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Black Cat Birthday On A Budget!

Hi All!

When I got my c-section date to have Eleanor, I wasn’t very pleased. They had scheduled it for Tuesday 13th, which meant that growing up some of her birthdays would fall on Friday 13th and being of Irish heritage, I can be quite superstitious. In the end though, I didn’t really care what the date was as long as she came healthy.

As her second birthday approached, It was evident that this would fall on a Friday the 13th. Rather than dreading this day, I decided to embrace this by throwing Eleanor a black cat party!

When I sat down to plan the party I decided that because she had a christening/birthday the previous year that I would throw her a proper party this year and invite her friends along. I was lucky enough to have a great venue available and soon made plans on how I was going to make her day special.

Her party was going to be held in St Lukes Church, which is the church I attend and where I hold our baby music class Wriggle & Rhyme. I thought about how I could decorate the space and soon found out that “Black Cats” isn’t a massively popular theme and I struggled to find anything that would actually go.

Thankfully, I’m quite crafty and set about making my own decorations. I made cat face shaped bunting, cat face paper fans, decorated black plates and cups with cat faces and other bits I went for black/white/gold and polka dots.

I managed to buy polka dot straws, white/black/gold tassel bunting and polka dot table covers from eBay and found some gold Happy Birthday balloons from New Look. I even got black, white and gold balloons for the floor for the kids to play with from card factory but unfortunately these were the WORST balloons ever and most of them popped the night before as we were setting up the space!

My last little touch was some cat faced pumpkins I found in ALDI! These sat at each end of the table (and we got to re-use them for Halloween!)

For the food we catered ourselves and did most the night before and some fresh on the morning. We did four types of sandwiches, sausage/cheese rolls, chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken and some other party style food which we purchased from Iceland. We saved quite a lot of money doing this and we got quite a lot of compliments on the food.

For Eleanor’s cake I decided to make it myself. I’m quite a good cake baker and knew I wanted to keep it simple. I made her a devils food cake (ironic that we were in the church..) and then vanilla cupcakes.

I made this cake topper from glittered paper by cutting out two identical cat faces, then using a craft scalpel to cut out the letters and then glutted the two layers together and attached it to cocktail sticks.

I also made different shaped cat toppers for the cupcakes. I used a cookie cutter as my stencil and then cut them out by hand. I finished them with a cocktail stick so they would sit neatly into the cupcakes.

The cakes then sat around the main cake on a separate table which I sprinkled with handmade confetti. The confetti was made from the leftover scraps of glitter paper which I cut out with a heart hole punch. 

Eleanor loved her cake. Here she is blowing out the candles with daddy!

 

We went with a “cat dress optional” theme and some people did, some didn’t. We attempted to draw little whiskers on Eleanors face but they were mostly off by the end of the day. She wore a sparkly black velvet dress, tights and a fluffy cropped cardigan.

I of course dressed the part and decided to wear the cat whiskers that Eleanor refused to.

For my outfit I went with a lace top over a strappy vest tucked into a fluffy tulle skirt. I finished the look with some gold cat ears that I made from leftover glitter paper.

For the entertainment my mum kindly booked a bouncy castle which we set up in an adjoining room which was great as it meant we could contain the kids in one area whilst we set up and unwrapped the food. The bouncy castle also had a slide which the kids seemed to love. I set up a spotify playlist and linked it to a docking station I have and let the kids listen whilst they bounced. We then went back into the hall and we had set up lights and projected “Happy Birthday” onto the wall.

For games we had a few round of pass the parcel. I wrapped up some mini plushy toys and some sticker books with sweets in between each layer and made sure every kid won something. We then finished with a disco and cake!

Considering we did it on a budget we had a fantastic day and we got loads of compliments on the decor, the cakes and the food. We were even asked by some kids if they could come next year which was a huge compliment. The biggest reward was seeing Eleanor really enjoy herself – she loved it!

If you’re willing to do things yourself and put the work in you can achieve a lot on a small budget. If you’d rather buy things and hire people in, that’s also great but I didn’t want to throw money away at a party she probably won’t remember when she’s older!

Now I’ve got to start planning for next year, I wonder what weird and wonderful party that will be! Or maybe I’ll do a quiet family meal and give myself a little break.

Who knows.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah xx

 

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A trip down memory Lane 7

Hi all.

Many years ago, whilst I was still in college at the tender age of 17 I used to work in a call centre for Orange (now EE!) in the middle of town. The company was called Garlands and we operated from the CNE (Centre North East) building. Sadly, Garlands ended up closing and the building was mostly empty bar a few floors. Underneath CNE there are a few units which have been a myriad of businesses and clubs over the years. One of them was Walkabout (now Turtle Bay!) and we used to roll out of the building on a Friday night and straight into there for post work drinks. It’s safe to say I had some of the best nights out of my life in those days!

As part of the regeneration of the building some of the units have been taken over and turned into new businesses and one of these businesses is Lane 7!

Lane 7 is a retro style bowling alley with a full bar and an amazing retro arcade. They have two other locations in Newcastle and Aberdeen and I was so excited when I found out that there would be a new location opening in Middlesbrough. I was then even more excited to be invited along to the opening night.

I’ve always been a huge fan of bowling. Mine and Adams second ever date (6 years ago this month ahh!!) was at Hollywood Bowl and it’s always been an activity I’ve loved. Sadly we don’t go so much because honestly the only local place is Hollywood Bowl which I find to be absolutely mental and over run with kids screaming and running all over the place. When I found out a more “adult” bowling place was open I just knew we had to visit.

As I said previously, I was invited along to the opening evening of Lane 7 and was offered a free game for me and my friends, drinks and tokens for the arcade. Of course I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to check out a new place!

We invited along our good friends Luke and Anna. Luke is actually Eleanors godfather and has been Adams pal since school. We managed to part pretty close by and walked to the venue unsure of what we would find. Lane 7 is in the basement of the CNE building and is accessed by a door just next to the CNE entrance doors. You walk in and immediately walk down a flight of stairs and find yourself right next to the shoe hire.

We went and checked in and got our shoes. The shoes were velcro for ease and retro style. We of course had to take a shoe selfie!

Next we went to the bar whilst we waited for our friends and I got a peach schnapps and lemonade – such an underrated drink! I was pretty taken with the novelty bowling balls on display and the red pins.

After drinks it was time to bowl. There’s only four lanes so there’s a real intimate feel. The retro look is paired with an industrial feel which suits the building. Sadly I didn’t win at bowling. I started strong and just slowly went downhill, but I didn’t mind cause I had a lot of fun just playing.

 

After bowling we were given some tokens to hit the arcades. It’s not the biggest of arcades but there was some great games and my favourite was this pinball machine.

Adam was more taken with “The House Of The Dead”, a game he used to play in his younger years.

Sadly the zombies were a little too much for Adam and I had to step in and show him how it’s done. Couples who slay together, stay together!

(Thanks Anna for the pic!)

As much as I loved the bowling and the arcade, one of the coolest aspects was the gender neutral toilets. I thought this was a really great touch.

We loved our evening at Lane 7 and have already been talking about going back. It’s so nice to see more entertainment options coming to Middlesbrough, more than just going out for a drink. It’s opened up more options for me and Adam for date nights as we often have to get back for the baby and we aren’t big drinkers anyway. That said, they do have a fully stocked bar and open till late so it could be a good place to start a night out.

We can’t wait to head back and have to say a huge thank you to all the staff who made us feel welcome and spoke to us about the venue.

So if you’re in Middlesbrough and fancy something different, definitely check it out!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x