I should also say we had lots of help. One friend is an artist and painted a sign for Tilly to go outside the cafe. Some of my lovely mum friends stayed to help out with the activities and the kids and my best friend made a fabulous cake. Plus the venue belonged to my lovely friend and she even arranged a photographer who took photos throughout the whole party. It truly was a collaborative and smiley event.
We themed the party loosely around the senses and Paul drew a representation of each on a large piece of paper. I made some less convincing pictures of each activity and throughout the party the girls attached the pictures to the sense they thought they used most. I particularly loved the fact that they put their hands up. I don't offer command such respect.
As everyone arrived we started by doing scratch space decorations, and colouring in spinners. We then tried to spin them for the longest time as we counted together.
In the other room we'd laid out bubble wrap and got the kids to try and cross it without popping any bubbles, then by popping as many as possible. After that we let them loose popping mad, including a game of musical popping bumps. The satisfaction of popping bubbles needed to be enough to cover up the fact that I forgot to choose a winner. They didn't seem to mind.
Then we got into two teams and tried to make the tallest tower out of cocktail sticks and marshmallows and then cheesy puffs. I noticed Tilly chose to be in Paul's team which was very sensible if she had any hope of building anything. His were marginally better than mine but they were both essentially hopeless - but lots of fun. They liked messing about with them making kebabs and eating a few afterwards. Again I said they could eat two, and that's how many they ate. I'm either terrifying or the girls were just extremely well behaved.
There was a smelling game where I'd brought pots of smelly things for them guess including coffee, curry and oranges. Tilly's favourite game was magnified pictures of things (taken using Paul's microscope). These included Lego, toothbrush bristles, scissors, playmobil etc. They guessed Hello Kitty only having seen a tiny section of pink bow, so not all that science focused then.
The girls used straws to move smarties about via suction, and then ate them so that was popular. Phoebe couldn't do it bless her - but this was the only thing she struggled with and was two years younger than everyone else so did really well. And she liked the extra "make up for it" smarties...
My favourite "experiment" was balloon rockets. Each child had a long balloon blown up, and held closed with a bagfastener, while we attached a short straw onto the top with sellotape. We then threaded the straw into a long piece of string stretched across the room and raced two at a time.
We also had pass the parcel with book prizes (this time I had a pack of Cat in the Hat reading books from Book People) split up into each layer. I don't often put sweets in Pass the Parcel. I'm probably a big disappointment as a mother.
The girls also decorated canvas bags to take their things home in. And they did some barmy balloon larking about.
Harland Cafe catered with lovely sandwiches, chips, brownies, ice cream and juice and my best friend made the cake and decorated it with the solar system. This was a complete surprise for Tilly and she loved it.
We ended up missing out several things including watching "Wallace and Gromit's Cracking Contraptions" tornado tube (this joins two plastic bottled together and you can create a tornado inside - we've since done this at home and it's very popular) and exploding coke (we couldn't get hold of mentos and ran out of time anyway).
Finally we had some instant snow which was measured out in individual plastic cups. The girls had a measured amount of water to pour in and watched the powder turn into snow. That got at least a few "wow"s so must have been popular.
Tilly said it "was the best party ever". I'm sure every birthday girl and boy says that but I'm accepting the review. And it didn't cost me upwards of £180...