I only do parties for my kid’s odd numbered birthdays. It saves me from having to do 4 parties a year and it saves birthday parties from becoming a huge chore for everyone else. Even numbered years, the kids get a family outing of their choice on their birthday. (zoo, museum, botanical gardens, movie, etc.) They equally love even and odd birthdays. So this year, I only had one party to do. (Praise the Lord!) Imo decided she wanted a garden party. Not a tea party. But a digging in the dirt garden party. She asked her friends to bring plants for a “friendship garden” instead of getting her a gift. It did rain on and off, so we had to move the food indoors, but they were still able to do all their gardening activities.
First, we found a gnome. Gnome shopping was difficult for Imo. She liked them all. She finally decided on Bob. We had a photo shoot with Bob and used him to make our invitations. We made postcards. They are super simple and cheap. You just make a 4×5 image, then you create a postcard template, take both files to Staples and have them printed 4 per page with the image on one side and the postcard stuff on the other side of cardstock. Use their cutter to cut the paper into fourths. And ta-da! Postcards.
Instead of cake, I made individual mud pies. I put them in 3″ terra cotta pots. (If you’re serving food in terra cotta, just make sure the terra cotta isn’t made in Mexico. I found these Germany made pots at Joann’s.) To make mud pies, you make chocolate cake (just make a sheet cake). Let it set in the cool over overnight to dry it out a bit. Cut the cake into 1″ cubes. Place the cake cubes in a bowl and pour some liquor over them. (You don’t want them soaked, just a little moist.) You can use kahlua, cointreau, irish cream, or whatever you think works with chocolate. If you want a non-liquor option, you can use espresso. I made 2 batches of cake to fill 24 terra cotta pots (and I did have some cake left over) and soaked that cake with about 1/2 cup of liquor- so it isn’t much at all. I then made chocolate mousse (2 batches) and chocolate fudge sauce (1 cup cream heated with 2 T butter and 2 T light corn syrup in a double boiler then melt in 16 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate).
Once everything is made, it is assembly time. Plug the bottom of the terra cotta pots with a mini marshmallow. Then add a couple cubes of cake, mousse, cake, and fudge sauce (in that order) into the pots. Crumble some cake on the top and add a mint leaf to garnish. Stick the in the fridge until you’re ready to party.
We had the party in the morning, which is my usual choice of party time. (You can offer a much more limited food selection, which makes planning much easier.) In addition to the mud pies, we had a fruit tray and a veggie tray. We also had snow cones before the kids left. (My friend got me an awesome snow cone maker as a gift since I’ve been craving snow cones and slushies like crazy. I just premade 24 cups of shaved ice, then added the syrup of the kids’ choice as they asked. The kids seemed to prefer the Jelly Belly syrups I picked up at Kroger and the adults preferred the Monin syrups. If you’re buying Monin syrup- try the Lavender. It is amazing! And the Cupcake is nice, as well.) We had sweet tea, lemonade, and bottles of water to drink.
Before the party, The Pastor prepare a garden space for the garden. He also made a sign for the garden. (Tip: when you are painting something small or grabbing paint for a craft- try getting a sample of wall paint from your home improvement store. They cost a little over $2 and you’ll have more than enough paint for your project. One sample of paint is enough to cover about 5 of these signs.) He used Sharpie instead of paint for the lettering, which bled a little in the rain.
I picked up trowels at the Dollar Tree for the kids to use. I grabbed several watering cans, as well, but they ended up not needing those thanks to the rain coming and going.
The kids had fun planting a garden. And it actually turned out really nice, despite not having “planned” every plant. Each child brought the plant of their choice, so there is quite a variety, but the garden looks really nice.
After they ate their mud pies, we washed out the terra cotta pots. The kids went back outside and each planted some seeds in their pot to take home. (They planted lavender seeds, because I had a few unused packs lying around.)
Apparently I have set a standard in Imo’s mind. She now feels she needs an outfit made by me to match her parties. I didn’t realize I did this, but apparently I do. That is how most of our traditions around here get started. I don’t realize I do the same thing over and over until the kids tell me I do it and that they expect me to continue. Since it was a gardening party, a dress wasn’t the most appropriate choice. So we made ruffle bermuda shorts and a gardening apron. (Tutorials to come.) I didn’t get a picture of the outfit clean, but you get the idea.
We also grabbed some extra paint stirs at Lowe’s and the kids decorated them with their names to mark their plant in the garden so Imo would remember who gave which plant.