This month we're partnering with Pizzazzerie, a wonderful entertaining website and blog focused on various party ideas, DIY holiday and party decor projects, recipes, and wedding advice. Head over to read more tips about children's parties and some amazing ideas for throwing your own soiree for your favorite little ones! Check out the article here.
My older daughter Alessandra’s birthday is in May, and my younger daughter, Francesca, has a birthday that falls right after Christmas. Because the holidays are such a hectic time, I always throw Francesca’s birthday party in March. Although it’s still officially winter, I try to put a spring twist to the theme to transform the environment into a fun, colorful, light celebration that contrasts with the lavish decorations and extravagant mood of the winter holidays.
A few years ago for Francesca’s twelfth birthday, I re-created a party from my own childhood. I chose color combinations that were popular in the 60’s, and we made posters and decorations reflective of the era. Vases of hot pink gerbera daisies filled the house, trays piled high with homemade cupcakes graced the table, and in the background played the music from Across the Universe. Her guests even played vintage Barbie, a board game from my childhood. I also invited the mothers of Francesca’s friends over for a pre-party glass of Champagne. I served homemade stove-top popcorn along with pizza and a variety of organic “junk food.” We watched Francesca and her friends on what was probably the last year of their official “girlhood” and sang Francesca “Happy Birthday.” Then the girls headed downstairs with sleeping bags in tow, ready to enjoy their first independent sleepover.
Rosanna’s Tips on Planning a Child’s Party
Over the past twenty years that I’ve thrown birthday parties for my daughters, I’ve learned some important lessons for how to make a birthday party successful.
- Pick a theme. We chose the 1960’s because we love the colors and design elements of the era. It’s often easier to come up with fun foods, decorating ideas, and party activities when you have a framework in which to brainstorm.
- Design a fun invitation on the computer or craft handmade invitations that define the party. Let people know that this is an event to look forward to!
- Play a variety of age appropriate games; the most popular at my daughter’s twelfth birthday party was the vintage Barbie game, and we also rented movies like Big, Mamma Mia!, The Parent Trap, and Grease.
- Provide food that’s easy to deal with and at least somewhat healthy. To accomplish these goals, I ordered pizza from a restaurant that uses fresh, local ingredients, and I made my own cupcakes from a good boxed mix that had no preservatives or additives. I made big bowls of homemade popcorn and served fun snacks like Smart Puffs and Hava Corn Chips form San Francisco (another throwback from the theme era), and for an indulgent treat, I set out bowls of colorful M&Ms.
- Set up a space that takes into account the interests of your child and his or her friends. For the sleepover in our basement, I piled up lots of blankets and set out big puffy floor pillows and beanbag chairs for easy movie viewing and late-night chats.
Sleepover Chocolate Chip Pancakes
These pancakes are the perfect breakfast for a pre-teen sleepover party. They are homemade and deliciously decadent served with pure Vermont maple syrup. After a long night of chatting and girl talk, this breakfast is the perfect food to accompany the last bit of silliness and joking before everyone heads home. To offset the rich, high-carbohydrate breakfast, I serve tall glasses of ice-cold organic 2 percent milk (then leave the girls to enjoy the meal on their own). Use several skillets so guests are not left waiting for their breakfasts.
MAKES 8 (6-INCH) (15 CM) PANCAKES
1 cup (142 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (49 g) sugar
1 teaspoon (6 g) fine sea salt
1 teaspoon (6 g) baking powder
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (42 g) butter, melted
1 (10-ounce) (284 g) bag semisweet chocolate chips (you want to add about 7 or 8 chips per pancake)
Real Vermont maple syrup, for serving
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, and butter. Gently pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold to just combine.
Brush a large, heavy skillet (or several skillets) with oil, then place over medium-high heat. Using a ¼-cup (12 ml) measuring cup, scoop the batter into the skillet to form 6-inch (15 cm) pancakes. Cook until small bubbles appear on the top of the pancake, then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Flip the pancake to cook the other side until lightly browned or golden, about 4 minutes per side, or until the top is bubbling and the bottom has solidified. Serve hot, with syrup.