From how to throw a whimsical and dreamy fairy party that your child will never forget to the etiquette around children's celebrations, the incredibly creative stylist Romi Weinberg gives us her insider tips and tricks...
What makes a great party?
Detail. To me it’s all the little things that come together to create impact. A great theme is always a good start and from there it’s about incorporating ideas that fit the theme. A thoughtful invite sets the tone and lets everybody know that they’re coming to a special party. Decorating the space is essential in creating that wow factor and transports the little guests into a world of make believe. I like to think of fun and engaging activities or entertainment that tie in with the theme to ensure a memorable time is had by all.
How far in advance do you send out invitations?
I find these days a Save the date is essential with class parties. When my children were little that wasn’t necessary but now I seem to get an email of so and so’s party three months away! The times that I haven’t I’ve always had issues… so now I try to send a save the date approximately two and a half months before. Then the invite goes out a month before. Sometimes three weeks if I’m behind schedule! I usually create my own invites which involves quite a bit of craftwork. Occasionally the glitter and glue doesn’t quite go to plan!
Do you or don't you open presents with your party guests?
No we leave it until after the guests have left. We sit and open them together. It’s always something my girls look forward to. The sister chooses the gift to be opened from the pile, the birthday girl obviously does the opening and I write a list of who gave what for the thank you message after.
How long should children's parties be?
A maximum of two hours.
What are your current favourite themes for children's parties?
For girls I’m loving anything very girly and sparkly. I still adore doing fairy parties. They obviously have my own aesthetic so lots of muslin/linen/timber and glitter. For boys anything nautical or tribal is what I’m loving right now! Think, anchors and bows and arrows.
How would you describe your party style?
Contemporary, fresh and original but with an organic, loose and handmade feel. Anything hand drawn and a little imperfectly perfect is the way I like it. I often take traditional or character based themes and turn them on its head using a colour palette that may not be typical and creating my own decor/supplies/gifts. I’m not fan of branded merchandise opting to create as much originality as possible myself. I’m definitely a craft head! I love using muslin/chalk/white pens/raw timber/glitter and my hot glue gun is my treasured weapon!
Each guest was given a handmade outfit which Weinberg created out of muslin, complete with the most exquisite fairy wings and butterfly glitter headpiece. “It was definitely a wow moment watching everyone arrive and change into these ethereal outfits,” she says.
Who are your go-to suppliers?
Well my mecca is definitely Spotlight! As I usually do most things myself I load up with all my craft stuff there. I am an absolute sucker for beautiful paper/stationery stores. My favourite one in Sydney is called Paper 2. They always have cute and interesting little bits and pieces to add for decor or invites. Hot Dollar shops are my absolute saviour at party time. I’ve found so many incredible things in those stores. Whenever I need anything handwritten my go-to person is my sister. She has mastered a very organic, cool handwriting and does all my signs/placemats/labels on gifts etc. I much prefer that to printed text/material – it’s very much my signature style.
What’s the key to great party food?
For me, the food is a key element both in the display and offering. I love old fashioned party treats and use interesting theme related packets/jars/cups to house them in. Most of the time I set up the table where the kids eat and fill it with all the party treats. I often also do a lolly station filled with colour coordinated lollies. Kids LOVE filling up their own little bags to walk around with. If a meal is served like lunch or dinner I definitely try to keep it cutlery free. Fish and chips, strips of schnitzel or pizza slices are a few favourites and always in keeping with the theme wherever possible.
Can you tell us about the fairy party you created?
This party was a particularly special one for me. At the time my (then) husband and I were having a lot of difficulty conceiving our second child. The immense stress of going through IVF was taking a huge personal toll on me physically and mentally. I desperately needed something to distract myself from the situation. Bo’s fairy party provided a welcome diversion, creative outlet and labour of love which I found myself pouring my energy into and focusing on. It became something I could switch my thoughts to when the situation threatened to overwhelm me.
How did you make it original?
Having a fairy party is not exactly an original theme. Always one to make things my own, I knew I needed to keep away from anything pink and inject as much of my style as possible. I kept the colour palette very white with little splashes of red and plenty of sparkle. Unfortunately it was in April, which meant no daylight saving time and a rather cold garden. The day of the party it was pouring! So my only option was to bring the little ladies inside. I removed all the furniture and set out to create my vision of fairy wonderland in our home. I sourced fabulous old rusted watering cans, antique wheelbarrows, rickety timber picket fences and several old timber crates. I was able to find gorgeous white feather forest friends… peacocks, birds, owls and more. Adding them in abundance all over the space. I left ladybird metal rattles outside to rust and age for weeks before the party. They were also featured throughout. I am fairly obsessed with dried flowers. I think they are far more whimsical and romantic when they’re dried. So I mixed those in big clusters with some wonderful wild leafy shrubs and clusters of baby’s breath.
Can you tell us about the activities?
In terms of activities, I often like creating little stations so that the guests can float around as they please. For this party I called on a few young girls I knew to assist. We had a wand making table with massive pots of glitter and ribbon. Guests were invited to choose a colour and watch as the wand was covered in glue and dipped into the jars of shimmery dust. There was a jewellery box table piled high with kraft coloured boxes. Scattered on the table were jars of sequins/pom poms and glue ready for decorating. This was a fabulous activity but oh the mess afterwards! I had also always wanted to create a bespoke colouring book for a party… this seemed like a perfect theme! I enlisted a talented friend of mine to draw the most beautiful fairy images which she stitched together with thread resulting in a picture perfect keepsake and another gorgeous activity. During the day I managed to find a dry moment and took the little fairies outside where we released butterflies. I still remember the squeals and smiles on theirs faces. It was a priceless moment. But probably the most exciting surprise was when all the guests were seated in a big circle not knowing what was coming. I entered into the space with three crates of bunnies adorned with glitter muslin bows around their necks. They were passed around, patted and played with for ages.
What did guests leave with?
As a take home gift I wanted to give the girls something memorable and unusual. I purchased tiny pupae (unhatched ladybugs) and put them into empty baby food jars. Attached was a little note explaining how to care for them so that they would grow and could be released in their fairy garden. It truly was the most spectacular day. My daughter and her friends loved every single minute of it and after that I think slept for a week! I also discovered I was pregnant!