The Gleeful Gourmand: A Beachy Birthday Party

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Beachy Birthday Party

It's been party central around here lately! First was the Champagne Brunch, which launched us right into the last week of school. Friday afternoon we had a fun end-of-the-year party for all the kids in the neighborhood by shooting them with water guns as they stepped off the bus, and then stuffing them full of pizza and watermelon.

The very next day was my twin girls' 4th birthday party. 4 years old. I so remember being in the thick of that newborn haze, wondering how I was make it through with not one, but two tiny babes. I remember trying to imagine what it was going to be like when they were 4 years old (the age my son had been rapidly approaching at the time), and not being able to pull a picture up in my mind. And now here we are, and it's hard for me to recall the days of two babies at once without looking at pictures. Mostly I just remember the feeling of being overwhelmed, putting my head down, and powering through that first year.

These 4-year-old girls are spunky, and funny, and bright, and make each day a joy. They have wildly different personalities, and it's been fascinating to see them grow up as twins, and best friends. Of course, there are days when they are more like mortal enemies than best friends, but I get the feeling that would be the case with any siblings who share a room and almost all their time together. They may get frustrated with each other, but after a few moments of separation, they're desperate to be back together.

Anyway, what to do for the big 4-year-old girls for their birthday? I had always wanted to do an outdoor party for them, and this would be the first time some of their friends were invited to come in addition to family. Thanks to Pinterest, I already had a few ideas rolling around in my brain for a fun, mostly cheap Beachy Birthday Party.

The party table with decorations from Party City and Hobby Lobby.

First, I borrowed an inflatable pool from one of our neighbors (and also party guest) that had a small slide and several sprinklers attached to it. My Mom, in a fit of summer fun, also bought us a super cool slip n' slide that was lightyears better than the plastic sheet we had purchased a couple of years ago. We put both of these on the front lawn, along with a bucket full of water balloons, and another bucket of water guns.

For the decorations, I got two large dolphin balloons with smaller balloons in different colors to grace the front steps. They're now in our foyer, eyeing us suspiciously from the bannisters ("They're watching me," Buck told me last night while we watched TV. "I just know it.").

I decked out a table with a vinyl Hawaiian print tablecloth, and a cheap burlap-type material runner to go down the middle. At Hobby Lobby I found some cute decorations that were almost all around 50% off. Two small ceramic fish, a cute pink sailboat (all of which are now doubling as decorations in the kids' bathroom), and some palm trees from Party City that were supposed to be balloon holders, but I thought made cute additions. Hawaiian-type napkins and plates from Party City also did nicely, and of course I had our Hawaiian Mix playing on the Bose System.

The Food! Since their party was in the late afternoon, but well before dinnertime, I only had a few fun snacks on hand. There were "Fish & Chips," potato chips and Goldfish mixed in a purchased sand pail with a corresponding shovel, big slices of ice-cold watermelon, and Flip Flop Cookies.

Cute Flip Flop Cookies!

These were the cutest cookies ever, and SO simple. All you do is take a package of Vienna Fingers and use decorating gel in different colors to make the "straps" of the flip flops. If I had to do it over, I would use actual icing, since the gel was a bit messy and runny. For the "sand" the flip flops were lying on, I fluffed up some light brown sugar. I also packed the brown sugar into a curved highball glass, and then turned it out, making a little sandcastle that I stuck a drink umbrella in.

Their drinks were also really fun: "Ocean Water." Comprised of nothing more than two big bottles of Sierra Mist, and half a huge bottle of Hawaiian Punch Frozen Blast (or some such dreadful blue concoction), it was a big, sugary hit with the 4-year-olds. I froze Swedish Fish in muffin tins filled with water, and they "floated" in the ocean water. I also plunked a frozen Swedish Fish in each cup, because why not?

"Ocean Water" drinks with Swedish Fish.

Cupcakes. Dear readers, get ready to gasp. The cupcakes were from a mix. A MIX. And the icing was from a can. Yes. You read that right. I botched the buttercream icing I made for them (it curdled) and had to resort to canned icing. To add injury to insult, the foodie gods must have realized what a cheat this "gourmand" was because while I was moving the cupcakes from the kitchen to the front door, half of them slid off the cupcake stand and landed unceremoniously on my carpet. Epic.

The day was brutally hot. The ice in the Ocean Water melted immediately, and all the Swedish Fish sank down to the depths of Davy Jones's Locker...otherwise known as the bottom of my drink dispenser, whereupon they began to congeal and dissolve. The water balloons broke almost as soon as the kids' hands touched them so the water balloon toss was a bust (pun intended). Thunder and dark clouds threatened, things blew away, and the girls hated their cupcakes (foodie snobs already!).

But you know what? We had a great time. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of squeals of joy, and at least one tiny tike ate her weight in Fish & Chips and watermelon. I'd say it was a success.

I even managed to get the canned icing out of my carpet.

The Birthday Girls, minutes before they chucked their cupcakes in the trash.


Kirsten Oliphant said...

I love it! Such cute and simple ideas and I think you're onto something with the idea of things that can be reused- like the decor now in your kids' bathroom! I don't know if this makes you feel better but a friend out here wanted to be a baker so apprenticed in a number of bakeries here. The kind that charge and arm and a leg for a cake. And she said that ALL OF THEM USED BOXED CAKES. I know. Not that I ever buy bakery cakes, but no way I would now. :)

Jenna said...

Wow! Seriously?? I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that one. It's like finding out that your favorite nice Italian restaurant uses Ragu for their marinara sauce! Mind, blown. And also, I DO feel a little bit better about it now, lol.

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