A giant Trouble board, some fairy lights and a little bunting will go a long way.

Birthdays are a great cause for bringing people together. My general aim with parties is to have a good time with friends of different groups in one location. The planning and execution of said parties is something that has taken me a little longer to iron out then I had initially expected.

The first proper party I hosted was last October and the guest list consisted largely of friends from work, the boyfriends friends that I needed to spend some time with and general friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was a moderate success in my opinion, people ate and drank, played some dance games on the Wii and it lasted well into the night. My problem with it was I spent most of the day cooking for it and was too tired to enjoy myself properly. Also running between the multiple groups was exhausting. There were enough people there to mingle but I found most people didn’t opt for that, rather they chose to branch off in their groups. Not what I’d hoped for at all.

In the time between then and now, I have fallen in love with the board game Trouble (Ludo is its other name). I also love my boyfriend more, as he was the cause of the reintroduction between Trouble and I – and we’re a match made in heaven. When planning my birthday party this year, S and I had the brilliant plan (albeit copied from an American who had made it for her 5 year old) to create a giant Trouble board.

I don’t say it enough and never in public – but my boyfriend is quite awesome. He not only supported this crazy idea but funded and helped execute it. His best friend Pete (who is conveniently a math whiz) helped us do the math and map it out on a sheet of calico (2.5m x 2.5m). Turns out the Spotlight (our local haberdashery store) lied to us and the material was more like (2.3m x 2.28m) in size so much more food was consumed as the three of us struggled to re-do the calculations and create evenly matched squares. I lie. All I did was sit quietly out of their way while they rubbed out the penciled lines and redrew them. But still, I was there with refreshments as required.

The painting of the board was a team effort and by the time we got to the pieces we had seen 3 movies and were sufficiently over Spotlight. What would you use as giant pawn pieces? That was the question one weekend and boy, was it a hard one to answer. We ended up using little paper Mache pots, cubes and cylinders – Spotlight didn’t have 16 of any of them, so we improvised and got four each of whatever we could. All in all I think it looks fantastic and will provide us with years and years of fun. I might even use it as a wall hanging when it’s not being played on. We also hired giant versions of Jenga and Connect-4 from the Yard game people who were brilliant. The have quite a big selection of games and I’m sure I’ll use them again.

Although the aim was to have guests play giant games – there was no theme as such. I simply opted for things that I like – in catering the food was what I would like and thought others wouldn’t mind trying (Indian and Italian from local restaurants that I haunt). The decorations took me longest to decide and I think I opted well with five large sets of balloons bought from the Balloon people, including two giant balloons with confetti and resin to spread it around; streamers to hide the silver poles holding up the marquee, bunting bought in four different colour blocks that I mixed and matched when stringing to create a cheerful vibe and fairy lights that S strung up to add light and colour to our white marquee. My lovely mum created flower arrangements out of fresh flowers and we complimented these with candles (tealight and larger) to add colour and cheer to all corners of our house. The marquee, tables, chairs and chandeliers were hired through Walker Party Hire who were helpful and set everything up on Friday so we could decorate and be ready for Saturday. The cost of everything (including hire equipment, catering, decorations and little odds and ends) came to about $3,500 – not bad considering we organized everything in the last 3 weeks leading up to the party this past weekend.

Special thanks and mention to S and my friend Varun who came as a guest but went above and beyond by taking lovely pictures of the event for us. He’s a professional photographer that we were very lucky to have and although he’s a perfectionist, it’ll be exciting to see everyone looking great when we get the pictures. If you need a photographer in Sydney, he’s got my vote. Some pics below, check out his FB page here.

All our guests appeared to have a great time with the Trouble board being a big hit and almost everyone having a go. The Jenga and Connect-4 were equally as popular and by the time everybody grabbed a goody bag and headed out the door, there were smiles all around. The only damper on the evening was the gas heater not working to heat the marquee, but no one seemed to mind too much and while the food and drink flowed and games were afoot, there was enough warmth to go around. I’m looking forward to hosting a party at the end of summer next year to see if we can recreate the cheer of this weekend again. And I’d like a Trouble rematch so my team can win!

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