Noomi’s Indoor Garden Birthday Party
This past Spring I threw Noomi an indoor garden party to celebrate her 2nd birthday. Yes I know—we are well into Summer now, and the lovely ladies over at Camille Styles wrote a wonderful feature on our party already, but I want to post a few of my favorite images from the party by the talented Marjorie Preval and share a bit more on MANNA.
Throwing a kid’s birthday party was a challenge because I didn’t know the rules of the game here. (They are different in France apparently.) I was also clueless about where to find the crafts, toys, and decorations I dreamed up on my Pinterest board. It was all a mess trying to figure out where to get what I needed but it magically came together in the end.
Noomi’s birthday is the first day of Spring, so a floral theme seemed appropriate and simple. Since we live in the city and don’t have backyards and space, I settled for an indoor garden party. I thought it would be cool for guests to arrive at the entry and see a ridiculous amount of flowers and plants. The marché was the perfect place to find inexpensive and beautiful flowers. However jardinerie Truffaut is the place to go for a bigger variety of green plants. (Great prices too! 2€ for a bundle of tall grass!) This store reminds me of the kind of giant plant store you find in an American suburb yet it’s right on the banks of the Seine, Quai de la Gare, in the 13th. I bought some garden gnomes, little papier-mâché feathered birds, vine to make wreaths, and pastel dessert spoons. (I found lots of other cute little crafts and perfect additions, but I was already over budget and had to run out of that place.)
All the plates, teacups and teapots came from my weekend obsession with trolling brocantes and vide-greniers. Cake stands and three-tiered serving platters were surprisingly a bit harder to find. I went to many stores hoping to find vintage floral patterns. In the end I bought simple glass Ikea cake stands and just when I had almost given up, found a white pair at BHV from ASA Selection. The crystal three-tiered stands came from Pfister in Switzerland. The vendeuse (saleswoman) at BHV told me three-tiered serving platters are rare in France because this way of serving is more English than French. Good to know but I am still on the look-out.
To play with the garden party theme, we served Earl Grey infused gin cocktail in tea cups, but also offered prosecco and sparkling water. Check out the cocktail recipe here.
The kids enjoyed a citronnade (lemonade) my husband whipped together with fresh lemons and sparkling water. I found the jars to make and store extra lemonade on the craft floor at BHV. I love these jars because they are so cheap and they are useful if you want to make your own drinks or gazpacho to offer as gifts. The individual drinking milk jars are from My Little Day and I plan to use them again for many future parties.
Kids in France are so serious about the 4:30 goûter (snack). They want their sweets! Our party started at 4pm (16h00) and I had to make sure the dessert table was good because those kids were ready from the moment they walked in the door.
But since I spent so much time making all the sandwiches I had to make it easy on myself with the desserts. I made simple cupcakes and used frosting from the can, which I bought at Thanksgiving. The cupcakes weren’t anything too special, so I plopped them on a cute cardboard three-tiered stand from Miss Etoile. (I am obsessed with this brand and I would have decked the party out in all their stuff if I could have.)
But the birthday cakes though….I mean I don’t know where to even begin. They were sick! They were insane! So amazing, so disgustingly good, and so addictive. There wasn’t a crumb left at the end of the party. Both cakes came from the Aux Merveilleux de Fred. Check out their little individual cakes or order a cake for the next party you host or need to take dessert to a friend.
Most of the kids were older than Noomi, so I had to keep them entertained. Croquet seemed like the perfect game for the garden party theme but I had to keep it plastic unless I wanted to repair a bunch of windows. I also laid out a station where they could paint eggs and make a mess. My friend and young adult author Amy Plum did a reading from several children’s books which was a major hit with the little guys.
I had so many cute ideas for the gift bag. Like I wanted to put in bags of dirt and seeds (garden party, right?) but I figured all my friends would hate me for sending the kids home with a mess. So I opted instead for giving plants away from the party decorations. Lord knows, sadly I would have killed all those plants if I kept them. No green thumbs. At the last minute, I also filled the gift bags with random toys from Monoprix.
I look forward to sharing more about the rules and best places to find everything you need for planning a child’s birthday party. I went kind of nuts for this birthday, so my notes are growing. Stay tuned for recipes for my tea sandwiches as well, but if you can’t wait check out a few I shared with Camille Styles.
We had a wonderful garden party and I am eternally grateful to Marjorie Preval for these images, keepsake memories for our family.