As much as I love to party, I'm a Grinch when it comes to my kids' birthdays. For the last six years, their celebrations consisted of playdates at the park or backyard BBQs with the aunties and uncles that, save a few candles, are really indistinguishable from any other festive family gathering. But last year, after letting Hettie's birthday slide (again), I was humbled and inspired when an adult friend shared how much she treasured the memories of her fifth birthday party. It reminded me of birthdays spectacular that Momo conjured out of love and thin air, and I realized: My kids are going to grow old whether I like it or not. Might as well try to create a bit of magic along the way, dammit.
All of which is to say, Hettie's sixth birthday party was pretty amazing, and it's all because I'm overcompensating (for oh, so many things!), and I really don't feel bad about it at all.
We watch The Sound of Music at our house. A lot. I have to admit, I'm pretty thrilled that, given free reign to choose what kind of a celebration she wanted, Hettie thought of a Favorite Things party all by herself. As soon as I envisioned all those little girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, I was sold. In fact, I'm pretty sure I changed the subject so that no other ideas could be suggested.
I knew I wanted to party to be spectacular, but also low stress enough that I could enjoy it. Thanks to Hettie's grown-up fan club and their very able assistance, brown paper packages and ice cream ponies came together like magic, and the day was gloriously fun -- for all of us!
Schnitzle with Noodles
Fresh Fruit and Veggies
Bee Sting Punch with Kitten Whisker Straws
Crisp Apple Strudel with (Ice) Cream-colored Ponies
We bought apple strudel and pig-in-a-blanket "dog bites" ready-made from Costco. It doesn't get any easier than that! Which is good, because the rest of the menu was a little more involved...
For our schnitzle with noodles, I ordered the most delicious chicken cutlets from our favorite sandwich shop (you could really use any thin, schnitzley meat). We cut the chicken into thin strips and stuffed it inside cooked manicotti noodles along with a dollop of soft Boursin cheese and a small bunch of arugula. You could also roll the little bundles up in lasagna noodles, and secure it with a toothpick. I'll be honest, most of the kids preferred the (previously frozen) dog bites. But I was happy to have something so fun and delicious to serve the parents, too.
Glorianna made the ponies using a cookie cutter the night before, and stored them in the freezer between sheets of wax paper. I am glad that Glorianna did this, because they were RIDICULOUSLY cute. And I never would have had the patience to bang out 15 of these. It is not easier than it looks.
We made fresh sparkling apple cider and some honey from Dave's hives on the roof for "Bee Sting Punch."
Glorianna made the most precious silhouette of Hettie for "pin the snowflake on the nose and eyelashes." I was surprised at how much fun they had watching the other girls play. It was a huge hit.
We also had a "silver white winters that melt into spring" race -- an homage to the games of my own childhood birthdays, which inevitably included a ridiculous and ridiculously fun relay of some sort. This time, the girls had to run across the basement, don a coat, scarf, hat and mittens, take it all off, and then run back and tag their next teammate. We all sang songs from the sound of music soundtrack while they raced. Adorable.
Glorianna made the "wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings" to hang over the table, and a big bunch of sleigh bells for the front door. The night before the party, I trimmed down some Costco roses and let the kids arrange the flowers themselves in a bright copper kettle we borrowed from Charity. It's all about the Oasis foam, people. Monkeys could make flowers look good with that stuff.
As the girls arrived, we tied on big blue satin sashes and let them make a necklace. I ordered the edelweiss charms from ETSY, and then my sweet brother, Zen, used simple jump rings and his giant man-fingers to attach the tiny sleigh bells and blue crystal pendants. If that's not love, I don't know what is. Hettie's guests ranged from 4-year-olds to third graders, so letting the girls choose between braided black silk and sparkly white floral ribbon kept things simple enough that everyone could participate and enjoy the process of creating something lovely -- without creating frustration or a mess!
Instead of gifts, Hettie asked her friends to bring "warm woolen mittens," which we gave to a friend who is a social worker to distribute to her young clients in need.
In addition to their necklaces, we sent our friends home with a packet of edleweiss seeds, and a brown paper package with some of Hettie's favorite things tucked inside -- chocolate and temporary tatts. Obvi.
I'm not over my birthdayphobia. But I loved pretty much everything about this sixth soiree. So much so, we're already kicking ideas around for Number Seven.