Monday, February 23, 2009

An everything-free party! (except for fun)

Yesterday heralded my soon to be 7 year old's birthday bash. It's a big event. Turning a new year older. Holding up an extra finger when someone wants to know how old you are. Seeing your friends. And hey, cake!

She planned carefully. She designed posters. She drew pictures. She poured over party catalogues. We pondered the fact that although last year we found no Tinkerbell merchandise for her Tinkerbell tea party, there are at least 3 fairy designs this year. But no Webkinz; the topic of choice this year.

Invariably, my girls are a year ahead of the game. From Horses to Unicorns to Olympics to Harry Potter, we have to use ingenuity only to find 6 months later, our demand has finally produced supply. And by then, the girls are off into some other new and exciting trend. Next year, there will be Webkinz everything. And they'll be ho-hum about it.

Anyways...My rule for a low stress party is that we can't poison anyone.

It's a strict rule. And not even Mommy's health can be risked by dangerous normal food. Especially not Mommy's health. The birthday child is important, but who takes care of them? And who makes sure each guest goes home with the right parent? That the walls don't collapse?
That's right. Mom. And she can't do it from bed.

So, the requisite martyr-mom attitude must go out the window. Cake is corn free, gluten free, potato free, etc. Penguin deserves to feel at home in her own home; and why on Earth would I bake for one kid but not the other? Of course, the cake must be dairy free, too. And since nuts are a potentially serious nuts allowed. This does create some increased stress for me before hand. The main issue? There's no back up. If my homemade cake does not turn out well; I have to bake another one. There's no last minute race to the grocery store for a powdered sugar icing frosted confection. No fall back plan. Sink or swim, the baking must turn out okay or guests will go hungry. Period.

After our own family; we start to consider guests nutritional needs.

For Miss B that isn't too hard. Her friends don't seem to have any allergies, just finnicky food ideals. That does make being a hostess slightly more challenging. Many a playdate has involved the dramatic sigh of a pint-sized guest accompanied by the breathy remark "Don't you guys just have something normal?" (Pardon me, I thought carrots and apples and grapes WERE normal.)

At any rate...I don't want them to go home from a PARTY grumbling. I have managed to perfect a few recipes that I feel good about serving. The kids are supposed to choose one; but Miss B chose something less than perfect. Still, my kids devoured it and I served chocolate chip cookies (homemade, delicious, perfected, "almost normal" as described by my brother) to the balkers. They asked to bring some home to their siblings, which can't be a bad thing.

We also served "Kinz Kebobs" which were skewers of California grown strawberries and Hondurian Cantaloupe (I tried to find something else local, I really did. But she turned up her nose, she's 7 and well...I haven't truly started that whole local-vore thing that I'd love to implement, and will totally jump on as soon as a tapioca farm opens next door.) Those were a big hit. You just can't miss with fruit on a palm tree stick.

The kids entertained themselves in a Webkinz Arcade, which was essentially a balloon labeled "Zingoz Bounce"; Silly Six Pins (A loud-electronic game that gets little use but the kids love) dubbed "Kinz Pinz" and a box labelled "Wishing Well 2" where the kids could earn prizes by pulling out matching plastic fruit. The concept was lost on them, they had a blast anyways and many of them just collected prizes. I feel bad that it wasn't more evenly distributed; but, no one cried, they were all too busy screaming in delight. That's a good thing, I think.

The Arcade madness was followed by a treasure hunt to find Arte. Those with kinz experience know that Arte is the Curio shop manager who sends you treasure hunting. Our hunt culminated in the discovery of...well; rocks. Special rocks. Designed to be broken open and treasure unearthed. Our treasures? Lollipop rings, mardi gras beads and charm bracelet kits. (Please note that the rocks did harbor danger in the form of glutenous FLOUR. They were broken open outside; under the supervision of the non-Celiac parent. They were also created by the non Celiac in an off residence kitchen.)

Then we sat down and made bracelets. Luckily it all sort of worked out. The kids were not into making sure everything was even and fair...they were mostly into "I found this, I'm keeping this." Thankfully, I bought things by the dozen and there were only 8 kids total, including Penguin who is only a guest by proxy. So it really did seem to work out. I'm the only one who worried that some of the kids got slighted. (Unless they complained in private.)

I was told that the gem hunt was the most fun EVER. Good news. Things wrapped up with the unwrapping of gifts just barely before 3 pm; when the first parent came knocking to collect their offspring. And dh and I collapsed on the sofa with my parents and my brothers family thinking collectively "We survived!"

Miss B is happy. But dealing with that infamous after party "let down" feeling. After all, the next big event seems a LONG WAYS OFF. And her sister's upcoming limelight (Second march birthday) followed by her cousin's first birthday (3rd March Birthday) is not helping things much. Luckily, we got the party over with before her actual day of birth; so we can keep the celebration rolling through the week.

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