16 November 2009

The Monkey Bread Birthday

So, because the girl turned six last week, we threw her a birthday party. And, like all of the other parties we’ve had for her, we had it at home. Because, to me, that’s what you do. I realize that I’m swimming against the current here – in the several years that the girlie’s been going to other people’s parties, only one other kid has had parties at home. All the others – and she seems to get invited to a lot of parties – have been at commercial venues of one kind or another: bowling alley / gym / beauty parlor / ice cream shop / Burger King / pizza place.

Last spring, at a fundraiser, I bought a gift certificate to a place that does cooking classes for kids, thinking that I could use it for her birthday. When I called up to discuss it with them, it turned out that even with the gift certificate, it was going to cost me way more than I wanted to spend. But because I liked the idea of a cooking party, and because we love to cook, we made our own party – which I am going to relate in mundane detail, in the hopes of convincing more people to party on at home.

apronsI ordered plain white kid-sized aprons from Dharma Trading, along with fabric markers. In advance, we stenciled each kid’s name on an apron using fabric paint. When the kids arrived, they decorated their aprons.

Then, they went outside for an egg and spoon race championship, complete with real eggs and a bracket chart (and, yes, we made them run uphill). Luckily, we had unseasonably wonderful weather – but pin-the-hat-on-the-chef would have been the rainy day back up. [While they were outside, we set up the table for monkey bread making.]

egg spoon race

monkey bread makingBack inside, they donned their aprons, rolled up their sleeves and “made” monkey bread. I’d made a huge quantity of the dough the day before. Each kid got an 8” cake pan and a lump of dough, and they shared several bowls of melted butter, and of cinnamon-sugar. We’d had the foresight to put a drop cloth under the dining room table, otherwise I think the rug would be on the curb now. They made dough balls, dipped them in butter & sugar, and filled up their pans.

After a good hand-washing all around, the girlie opened her presents. [While that was going on, we re-set the dining table for cake.]

Lastly came singing and cake, singing complete with "cha-cha-cha", and chocolate cake with raspberry fluff icing. The cake recipe came from The Cake Bible; the icing was Julia Child’s italian meringue with a couple of blobs of seedless raspberry preserves beat in.

The small guests went home with an apron, a monkey bread ready for the oven, a recipe card* and a wooden spoon.

Lest you think we did this all without help, think again. The girlie’s grandmother – a once schoolteacher – helped out with apron decorating and monkey-breading. Several parents stayed and got pressed into service. All the grownups got wine & nibbles for their troubles.

And I collapsed into a fragrant, unctuous bubble bath.

Yeah - it's a lot of work. But it was a whole lot of fun.


*If you want the recipe, let me know and I'll email it to you.

34 comments:

YourFireAnt said...

Oooh the meringue. I would've found a way to sneak all the meringue off the cake, and wolf it down. Mm. Mm.

I agree wholeheartedly about parties at home.

T.

Cathy said...

I am absolutely with you on at-home birthday parties. One of our best was a pie-in-the-face party. It was appealing several counts: I didn't know any other moms who would countenance something so messy; it's edible; and believe-it-or not, it's easy to clean up.

First, the kids shed any special clothing (or all their clothing, if they wanted). Then they filled LOTS of empty aluminum pie tins using whipped cream cannisters. They carried these with great pomp to the backyard, took their places on chalked lines and starting throwing. I can't remember what the rules were or what it took to win.

When they eaten their fill of whipped cream, they took off their clothes and hosed each other down. Draped in beach towels, they watched a movie, and when it was done, their clothes had been washed a dried.

slouchy said...

Sounds WONDERFUL.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

How fun!

The birthday parties my kids attend are almost always at people's houses (or at a park) but I think that's because we live in a small town. There are really only 3 or 4 venues for b-days... So, I may steal your idea : )

Am I doing okay? said...

Love it! Seems super fun! Great favors.

Kelly said...

That sounds lovely. I never have Vi's parties here because she has a summer birthday and the park shelter is free and I am lazy. The playground entertains the children.

de said...

We've done both; both were expensive.

March suddenly seems around the corner. And I love your idea!

FreshHell said...

I could kiss you! That sounds like a wonderful party! I've always held parties at home. Most people have them at commercial enterprises or just do slumber parties (Dusty's friends). For Dusty's party this year the kids will be decorating/painting their own wooden treasure box and then burying a time capsule in the back yard. I love having the chaos of lots of kids in the house for 2 hours. Then....they go home!

Bibliomama said...

I used to be an immovable party-at-home-er. Then Angus got older and he and his friends got very very big. We did have a great t-shirt painting party for his fourth or fifth birthday, and a fun princess party for Eve's third. In general I'm more comfortable in my own environment, even when that environment is being tromped on by multiple small, paint-covered feet. But (and I know I should do a better job of trimming the list, but it seems impossible) fifteen or so eight or nine-year-old boys just don't fit in my house without major damage. And I agree, whoever said both are expensive -- you just end up spending the money on different things.

That said, this party idea kicks ass (almost as much as the pie-in-the-face one) and I'd love the recipe. :)

modernemama said...

Never heard of monkey bread before so I definitely want the recipe, please :)

Life in Eden said...

I prefer the at-home-party, and generally it has been family only (that was usually what I had growing up). Although last year was way too crazy for any party, so we did take The Snake and his best friend bowling as a special treat. This year we have promised a party to make up for the last 2 years (twins arrive and cross country move respectively). I'm not sure WHAT we will do!

Harriet said...

What a fantastic idea for a party. Because AJ's birthday is in March, which is still winter here, it is either snowing or muddy and outdoors never works. Our house isn't big enough for much roughhousing, so we've done all of AJ's parties at a gymnastics center down the street. Last year we didn't have a party, but this year, for the first time, AJ's birthday is not on spring break, so we will probably be doing something at our house. And I'm terrified. I don't think I can get away with cooking with boys at his age unless I come up with something suitably boyish. But it's definitely worth thinking about. Hmm.

Carol said...

I think that's a great idea for a party. Gets kids interested in cooking, and a fun time is had by all.

Bethany said...

Last year my older kiddo wanted a roller skating party -- $150, PLUS, we'd still have to have the family party at home (because there wasn't enough space for cousins and friends). Too expensive, so I mentioned a tea party instead. We bought tea cups from the thrift shop, bought flowers, and borrowed Grandma's fanciest table cloth. We made finger food and lemonade, and put out the dress up box for guests to fancy themselves up. It was a major hit with the kindergarten set, and plenty of room for cousins too. (My 8-year-old nephew was even excited, as long as we promised not to tell his friends.)

This year she's talking about roller skating again, so we'll see. Honestly, it still cost me $100 in food and what-not. But it was definitely a party to remember.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Almost all of our parties over the years have been of the at-home variety. The only exception was the couple of years where everyone wanted to go to the BMX track. $75.00 for as many kids as you wanted. You brought your own cake.

Our cul-de-sac bike rodeo and our old-fashioned picnic were a couple of our most fun parties.

wheelsonthebus said...

THat is very, very clever. I wish the parties I plan were as well-themed.

The Hotfessional said...

How wonderful! They'll be talking about it for a long time, too, I bet.

Mary G said...

That sounds like a wonderful party. I always did my girls' parties at home too - one year we had Olympic games in the back yard and awarded chocolate dollar medals.
My daughter carries this tradition forward. And I help. My regards to your mother and we maybe should form a union.
Love the aprons. I am going to tell Little Stuff's mom about this.

nonlineargirl said...

That sounds great. I recall having some not-home birthdays, but not until I was older (maybe 10ish) and I think the stakes (and costs) have gone up since I was a kid having a bowling party.

An activity that leads to taking home a treat is excellent!

Mayberry said...

We have done both and there is something special about the at-home party. I'd like that recipe, because my kids like to cook regardless of the occasion!

(The last picture--priceless.)

rachel... said...

I LOVE Monkey Bread (and am craving some now!) I've done both kinds of parties, too. I like the at-home parties because they're cheaper, but they require A LOT more planning and cooking and cleaning! Sounds like you did a wonderful job on all counts!

kathy a. said...

oooh, fabulous party!

my son works for dharma trading, and he votes for more parties like this. [small world, no?]

Lady M said...

What a fabulous party! Happy Birthday to your daughter.

We've also been doing home parties. Last year, we blew up long skinny balloons, and the kids had a happy few hours playing "light sabers" with them.

RuthWells said...

Nicely played! Much more memorable than a group trip to Build-a-Bear, or other such nonsense.

painted maypole said...

i am SO with you on the home parties, as you know. this one sounds delightful.

recipe, please.

heidi said...

Wonderful!!! M will remember that day forever :-)

susan said...

I'd love that recipe. We always have Curious Girl's party at home--she has a May birthday, and we usually have some kind of craft project (for a couple of years now, she's wanted to paint flower pots, and then everyone takes home a potted plant).

But I might be pushing her towards a cooking party for next year--this one sounds fun!

Furrow said...

That sounds like a really fun party.

kathy a. said...

sounds like a fun party, indeed! i'm also voting for the recipe.

Bee said...

Yes, please, to the recipe. I recall making this in my childhood, but I had forgotten all about it.

I love homemade parties -- and cakes.

Vodka Mom said...

you're an incredible mother. But don't worry, there's plenty of time to change that.

Life As I Know It said...

I'm a fan of the at-home parties, also. Although, I find outsourcing to be easier when you have a 7 year old boy with a winter birthday who wants to invite 10 other 7 year old boys.

Looks like you had a great birthday party. And monkey bread? Awesome idea!

abby said...

that sounds awesome!

my 6th birthday was similar, but we made pizza. each one of us got to make our own little personal pizza to be eaten during the party. it's all I remember, not the presents or even the attendees, and it was great.

sure wish I had an apron from that though!

MDTaz said...

I have not yet found the courage to do a bonanza birthday party for my girls. The last party for my 6-year old we invited three kids; I was exhausted when it was over. But given that they've been invited to so many little fêtes over the years, we'll have to gulp and host one. But your very inventive plan inspires me...