Today my sweet Canaan is one year old. It’s true what they say; it really does go fast. Of course, I had to celebrate this milestone in a big way. Sometimes I get in over my head. This is quite possibly one of those times.
I started planning his birthday party in June. Yes, June. He wasn’t even sitting up yet and I was making plans for him to be eating cake. Because I’m a nerd and I like things to be perfect.
The theme I chose was “Mustache Bash.” I THOUGHT I was being really unique. Turns out mustache parties are all the rage right now. Ironically, it was tougher to find mustache items than one would think.
I figured I’d better get in the theme that I like now, before C starts begging for a pre-packaged Spiderman party. I have this thing about being different, and I hate “parties in a bag,” if you will. I don’t hate you if you use them for your kids, and I’m sure I’ll have to cave at some point. I mean, let’s be real; C comes from a home with two working parents. And it’s much easier to walk down the party aisle at Target and toss in an 8-pack of Batman plates with matching cups, napkins and favors. I get it. Once he starts playing football and polo and badminton and God knows what else, I’m sure some of my creative details will fall through the cracks. But man, I hope not. This is my solemn vow: I hereby pledge to put off buying pre-packaged parties as long as possible. Amen.
Anyway, I chose Mustache Bash. And then I jumped on Pinterest and copied a bunch of ideas. The big thing that got me was the menu. I needed a lot of food for a lot of people (even though we did “just family” this year, we still had 32 folks in our house), and I needed it to be real food, since the party was at 1 p.m. I decided on “root beer pulled pork sliders on King’s Hawaiian rolls.” Because who doesn’t love King’s Hawaiian? (And I could call them “manwiches” in honor of the theme.) I found a recipe, and following it, bought a four-pound pork roast. I mentioned that to Justin the afternoon before the party and he said, “What? You thought a four-pound roast would feed 30 people?” Okay, so here’s the thing. I get a recipe and I tend to FOLLOW IT. I always measure, and I don’t think (sometimes) about how many people it will feed. So I got to make a late night run to Reasor’s for another roast. (store trip for forgotten item #1.) (On the way home from Reasor’s, I realized that I needed another can of root beer for the second roast, and I only had one that I had been saving. I had to stop at another store to get root beer. When I got home, it turns out I had two cans in my stash, after all. Anybody need some root beer?)
I made baked beans, (Big Boy Baked Beans, as I called them…it’s all about keeping in theme, people!) also, and they actually turned out pretty well. I was nervous because every single item that I made was a new recipe. This caused an intense amount of additional stress that I really didn’t need. So if you’re hosting a shindig, it may be better to stick with mainly tried and true recipes, for your sanity.
The night before the party, I made some “S’mores Puppy Chow.” It took less than five minutes, and it was AMAZING. If you like peanut butter and chocolate and marshmallows…this is a must for you. I’m not even a huge marshmallow fan, and this stuff is like crack. Legal, chocolatey crack.
After that success, I decided to try this fruit dip that seemed easy, healthy and delicious. It called for orange liqueur, but I didn’t have any. I had some orange extract, and I figured that would work just as well. It’s orange, right? I whipped up the Greek yogurt, and honey and orange extract, and then made the mistake of tasting it. It was akin to shoving an entire orange rind in your mouth and chewing it up. But worse. There goes an entire container of Greek yogurt, plus nearly a cup of honey. That bee juice ain’t cheap. This resulted in a frantic phone call to Lezly, because I just knew she had an easy fruit dip recipe up her sleeve. The next morning, Justin got to go to the store and buy some marshmallow cream. (Store trip for forgotten item #3.)
Another new recipe that I was testing out involved a crock pot dip. I was planning on making it in a healthier version, so I had bought Greek yogurt to replace the cream cheese. (I made an extra Greek yogurt run that morning. Store trip #4? #5?) When it came time to make the dip (at 5 a.m., mind you) I couldn’t find the yogurt. I tore that fridge apart, trying to think of what I had used it for by mistake. I used one container on the failed fruit dip, but that was it. With it hiding somewhere in the bowels of the refrigerator, I had to use cream cheese. This means the recipe was made with all of its full fatty goodness. Darn. But, you see, I had to make another batch of fruit dip still. Which means I needed an extra block of cream cheese. (Random store trip #…fill in the blank.)
I made the cupcakes for the party myself; I just had this weird urge that I wanted to be the one responsible for them, rather than hiring someone. I have no idea why; I’m certainly not a professional baker. The first batch, I overfilled by a long shot, even though I did my best not to. Luckily, Lezly saved the day on that, too. Nobody will ever know. The second batch (a different flavor), I thought seemed awfully thick. At the last moment, I realized I never added the eggs. Sheesh. These I did not overfill. But honestly, these cupcakes were turning into a disaster.
I made the frosting from scratch. I had a recipe for cream cheese frosting for my red velvet cakes that literally had four ingredients. How could I possibly screw that up? Well, it happened. It was runny, no matter how much sugar I added. (Note: putting it in the refrigerator didn’t help.) The second flavor turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. If you’re keeping track, this means that I had one batch of good cupcakes with crappy frosting, and one batch of good frosting with crappy cupcakes. At least Lezly owns a frosting bag that she let me borrow; that helped them look a little better than they had a right to.
I had purchased bottled water for the party, and I had labels designed by Letter 10 Productions (they also did my invitations). My husband happens to own a printing company, so he printed them off for me. Of course, everyone already had their food before someone asked if we had any water. Oops…I forgot to put it out. Glad someone reminded me!
In addition to the forgotten water, I made some punch. I found a recipe online that I doctored up a little bit. It was shades of yellow and orange, and I added blue coloring to make it blue. Duh. Apparently I forgot about that day in second grade art: yellow and blue make what? GREEN. Adding purple makes it….DARK SEWER SLUDGE GREEN. But it tasted pretty good and everyone drank it. Probably because they thought that was the only beverage we had, since the water was still hiding in my refrigerator (along with the Greek yogurt).
If you’re wondering, I also made chocolate mustaches and dipped Oreos (which were pretty damn delicious). I managed to make all of those without any major catastrophes. The only problem I can see is that I may have made more than my lollipop stand had a right to hold.
Since I knew we’d have a lot more adults than kids, and the kids would all be a variety of ages, I decided to skip the traditional goody bag. I had the chocolate mustaches and dipped Oreos, after all. (And stick-on mustaches.) But that wasn’t enough. I purchased some plastic test tubes, and decided to make a dry hot cocoa mix to put in. It’s a good item for this season, and I thought it made a nice spin on the theme (cocoa ‘stache, get it?). I knew that my sister had a mix recipe, which she dutifully mailed to me. And then I couldn’t find it. This is why I rely on email; it’s a lot more responsible than I am. After much digging, I found the paper, and bought all of the ingredients. I remember thinking, “Wow, some of these things are more expensive than I thought they’d be.” When I mixed up the batch, I realized why. This hot cocoa mix is apparently designed to feed an army. Or an entire elementary school. I filled all of my test tubes, and still have two big Tupperware containers full. At least I won’t be spending money on Swiss Miss for a while. (This is another example of me following the recipe EXACTLY. The first ingredient called for an amount of 24 ounces; that should have been a clue.) Unfortunately, I didn’t take a pic of the finished tubes; they turned out pretty well. I filled the tubes with the dry mix, then made tags with a mustache graphic that said “Thank you! For a cocoa ‘stache, add to 8 oz. hot milk.” Tied them on with some ribbon, and that’s it. Here is the pic that inspired me, though: http://frogprincepaperie.com/2011/12/hot-chocolate-party-favors.html
I think it jumped out at me because these are the colors we used for the party.
Of course, we had a smash cake for C.
He seemed to enjoy it.
We ran him straight into the bath afterward. Literally. So quickly, in fact, that I didn’t even realize that we was wearing his diaper in the bath until someone pointed it out. (I would guess I was still a little frazzled at this point.)
I was so concerned about the menu and tiny details, that I didn’t think about things like decorations. We grabbed a roll of crepe paper and a couple of lanterns the night before the party. I actually Googled “interesting ways to decorate with crepe paper.” Martha Stewart I am not, so none of the ideas I found actually helped me. Besides, most of them involved sewing or months of prep time. I figured I’d grab some balloons and call it a day. I looked online at our local party store, and the good ol’ Internet told me that they stayed open until 7 p.m. I squealed into the parking lot at 6:35. The store was dark. At first I was pissed because I thought a lazy employee just closed up shop early because it was Saturday night. No, the store is gone. Out of business. No balloons in sight. Okay…think, think. I didn’t have time to run back into Tulsa, so where in my suburb could I get balloons? I headed off to the grocery store (because I had to buy that extra roast, anyway), only to be told that they are out of helium. What?! I asked about their other location. No helium. Then I was told by another customer that there is a nationwide helium shortage. That’s a new one! So no balloons. But you know what, I don’t think Canaan even noticed.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that Lezly saved me yesterday. Just for fun, let’s recall all of the things that she loaned me: an extra crock pot, sprinkles, frosting bag and tip, cream cheese, cupcake tins, cooling racks, fruit dip recipe and blue food dye. I keep thinking I should go buy things like frosting bags, but why would I, when she’s so generous? She also rescued my blue cupcakes. Oh, and she pointed out that C was rocking his diaper in the tub. Kind of like swimming, right? My mom also helped tremendously by bringing some stuff for the older kids to do. Thank goodness it was a nice day out, and that we had the foresight to scoop all of the poop in our backyard. Another ‘thank you’ to Justin’s mom, who kept C the night before and all that morning. I doubted he would have been patient enough for all those trips to the store. She also (under my strict orders and threats) made sure that C got a nap before the party, and she loaned me yet another crock pot.
It was a great party. Most everything turned out as expected, but we had a few hiccups along the way. My point in all this; this was hard work. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because I wanted to have it at home, and I wanted it to be fun and creative and special, since it’s the first celebration in C’s honor. But man, it was hard work. I didn’t realize it until Justin and I were both falling asleep on the couch at 8 p.m. last night.
I hope kids appreciate what their parents do for them. If you had cool parties as a kid, thank your parents now. It’s not too late. And next time you go to a party, be sure to have some sympathy for the parents; they worked hard to feed you and your kid and keep you entertained for a couple of hours. I never realized the level of stress and pressure that comes with having a party like this. Maybe it was because this was our first time throwing a kid’s party? Maybe it will get easier. Somehow I doubt it.
Oh, and I found the missing container of Greek yogurt this morning. Guess what C will be eating for breakfast for the next month?