Tuesday, December 17, 2013

{Party Time} A Beautiful Ballet Party in the Garden

We recently worked with a very creative Mum on this sweet party that was a combination of a ballet theme and a garden party theme. We ended up with a lovely shabby chic feel. Lots of pretty details and trinkets, that the Mum had, tied it all together beautifully. 

We used various shades of pink along with white to give a lovely ballet feel to the garden. Mum had lots of cute little accents to add to the food table. Aren't the hanging ballet slippers sweet. 

The seating area was the focal point of the party with flowery accents and glittery birds. 

We love the tutus & bow ties that Mum provided. We hung them up on a 'clothes line' so the children could help themselves. It gave a slash of pink and provided a barrier to the pool. 

Photos by Anna from Dream Machine 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{Inspiration} Christmas Tree!

We have what I guess could be termed an eclectic Christmas tree. It has neither a theme or a colour scheme! It is a random collection of decorations collected from all over the world. I have been an expat longer than I haven't been and early on in my expat career I decided I was going to buy a Christmas ornament from every place I visited. 

We now have bells from Camaguey in Cuba, baubles from Florence in Italy, leather camels from the markets of Fez in Morocco, ceramic eggs from Istanbul in Turkey, elephants from Colombo in Sri Lanka . . . I could go on like this for ages as there is not a decoration on the tree that isn't 'from somewhere'. As I get older and can not remember things as well as I used to I have to put dates on the bottom of some of them so I remember when I got them. I usually remember where they came from. 

Sometimes the decoration was clearly intended to be for the Christmas tree and other times we have 'adapted' them into becoming ornaments. As the children have come along they get to chose too so we are developing an even more eclectic collection! 

Clockwise from top left - New York sign clearly from NYC, the lovely ceramic bauble in the background is from Florence, Baby's First Christmas is from the Vienna Christmas market, the enamel ball and bell (on either side of the horse) is from Beijing and were one of my first purchases over 20 years ago, the little red horse is from Stockholm in Sweden,  Qatar Camel from right here in Doha - Doha Designs sells these.

With family in the US we visit there more often then some other places so we lots from various locations around the country. The Kringles Confections is from our Christmas in the US in 2011, Sea World Elmo is from a trip to Sea World in Orlando, Florida, the red and blue cable car is from San Francisco. 

Enjoy putting up your Christmas tree this year! 

Photos by Anna from Dream Machine
Qatar camel available from Doha Designs 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

{Freebie} It's an Ikea Christmas!

We decided to make it super easy for you to throw your own DIY Gingerbread House Decorating party! We have already given you the details on how to make the houses - see that post here. Now we have made it even easier for you! Kim from Imagine - Design - Cre8 has designed some free printables to go with the current Ikea Christmas range and we have put together some ideas for you in the photos below where almost everything we have used is from Ikea. No more running all over Qatar to get what you need. It couldn't get any easier!

It was great having such bright colours to work with. The table coverings are part of the Ikea Christmas wrapping paper collection. We punched a hole in the Christmas baubles coasters to hang above the table. 

Kim's printables added a personal touch to the Ikea paper plates and cups. The cookies we used on the place settings were kept simple by using only white icing on the gingerbread which makes them stand out among all the colour. They were made by Abby from Simply Sugar Designs. 

We used royal icing on our houses but if you are having small children Abby from Simply Sugar Designs suggests using a thick layer of butter cream icing over the roofs and letting the children stick their candy on it rather than dealing with the royal icing that can be hard for young hands to squeeze out. 

As many of you who have worked with us before know we are a big fan of giving the guests a meal rather than a selection of party food. These mini burgers and fries were perfect! We used the coasters to sit the burgers on and the cups with a napkin pushed into them were ideal for holding the fries. 

Desert was keep very simple - divine gingerbread cookies (again made by Abby) and fluffy's.  You could go for hot chocolate rather than fluffy's (thick frothed milk) but we figured that the kids had had enough sugar by this stage of the party! We adore these little expresso cups which are also part of the Ikea Christmas range. 

Take home treats were again kept very simple. These cute jars with mini gingerbread men and stars were the perfect little treat to say Merry Christmas. And of course the children got to take their houses home too. 

Prinatables by Kim from Imagine-Design-Cre8 are available for FREE download here
Cookies by Abby from Simply Sugar Designs
Photos by Anna from Dream Machine

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

{Party Time} Fabulous Activities

Today we are sharing with you a car themed party that we did a few weeks ago. It was a party for two year old Yousef but the guests varied in age from babies to 12 year olds. It was a stunning success because there were lots activities to keep everyone busy and happy. The children spent their time moving from activity to activity before sitting down to a meal for dinner. 

The eating area was set up in the middle of the beautiful garden as a focal point. All the activities were set up around the edges. 

Yousef's Bakery was fantastic. The children could come and decorate cupcakes and cookies and either eat them right then and there or take them home to enjoy later on. As you can probably guess not many made it home! 

The play dough fun station was set up in front of the cake table. As always we colour coordinated the play dough with the party theme. This is usually a very popular activity as children of all ages seem to really enjoy it. 

The other activities on offer were face painting and mask making. As lots of you probably already know we have the best face painters in Qatar! Not only do they do an amazing job of the children's faces but they also manage the children well and have a great system to make sure the children don't have to stand around waiting for their turn so they can go off and play until their turn comes up. 

There was also a popcorn station to hold off any hunger until dinner was served. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

{Party Time} Dream Machine & Chocolate Fish

Those of you who have worked with us before or follow us on Facebook know we usually use Jessica Monteiro from Jessica Monteiro Photography to do all our photographic work but both Jessica and Chocolate Fish have become so busy that we had to go on the hunt for someone else to help us out when Jessica was unavailable. We were very lucky to have found Anna from Dream Machine. So today we though we would share some pictures she did for one of our clients recently. 

I love how Anna has highlighted all the little details of this shabby chic garden party. She really captures the sweet little decorative details of both the theme and the colour scheme. 

At Chocolate Fish we know that a professional photographer makes a huge difference when you are trying to catch all the elements of a party. They can capture all the details no matter what conditions they are working under!  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

{Party Food} Chocolate Fish Thanksgiving Mix

We are celebrating Thanksgiving here at Chocolate Fish! I usually make Chex Mix at both Thanksgiving and Christmas but this year Qatar being Qatar I could not find Chex so I decided to come up with an alternative. 

It is super easy. Mix one bag of Bugles (they look just like mini cornucopias), 2 packets of Best 100g Mixed Nuts, 1 packet of Saltletts Cocktail Mix (mini crackers & pretzels), a generous handful of Cameral Corn and the same of Reeses Pieces (if you are lucky both are available from Mega Mart). Stir it all together in a large bowl and then divide into smaller containers or serving dishes. Enjoy! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

{Inspiration} Gingerbread House Decorating

At Chocolate Fish we LOVE gingerbread house decorating! We have had lots of question from clients lately about how to go about making gingerbread houses so thought we would share with you a few ideas to show you how easy it can be. 

The first thing to do is find a recipe that works for you. It is easy enough to find everything you need in Doha to make ginger bread. Here is a recipe I have used in the past. 

Make sure when you roll out your dough to cut the house that you do not roll it too thin. If it is a bit thicker then it is less likely to break.  

If you are hosting a party go for smaller houses like the ones shown here. We use a template from Martha Stewart for the pattern. Print it on paper, cut it out and then lay it on your dough and use a pizza cutter to cut it out. You can find the template here

You can buy the royal icing they talk about on the template here in Doha. Just check on the icing sugar packet that it says Royal Icing and follow the instructions on the packet to make it and then you should be good to go. You can get the disposable piping bags from Daiso at Hyatt Plaza.  

The houses can be made in advance and kept until you need them. They will make your house smell divine! And of course the other option is to get Mega Bite Catering to do all the hard work for you. If you are going to order from them make sure you give them plenty of notice. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

{Party Time} African Safari Party

We have a treat for you today. Guest blogger Jaime from Dindindies in the UK is sharing with us a fabulous party she threw for her 4 year old son. She has includes all the creative details for you! The printables are available from her online shop. To go directly to her shop click here.

My 'big' boy turned 4 recently and got to celebrate his birthday in my home country - Zimbabwe, Africa. So, what better theme to have than an African Safari party.

Children's Table

Safari Cupcakes
We made the cupcakes ourselves, covered in white icing and using red and blue sprinkles to resemble 'ants'! Wondering about that cool cupcake tower? Designed and laser cut by my mum's company Screen Speed! I designed some themed toppers for the cupcakes, and used the paper patterns that were incorporated throughout the party to make coordinating "cupcake wrappers".

Monkey Pops
These were quick and easy and loved by the kiddes - I bought monkey sweets from our local supermarket and used icing to 'glue' 2 faces together with a pop stick in the middle. The pop stand was another fabulous creation by Screen Speed.

Savoury and Sweet popcorn were served in coordinating party theme popcorn cones and displayed in ANOTHER great stand designed by Screen Speed.

Jungle Juice
Juice bottles were dressed up using hessian fabric and wrapped with custom labels for the kids. I also designed some straw flags to add a little detail to the straws.

Mud Pies
These were little round shaped brownies covered in nutella - HEAVENLY.

Safari Sandwiches
We also made up some 'WILD' animal shaped sandwiches with the kids favourite fillings - peanut butter, nutella and marmite.

Grown-up Food Table  

Crème brûlée
My mum made my all time favourite dessert - crème brûlée - topped with crushed meringueThese were served in little jars that were trimmed with coordinating hessian fabric and I designed some little scalloped party circles to go on each jar.

Veggie Shots
Trying to bring some healthiness to the table I served batons of carrots, cucumber and pepper in shot glasses with roasted onion hummus and again these had the party circles with either the number 4 or Levi's name.

Mud Balls
These were home-made meatballs served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Red Velvet Cake
The ultimate cake covered in cream cheese frosting, topped with meringues and sprinkled with chocolate powder - nuff said! 

Party Styling & Printables: Dindindies
Printing & Lasering: Screen Speed
Catering: Levi's Granny & Mum 
Birthday Cake: Levi's Granny, Laurin from Party Box & Althea
Setup Team/Helpers: John a.k.a. Daddy, Ouma, Aunty Colleen, Uncles Matt & Dan, Ross, Sian

Thursday, November 14, 2013

{Inspiration} Free Thanksgiving Printables

We have a great treat for those of you out there celebrating Thanksgiving - Free Printables! Kim from Imagine - Design - Cre8 has come up with these super cute printables that can be used in so many ways. Here are some of our ideas. 

We used the wall paper from the printables set to wrap around the candles first before tying on the leaves. The candles are just regular white ones purchased from Ikea. 

You know how much we love our bunting here at Chocolate Fish. Bunting just makes everything more festive! This mini bunting works really well on these lanterns or you could use it as cake bunting. 

It's not Thanksgiving with our pumpkin. These ones are from the Wholesale Fruit and Veggie market and are far cheaper than what you will find in the supermarket here. 

How cute is this garland! This is made from the toppers in the free printable package. To download all the printables including banner, water bottle labels, food labels, and mini bunting click here

Sunday, November 10, 2013

{Party Time} Decorate a Truck or Castle

We love our Decorate a Truck or Castle activity. It is such a good activity to keep kids of all ages happy. It is especially good when you need an activity that will appeal to a wide age range. Older children get involved with the design and details where as the younger ones are happy to slap paint all over it and start playing! It is totally manageable for all this to be happening at once too. 

We provide everything you need to create your very own castle or ice cream truck. Includes a cardboard castle/truck, paint pots, paint, brushes, aprons and tables to lay everything out on. For more details click here and scroll down until you find Decorate a Truck or Castle.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

{Party Food} Goblin Pies

Just time to sneak in one last Halloween recipe.  These yummy Goblin Pies are delicious straight from the oven or you can make them in advance and reheat them. 

You will need

1 packet of frozen or fresh Chicken Mince (defrosted)
1 Packet of puff pastry
1 Onion fine dice
1 Carrot grated
1 teaspoon garlic
3 tablespoons of turkey gravy
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried chives
½ cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Filling
Brown chicken mince in a hot fry pan and add garlic, onion, carrot, and dried herbs.  Sauté for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.  Add the turkey gravy powder and water, reduce heat and simmer until thick, set aside until cool.

Pre Heat Oven 400 degrees and prepare a roasting pan or cookie sheet with baking paper sprayed with cooking spray.

For each goblin pie you will need 2 x 4 to 5cm circles of pastry. Place one piece of pastry on the baking tray and add a tablespoon full of the pre cooked chicken mix in the centre of it. With the second piece of pastry cut out eyes and a mouth. I found using a piping nozzle worked best, and the number 3 cutter was great for a scary mouth. Once you have created the eyes and mouth you must brush water on the base piece of pastry to help join the pieces together, then lay the face over the chicken mince filling and press firmly around the edges, some mix will come out the eyes and mouth but this makes them look more goblin like!  Spray cooking spray on top of the pies

Bake the pies for 15 to 18 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. Remove the pies from the oven and cool them for 5 minutes. Makes 24 pies. 

You can make them in advance and then reheat them at 350 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes prior to serving. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

{Party Food} Mummy Hotdogs

How cute are these Mummy Hotdogs from Megabite Catering. But the best thing is they are super easy to make! 

You will need

1 packet of frozen or fresh hot dogs (defrosted)1 Packet of puff pastryMustard or food colour pens for the eyes

Pre Heat Oven 200º and use a roasting tin or cookie sheet with baking paper and spray with cooking spray, the best one is Parade buttered flavored. (Megamart has it)

For each mummy, unpack the hot dogs rinse and pat dry with paper towel.

Separate defrosted pastry on to a cutting board, then with a knife slice the pastry to the required thickness I have found thinner is better but it will take more time wrapping.

Wrap one strip at a time snugly around the hot dog. Depending on the size of the hot dog, you may not need 2 of 3 strips of pastry. Leave about 1/2 inch of hot dog exposed for the face area and continue wrapping the top of the hot dog.If you are using food color pens put the eyes on the hot dogs before baking, if mustard put them on once you have cooked them.

Spray butter cooking spray on top of the mummies. Bake the mummies for 15 to 18 minutes or until the pastry wrapping is golden brown.

Remove the mummies from the oven and cool them for 5 minutes.  Makes 12 mummies. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

{Inspiration} Free Halloween Printables

For any of you inspired to throw your own Halloween party we have a treat for you today! It's from our friends over at Imagine-Design- Cre8. It includes EVERYTHING. Water bottle labels, banner, food labels/place name cards, toppers, tent cards and more! 

To download your free printables click here

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

{Party Time} Science Party

What better party theme for an inquisitive 8 year old than science!? And what a fantastic theme to keep a bunch of 8 years olds busy for a few hours. 

After deciding on a colour scheme of blue and green with some orange and yellow thrown in to brighten things up, we went to work. It was great fun coming up with different ideas that all related back to science. 

The table setting looked great with a lime green table cloth and all the other colours adding in to give it vibrancy. The guests all received a professor name badge / Laboratory ID on arrival and then got to work on their science experiments. 

The guests had a blast with the science experiments. They started with talking about freezing points and making ice cream, then they looked at chemical and physical reactions by making giant geysers with Mentos and diet soda. The young scientists learned about decibels and got to measure some sound and then finished by making a periscope (and doing a little spying on each other from behind the table). Of course we finished the party with a piñata because you know how much we love a piñata! 

For the food we went for traditional party food. The menu included mac & cheese, chicken sliders, string cheese (the string cheese theory went over the children's head but I was amused by it!), sausage rolls and spring rolls. 

On the sweet side of things there were colour coordinated M&Ms, jelly beans and amazing test tube cookies.

Abby from Simply Sugar Designs made these amazing cup cake toppers that we used on lemon meringue cupcakes. Usually we take the safe option and go for vanilla or chocolate cupcakes but it was refreshing to see the children gobble these up. 

On the drinks side of things we couldn't really go wrong with toxic lemonade. Of course the boys thought this was fabulous! 

Take home goodies were toxic waste treats and more amazing cookies by Abby! (along with their hand made ice cream and periscope).

Cookies & Cupcake Toppers by Simply Sugar Designs
Printables by Imagine | Design | Cre8