Yesterday as I was feeding one of my old ladies her pudding of jelly and ice cream, it got me thinking about party food. (Yes my mind constantly wanders to food, and I don’t usually need any prompting either)! I’m talking about the good old party food of yesteryear.
Nowadays kids’ birthday parties are a bit of a minefield. You have to send out the right invitations, which are to include at least half the class. spend a small fortune on entertainment, (bouncy castles, magicians, ds or whatever), or go to a venue that specialises in holding birthday parties, like soft play areas, the bowling alley, or even having a go at the laser gun experience! Whatever you choose, make sure you provide the good old party bag crammed with goodies, or there will be many disappointed kids, and you will not be popular with their parents either.
Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned birthday party, like the ones we had as kids (Well, if you are as old as me you did)! I’m talking about getting your best party outfit on, and trotting off with a present that had been thoughtfully picked, and wrapped nicely. There were probably only about another 4 or 5 kids there, plus the family of the birthday child, but you still enjoyed yourselves.
The spread was always my favourite (and still is). I love all the little picky bits, cocktail sausages on sticks, vol-au-vents with tinned salmon, or even egg mayonnaise (who has those nowadays?), I love the wobbly jellies that had been moulded into bunny shapes or something fancy, the blancmange, the little triangle sandwiches with ham, or paste or sandwich spread (you can actually still get that)! The pork pies, cut into little pieces, home-made sausage rolls and jam tarts, (my mouth is watering just thinking about it all laid out on the table), and finally the piece de resistance the cheese and pineapple chunk hedgehog! Oh yes, a party is not a party without a spud wrapped in tin foil that is studded with cocktail sticks containing chunks of cheese and (tinned) pineapple! Actually some people used little pickled onions with cheese, Either way,my happiness was complete once I has spotted that on the table!
The games were simple but fun. Pass the Parcel was the favourite. One of the adults would put a record whilst the parcel was being passed around then it would abruptly stop and a tussle would begin as to who unwrapped the layer. Similarly In Musical Chairs, once the music had stopped there would be a load of pushing and shoving as to who sat down on the chairs. Musical Statues was less of a contact game,but a scrap could still break out over who moved first!
Ahhh yes, the fun we used to have! There was none of this ‘everyone has to win something’ malarky. Oh no, if you lost, then tough! Harsh maybe but it ‘built character’. There were a few sad faces not to mention scratched records by the end of the games! Tucking into the food, soon put a smile back on the kids’ faces and they happily sang ‘Happy Birthday’ whilst the (usually home made) birthday cake was brought in.
I think it’s such a shame that on the whole, these parties rarely exist, and everything has become so commercialised now, plus expectations are so much more, I have to say they have not been entirely forgotten though. Over the years, I have given Miss Hap the modern version of the birthday party which she enjoys with her friends, but I always do a little ‘birthday tea’ for the family, where I have of course got a cheese and pineapple hedgehog in pride of place at the table, surrounded by all the other party food I like!