What I Learnt Hosting A 2 Year Old's Birthday Party
My baby girl turns two on 1 August and to celebrate we had our nearest and dearest over for a birthday party on the weekend.
I figured next year we’ll probably be asked for a unicorn party, or even worse a Frozen party, so I chose an easy theme. We went with…drumroll…STARS! I have star cookie cutter, plus Kmart stocks star napkins, star streamers, star tutu dresses and star gummy moulds. Happy Days.
I ended up putting a lot of love into creating a star themed, health conscious, sugar free-ish birthday party, so thought I would share what worked…and what didn’t!
My yoga student and friend Vicky from health and fitness blog Training for Chocolate recently launched her amazing Healthy Gummies eBook for just $6.99. To help get my gut health on track I asked Mr Surfside to buy me some of the Gut Lovin' Gelatin for my birthday so I could make some for Skye's party.
There are 12 recipes to choose from and we picked the Strawberry Smoothie gummies as the pastel pinks went perfectly with our colour theme! They were so quick to make - I whizzed them up before I ran out the door to my netball Grand Final (we won!).
What's really handy about these is that they can be made in advance – they last 2 weeks in the fridge or you can even freeze them. Now I have the recipes, gelatin and moulds I plan to make these regularly. Lesson learnt here was use the party as an excuse to try something new! One batch made this whole bowl of gummies:
Paleo Strawberry Cupcakes
I'm so glad I stumbled across this Elana's Pantry recipe for Paleo Strawberry Cupcakes the day before the party. It's strawberry season here in Australia so they're in abundance, Skye would eat a punnet in one sitting if we'd let her and they also add tinge of pink to the table.
I wanted these to look like "normal" cupcakes with icing so I found this recipe for Paleo strawberry frosting on Against All Grain. It was a little fiddly, but it did work...although to be honest I was useless at the piping. Thankfully builders are good not just at building high end residential houses, but also at icing cupcakes. Lesson: Ask for help if you need it #husbandtotherescue
Last year we had a disaster (I use the term lightly, first world problem I know), trying to re-create the most complicated Paleo cake in existence. At midnight the night before the party we were pulling an entirely new (much simpler) cake out of the oven and then decorating it an hour before everyone arrived. Keen not to repeat this, I chose to make life a little easier this year and bake a gluten free cake. They also tend to be a little more solid and not as flat and I wanted the cake to have some height.
I did toy with the idea of finding a star cake tin but I had visions of it getting stuck in the tin so I kept it simple and baked this Jamie Oliver gluten-free chocolate cake (you can switch sugar for Coconut Sugar, I do this all the time when baking).
For the icing I was tempted to cave in and use fondant icing, decorate it with edible 'silver shimmer' and then peel off the icing when it came to giving to to Skye to eat. I knew the cake would look the part, but it just didn't feel right. So I came up with a different solution - healthy chocolate icing sprinkled with fine dessicated coconut to get the starry effect. If there is one recipe you try from this blog, let it be the icing...it's THE BEST! Chocolatey and the perfect texture, but contains no refined sugar and just 5 ingredients. So simple and even the sugar lovers enjoy it! Get the icing recipe here
I tried to make some star shortbread cookies using my Mum’s incredible recipe that I use every Christmas…however her shortbread is the thin, round type and I discovered it does not work when cut into shapes. Tasted amazing, but someone told me they looked like blobs (thanks husband), so they were kept under wraps and will be eaten by us at home this week. (I say us, I mean me.)
Healthy savoury snacks are easier than their sweet counterparts so I'll touch on these just briefly (partly because I mostly outsourced them!) We had an amazing frittata style Sweet Potato & Bacon Loaf made by Mr Surfside, and my mother-in-law made yummy smoked salmon wraps. When everyone started arriving and I’d run out of time, my lovely friend Helen chopped up a heap of veggie sticks for me and we served those with hummus and sweet potato dip.
In the UK we have "Party Bags", but here they're "Lolly Bags'. I don't know if it's the name, but these were the most daunting part of hosting the party! The name makes it pretty damn obvious that the expectation is that lolly bags contain lollies...and we had a lot of older kids as well as toddlers.
Despite this, I decided to stick to my guns and do it my style. I discovered that you can buy packs of little toys to put in party bags (hello again Kmart) and then spent Friday night packing little paper bags with fluoro snap bracelets, stickers, star post it notes, bouncy balls, mini cars and bubble blowers. As we had a lot of different ages I actually wrote each child’s name on a bag and then picked the toys I thought they would enjoy. This also avoided mix ups, confusion and tears when it came to say goodbyes and I'll definitely do it next time. Tip though, make sure you have a lolly bag for the party girl. Oops.
One word: Pinterest. So good. I also borrowed an idea from Skye's godmother who for her daughter's 2nd birthday party had a playdough station set up. Little people are easier if they have something to keep them occupied and it was super simple to put some cupcake cases and playdough out on a table. We also set up a teepee and picnic rug with balls and musical instruments. Then our gigantic trampoline (free from buy swap sell!) kept both the bigger kids and little ones happy.
Do It Your Way
A close friend joked that her kids were always feral at their birthday parties and asked how Skye managed to cruise through her party all smiles and no meltdowns. I think the answer lies in a combo of swiping her (and myself!) with doTERRA’s Grounding Blend “Balance” 20 minutes before everyone arrived (learn more at one of our essential oil events or buy here) and sticking to real, refined sugar free food. Perhaps genes come into it a little...both Rhys and I love a party and she clearly was having a great time surrounded by her besties and family.
When I teach yoga I encourage my yoga students to listen to their bodies and do what instinctively feels good. This weekend reminded me of the importance of doing this in our lives, even when we are not sure how that will be perceived by others. Whilst I'm not a nutritionist or chef, I share this story from a place of love with the hope that it will encourage you to do what feels right. Whatever you're focusing on right now...do it your way. Be you.
Shine Bright like the star that you are!