Monday, January 23, 2012

Party Planner

One month ago, Ada's birthday party was easy: she'd have an exact replica of her older sister's fifth birthday party. Oops: our favorite clown is in Hawaii this week. But that's OK, she had another idea, anyway. "I want an Alton Brown party!" Oops: this TV celebrity doesn't know you as well as you know him. But two weeks ago, Ada's birthday party was still easy: we'd go to Whole Foods for one of their cooking parties and I wouldn't even have to clean my house. Oops: Whole Foods had a massive kids' event last Saturday and no birthday parties were held all weekend. This is when things got a little complicated.

Alton Brown hosts a science-themed cooking show on The Food Network called Good Eats. He's also the host/food historian/scientist/commentator for Iron Chef America, but Ada doesn't watch that show. (Good Eats is a show we occasionally watch together while I nurse her baby brother.) It turns out that not only does Alton Brown not regularly perform at children's birthday parties halfway across the country, but also he's not a popular children's party theme. There are no canned party-in-a-box options to purchase. There aren't even Alton Brown-themed party hats. What to do? Here's Ada's 5th Birthday Alton Brown Party, for your amusement.

We decided on a Saturday morning party from 9-11, at which guests could wear pajamas (so that Ada could wear her favorite footie pjs). First came the homemade invitations (since I couldn't exactly order Good Eats invites):

Could you tell that's supposed to be an egg with bacon?

Ada was turning 5, so allowed 5 guests plus herself and her sister (4 guests came, for a total of 6 little girls). As they arrived, we greeted them with homemade name tags so that all the adults would know the children's names - the girls are now old enough that not all the parents needed to stay! A first. The girls went into the dining room and began decorating colorful aprons that would also serve as party favors.

When they'd finished their aprons they washed hands and divided themselves into two groups (by the color of their nametags). The Red Team stood on stools at the kitchen counter with Paul, making vanilla cupcakes. The Purple Team sat at the dining room table with me, making monkey bread.

As the projects baked, Ada opened her presents. Then all the girls sat in the family room to watch me standing behind the kitchen counter making a fool of myself demonstrating yeast and gluten while baking bread. (Thanks to Kristy for taking pictures. Thanks to my sister-in-law for the loaner lab coat and glasses!)

We secretly had three loaves of bread going so that the girls could see the mixing/kneading stage, the risen stage, and the baked stage in short order. After scraping dough from their hands, the girls divided back into their baking teams. The purple team decorated freshly baked cupcakes at the kitchen table while the red team made fruit kabobs in the dining room. The teams then switched stations, and when everyone was done the kids sat down together to eat at the dining room table.

Between activities there was time for free play in Ada and Ellie's room or taking turns flying Paul's remote controlled helicopter. I think it all went remarkably well! THANKS to Paul for co-leading and for making so many of my ideas come to life (including the cupcake toppers and laundry basket of gluten). Many, many thanks to my parents for making the 300 mile drives (separately!) through ice and white-out conditions to be here and to take care of Teddy during the party.

Today was Ada's birthday proper and she got to pick all the food: doughnuts for breakfast, mac and cheese for lunch, and tacos with re-fried beans for supper. Then more presents and it's all over for another 364 days! (Here she's opening a cookbook from her sister.)


Emom said...

WOW! looks like everyone had fun....especially you!
I remember those days of children's birthdays fondly....smiles

Barrie said...

What a brilliant party!

Sarahlynn said...

Thank you! We all had so much fun.

Jennifer said...

Love it! Sounds like an amazing party!

Sarahlynn said...

It was cool. Ada has since moved on from Good Eats to the Science Channel's How It's Made. I hope this phase is over before her next birthday, because I have no idea how I'd work a factory theme into a party!