Three's A'loud

Cooking up a chef party

Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. An ad in a magazine. A particularly pretty tablecloth in Woolworths. I have to admit that I don’t see a movie with the kids anymore without making mental notes of everything that can be translated into a little detail at the next birthday party. With this column I hope to be the sparker of a few ideas for you every month… even if it’s just on things not to do!

So let’s kick off with my then-7-year-old’s chef party last year. I have to admit I went through a bit of an anti-Disney phase and shamelessly manipulated my girls into thinking they both wanted career-related parties. (Scientist party and spa party coming soon…) It all started with me finding fabric on a sale and buying it with no real plan. I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by… it was really cheap! Unfortunately I could not hide it fast enough in that place where we hide things from our husbands and then take it out months later and say “Oh this old thing? No, it’s not new. I’ve had it for ages! Don’t you remember?”

So anyway, I was busted, my husband wanted to know what I was going to do with 10 meters of black and white print and I had to come up with something quick. So I told him our eldest reaaaaly wanted a chef party and as an adoring mother I was going to make all the kids little aprons. Of course I did not think this through properly because then I had to spend the next week convincing my mom to make the aprons (I suck at sewing) and convincing/blackmailing the party girl into having a chef party instead of a Frozen party.

But all’s well that ends well and it turned out pretty awesome in the end if I may say so myself.

Considering a chef party? Here are some of my top do's and don'ts.

Don't…make everything one colour. I already had the black and white fabric and added a few other black and white elements but also added splashes of teal. For once I didn’t spend a small fortune on décor but we did make each child a sweetie-pack and linked it to the theme by simply sticking a little chef-hat-picture on each. On arrival each kid received this pack as well as an apron (my mom did an awesome job on these!) and a chef hat. I found a bazillion different tutorials for this online but found that using tissue paper and using a glue stick to stick it to a normal-paper strip seemed to be the easiest by far.

Do…have an activity. Even if it’s a small one. We gave each kid a prepared pizza base (store bought all on my own but actually really easy to make yourself) and some ingredients to invent their own pizza. They each got a bowl with some cheese, ham, sausages, courgettes and mushrooms as well as some tomato paste. They loved it, they added all the things they loved and then they went to play while we baked it for them. A great tip I got from someone else is to make little labels on skewer-sticks with everyone’s name on it otherwise no one knows who made which pizza when they come out of the oven.

Don't…try to entertain them all day. After the pizzas we left them to spend the rest of the day swimming and running and climbing (in the end this is all kids really want) and blowing out the candles on the store bought cake (I don’t bake so well either…) with an easy-peasy fondant chef-hat on top that I managed to make myself. I covered a paper ball with white fondant and added the “band” along the bottom.

Do…something for someone else! The cherry on top for me personally was finishing off the afternoon by letting the little chefs decorate some cupcakes which we later donated to a local charity. It was a great lesson to remind the kids that not everyone are as lucky as we are to get a themed party every year and that you are never too small to start helping others.

Don't…invite too many kids. You can much rather do something really special for a few friends than run around hosting Disneyland all day. Someday I will start following my own advice on this *sigh*

Do…make the birthday sweety-bags/buckets together. Make sure there is a little bit extra of everything because inevitably your little angel will put a sweet in the first bag, a sweet in the second bag, a sweet in her mouth, a sweet in the third bag etc.

Don't…have only plan A. Right in the middle of everyone making their pizzas, we had load shedding (if you are not South African you might not know what load shedding is. Count yourself lucky.) Lucky for me I have an awesome husband who proceeded to light a fire and braai the pizzas as if it was the plan all along.

Do…make sure you do as much as you can the week before. Party bags with crisps and lollipops and juice boxes can be made daaaays in advance. Print name tags and/or signage way before the day of the party. Save yourself the stress on the evening before. Rushing makes a nightmare out of something that should be fun.

Don't…buy too many new things. Use things you already have in your house. I presented sweets that look like fried eggs in a pan instead of a normal bowl. Easy as pie. Or eggs.

Executing a child’s birthday party, (Ha! Good word choice! Parties are a little bit like executions!) can be a blast or a nightmare. A little planning and a ton of love for the birthday-girl or boy goes a long way.


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