A Virtual VE Day Party Plan
It’s been 75 years since VE Day and I know that across the country there would, ordinarily, have been lots of things planned. But with us all on lockdown it’s safe to say that any celebrations will need to take a slightly different turn.
If you’ve still decided to celebrate but aren’t quite sure how, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. There are still ways you can have fun without leaving the house and I thought for this weeks blog I would share with you our plans for our Virtual VE Day Party celebration.
As I’ve planned this I’ve felt that, ironically, those wartime housewives organising parties at the end of a long war, with strict food rations and limited resources, had probably become quite used to finding alternatives. To a certain extent in lock down so are we! I’ve had to get creative and find new ways of making things and using what ever resources we have in the house. That being said experimenting and creating is half the fun and I generally relish the opportunity to think outside the box!
To really give that party vibe we have invited a couple of friends (well households) to join us over a video call for the party. We know this will add an extra special element to it and the Coffee Beans enjoy seeing different faces...they are totally bored of just looking at Mum and Dad! For us as adults we are also trying to keep up our interactions with the outside world, as it’s very easy to get stuck in the 'bubble' that is your house.
Deciding who to invite to your virtual party is the simple bit, organising what you do at a virtual party involves a few more logistical matters and for me it’s like nothing I’ve ever done before! I’d have these great ideas and then realised things won’t work if people aren’t in the same room. But hopefully I’ve ironed out the faults and this virtual party guide should see you through the separate locations issue!
Since lockdown we have become accustomed to video calling people to stay in touch. Now I don’t know about you but for me a video call with just grown-ups is totally different to what happens when the kids are involved. With adults it's nice and relaxing and everyone understands the limitations of the technology, with the kids, not so much! Basically when we video chat anyone all that happens is the Coffee Beans spend most the time showing toys down the camera. This is then followed by the customary behaviour of ‘getting bored and starting to be silly whilst having an increasingly loud voice so that no one else can be heard.’
With this in mind I wanted to make sure that the adults joining in would be able to have some time to talk too. So the plan is to make sure that one of the elements we have at our party is food because meal times is the only point when my kids are actually quiet. I’m hoping that if we put the video screen at the end of our party table the grown-ups might actually be able to enjoy some food and chat altogether whilst the little ones get on with the important business of eating!
There are 3 main elements to my Virtual VE Day Party: Decorations, games and food. Decorations will be made throughout this week, food will mostly be made the day before and games, well, trying to find ones that can be played virtually meant I actually had to think about my ideas! But after careful consideration I’ve come up with plan. I’ve tried to keep it simple and also kept in mind that being in lockdown it's important to embrace that concept of ‘make do and mend’ and use what ever we have laying around the house!
Its time to call on those good old fashioned decorating skills. Yes it's paper chains and bunting all the way!
When I think of bunting I always think of triangles but in the interest of being more economical and less wasteful I think we will make out flags rectangular. A few years ago I bought way too much of that nice scrap-booking patterned paper and wouldn't you know I still have most of it! I had thought about using this to make the bunting but changed my mind yesterday when the Coffee Beans were driving me mad and instead I thought lets do some creative activities to try and occupy them. So yesterday we got out the poster paints and started creating.
Firstly let me explain that I hate the mess and the tidy up after painting so we did it outside in the knowledge that to clear it away I could just wash all the paint off (from where ever they got it) with the hosepipe…win number 1! I also know that my boys are likely to paint one flag and then say they are bored and I’d end up doing the rest, so I banned all paint brushes…win number 2, I hate washing paint brushes! Lastly I knew these flags needed producing on mass so I found an exciting way of covering a large space in a very short amount of time. Half an hour and we were done…win number 3!
I kept my paper as a whole to start off with, once it’s decorated with patterns I’ll cut it up into the rectangles that I want. I squirted paint into a large tray, put some paper in the middle and then we used objects to print shapes and patterns on it. If you don’t have a large tray you could use a tea/dinner tray or old baking tray for your paint and just lay your paper on a flat surface, it will work the same.
We paint printed with anything we could find; stickle bricks, toy cars, a mini sand fork, plastic animal toys etc. We could have used leaves too but Little Coffee Bean was having too much fun coating his toys in paint! My favourite object to use for printing is toy cars with chunky wheels. Simply dip them in the paint and then roll them across the paper. You get some really interesting patterns and they cover a large area really quickly which works in favour when you're producing multiple bunting flags!
We then pegged our paintings on the washing line to dry, which on a breezy sunny day didn't take long at all.
Once the paper is dry it's time to cut it into the rectangle bunting flags and string it together. To save on sticky tape and having to bother folding all the tops over the string I’m going to punch 2 holes into the tops of the flags and thread the string in and out as in the diagram below. Anything to keep it extra simple!
Next on the list is paper chains and using up some of that coloured scrap-booking paper. If you have some double-sided sticky tape this could be really useful if not then I’m afraid it’s back to using normal sticky tape.
Double sided method: stick a strip of double sided (leave the backing on one side) straight across the end of the large sheet of paper and then cut the paper into strips. Join together by threading them through each other to create a chain and use the double sided tape to secure them together.
Normal sticky tape method: cut the large sheet of paper into strips. Join together by threading them through each other to create a chain and use normal sticky tape to secure them together.
We are also going to making paper hats for our party. I’m sure back in the day they probably used newspaper but we read the news online so we will just be using normal paper! To save waste again both of mine will be having crown type hats. Take a piece of paper and simply cut a zig zag down the middle from one end to the other and voila 2 paper hats. These can then be decorated any way they want. We will be raiding the craft box to see which loose bits we have laying around but you could also be more inventive and use other things if you don’t have craft stuff. Tinfoil, colourful packaging that you can cut into shapes (like a cereal box), daisies or flower petals, leaves or anything you can find. It can all be made into decorations for a party hat.
If after all this you still want more craft activities you could make flags or a table centre decoration for your party table.
I thought this would be really easy and straight forward but on thinking of things I kept hitting the same stumbling block that you have to be in the same room as someone to play the game! Here’s a few that I finally came up with.
Draw a 3x3 box on some paper and then write in a selection of numbers from 1-20 (or higher if you like, it really depends how many people are playing and their ages and abilities). One person then needs to be able to pick the numbers at random and call them out.
There are a few ways you pick the numbers randomly with very little preparation. You could write the numbers on pieces of paper and pull them out of a hat or it’s possible that you could find a random number selector on the internet that will do it for you. I was still too lazy for either of these and so decided the easiest way would be to put a number jigsaw (one with a different number on each piece) into a bag and pull them one at a time. This was the point where I realised I didn’t have a number jigsaw but I did have an alphabet one (or you could use scrabble tiles) and so instead we played alphabet bingo which works in exactly the same way its just letters instead of numbers!
In fact now I think about it with a big crowd you could play bingo with playing cards, either with a grid as above filling in each square stating which number and suit or physically everyone could choose 9 cards and make an 'alternative' bingo board. This would depend on each household having a deck of cards at home and someone having an extra set to be the caller!
Classic game and easy to do with little preparation. I unfortunately am no good at this because for some unknown reason my brain can’t comprehend the no talking. It's usually so busy concentrating on the acting out that I almost always splurt out the answer from my mouth without even thinking!
If you have little ones this is great to play across a virtual platform. We don’t have winners in our game instead our Coffee Beans just enjoy the challenge of trying to stand still when the music goes off. Surprisingly it's still incredibly fun and it gets them using up some of that energy.
This is a game about listening. One person closes their eyes and then you nominate someone (in secret) in one of the other households to say the phrase 'Jelly Babies'. They can say this in their own voice or they can make up a silly voice, which is usually the case as it makes the game trickier. The person who has closed their eyes then has to guess who it was who said jelly babies.
Kim’s games meets the Generation Game conveyor belt!
We all know the traditional Kim’s game where you show a load of objects and then cover it with a tea towel and try and remember what was there. Or the other version where one item gets taken away and you have to work out which item is missing. We all also know the famous conveyor belt at the end of the Generation Game where the contestant gets shown loads of items and has to remember them afterwards.
As I said earlier, on any video call my Coffee Beans like to show a constant stream of toys to the camera, so I’ve taken this as inspiration! Basically during our party the children of each household will have the chance to hold up 20 items that they have found. Please note to be completely traditional this will have to involve a cuddly toy!
Once the showing has finished everyone else will have 30 seconds to try and remember all the things they have seen. Now this idea for a game is totally made up and I’m yet to try it, but apart from the total chaos I can’t see there being any issues and if nothing else it’s sure to be a total giggle!
This was an interesting one. I was looking up things people might have eaten back at VE Day parties and I found this fantastic website (which I will talk about later). As I scrolled through the list of foods what hit me was the fact that there were quite a few bakes in the list that I would ordinarily make straight out of my old faithful cookbook, 'The Bero Home Recipe book.' If you don’t have one of these you are missing a treat, it is full of basic recipes and its like my bible!
We will be having proper party picnic food – the sort that you can eat with your fingers and can choose yourself in buffet style. As I said at the beginning this will be the only time the Coffee Beans are quiet and if they get to choose what they want there’s an added bonus that they will require less adult assistance too. Except for the occasional stern look as the littlest one tries to help himself to yet another jam tart!
We are big fans of keeping party food like this simple since the act of creating a buffet is effort enough in my mind.
For our party food we will be having: * Sandwiches with possible fillings being jam, corned beef or egg (if we are wanting to keep it a bit traditional!)
* Pork pie – because what’s a party picnic without one?!
* Sausage rolls or something savoury and similar
* Victoria sponge cake / cupcakes
* Jam tarts / rock cakes
* Jelly - because you have to!
Then there are some other food possibilities floating around in my head which I found on that fantastic website I mentioned called The 1940’s experiment, heres the link. https://the1940sexperiment.com/100-wartime-recipes/
On this site I found a huge list of different dishes of the era. Homemade croutons I'm sure will make an appearance. I make them quite often anyway and they will be good to replace the usual crisps aspect with. From the list of 193 recipes I’m also debating number 60 - potato fingers and number 44 - Uncooked chocolate cake. I mean there are so many recipes on this list that I could have picked from but these two appealed for their easiness and having ingredients I knew I would have in the house.
I may also add into the mix some scones or a recipe I have for something called bare cupboard cake, which feels appropriate for the era. I found it on the internet years ago and saved it as a word document so unfortunately I have no idea where the source of it came from but it's always a good bake and I have used it when our cupboards have been low!
So if you've been wondering how to celebrate 75 years since VE Day I hope this little party guide has given you some inspiration. Let me know if you have any other good ideas to add!