Kids parties are big business in Dubai and our little people have seen and experienced it all – from bashes on the beach to soft play celebrations, garden gatherings to fancy dress festivities – we love a jolly old jamboree in the desert city. And while Dubai has no shortage of party venues, one of our very favourites has to be the Al Manara Fire Station. So when two of us faced planning a 5th birthday party for our little boys, we decided to combine forces and brave it together. With a lot of help from some very amazing party suppliers, we pulled off a fab and fun fire station fiesta that we just had to share mamas! Here’s our guide to throwing a fire truck party in Dubai…
The Invitations: Paperless Post
We’re all about being environmentally friendly – plus invites that get put into school bags either come out crumpled or never get delivered at all. Create an account, pick your design (there are loads of cute ones for kids), input your email addresses and hit send! Too easy! Recipients will get a emailed version of an envelope to ‘open’ and RSVP to – plus you can track which haven’t been seen yet.
What do we think about the fact that you can host kiddie birthday parties at the civil defense stations in Dubai? Can we get an AMEN on this side, mamas?! The lovely team at Al Manara Fire Station really pulled out all the stops (as well as fire trucks) to make our boys’ day special. They love hosting parties so much that there’s now a (pretty full) booking system and mamas are clambering over themselves to get a slot.
When the kids first arrived, sky-rides in the fire truck lift were offered and … about an hour into the party they got out the hose and let the kids get wet and crazy in the parking lot! Depending on your groups size and the time of year, they also offer a tour of the station itself (the kids love to see where actual REAL firemen sleep) – there’s a room dedicated to kids with fire & rescue themed colouring-in activities, a video showing the crew doing their thing and some kit to pass around.
They’re also more than happy to take groups out for a spin around the block in the fire-truck, complete with sirens and flashing lights! It’s a perfect place to host a party, not just for the pure fun of it but also helps the little ones get an insight into the everyday life of some of Dubai’s real heroes.
To enquire about holding a party at Al Manara Fire Station, just drop in to see the Fire Chief and his crew to check available dates and talk logistics. Remember mamas if there’s an emergency, then the fire crew will need to drop their party hats and deal with it – safety first!
Psst… We have a secret crush on the Fire Chief at Al Manara and hope we won’t get arrested for it!
The party company: Cheeky Little Events
We are now officially obsessed with the team at Cheeky Little Events. We love them. No seriously, we do. Not only are these ladies mega friendly, fun, super helpful and kick-ass planners- but they are absolutely AMAZING on the actual day. Seriously, you won’t have to do a single thing yourself (unless you want to of course…erm). With minimal fuss, a few phone calls and a couple of emails, Jane and her team came up with the most incredible ideas for our five-year old bash and managed to transform an already cool venue into a full on fire-themed party in less than an hour!
We’re talking photo booth with take away picture frames, beautifully decorated tables with fire-themed props for the kiddies, super-sized balloons (a mega-winner with all the littles) plus fab little touches including personalised water bottles and party signs as well as cool details such as oil drums (courtesy of Innovative Hiring) doubling as tables for the adults.
Nothing was too much trouble for the cheeky crew – they dealt with spillages, melt-downs (kids and cake) and a huge hose down but had a permanent smile on their face and a spring in their step. They also took care of “managing” the guests with music, games (seriously – hats off to anyone who can get 40 5 year olds to stand in line and do the limbo) and just generally helping us keep the little fire fighters away from actually fighting one another.
And get this: they had a purpose built candy buffet set up complete with goodie jars, fire trucks and the works (a big hit with the kids….okay and with the mamas too).
We were absolutely blown away, to the point where we probably will never be able to host a party ourselves ever again. So… if you’re planning a petit party (or indeed a whopping wing-ding and need a hand, prices start from AED 1,200 and up.
Sassy Mama Tip: These ladies to do all sorts of celebrations, from baby showers and weddings to sweet sixteens and disco nights. Head over to their website or ring (+971) (0)4 388 6114 for more details. Party on mamas!
The Food: Fortnum & Mason
High tea at the fire station- of course! And who better to prep your goodies than British favourite and world renowned luxury store Fortnum & Mason? Perfectly cut -no crust- finger sandwiches expertly made with yummy fillings including chicken, egg mayonnaise and smoked salmon (yes mamas, nothing but the best here), oh-so-pretty mini flavoured macaroons, gooey salted caramel slices and freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam. LOVE!!
Tally-ho (you know) to you all! Now mamas kids are quite often too hyped up for any sort of party eating but these mini treats were hoovered up pretty darn quick (ok so the parents helped too). And oh… before we forget. The food comes delivered in their signature picture-perfect turquoise boxes. Hard to control yourself, we know. So maybe… don’t?
Fortnum & Mason offer selective tailormade catering on a request basis. Find out more info here!
28 “ XL Pizzas by Russo’s
Stick with the red and white theme and order huge 28 inch Margarita pizzas from Russo’s (serves 10 hungry kiddos easily) – they’ll be delivered fresh out of the oven and ready sliced, perfect for mini mouths. Check them out here or ring them at (+971) (0)4 385 6549.
The Cake: Homemade, recipe courtesy of Fiona Archibold
There’s something magical about making a cake for your kiddos birthday – but with very little time to get into baking and decorating, we called upon our foodie contributor (fairy godmother) Fiona to help come up with a foolproof and mega easy option. Her suggestion? A no-bake malteser chocolate slab (yes, it is as delicious as it sounds) that we decorated with edible glitter, homemade mini bunting and toy fire-trucks. And we can honestly say that we’ve been mumbarded with requests for the recipe ever since…so here it is mamas.
150g unsalted butter
100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
100g golden syrup
250g digestive biscuits crushed into crumbs
130g milk chocolate maltesers
130g white chocolate maltesers
130 g maltesers (try milk chocolate only or a mixture of white and milk)
75g melted white chocolate 75g melted milk chocolate makes 25 pieces
1. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin with non-stick baking paper.
2. Carefully weigh ingredients making sure all the quantities are correct.
3. Place the butter, broken chocolate and golden syrup into a heavy based pan.
4. Warm over a medium heat stirring with a wooden spoon until butter and chocolate are melted.
5. Remove from heat. Add in the digestive biscuit crumbs ensuring they are evenly covered with the chocolate mixture.
6. Toss in the maltesers, stirring quickly to avoid them melting. (Top tip: Chilling the maltesers in the freezer helps to prevent melt.)
7. Transfer mixture into the prepared baking tin, flatten into an even layer.
8. Press in the reserved decoration maltesers.
Drizzle over the melted chocolate in a ziggy zaggy pattern. Place in the fridge and chill for 30 minutes.
9. Remove from fridge and either keep as one slab or cut into small squares. (Top tip: using a sharp knife dipped into boiling water, then dried off with kitchen paper cuts the squares beautifully and prevents bits from breaking off!)
If making your own is a recipe for disaster – or if you want to go for something fancy (we’re talking fire-truck shaped sponge), then call on a professional cake maker to do the job for you. There are lots of very talented mamas in Dubai who just happen to know how to create the most amazing cakes for every occasion – Ruth Hulatt of Word of Mouth Dubai comes highly recommended (and just take a look at her Facebook page to see why, the cakes look too good to eat). We also love Bella Bakery Bellisima and good old Hummingbird (you can’t beat a red velvet).
Keeping Cool: Desert Chill
There’s something about the sound of an ice-cream truck that brings back nostalgic memories of childhood – so how about one that plays ‘Happy Birthday’ and arrives at your party to deliver frozen treats to your kids at their party? (ahem, and we might have had one or two ourselves). Desert Chill is the coolest (literally) van around town, a mobile ice-cream parlour (they can also supply organic gourmet flavoured popcorn and cotton candy if ice-cream isn’t enough) that looks just like the ones back in the UK. Is there anything more magical than an ice-cream truck swinging round the corner? Turns out not – the kids went crazy for it.
Desert Chill now also have a new ‘Ice Cream Delivery On Demand App’ (the best app ever invented?!) with loyalty scheme built in – if you want treats for the kids (or frankly for yourself), dinner party desserts with a difference or if you just need to satisfy that ice-cream craving (we know, we’ve been there) – call these guys and indulge a little mamas!
Minimum Spend is based upon location and starts at AED 200 or AED 500 for a one hour booking. Check out their website here for more info.
Keeping Cooler: Mist & Cool
When hosting a party in a fire station garage in May (in Dubai of all places), things can heat up pretty quickly. And let’s be honest, the ultimate party killer is a bunch of sweaty, whiny kids who can’t be bothered to move around enough to burn off their sugar high. Luckily this can easily be avoided by renting a bunch of cooling machines from to keep temperatures down. They are AED 500 a pop and won’t be as good as proper A/C. If you place them out strategically, they will help keep the buffet cool as well as make for an excellent “meeting point” for partied out guests.
Find our more info by heading over here or ringing them at (+971) (0)4 386 8682.
The Party Favours: A Sweet Farewell by DIY Events
Any party worthy of its name needs a key take away- as in goodie bags mamas… And don’t you dare try to ignore it, because your little guests won’t go home without one! Luckily Sanober and Sahar at DIY Events are absolutely brilliant when it comes to themed party décor and favours for any type of celebration. We opted for themed bags of labeled Hersheys, but these gals tailor-make whatever you want really and have oodles of ideas if you’ve run out yourself.
Bye, bye mini packs of raisins and cheap plastic toys from Satwa that don’t last the car journey home.
Fill mini jars with red and yellow jelly beans, or if you really want to go down the toy route, then buy paper bags and fill with mini fire-engines, red and yellow balloons, a whistle, water-gun and fire-themed stickers (all available at Daiso).
Thanks to everyone who made the day an absolutely unforgettable one!