So yesterday I wrote about what I learned throwing my first kids’ party, and today I’ll get specific on some of the details. The most important detail, of course: FOOD.
I wanted to keep things simple, and the party was held at four in the afternoon so I wasn’t exactly responsible for feeding people dinner or anything. Keeping with the carnival theme, we served all finger foods. I didn’t even have flatware on the table! Here was the menu we decided on for Jude’s Big Top Circus Birthday Extravaganza:
- hot dogs (We chose kosher, all-beef since that’s kind of where we are on our “food journey.”)
- corn dogs (So not healthy or kosher, but I bought them from our warehouse store here and they were fast and easy in the oven.)
- sandwiches – chicken salad; sunbutter & jelly (for 2 peanut allergy kids who were there)
- Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies(First time I tried them and they were delicious!)
- fruit sticks (just bites of melon, grapes, and pineapple on a skewer)
- chocolate-covered pretzels (I used store-bought chocolate candy coating.)
- cupcakes! (more on those later)
- various classic and colorful candies to go with the circus theme
So for the general tablescape and basic look of things, I wanted to go bright and celebratory. I was also careful to use varying heights on the table with the cupcakes, pretzels, and the lollipops. The cupcake stand is this basic one by Wilton, and I love it! I can reuse it again and again for any birthday parties or showers I host and just redecorate it each time. To decorate it, I used scrapbook paper I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby and simple blue grossgrain ribbon. I had a hard time getting the ribbon to stick at first, but when I decided to use Elmer’s traditional school glue, it worked easily and washed right off.
Food labels are necessary for me, and I know that allergy mamas especially appreciate them. I hate being at a function and not so sure about what you are putting in your mouth. I found a circus font online and downloaded it for free, and I used it on the invitations and all of the signs and food labels at the party. There are a ton of free simple graphics and fonts if you look for them online.
For the added color and backdrop to my table scape, I used bright red wrapping paper from the dollar store and topped it with a blue tablecloth from the dollar store as well. We folded that tablecloth like a runner and topped all of that with $1 confetti and voila! Three whole dollars and the table is done.
We also had a candy corner because what carnival doesn’t have sweets? I bought all of the glass containers from (you guessed it…) the dollar store, and I racked up on candy there as well. I chose candy that was either colorful or nostalgic or both – Mary Janes and Sugar Daddies for retro flair; gumballs, jolly ranchers, and ring pops for color. The oversized lollipops I found at Oriental Trading Company for pretty cheap. I set out a few treat bags I had from a shower I hosted once and encouraged guests to take some home. Luckily, almost all of it disappeared and I am only left with about 10 lollipops, but I’m thiking I can use them to adorn birthday packages this year.
Lastly, the cupcakes! I went back and forth SO MANY times about what kind to make because I wanted something different and a variety. Because we took a trip to the apple orchards a couple of weeks ago and because nothing says fall like apple cinnamon, I finally settled on apple cupcakes with cream cheese icing. For variety, I also baked Ina Garten’s chocolate cupcakes (my old reliable favorite!) and topped them with homemade buttercream frosting. I baked them all the night before and iced them in about 15 minutes shortly before the party. It honestly took the same amount of time as calling to order a cake and going to pick it up. So simple.
I also found some awesome toppers on Etsy that added a special touch. Some of them even had his name!
Did you know that even a simple grocery store cake is something like $40? All together, I would estimate the cupcakes and toppers were something like $20, and they were cute, tasty, and personable. At the end of the day, we fed a crowd of about 35 people on less than $100 including tableware! An accomplishment in frugality for sure.
Tomorrow I’ll post on details and decorations – my favorite part of the party!
For other posts about this carnival birthday party, see my archives here, here, or here.