June is a busy birthday month for us – my two girls were born in June (and so was my Dad!)
As the years move on and I get better at this mother gig I am seeing the need to streamline birthday parties – they always get so full on. Even if it’s just a simple ‘play in the park’ vibe, this over-caterer can get carried away…
This year we invited a few friends and their kids around for our two-year-old’s party and the little lady who turned four – well – she had a party straight after kindy on the school oval while her brother did Auskick.
None of them overly fancy, both of them made the girls feel super special. Which is the aim, right?
I’ve gone down the path of full on birthday’s before. And I haven’t got my head in the sand that 10 year old boys won’t be intense – but I’m reigning it in while I can!
Kids parties have gotten a bit out of control. Not only on the food front. But on the hours and hours and days and weeks of preparation on behalf of the parents. It’s crazy! (Obviously cool if you enjoy it though – but I see so many women feeling COMPELLED to do something huge because of #partycompetition.)
I’m all for showering my kids in love and attention and giving them that priceless feeling that they are the centre of the universe – but I think we mums might have over complicated things for ourselves …. again ….
So here’s the food I made for my kids parties and a few simple tricks.
After over-catering many times I now stick to some tried and true recipes.
• You cannot go past Alisa’s Sausage Rolls (make ahead and reheat)
• Home-popped popcorn
• My Choc Chip Cookies (make ahead)
• Who doesn’t love Zucchini Slice? (make ahead and reheat)
• An activity I did one year was to get kids decorating gingerbread men – loved Teresa Cutter’s recipe.
• And a plate of fruit.
I found the most ridiculously delicious celebration cake in Ruth Reichl’s cookbook – My Kitchen Year. Honestly – it’s outrageous. Made from basic ingredients – included refined sugar and flour – it’s indulgent and my children go crazy for it – because they only get it once in a while. That’s the deal with celebrations right?
We are so scared of ‘special foods’ but then – every culture had celebration foods. I think the only problem is that these days we’ve included food that isn’t real in our celebrations.
Artificial colours galore (the Hoppers range is a great alternative) and sugar overload. We are stocking kids up on junk instead of actual food. So to me, an indulgent, rich cake as part of a balanced mix of food feels ok.
But many other years I’ve made a few of my Basic Vanilla Cakes in a lamington tin and created shapes (I am not particularly good at this) and then covered with icing. It’s an art-form I might nail one day, otherwise, this is the cake for the recent fourth birthday.
I’ve trialled something on your behalf. Here it is: Party bags can be brown paper bags. And not those ones you buy for $1 each. They can be your daggy home style brown paper bags. And get this – NO ONE CARES!
Sure, if pinterest is your thing, make them fancy. But no one has ever complained about my daggy brown bags (it’s what’s inside that counts!)
Here’s how it usually goes for me –
A homemade biscuit
A packet of popcorn
A bouncy ball or bubbles
This year I included two pieces of chocolate coated liquorice and two snakes.
Nothing particularly creative here, but the kids loved it. I know there’s cool stuff I could be doing (and sometimes I don’t even do food!) but honestly, I keep things simple for myself. And I stay off Pinterest!!
I don’t want to be a party grinch – hence the snakes. My kids felt so special getting them. It’s definitely occasional food. I’m learning how to walk this line of healthy food, kids, their feelings and their peers – and I haven’t nailed it. I can see that they are aware of what makes other birthdays ‘special’ and I don’t want them to feel left out.
We live as part of this society – not up on mountains on our own. I’m navigating the path of motherhood and parties as best I can.
So don’t take my word on ANYTHING! Follow what feels right for you. But let’s make it easier on ourselves. I think that’s the major tip today (and what you can always expect from me!!)
I do believe, in most cases, things can be simpler.
The kids just need their friends, love, and a delicious cake.
Happy birthday kiddo’s!
And if you would like to find out just how easy real, simple food can be (meal plans and shopping lists included!) – check out my Easy Kitchen Reset.