Shopping: tropical garden party with Carole Middleton


    Take a walk on the wild side and thrill your little monkeys with an inspired tropical theme

    This vibrant theme is all about the setting, so wow your guests from the very beginning. Show them the way to the party by using chalk or craft paper to make different animal footprints; create a trail of animal tracks along the path or garden to your front door, then, as the little ones make their entrance, welcome them with a bundle of glorious greenery. You could use streamers, leaf garlands and balloons in different shades of green – and maybe even dangle a toy snake or two from the rafters!

    On your tables, use large faux leaves as plates or platters, paper ‘bamboo’ straws with flamingo toppers and decorative paper cups. And don’t forget the lush green centrepieces – indoor plants work well for this. You could even tie a raffia table skirt around the table – although you might find one or two children hiding underneath it later on!

    Inflatable animals and palm trees will add to the atmosphere, and you could even use a printed desert island or jungle scene as the backdrop to photos. Keep a box filled with dressing up bits, props like binoculars, animal masks and inflatables, so the children can have fun in their own specially designed photobooth corner. For other ways to keep them occupied, try animal face painting, animal balloon making or animal racing in the garden. Why not set up a crafty corner, with leaf print painting?

    Finally, when they start to feel hungry, serve up a delicious tropical feast. Huge platters of healthy fresh fruit (or try our watermelon ‘pizza’ recipe, opposite) and big bowls of fruit punch will go down a treat, as will ‘Jungle Critter’ crackers. Top your crackers with tomatoes and vegetables fashioned into creepy crawlies!

    Wow the kids with this colourful desert, or, better still, turn it into a party game and have all the kids decorate their own fruit 'pizza'
    Wow the kids with this colourful desert, or, better still, turn it into a party game and have all the kids decorate their own fruit ‘pizza’

    Watermelon Pizza
    : 4-8
    Prep: 20 mins

    • 1 whole watermelon
    • kiwis, peeled and cut into small pieces
    • blueberries, whole or chopped
    • strawberries, hulled and sliced
    • 1 peach, pitted and diced
    • desiccated coconut
    • mint (optional)

    – Cut the watermelon in half and then cut a few 2–3cm thick whole slices from the centre of the watermelon so that they resemble pizza bases. Pick out the seeds, if desired.

    – Cut the slices into triangles before you add the toppings, as this makes it easier to serve.

    – Create the pizza on the plate that you will serve it on. Simply top the watermelon slice with pieces of fruit, as you would if you were topping a traditional pizza.

    Try different combinations – the more the better. Sprinkle with desiccated coconut to resemble cheese, and mint, if you like. Want to add ‘tomato sauce’? Try spreading the watermelon slices with your favourite yogurt, then add the fruity toppings.

    Recipe from The Lolly Book by Karis & Dominic Gesua (£9.99, Kyle Books)