Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Birthday Month Part Two

the invite postcard - info was printed on the back
Prep, prep, prep.

Prep the Invites:

If you’re sending out evites, kudos to you, that’s even easier. I wanted something that the grammies and grampies could hold on to as a keepsake, and while I was at it I sent an invite to everyone. I designed a collage style postcard on picnik and had a local printer make them up for me – only 50 cents each. Woot!

Papa frosted these cupcakes
Prep the Food:

Making food in advance when you have time to be leisurely and cook (haha) is so much easier than trying to fit all of the cooking in on one or two days. This isn’t Thanksgiving folks, it’s a birthday party. Did you know you can freeze cupcakes? And cake? And rolls (that never made it to the table)? And baked beans (read about that here)? And lots of other stuff too, but these are the things that apply to our party.

The key to freezing cupcakes: Let them cool thoroughly. Don’t frost them. Put them in a gallon freezer bag, making sure they’re all standing up. Don’t just toss them in there. Then suck out all of the air from the bag. If you happen to make a lot of cupcakes (<cough> six dozen <cough>), stack the individual bags in the on cooling racks in the freezer.

(In case you don’t know this trick: seal the bag almost all the way, leaving ½” open. Press out as much air as you can. Then pinch your fingers around the ½” opening and suck out the air, quickly closing the opening when the air is gone. Try not to pass out. Practice first, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.)

The key to thawing cupcakes: Take them out of the bags to thaw. If you leave them in the bags they’ll get soggy and gross. I thawed them on the counter at room temperature the morning of the party. Worked like a charm.

I made two pans of rolls, taking them out of the oven after they had cooked but not browned. I froze/thawed in the same way as the cupcakes, and warmed them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. And then promptly forgot about them, so the guests never saw the rolls. Back to the freezer they went.

paper cranes, a bug, and the cupcake tower
Prep the Decor:

I kept the decor for the party simple: little paper cranes sprinkled around the food table. That’s it. The rest of the ‘decor’ was using pretty serving pieces, a white tablecloth (aka a white sheet), and keeping to a color scheme. Simple and effective. I didn’t even have to make the cranes, a co-worker gave them to me years ago. The color scheme was determined by what I have: lots of white, with green, blue, and yellow. Yay me and my awesome vintage Pyrex collection! See what you have around the house, can you make a color theme out of it? Will a tablecloth tie it all together? Good!

While you’re at it, if you can do different levels on the food table. If you don’t have a cupcake tower or cake stand no problem – collect a couple of boxes and put them on the table but under the tablecloth. Caterers do this all the time and it looks fantastic.

Prep Your Helpers:

Don’t forget your trusty helpers. Enlist help, even if it’s as vague as, “I’ll need you to do something, but I don’t know what yet.” Once you do know what it is you want them to do, let them know ASAP, especially if it involves making food.

For example, my mom’s duties for birthday party day:
  • Provide a macaroni salad (made the day before)
  • That morning, drive around Max and the out-of-town great-grandma (Mimi) who had never been up before so that Max can have a nap before the excitement and so Mimi can see the town
    • As an aside, Mimi’s duty was to give Max cuddles and kisses and assist in the getting him to sleep business. She’s very good at it. This may seem like a silly duty, but with Max phasing out his morning naps the extra help was essential.
  • During the party, make sure that the pretty drink pitchers are kept filled from the not-so-pretty drink pitchers
  • Clean up duty – actually, I was going to clean up but instead I cuddled with Max and chatted with a friend while he napped. Mom’s just awesome like that.

My other helpers and their duties (I apologize if I forgot anyone):
J sprinkled the cranes on the food table
Hubby cut up veggies (assisted by dad)
Dad grilled burgers and hot dogs, and frosted the blue cupcakes
V photographed the whole thing, and she frosted some cupcakes too. Frosting cupcakes is really, really fun, btw.

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