
6. Never - but NEVER - leave your 2 beautiful Smartie-decorated chocolate ganache-clad birthday cakes (you know; the ones you were up until midnight the night before making) out in the kitchen with your cleaner there unsupervised. Otherwise, when you ask her to turn on the oven and put the pizza in you will only have yourself to blame when you just happen to go into the kitchen 5 minutes later to find she has put the fully-iced cakes in the oven instead of the pizza.
7. Should the unthinkable (as detailed above) happen, however, hold your nerve. Once you have whipped the cakes out of the oven, stuck them in the fridge to re-set the ganache, and have recovered from the shock with a medicinal glass of white wine or two, you may just find that slightly molten smarties actually taste quite nice on top of warm chocolate cake. And of course this is the perfect moment to thank your lucky stars that the birthday candles weren't already in place.
8. There will always be one child who, on seeing the Ben 10 jigsaw and Milky Way bar you have prepared as a going home present, will say "I don't need the jigsaw, thanks. I'll just take the chocolate."