A couple of weeks ago my youngest child turned five.  Five!  Where did that time go?? 
Now we don't do big birthdays every year in our house.  We normally have a big family and friends first birthday, smaller family parties at 2-4yrs, a big fifth birthday then day trips/small family parties or sleepovers for 6-9yrs then a bigger tenth birthday (although my nearly ten year old is still deciding).  

Due to an illness in the family, the big first birthday party we'd planned for our youngest had to be cancelled a couple of days beforehand and she ended up blowing out her candles on a store-bought chocolate cake from Woolies in between visits to hospital and since then, it doesn't much feel like any fuss has been made about her birthday.  So armed with a fair amount of mother guilt, this birthday was going to be different!
As you can probably tell by now, this post is all about home this week as we share our rainbow butterfly inspired 5th birthday party.

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I am a list maker so after being given the 'rainbow butterfly' brief, I started planning a few weeks out from the party after finding myself in Adelaide for the day without kids.  I grabbed gifts for the party bags and pass the parcel from Kmart and IKEA.  I also found some cute butterfly invites and some rainbow party bags at Kidszone on Unley (love that shop!).

We'd seen these butterfly wings at IKEA last time we were there and thought they'd make a perfect gift for our guests.  Even better, they were getting rid of the last few so they were slightly cheaper again.  I also found these super cute bag tags which I thought would be perfect in the pass the parcel. 

After a few goes at this, I've realised that putting edible treats in each layer is not smart as then everyone stops to eat instead of playing.  These would also form part of their party bags too at the end of the party.

In the centre of the pass the parcel, I like to have something different to finish.  This year, I grabbed one of these from Kmart. 
It did make the starting parcel rather large though after we added 17 more layers!  My eldest child suggested playing pass the parcel in our trampoline - genius!  It was very windy during the party and the net trapped all the paper and then provided even more entertainment afterwards too :)

So finally the day had arrived!  I'd done as much as I could in the days beforehand.  I'd made lots of different finger food for lunch - pinwheels, mini pizzas, zucchini bites, sausage rolls, fairy bread and bought more - party pies and chicken nuggets.

I'd made jelly cups and cupcakes the night before.  I'd also made up some extra lolly bags for those siblings that might come along.  You can see them at the bottom of our rainbow lolly jar.  I found this jar for $6 at a local discount store and thought I could fill it with a rainbow of lollies to decorate the table.  Turns out that finding blue lollies is near impossible but I think it turned out okay.

I'd also baked the cake the night before.  I cheated a bit, I used four packets of basic cake mix.  I learnt after making my first born's cake from scratch that some shortcuts are okay.  I mixed two packets at a time and then added seven equal amounts to some large ziplock bags before colouring them.   I could have made one of those fancy seven layered cakes we've all seen on Pinterest but this was much easier, quicker and surprisingly fun at 10 o'clock at night.

On the morning of the party I started by cutting out the shape of the butterfly from the two cakes, iced them all over with plain butter cream then added coloured sprinkles to hide the sides.  I then coloured the remaining icing into seven different colours.  I use the paste colours as they give you such intense colour without having to use very much.  I then used a small amount on the end of a palette knife to spread onto the cake starting from the outside working into the centre.

I could have taken more time and made it perfectly symmetrical but the birthday girl was more than happy with it and helped add the M&M's to the body.  It was one of the easiest cakes I've ever made and I loved the finished product.

Cutting into the cake revealed the swirling rainbow colours inside which suitably impressed out 4-5yr old audience ;)

Everything else had been done.  The party bags were out, the decorations were up, the butterfly making station had suitable amounts of glitter, balloons had been taken up to the top of the drive and there was a quiet shady spot to play.  We were ready for our guests!

On arriving, everyone was given their wings and could explore for a while.  We then played our first party game.  We'd made some paper butterflies earlier in the week using our liquid watercolours.  We tried to paint every page a different combination of colours then once dry, cut out simple butterfly shapes.  

I then cut each of the butterflies in half and my two older children hid them around the garden waiting to be found and put back together.

After having a bit more time to play, we had lunch before playing pass the parcel.  The weather had closed in after that so most of the kids headed inside (not ideal) but this is the reason I didn't wash the floors before the party!  We went back outside to light the candles on the cake and sing 'Happy Birthday and before we knew it, parents were arriving to collect their children.
My top five ways to make a child's party more manageable?
1. Make a plan as early as you can.
2. Do as much as you can from that plan before the party.
3. Ask for help whether it be from other family or friends to lighten your load.
4. Stop looking at Pinterest!  Yes, you might find another idea that you hadn't thought of but it might also make you feel like none of your own ideas are worth doing.
5. Try to relax and enjoy the day.  It's your day too after all!

I was very fortunate that my eldest two children and their two invited guests helped out a great deal during the party making sure no-one was left out and that everyone was kept busy playing games.  I was incredibly proud of them both and it certainly made for a much more relaxing day than it could have been leaving me to organise the food. 
What other tips can you share to make a child's birthday party relaxing?