Reuben asked for a Pirate Dinosaur-themed party, and it was mostly out of desperation that we ended up somewhere that looked like a real pirate boat. I’d exhausted my mental list of children’s centres, community centres and one o’clock clubs – they were either booked up for months ahead, or they never called back. So I was wandering home from Sainsburys one day, passed our local boat bar and thought I’d give it a go. I’m not sure they’d ever hosted a kids’ party before, but they thought they’d give it a go too.
It’s a nice place for a drink on a summer’s evening – there’s a very tourist-tastic view over Parliament as you sit on deck. I had a few reservations about having a party there. Firstly that a kid would fall over the edge. Secondly that the area would be too small and the kids would forever be trying to escape up the steps. Thirdly that the grown-up punters would get annoyed with us making so much noise.
None of these things came to pass. We had the lower deck, which put quite a few barriers between the kids and the river. Also, it was super-low tide so there was no river to fall into. The area was more than big enough to have a party in, with a sofa area for grandparents to hang out in, while the kids played with duplo on the table. There was enough to do downstairs that very few of the children made a run for it – the worst offender was Eva and she’s still slow enough to catch easily. We got there at midday, so there weren’t huge numbers of grown-up punters to annoy, and the ones that were there seemed to take a fairly forgiving view of the hordes of pirate-costumed children. One of them even said it was “pretty cool”.
If you’re planning a party somewhere that’s not designed for children, planning is pretty important. We took a lot of toys and set up different stations around the place for kids to play at, and most of the toys were on theme. A dinosaur playmat with little plastic dinos, a big Noah’s ark with animals, duplo, pirate masks with stickers to put on and a scattering of cuddly dinosaurs. Oh, and a huge table of cake. Plus the usual balloons, pirate bunting, pirate napkins etc. Party planning 101.
One thing that I didn’t plan but did take credit for was the Queen’s birthday fly-past, which we had an excellent view of from the boat (not that you can tell from this photo). Both grandfathers went out on deck to watch the planes go by but Reuben just carried on playing. There’s gratitude for you.
One thing that I neither planned nor took credit for was this awesome Pirate Dinosaur cake, made by Weasel’s Mum, of Adventures With Gravel fame. It was amazing, and comprised 5 different types of cake, a lot of food dye and some sugarpaste dinosaurs (including some that “didn’t make it”). I’m sure she’ll post a tutorial soon, but it was just incredible. And delicious too!
Overall, I’d say it was a success. The only thing I regret doing was Pass the Parcel, cause that thing took me hours to make and it only caused traumas when children had to wait for their turn (and, in the 4-year-old version of Pass the Parcel EVERYONE gets a turn!). We’d filled up 1hr 45mins by that point, and really they could have just played happily by themselves for the last few minutes instead. I always feel like I should do some kind of structured activity, but really they seem happy enough just playing. I don’t think I’ll bother next year.
The other thing I didn’t bother with this year was party bags, after a small nervous breakdown over Eva’s. I just got a shedload of party bag type stuff, wrapped it and put it into a treasure chest for the kids to help themselves to. This seems like the easy option, until you realise that I had to wrap 70 individual items into shiny gold paper. Next year, I may just buy a party-bag cannon and fire them out over the children’s heads.
More details on the Tamesis Dock (official site)