At-Home Parties for Tokyo Kids
What with small Tokyo homes, busy urban lives and a culture in which entertaining at home is relatively rare, there is a small Japanese market for home parties of all kinds, especially those most lovingly and lavishly prepared for: children’s birthdays. But with a bit of decoration, any space can be transformed to a special party venue, and the more personalized the better. While Hiroo’s National Azabu stocks some party goods that can help to recreate the children’s parties that expats are used to in their home countries, further afield the main option is usually functional but somewhat unglamorous 100 yen store fare.
This is where a new Tokyo service, Tokyo Party Fun, comes to the rescue.
Canadian Tokyo resident and mum Satchie Haga noticed this gap in the market and opened her party accessory online store in the spring of 2013, featuring a cornucopia of imported plates, napkins, balloons, party favors, costumes, wall backdrops and so on that are otherwise difficult to source in Japan. Organized variously by theme (including ballet dancers, fire trucks and popular character lines like Disney’s Cars), color and item, the easy-to-use website has reasonable prices, accepts credit cards, and offers delivery throughout Japan. But Satchie has recently expanded the business to go beyond ready-made goods, moving into handcrafted decorations as well, to provide the extra special atmosphere that parents strive for, wherever you live.
My family recently employed Satchie’s party and handcraft services for our son’s small third birthday party at home. After a consultation (available by email or Skype) we decided on a racing car theme, combining Disney Cars plates and napkins with other black, red and black/white checkerboard goods from the online store with some themed personalized decorations. On the morning of the party, Satchie arrived with bags full of fabulous accessories, including hand sewn checkerboard bunting, a personalized Happy Birthday banner with letters strung on red ribbon, crepe paper rosettes featuring racing car images, large black, white and red tissue paper pompoms to hang from the ceiling, and even a full-sized traffic light made from balloons. Yes, Satchie is even a whizz at balloon art and can create balloon objects and bouquets. Some items, like the bunting, can be rented; others are yours for keepsakes or decorations for your children afterwards. She put all the decorations up for us using special tape that doesn’t mark the walls, but you could just as easily have everything delivered and do it yourself.
While the surroundings were fun, the prospect of a few hours of marauding toddlers high on sugar in our home was not so amusing. So I asked fellow mum, artist and craft teacher Emiko Ota-Boylan to provide a craft activity for the kids in the dirt patch outside we like to call our garden. And presto, by the time the party had started, Emi had already magically created a kiddie size cardboard racing car in the garden for the toddlers (covered in plastic bag smocks) to paint.
Kids’ parties are all very well when the weather allows one to stay outside for hours in Tokyo, but indoor party venues are not so easy and come at a price. With a little help from talented and enterprising Tokyo mums like these, a party of any kind can be made possible at a reasonable cost and minimum headache in one’s Tokyo home.
For your next party, I recommend checking out Tokyo Party Fun, as well as Satchie’s “party tips” blog. Emiko, a founding member of Busy Little Bee Tokyo, also conducts craft and art sessions for children and can be contacted via her Facebook page.