How to Host a House Party with Children

I love entertaining and being the hostess. The dynamic has certainly changed now there are children… it’s no longer three course meals with wine, instead it tends to be take away pizza (still with wine though). Anyway, I thought I’d share with you my tips and tricks for entertaining at home with children, without getting stressed.

  1. Limit your guest list –  previously I’d have thrown parties for 40+ adults at my house, whereas when there are families involved the guest list quickly mounts up. For our recent fireworks party we had 15 children, and that was a manageable number.
  2. Ornaments – I didn’t really move ornaments out of reach when my kids were toddlers, instead I trained them not to touch stuff that looked fragile. I do have my mum’s antiques high up on shelves, just in case (when I hosted parties as a teenager, I would always get the ornaments and move them into a bedroom out of the way; these days I can’t be bothered with the hassle!). Amazingly, we’ve never had an accident. Anyway, you can’t be sure that all kids are going to be the same, so if there is anything in your house that you’re precious about, then I’d move it out of the way before the party.
  3. Jobs – assign your own kids tasks to do, in the run up to the party, and on the day of. Get them involved in the choosing of the menu, doing the food shop and helping with any tidying before guests arrive. Little ones are great for greeting visitors, and taking jackets to a bedroom… or handing out drinks to their friends (to save hassle, I tend to buy sports cap bottles of water for the children, and then write their name on the bottle with a Sharpie). My son is into tech, and so he likes to be the DJ and picks the songs on Spotify!
  4. Snacks – before the food is served, it is inevitable that the kids will be hungry. I tend to put out a few bowls of crisps and dip… just avoid any cheesy crisps. I’ve got greasy cheesy Dorito handprints in my hallway now… learn from my mistakes!!
  5. Entertainment – you don’t need any. The kids will make their own entertainment! I have a £10 disco light from Amazon, and throw on a few cheesy tunes (this is one area where cheese is allowed!) and you’re sorted!!
  6. Slow cooker – I’ve got a massive family sized slow cooker, and it means I can cook up a batch of something… lentil soup, chilli… and keep it warm during the party. Last year we hosted a Christmas afternoon tea, and I had mulled wine in my slow cooker – it was delicious!
  7. Paper plates – ok, it’s not environmentally friendly, but it will make your life so much easier if you use disposable plates and bowls. After the food has been served & hopefully demolished, just scoop up everything into a black bag. Easy!
  8. Have fun – relax, encourage your guests to make themselves at home (i.e. get their own drinks from the fridge) and enjoy the socialising.
  9. End of the night – one of the great things about parties with kids is that they tend to not go on late into the night. I don’t think I’d manage an all nighter anymore! I much prefer to be early to bed, and early to rise. Quick tidy up before you go to bed, and then you’ll be rising to a clean house.
  10. I feel I should have 10 tips, but I don’t… let’s just ignore this last one shall we?!?

 

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Interiors: Mustard Love

I am torn… I love minimalist Scandi style, yet I also love colour… especially dark & moody colours. My new extension at the back of the house is more modern than the 1900s front, and it’s still painted white throughout – open plan dining and kitchen, a small utility and a shower room.

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Whereas in the rest of the house I have a navy living room, a snug which has multi-coloured stag wallpaper, my bathroom is painted dark grey, and my master bedroom which has blush walls…

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I really fancy injecting some mustard colour somewhere, and my initial thoughts are that I will paint my shower-room walls in the perfect shade of mustard yellow. However, it was suggested that I could perhaps reupholster my kitchen bar stools in mustard fabric, and maybe even paint one of the doors mustard – just to add a pop of colour and a bit of a quirk…. decisions, decisions.

I did toy with the idea of painting the kitchen walls navy, but my Instagram poll was pretty much split 50/50, and I still can’t make up my mind. I agree that it could end up being too dark… so perhaps adding some colour in the soft furnishings is a better idea.

As always, I’ve been scouring Pinterest for inspiration… here’s what I’ve found that I like the look of –

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So, what do you reckon? Mustard walls in the shower-room? Yay or nay?

 

Life Update.

House. Since my last update, my garden has been re-vamped and some more progress has finally been made with the house renovations – hurrah! I had a weekend blocked out in my diary for my sister and her fiancé to head down from Aberdeen to help me clear and turf my garden… and we nailed it!

I hired a skip (£200), ordered garden edging from Amazon (£100), organised 3 tonnes of topsoil and 70 square metres of turf to be delivered (£300) and borrowed a wheelbarrow and spades from a friend. Ali, Robin & I were joined by my new man (more on this below!) and the four of us managed to turnaround the post-building works mess of a garden into a useable space. I had a few quotes from gardening firms to put down new paving, and turf the lawn and the prices were extortionate. We managed it for like a tenth of the price!! I’m chuffed (as are the kids, who have been waiting patiently for a garden to play in for over a year). Next on the list is the quagmire (mud pit ‘driveway’) that needs rectified.

The only negative was that I somehow managed to wind up with cellulitis in my arm after an insect bite, and was on strong antibiotics for a week. I do seem to be prone to disasters!

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Relationships. Ok, I’m just going to put this out there… I’ve met a fantastic man, who makes me laugh and I am super happy. Eek!

I mentioned in the last update that I had the best first date ever, and my weekends with said man are just getting better and better. This weekend, not only did he bring me another new bottle of gin to try (previously it was The Botanist, this time it was Number 3 London Dry Gin), he cooked Dawn (@thethingaboutchaos) & I Sunday dinner… I mean, how lucky am I! The sous vide beef was seriously amazing and I had leftovers tonight in a sandwich.

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Photo taken by Dawn

Socialising. The kids and I hosted a brilliant fireworks party on 4th Nov. We had put a lot of effort into the planning… making welcome posters, designing the menu, organising the house etc. During the day, the kids and I headed to BLOW – the littlest had glitter braids put in her hair, whilst my son and I had our hair styled (him, a gelled mohawk and me, beachy curls).

We had 15 children arrive with their parents for sausage buns and lentil soup, followed by ‘Make Your Own Sundaes’, and washed down with some fizz (for the grown-ups of course!). After we ate, we ventured outside for the fireworks.

Dawn & I were sorting the fireworks, and we were fannying around in the dark with our phone torch trying to find a suitable stake for the ground… when Rhubarb (my cat) dashed past us and I got such a fright and jumped (& think I screamed a little too). Oh dear! Eventually we were joined by one of the dads who took over and in no time we were all watching the colourful explosions in awe. I do just love fireworks.

Exercise. I haven’t been exercising (I guess a weekend of hard graft in the garden does count as exercise though), and there is always an excuse… I’ve got plans already, I don’t have time / I’m too busy, I’ve got cellulitis and I am too tired (although I think the cellulitis was a genuine reason to take it easy!). Must. Try. Harder. I will exercise tomorrow, for sure. If I don’t, then you have permission to shout at me.

Travel. The kids and I travelled to Alcudia, Mallorca for the October school holidays. We had a great time; I’ve written a separate post on it here. Time to start planning my next getaway…

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October School Holidays

In lieu of a summer holiday this year, I decided that we would head to sunnier climates in October instead. The kids were off school for a week and so we joined my sister, her fiancé and their brood to fly to Palma, Mallorca for 5 nights. Last year we were in France in a villa, and I had felt that it wasn’t a ‘proper’ holiday (read more on this here). However, I had learnt my lesson and instead for this trip I had booked a hotel with the option of going all inclusive, and there was even a kids club!

The flight over to Palma was straightforward. There are direct flights from Prestwick, and the flight itself is just 3 hours. Ideal! With my kids now 8 and 6 years old, keeping them entertained on a plane is much easier… they are thrilled to get extra time on their tech than what they do usually and a movie/games on the iPad kept them occupied for the journey.

I wasn’t keen to drive on the opposite side of the road, having done this only once before in Portugal and I didn’t like the experience, so thankfully Robin agreed to hire a 9 seater minibus and drive us all to Alcudia where our accommodation was. Ali & Robin were staying in an apartment not far from our hotel, HSM President, which meant that we could get together easily for day trips or hanging out by our respective pools, but equally we could have our own space.

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View from our hotel room balcony

On checking in I was informed that our hotel was closing for the season, and we would need to move hotels for our last night. This was rather annoying, and I was surprised that they hadn’t informed me of this sooner… however, we were upgraded from B&B to all inclusive free of charge to make up for the inconvenience, so I couldn’t really complain… free mojitos? Yes please!

The staff at the hotel were lovely, and we even had a personal invitation from the manager to join them for the kids disco, and champagne for mummy! Turns out the resort was very quiet, and there were only 3 children staying in the hotel at the time, and I had two of them, so we were needed to make up numbers!! My son took a shine to one of the kids club staff, and spent a few sessions with him chatting about Match Attax and playing board games, table tennis and football, whilst the littlest and I lounged by the pool completing sticker books and making sun catchers.

The hotel had a spa, which children were allowed to use for one hour over lunch each day. However, as the resort was so quiet, we were permitted to use the indoor, heated, pool outside of this hour. It was bliss – lots of water jets, jacuzzi beds to lay on plus a sauna and steam room.

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The food wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was okay. The kids had plenty to choose from and relished in the fact that they could help themselves at the buffet. My son took the all inclusive pass as a challenge, and ate far too many cakes and sweet treats for my liking, but hey ho – we were on holiday! On one of the days we ate at the restaurant associated with my sister’s apartment, and the food was noticeably better.

Weather-wise we were really lucky, and had only one rainy day. We ventured into Palma to find something to occupy our time and ended up at the aquarium. It was so busy, and the entry fees were expensive but it was a nice attraction and seemingly was the deepest shark tank in Europe.

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The hotel staff were shocked that we didn’t explore Alcudia during our stay, but I was happy relaxing. Aside from the aquarium, we did venture across the road to the beach that was affiliated with the hotel – the surroundings were stunning. I’m not sure how keen I’d be if the place was mobbed with tourists though. On our last night we stayed in a hotel nearer the promenade in Alcudia and it was much busier, noisier etc. The kids managed to fall asleep quickly despite the loud music from the hotel disco, but I struggled. Thankfully it stopped at 11pm.

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Opposite the hotel, by the sea

 

Anyway, we’re now back home to Glasgow and the kids are already back in school. Time flies when you’re having fun!

ScotRail #GreatCitySwap – Edinburgh Day Trip

Despite being only 50 minutes away on the train, I have to admit that I rarely visit Edinburgh (I did go through recently for a first date, but that’s another story!), so when ScotRail invited us to take part in their #GreatCitySwap we jumped at the chance. I used to visit Edinburgh a lot as a child – my mum would take me & my sister down from Aberdeen regularly for weekends away – so I have lots of happy childhood memories of the city. Typically when I venture through to Edinburgh now, I tend to drive as we’re visiting friends on the outskirts, and I haven’t taken the kids to any of the tourist spots… until now!

The train to Edinburgh was good fun. We grabbed a second breakfast at the station… cinnamon swirls all round! My son loves to engage and chat with people and he had a captive audience on the carriage!! We had a magazine each to keep us occupied, but we didn’t really need them! I had a cup of tea, so I was a happy bunny! Up to two kids can travel free with an adult at off-peak times, any day of the week with a Kids Go Free ticket, and an off-peak day return for an adult costs from £12.70.

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First stop was Edinburgh Zoo. We took a taxi to the zoo from Haymarket station, and I was surprised at how quickly we got there – I hadn’t just realised how close it was to the city! As we entered the zoo, we immediately spotted the bright pink flamingos. They are stunning creatures. What I didn’t expect was the size of the pelicans in the next enclosure – they were massive (about the height of my 6 year old daughter!). My son loved the penguins, and it was mesmerising watching them swim underwater through the glass. My personal favourite was the sun bear, oh and the meerkats.

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Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the pandas. It’s breeding season, so visitors aren’t allowed to go inside to see them in their sleeping quarter… you just have to cross your fingers that they venture out into their gardens, which they didn’t on this occasion. However, I will most definitely go back to the zoo, and next time I’d spend more time exploring. We were only there for a few hours before heading to our next stop on the itinerary.

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After a morning of walking round the zoo, we were very hungry and so we jumped onto a bus to the city for a bite to eat. A day ticket on the bus is £4 for adults, and £2 for kids – perfect for getting around and there were tonnes of buses available… that’s one thing my son commented on about the city (the other was the amount of homeless people that we came across, and we had a few serious conversations about homelessness, why people live on the streets and how you pay for stuff when you’re a grown up).

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We grabbed lunch at Giles Cathedral Cafe. I tried to convince the kids to have the stovies, but they weren’t interested and chose to have sandwiches instead. However after trying my stovies, they both wish they had ordered the same! Anyway, lunch filled a hole and we were then ready to hit the streets again… our afternoon activity was Camera Obscura.

Camera Obscura, on the Royal Mile, is a fantastic place for kids. I used to be taken here frequently as a kid, and had only revisited once as an adult (I lived in Edinburgh for a year when I was in my early twenties). We didn’t enjoy the mirror maze, with the kids freaking out a little that we were lost despite me assuring them it was fine (it totally reminded me of one of the games on the Crystal Maze). However aside from that, Camera Obscura was brilliant. The kids, and I, loved it. Some of the exhibits were the same from the last time I was there… the 3D holographs I remembered well… but there were tonnes of new and exciting things to see, like the crazy vortex tunnel!

The Royal Mile was also buzzing – lots of tourists and street entertainers… the kids watched Jamie and his unicycle with awe and were very keen to give him all of mummy’s money at the end of his performance!

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Our final destination was dinner, at Fishers in the City. The kids love seafood, so this was an ideal restaurant for us. I was a super proud mummy, as the kids were so well behaved in what was ‘a fancy grown-up restaurant’. The children ordered fish & chips, with my son having a couple of battered king prawns too. I didn’t choose a main, but opted for a few different starters so the kids could have a little of each… I had scallops, fishcakes and salt & pepper squid. My son loved it all, littlest less so. The food was beautiful, and as we were visiting on the train I had a cheeky glass of prosecco!

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A taxi took us back to Waverley, where we hopped onto a train back to Glasgow.

It was a fantastic day out, and I’ll certainly take the kids back through to Edinburgh again.

Thank you ScotRail for organising the day out and providing our train tickets, Edinburgh Zoo and Camera Obscura for the complimentary entries. Opinions as always are our own and are honest.

 

Life Update.

House. Working full-time and being a mummy (albeit 50% of the time) is hard work. As a consequence of this, the house renovation really has taken a back seat. I’ve a list of items (I use the Wunderlist app if you’re interested, thanks to Dawn @thethingaboutchaos for the recommendation!) that need to be completed, and I’ve really not made much progress over the last few months. I’ve got windows that aren’t properly sealed, areas of damp on my bedroom wall (which I’m hoping is historical staining, but I do need to get it checked), and a driveway that has literally been a mud pit for the last year. Then there’s the list of ‘stuff’ that is not high priority, but still needs done. I’ve a weekend set aside for the garden at the end of this month, and I’m hoping with a bit of help, that I can get it cleared and turfed… watch this space!

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Relationships. I’ve been on a number of bad first dates recently, and have been sent an array of crazy messages via online dating apps. Frankly, I find the apps terrible. However, last weekend I had the best first date ever. Like, ever. I’m smiling as I write this…

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Socialising. Clockwise from top left – Jen (@violetrosemua) introduced me to Bramble, where we had the most delicious brunch; cocktails with colleagues at Blythswood Square Hotel; another brunch, this time at Tibo in the East End and finally the starter that I enjoyed whilst at at Blythswood.

Exercise. I struggle to fit in exercise into my busy schedule – I seem to be prioritising socialising over fitness!! However, I do feel much better when I’m exercising regularly and I definitely miss my personal training sessions (although my bank balance is appreciating the rest!). There are a few of us at my work that are getting into boxing, and I love to box. So I’ve been doing a few sessions with colleagues after hours. I also started doing the Insanity workouts and was strict with it for a fortnight, but I’ve become lazy and life has taken over. I plan to start it up again after the school October holidays.

Travel. We haven’t ventured very far lately, only a few trips to Aberdeen to visit family. That said, we’re heading to Spain for a short break over the upcoming school holidays and I’m very much looking forward to some sun! We also have an exciting day trip planned with ScotRail this week to visit Edinburgh as part of their Great City Swap campaign.

 

Misc. I won a competition with Urban Market Glasgow, and was very kindly gifted a £50 voucher to spend at their market at Drygate. The littlest and I chose a number of lovely items for the house, including this very cute cactus by Zoe Scott Designs!

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I’ve also bought two new mugs… a leopard one from Cloudy Blue Aberdeen, and I chose this cute cat one from Stationery Closet at Urban Market Glasgow:

Instagram

I love Instagram, and I’ve been slowly getting more and more into Instagram stories… have you been seeing my antics? Head on over to @glasgowmummy and check it out!

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I’ve also been joining in with #myhousethismonth on Instagram. I am a huge fan of interiors as you well know, so this little community is great fun and I’m finding lots of home inspiration. Here are a couple of other pics from my feed…

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