Aug 19 2014
We only have one big celebration a year, and that’s Layla’s birthday party. Right after her party last year, we tossed around some theme ideas for fun and I suggested a rock ‘n’ roll party. Layla can be girly and princessy, so I was surprised when she agreed! Although we had the theme set practically a year in advance, I didn’t start planning the party until early this year.
A party tradition of ours is having Layla’s Grandma Agnes make a party souvenir for each kid. Grandma Agnes had picked up knitting and was keen to put her new skill to use. She wanted to get an early start, so we agreed on beanies and I had to decide on a colour scheme. I had Emily The Strange and The White Stripes in mind at the time, and I decided to stick with red, white, and black as the main party colours. This was also in line with my friend Ann’s advice to tie in your colours with big events/festivals happening around the time of your party–you’ll find it easier to shop for decorations and serving ware, and there’s a good chance you can score bargains, which was the case for me since we’ve taken to holding Layla’s party on National Day.
I took my time thinking about the other party elements. We considered finding a venue with a small stage, or booking a place where kids could get some guitar or drumming lessons for an hour, but in the end we decided the rock ‘n’ roll spirit was what mattered, and a home party would give us more flexibility as well as greater comfort and convenience.
I knew I wanted a rock poster invite, and at first I thought of making up a band name for Layla, like Layla And The Lollipops–inspired by Juliette And The Licks–but Alf found that too cutesy. By chance, I happened to see that the US rock fest Lollapalooza, which I’ve always wanted to attend, was also being held in August, and that was it, Laylapalooza was born.
It was around April that local temporary tattoo company Gumtoo wrote to me offering to sponsor tattoos for our party, and I thought wow, what luck! Shortly after, I decided to talk to my friend Shirley about a design for Layla’s invite, and she surprised me by saying she would illustrate and design a card as a present to Layla! I was very touched, and to me, Layla was about to have the coolest party ever regardless of whatever else I planned.
We absolutely loved the invite the minute we saw it, and I got this printed as an A3 poster for Layla’s room too. The “OK” on Layla’s jacket is a nod to one of our favourite rock singers, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Back when she was littler, Layla used to watch Karen O and say she wanted to have an “OK” studded leather jacket just like Karen O did in one of her videos. That jacket actually said “KO” (for Karen O) but we never corrected Layla, or bought her a jacket for that matter. Also, before Layla was born, Alf and I were in a just-for-fun covers band called The OKs!
With the invite out of the way, I had to think about the dessert table and maybe there was plenty of good karma in the air, because two awesome ladies Ginny and Wenny, who sell partyware and party kits at Lemony Days and Lemonykit, wrote to me offering to help with Layla’s party. We met twice over dinner, and I found out that Ginny was the marketing whiz while Wenny was the maker. I sent them some pictures of what I had in mind, they came over to our home one night to take measurements, and Wenny got to work.
We weren’t done with our lucky streak yet, because one day, while taking the kids to the PD, we stopped by Cotton On and saw they were having a rock star promo in July. We picked up some rock tees and I decided to be bold and ask the staff if they would be disposing of their rock-themed cardboard props once the promotion was over. They not only confirmed that they would be throwing out the props, but agreed to keep a set for me so I could use it for our party photobooth! Carting the props home was a challenge but our cabbie was good natured about it and we managed to squeeze everything into a regular cab.
So I didn’t have to work very hard for this party at all, aside from deciding what would go on the dessert table and making sure there was enough seating, food, and entertainment for everyone. Even on the morning of the party, it was Wenny and Ginny putting things together, and once they got the backdrop up, I thought, it couldn’t get any more perfect than this–I want to keep this on our wall forever!
Wenny had searched for and printed out posters according to the party colours and stuck them together for the backdrop, and fashioned Layla’s name out of Christmas lights for some glitter. Then, she went on to make paper pinwheels and garlands, which you’ll see in the pictures later.
The girls also gave me square serving plates and striped straws, which they stock in their shop. Ginny managed to get hold of 10 old records, which I used on the dessert table by stacking them over bowls so they would act like stands. Again, by luck, I discovered I had $20 worth of Robinson’s vouchers and used them at Marks & Spencer’s to buy my favourite toffees to fill the jars.
The round serving plates are from ToTT, and the little records in the centre of the plates are coasters that were given to me by another friend when she heard about our rock theme. This year, I bought more M&Ms than I normally do, after discovering that Candylicious will repack their coloured M&Ms that are about a month from the expiry date, and sell them in 200g packs for $4. (The regular price is $6 for 100g.)
Our regular baker Debbie was asked to create some rock ‘n’ roll cakes this year, and she did a super job.
Upon request, Debbie also tried making these font-transfer cakes for the first time. The font looks spray painted on, which is pretty cool. We had The Ramones in there too but the guests got to those first.
Layla went to Daiso with her classmates a few weeks back and she was determined to find something for the party–I would never have thought to look for potential decorations in the iron-on section! The “Rock You” iron on was exactly what we needed to personalise our cupcake stand.
I figured not everyone would wear the knitted beanies right away, so I kept some rolled up in plastic jars.
I love these tattoos, and I decided that if Layla forgot to remove her tattoo for school, I wasn’t going to remind her either!
Testing the photobooth with the party’s headlining act–our awesome cousins James and Jessie, who’d agreed to spend their Saturday afternoon playing for us. Btw, I’d saved the tags from our Cotton On rock tees and used them for props too.
Getting ready to welcome our guests by handing out passes.
Glad to see grown-ups taking our dress code seriously!
Our little splurge for the party–I’d hired talented facepainter Diana, who I’d met online through the Singapore Mom Bloggers group.
We’ve tried to have a no-presents policy for Layla’s parties ever since we started throwing them. For this year, we thought it’d be fun to have a mini concert in our home and ask friends to perform a song in place of bringing a gift, if they wished. Back in our old home, we had a PA system that was given to us as a wedding gift, but we’d since passed it on to our cousins. John and Jessie helped us track the PA system down again and brought it back to our home about a week before the party so we could hook up and test the mics. Alf has a working guitar amp and our cousins brought another, so we managed to have some decently loud music on the day.
Layla originally wanted to sing Maroon 5′s Payphone, but Alf thought a happier song would be better and they had plans to do a mashup of two songs. With Alf’s injury, we decided to keep things simple since our cousins would be the ones playing guitar. Layla’s final pick was Best Song Ever by One Direction. It was hilarious when I accidentally called the song “Best Day Ever” and everyone groaned and corrected me. Tough crowd!
I thought the kids would have short attention spans, and I decided that for those who wanted to perform, a verse and chorus would do. We could repeat the chorus if necessary. I had the kids jump and play percussion along with the singing, so everyone got involved like they would at a real gig. Also on the line-up were What Makes You Beautiful (One Direction) and Train’s Hey Soul Sister, as well as a special and unplanned rendition of Happy Birthday initiated by one of our favourite little boys, Ram.
If you’re wondering why Z isn’t dressed according to theme, I’d bought him a Ramones t-shirt but he’d refused to change into it. No pants for him too. Talk about rock ‘n’ roll.
I’d prepared one craft activity for the kids: Showing them how to make noisemakers using ice cream sticks, toothpicks, a piece of paper, and rubber bands. The instructions I followed called it a “popsicle stick harmonica,” but the resulting sound was a cross between a honk and a bleat, depending on how you blew.
And we had just one official party game: Pass the parcel, played to a hard rock soundtrack. I’d prepared little prizes like erasers, tattoos, and Rainbow Loom guitar charms that Layla worked hard to make. Kids would come up and draw a card from me, which would either contain an easy forfeit (jump, play air guitar, or sing) or a prize. Those who carried out forfeits walked away with prizes too.
The rest of the time, our guests were free to chill out, eat cake, and draw on our kitchen wall with chalk–that’s always a crowd pleaser.
Dinner was from Catering Culture, the same Halal party caterer we’d used last year. This year, I’d wanted “rock fest” foods, i.e. finger foods that would be easy for everyone to eat. My mom-in-law also cooked a pot of vegetable fried rice, and my dear friend Gayathri brought chappatis, potatoes, and vadai for everyone.
After a quick dinner, the kids turned our corridor into a soccer pitch.
I had to usher them back in for the party finale: Smash a guitar, to the tune of Bikini Kill’s Rebel Girl.
And before we called it a night, we rocked, rolled, and struck a pose.
This was by far the most fun party to plan, and I can’t believe the amount of help and love we received. The best part was looking at the photos my friend Nadia captured, and she’d even made us a surprise video because she knew we didn’t have time to record anything.
Thank you so, so much to everyone who helped make Laylapalooza happen, I couldn’t have done it without you!
Photography: Nadia of Itchyfingers Photography
Invite (design and illustration): Shirley of Designsnotdead
Dessert table backdrop, paper pinwheels, star+letter garlands, plates+straws: Lemony Days and LemonyKit
Cupcakes: Debbie of Sweetyendings
Rock tattoos and tattoo booth banner: Gumtoo
Facepainting: Diana of Chubby Fairy
Photobooth (cardboard speakers+”We Will Rock You” sign): Courtesy of Cotton On Kids
Dinner buffet: Catering Culture