I’ve learned a lot of birthday party planning lessons over the last 9 years.
1. Don’t start ’til age 5, when the kids are old enough to stay without crying or asking for help in the bathroom.
2. Plan more activities than necessary.
3. Cut off the parties after 1st grade when the kids no longer think my cheap home projects are entertaining.
Let’s just say I learned these party lessons in the school of hard knocks. I still haven’t recovered from the last time we held a 1st grade party in our home, complete with cookies (and faces) piled 6-inches high with frosting and a kind of impromptu dodge ball with my art supplies.
I was determined to survive my second daughter’s 1st grade party. Turns out to have been our best one yet.
We invited the entire class of a zumba party, encouraging them to all come in workout clothes. Then, since I didn’t want to be the hostess, mother of 4, caterer and zumba instructor, I asked a high school student to come lead the dancing. We shoved aside all of our furniture and started to boogie. About half the girls were thrilled and half stood there like wall flowers. But since coaching the elementary school running club has taught me a thing or two about getting kids to move, I came prepared. I announced prizes–we’ll call them party motivators–for girls who are working hard. Between our great zumba instructor and our chotchkes, the girls worked up a sweat for 40 minutes! By the time we sat down for cake, the girls were starved.
I didn’t feel one bit guilty feeding them all a slice of cake, especially with only 3T of sugar in the icing, which is all anyone eats anyway.
CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE (cake recipe adapted from Kosher Palette)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2t baking soda
1 1/2t baking powder
1 cup non-dairy creamer or milk (I use rice milk)
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 cup boiling water
Mix the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk, apple sauce, vanilla and eggs and mix thoroughly. Add one cup boiling water. Bake 25-50 minutes, depending on how shallow your pan is (my bundt pan takes 50 minutes).
WHIPPED CREAM ICING
1/2 quart heavy whipping cream
Whip all the ingredients in a bowl until it thickens and forms peaks (about 5 minutes). This only sounds hard if you do it yourself. My kids fight over the job. Smear it all over the cake, when the cake fully cools.
1/4 cup frozen fruit
1T maple syrup
Choose fruits that have the color you desire. We used mango for yellow and blueberries for blue. Combine each colored fruit in a separate pot with the maple syrup and water in each one. Simmer until soft and use a hand blender to blend it. When the fruit mixture cools, pour it in a ziplock and cut off a tiny corner. Squeeze the “icing” out of the bag onto the cake in any design. (I’d be lying to you if I said this turned out extraordinarily pretty. We tried tie-dye, but it looked more like splatter paint.)