Friday, January 29, 2010

Birthday Season Again

I have never been one for fancy themed birthday parties.  When the kids were younger, the "theme" was set by whatever birthday cake they chose, and I would buy napkins and balloons in the same colours to match.  But as the kids have grown old enough to plan and participate in shopping and decorating their own parties, it is fun to take on a few more ambitious plans.

This year, my daughter wanted a "beach party" theme for her 11th birthday.  We had chatted about already last summer, but at the time it seemed to early to decide.  Then in the Fall I impose the "don't talk about birthdays until after Christmas" rule, so that by the time she decided on this theme, we couldn't find much "beach" stuff in stores in January!  Fortunately, we were able to borrow some inflatable palm trees and beach balls, and found some sunglasses and what looked like mini beach towels in the dollar stores.

My daughter did some nice creative work on the props and decorations:

The palm trees were definitely a "hit":

Instead of the traditional "loot bags", my daughter had a good idea to round up a number of different items, and draw names, and let people pick their gifts.  It was fun, and fascinating to watch which ones they picked - often not the expensive ones or ones which I would have expected to be snatched up.  I was glad that I was able to give away some miscellaneous items which I've picked up along the way for gifts, but then didn't give away.

I made some real fruit smoothies out of frozen mangoes or blueberries, combined with ice, water and a bit of vanilla ice cream.  They were delicious, but my poor blender had a hard time blending them up.

I was very happy with our little gummy-bears-on-the-beach cupcakes which we made:
When they were younger, I always bought birthday cakes from the store. Sometimes ice cream cakes, sometimes regular cakes, often with the character themes (which means you pay about $5 more for a little junkie toy on top, but the kids love it).

Then last year I discovered the joy of making my own birthday cakes. With a box of cake mix and a container of pre-made icing and some food colouring, it is pretty easy to whip up a pretty cool birthday cake within a few hours. Last year I made the campfire cake for my daughter's birthday, and the Pokemon cake for my son's. My son got to keep all the Pokemon figurines. This year he wants Pokemon cupcakes, and each friend will get to keep his own Pokemon figurine. That's pretty nice.

For the combined "family" birthday party which is tomorrow, we were going to just pick out a cake, but were very uninspired by the designs available, and there were none which both of them could agree upon. So we agreed that we would make our own, and I'd buy a small toy which they could keep. That seemed to convince them.

We chose a chocolate cake mix, and I made the two sizes of cake pan which I have, but then it looked a bit too short, so I made a second cake mix, and doubled the larger bottom layer and made some cupcakes too. With a bit of food colouring, we had green and pink icing.

At first, it was not going well. I guess I didn't really wait long enough for the cakes to fully cool and dry, so when I tried to spread the icing, bits of the chocolate cake peeled up. What a mess:
So I let it sit for a moment, then spread another can of icing on top, and that worked out well:

Then we added the figurines (Littlest Pet Shop, in this case) and some gummy candies which were very colourful, and seemed like a good idea for decorating the cake:

Then finally, I finished off all the icing (3 cans total - but it is the "Whipped" kind, and quite nice tasting for icing, so I think the result will still be good):

We're ready for the party!


Shady Gardener said...

What fun! You and your daughter must have had fun getting ready for the party - and it's ended in great memories for you all. :-) Perhaps you should copy and print this post for a scrapbook?

Garden Lily said...

SG - You're so right, that way we'd have something. I always intend to scrapbook the photos with her, but I think we have only 2 pages so far - from last year's party - in her scrapbook.

Tootsie said...

this was so much fun for everyone! great idea!

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