I am renaming the “Craft” column in my blog to “Party inspiration”
Because I’ve been most un-crafty
Because the craftiest I’ve done recently is.. hmm.. is.. (give me some time, will you)
So that I can pass off my picture-perfect (not) whacky creations as inspiration as opposed to craft and not offend genuine crafters
So that I have a place to show-off my cakes and
So I can inspire you guys to try
Here is a list of tips that will be useful when you’re planning a DIY (with help) party.
First things first, THE CAKE
1. Cake decorating is best done between 11 pm and 3 am, in the wee hours of the night when everyone is asleep, when you won’t be interrupted for someone’s potty, when the courier guy, gas guy and cable guy won’t come calling, when there are no more filter coffees to make, when the kitchen is finally cool and quiet, when Mysskin is probably filming somewhere.
2. “Always sketch your cake” as Subashini Ramsingh wisely says and borrow your kid’s crayons to colour-test them.
3. For the sake of your own sanity, do make more frosting than you think you need. Always! If you are planning to try a new cake recipe or frosting recipe, don’t.
4. Split up the work. I am no cake decorating professional. I am easily psyched out by a simple ruffle skirted Barbie cake. I like to split up my work. Bake the cake ahead. Make the fillings and toppers even ahead of that. Of course make a whole lot of frosting, also ahead of time. Then the night before your event, sit down and put it all together. And before all that, clear the largest dumpyard a.k.a your fridge and make space.
Here is the barbie cake I made for Hasini’s 5th birthday, not all that justifiable given my nightly research for more than a month, but it’s a barbie cake.
Here is a butterscotch cake I made for my best friend Menaka’s birthday.
Did you know that the first thing to do when you decide to have a party is to plan the party décor and clear out your fridge? And also remember to make an appointment for a foot massage the day after the party. You’ll know why at the end of the party.
1. Well, I always feel that I should start with the decorations but I always start with the menu and I don’t ever think about what I am going to wear. Unlike me, please do think about what you’ll wear. And do make lists. These are absolutely essential.
2. You’ll need to make 5 lists. You may make more if you wish to but you need to make these 5 – the guest list, the party menu (don’t forget to clear out your fridge first even if you’re getting food from outside. Leftovers?!!), the decorations list, the entertainment and party favors list and the delegation list. The delegation list is the most important list. You’ll need to clearly have it down on your list as to who’ll capture your precious pinterest-y moments on camera, who’ll refill the chutnies and dips and who’ll run for the match box at candle-lighting time (else everybody just conveys to everybody else that somebody needs a match-box). Maybe not to the match-box fetching detail (although it wouldn’t really hurt to) but you get the point. Have help ready. You can’t do it all.
3. For Hasini’s 5th birthday last month, my sister and I were accordion-folding crepe paper to make crepe paper fans/medallions and snipping away tissue papers to make tissue paper garlands even a few hours before the party. Not right! An organized party-planner would have made all the decorations over the previous weeks and would have just had to put them up the morning of the party, which obviously I am not. Store delicate paper decorations in cardboard boxes to save them from dust and to not crumple them.
4. Music really sets the mood for the party. So make sure to create a playlist for the party. Delegating the DJ’ing to friends is not a bad idea either along with some activities for kids.
5. When planning party favors, always have a few options because from my experience the one thing that I am looking for is suddenly obsolete – the little silk coin purses that were once piled high on Pondy Bazaar platforms are nowhere to be found now, same with wooden framed slate boards. Start with a budget as it is easy to get carried away. Homemade cookies, bars, vathals are all nice ideas but make sure to package them attractively.
6. To me the food IS the party. It all starts here. I always choose crowd favourite recipes – corn cheese balls or fish fingers but I also slip in a not-so-popular (as party food) kamarkat or cabbage pakoda along with the biryani or fried rice (around here, it is illegal to not have rice on a menu). And then there is dessert (again not an option). It is important to have a mix of make-ahead items and make-just-before items and the more of the former, the better off you are, greater chance that you can take a bath and not smell like the neighbourhood Hot chips stall. More on party food in a separate post dedicated to just that.
Cleaning up after the party is the one thing I don’t want to think about, lest I cancel the party. But it’s the ugly truth. Take it easy but don’t push everything to the next day.
I am no expert party planner, far from it. If you have tips for DIY party planners, please leave them in the comments box below.