Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Party Planning: Birthday Bashes

I think I can speak for just about everyone in saying that parties are awesome. Especially birthday parties. And, boy, do I love to throw a party! Each year we throw together a fun little birthday bash for our daughter, Claire, and I take particular pleasure in making the birthday cake myself. It's been fun to see how much our "party style" has evolved over the last few years.

For Claire's first birthday, we had a "butterfly garden" theme complete with a edible butterfly carrot cake. Instead of gifts, we asked our guests to donate $5 to the I-live green foundation in support of a reforestation project they were holding, and in return our guests received an awesome personalized certificate of participation.

For her second birthday, we decided to do an "Under the Sea" theme since she was very much into fish. I made a 2-tier peanut butter and jelly cake covered in fondant and sugar seashells. We also served toddler appropriate snacks like Goldfish crackers, blue jello, and Swedish fish. Our guests received a little "fish bait" gummy worm snack mix and some stickers in a pink Chinese takeout container.

As Claire approached her third birthday, she was more involved with what kind of party she wanted to have. At the time, she was very into Ni Hao! Kai Lan, and so we ran with it. I made a fun little rainbow cake, chocolate dipped fortune cookies with a custom birthday message inside, and fresh spring rolls. I made Kai Lan hair flower clips for the little girls attending the party (or little boys who wanted to look fabulous), and provided Chinese take-out containers so they could take some fortune cookies to go.

Claire's fourth birthday party was even more lavish than her third. She had picked a Gnomeo and Juliet theme for this year, and I was ready to try my hand at a few new recipes. I served a simple two tier cake: a gluten free chocolate coconut for the bottom layer, and a 1-2-3-4 for the top tier. I used a simple homemade butter cream frosting in a ruffle pattern. I also made macaroons, sugar cookies, meringues, dirt pudding, and fruit skewers. I think that this party was, by far, my most favorite to date.

Each guest received their very own gnome hat and beard, and a little watering can with bubbles, play-doh, Elton John glasses and flower seeds.

So now that we are approaching the month of May again, it is time to start preparing for Claire's 5th birthday party. I asked her what kind of party she wanted, and this year she has decided that she would like a Hello Kitty theme. Her new favorite color is purple, too, so it looks like I will have a fun time thinking of how to put it together on a budget. Normally I start planning months in advance, but with our move everything was pretty uncertain until now. Once we get things settled and unpacked, I'll be able to hop into party planning gear. And you can bet that I'll be pinning up a storm on Pinterest!

Anyone else love the thrill that a children's birthday party can bring? What is your favorite part? I have to say that, aside from mingling with our guests, my favorite is always the cake! Have any budget tips or suggestions for throwing a kids party? Please share your ideas!

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