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Marina Fogle and Vanessa Teague talk to Hannah Watkins about the changing face of family parties

I have a vivid childhood memory, almost dream–like, of the comfortingly familiar smell of my father’s aftershave as he kisses me good night, the sparkles on my mother’s evening dress catching the light as she gently closes the bedroom door, the sound of her high heels tapping sharply on the hallway floor, disappearing into the distance as they leave to go to a ‘grown–ups’ party...

...and a second reminiscence of partying in spectacular fancy dress, re–enacting incongruous plays, screaming down waterslides and cooling off afterwards with lemonade made brilliant green by added drops of food colouring... but my dad doesn’t appear in that image, he’s never there...

We complain about the conflicting pressures that pull us away from our children but increasingly work/life balance is becoming a primary goal in our lives. This generation of fathers, in particular, recognise the importance of being involved in their kids’ lives, including all the good times.

If you don’t meet at the school gates it is incredibly hard to meet your children’s friends and other families

Today, there is a phenomenon afoot in the way we celebrate together, say Marina Fogle and Vanessa Teague, founders of Kasimira Party Organisers who specialise in some of London’s most fantastical and inventive party experiences. They have seen, at first hand, a perceptible and conscious move away from traditional after–school parties and a return to big, weekend garden events where family and friends get together and generations mix.

If you don’t meet at the school gates it’s incredibly hard to meet your children’s friends and other families. “Entertaining as a family rather than as a couple gives families the rare opportunity to spend time together,” says Vanessa, “and what better way than mixing socialising in a relaxed atmosphere with your children careering around amongst you, having the time of their lives.”

The children, caked in mud, invented their own game of galloping round the dog agility course set up for family dogs

Vanessa and Marina recall an amusing party in Holland Park for both adults and children. For the children, there were amazing circus stalls and activities with an area of mini tables and chairs for a tea party, and for the adults, a standing drinks party As the long summer evening progressed, the adults’ party started to look a little sparse on numbers; the fathers having moved to sit together, putting the world to rights, on the tiny chairs, their knees around their ears and their children clambering all over them.

There is a simultaneous concerted move toward traditional party games and outdoor fun, with the onus on the children to take part rather than look on. Two of Vanessa and Marina’s most memorable days involved large amounts of water.

During a classic British August day at a big outdoor party held every year in one of London’s squares, thunder and lightening didn’t stop the fun as children, caked in mud, invented their own game of galloping round the dog agility course set up for family dogs who preferred to stay inside and out of the torrential rain.

The second was a “Water Fight” party in which two war–painted teams had to take part in activities such as blowing arrows and pin the tail on the donkey to collect points for their team. The more points each team got, the more waterbombs they were provided with for a grand finale in which bombs were hurled in a carefully orchestrated onslaught.

Don’t forget who you work for

There is not only a social change occurring in our home life. The commercial world is realising that, to keep the best of the best beyond the age of 30, it needs to look beyond employees to the wider picture. They understand that people work hard and no longer want to spend every evening going to work parties or evening parties.

City companies are starting to see the benefit of including families and children. One City bank director at a family day in the office commented: “Children at parties add a buzz that you just never get normally in this environment. It puts a smile on everyone’s faces.”

And Marina believes that it is not until you meet your clients’ and your colleagues’ partners and children that they become a real person – a complete picture.

Such parties and events are certainly huge fun and spectacular, but over the top in today’s world? The girls believe that the shift towards families and traditional parties coincides with a desire to show social conscience: “We are now seeing a breed of parents who have worked very hard but don’t want their children to lead this life by default and this is reflected in the parties.”


Kasimira Party Organisers