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In case you hadn’t noticed, everywhere has gone a bit World Cup crazy. Sam is one of those people who will watch Every . Single . Match. Not just the big games. (I’m using the Big Match Planner schedule of Brazil 2014 match times and dates to remind myself of when Sam will most definitely be uncommunicative).
For months, he’s been looking forward to inviting people over for a barbecue and some World Cup action. And although Rory is only one, his most favourite thing at the moment are footballs – so it made perfect sense for Sam and Rory’s joint birthday party to have a football theme.
Are you planning a gathering with friends or family to watch some of the matches during the World Cup? Here’s the lowdown on how we styled our football party, and some low-effort, low-cost tips for injecting some quick and easy football fun into your party:
A printed grass tablecloth is a really easy way of creating a ‘pitch’ backdrop for the food and drinks table.
Ask guest to wear football shirts or team colours.
Set up a goal and a basket of balls for target practise.
The cones made great table props, and then were later used for dribbling practise as part of the party games.
Medals for party game participants.
Feature the colours of your team in the party decor
We used red and white washi tape to hang the medals, a red tablecloth and white chairs for the garden table, and the Coca-Cola and Diet Coca-Cola bottle colours tied in brilliantly with our red and white England colour scheme.
Tesco are currently running a multipack deal: 4 x 1.5l bottles of Coca-Cola for £4. I got one Diet Coca-Cola pack and one classic Coca-Cola pack so that I could create our England colours centrepiece and still have plenty of bottles left over for guests to drink.
Include team flags somewhere in your party décor
We hung World Cup bunting in the garden (conveniently covering our ugly washing line at the same time, hah), which was not only great for playing ‘Guess the flag?’, but also made a great photo backdrop.
We kept the food fuss-free and easy to serve
A simple selection of summer party foods that everyone could help themselves to as and when), with Sam’s pulled pork and home-made hot sauce as the main event (ll ask him to blog his recipe if anyone is interested). I found football paper plates, ready made football cakes, etc couldn’t have been easier to source.
This was my first shot at creating a themed party, and I was really surprised at how easy it all was (this has been helped massively by the fact that there is an abundance of World Cup themed products in every shop at the moment – such a simple theme to put together) It was also super quick to set up – even with two small children clinging to our legs, we put it all together in about an hour on the morning of the party. Plus some food prep the night before – Sam had rather precise timings for marinating the meat (of course he did).
A football party is easy to do even if you don’t have a lot of space at home – head to the park, tell your friends to bring a dish each, and just remember to take a football with you – all you need is jumpers for goal posts and a bit of luck with the weather on the day.
Our party was also a great opportunity to introduce Arlo to the idea of the World Cup, and further his excitement for a sport that has already sparked his interest. Living ten minutes walk from the stadium, and having several season ticket-holding family members, he knows all about Crystal Palace FC and merrily sings all chants, refering to himself and Rory as “The boys from SE25….SE25, SE25, we’re the boys from SE25”. With the help of our football party and his Panini sticker book, he is learning about national teams, has gained a small understanding of geography and different countries, and is starting to get an idea about what it means to support “Engerland”.
I love that the football theme suits any age-range, working just as well for a grown up party, a kids party, or, as in our case, a mix of children and adults.
Arlo and Rory hold the rather privileged position of being the only children in our large extended family. Sam and I both have three siblings each, so our children are growing up surrounded by LOADS of doting aunties and uncles, as well as having developed very close relationships with some of our friends. And they haven’t had to share their loving grandparents with anyone else yet either.
It’s safe to say that Arlo and Rory are never short of attention, and Sam and I know that we are very lucky to have so many willing and eager influencers in their world – each of the grown ups in Arlo and Rory’s lives are helping to shape them in different, positive ways; teaching them new skills, offering their support, and always championing them – this is their football team.
I shared a load more photos on Instagram during the party – you can see them all, and follow more World Cup party fun from #collectivebias , using the #bigmatchplanner hashtag.