As I scanned various sites for child birthday ideas, I quickly felt inadequate. How do people have the time, energy, skills (and budget) to pull together those fabulously themed mini-events where cupcakes are works of art and goodie bags would rival those received at fashion week? Reality meant that my Master Two’s big event at the local Plunket room was going to be a pretty simple affair. Besides, with bright yellow walls, we couldn’t run the risk of colour clash!
Just when I decided that two-year-olds didn’t need a take away bag full of processed sugar (my sister threatened to call the Fun Police), I discovered possibly the best and funest – I know it’s not a word, but it should be – and, ok, healthiest, take home gift ever. I came across Pop-a-Cob at the wonderful local online farmer’s market, Urban Harvest.
Digressing slightly, Urban Harvest hosted the delish Five Puddings, Five People, Five Places as part of the recent Wellington on Plate festival. What an evening of utter indulgence – thanks Jo and team, you sure know how to send the customer home happy (and full!). The night was topped off when I randomly spied some dried corn cobs. You simply throw a cob into an oven bag and pop it in the microwave for three minutes to get a bag load of freshly made popcorn. It is made by amaze’n’fun in the Hawkes Bag and you can read all about it here.
So, a snap decision was made to buy each of the children a cob. At $3 a pop (excuse the pun), it made for an inexpensive, unique and fun instead-of-a-goodie-bag gift. (It was at this point that husband joined in with sister and started the ‘hippie/earth mother, give the kids a lollie’ calls.)
Back to the party, here are some ideas to keep thing stress free:
Cupcakes. Simple. Will freeze. Most people love them (if they don’t, bad luck). Great to give away. I made about 60 the week before and froze them un-iced (although you can freeze them iced). Again, simple is best. I used small muffin cases (Multix brand minis from Countdown – they hold their colours well after baking) and went with four colours, then matched with a basic butter icing of the same colour. Defrosted them the morning prior and iced them that afternoon, before covering with clingfilm and keeping them out of the sun – an easy thing to do in Wellington in August.
Jelly. Sugar filled I know, but kids love it. Disposable shot glasses, three colours. Easy to make in between icing the cupcakes and prepping other bits. Although, do what I didn’t and don’t put blue and green next to each other.
Sandwiches. Marmite and cheese. Made the night before, kept covered in the fridge and cut with cookie cutters the next morning. A hit with big and small kids. Quite possibly dish of the day.
Fruit skewers. Fruit cut and washed the evening before and threaded in the morning.
Then some basic must-dos:
- Time limit – 10-12ish was perfect. The kids ran like crazy, tired themselves out and were ready to fall asleep by lunch time.
- Leave the house. And all the things you didn’t have time to tidy.
- Bubbles. For mothers. Obvious.
- Coffee – as above.
Being a morning ‘do’, I figured some parents may not have eaten. So here’s my tasty and easy solution for that. Also made the day before. I guess they are a modern-day mini bacon and egg pie.
- Bacon (I used chicken bacon)
- Freshly ground pepper
- Muffin tins
- Spray oil (or butter if you want to spend the time buttering between each sheet of filo)
Turn the oven to 190C.
Cut the filo into squares that will easily fit into the muffin tins. Keep the filo covered with a moist tea towel so it doesn’t dry out. You’ll need four squares per muffin tin.
Cut the bacon into small strips and camembert into hunks.
Spray oil the muffin tins. Layer the filo into the muffin tins, spraying between each layer.
Put a piece of bacon and camembert into each filo nest. Grind in pepper (I don’t use salt as the bacon and cheese are salty enough for my taste).
Crack in an egg (size 6 or 7 best – my 8s were leaking over top).
Bake for about 12 minutes. Take out of the oven and sit for five minutes before taking out of the tins.
Once absolutely cold, I layered into containers and popped into the fridge. On the day, I reheated the nests at 170C for until hot through (covered with foil).
There you have it – it all came together on the day. Now, only 364 days until the next goodie bag (and cake) dilemma.
where were the cheerios?? surely no party (whether the fun police are there or not) is complete without cheerios….
Good point wise little sister. No cheerios this time, but we did have home made chicken mince rolls (sausage rolls in our day).
I think the popcorn on the cob is a FANTASTIC idea 🙂 Tell the “fun police” that next year you’ll grow your own corn 🙂
I like that idea Heather and it’s spring planting season right now. You’ll be on the invite list next year!
It was a fab morning and the food was unbelievable (son and husband left with very full tummy’s). And the cake! Can’t wait to see what you do for his 4th birthday. As you said you do have 364 days! I will be stealing lots of these ideas for Joe’s 3rd birthday in January.
Opps, I mean 4th birthday – brain still fussy from the early morning birthday bubbles!
I am in my 60’s now but tried to be “supermum” when my children were little, and boy did I go all out when it came to parties. When we talk about it now the kids wrinkle their noses trying to remember and invariably mention the cheerios. And not much more! It’s not the food or goodies but the fun that the kids (and Mum) had.
You are so right Alison. The most popular menu items were sandwiches and jelly. The favoured activity, climbing a tree. Just goes to show the merits of keeping it simple!
There’s a reason I don’t eat processed cheerios and and the bigger version savs. To many as a kid so well done for not giving them to matai! Birthdays at McDs however are fondly remembered and should be encouraged!
We will ensure we have your birthday booked in at McD’s when you’re back in NZ next summer!