To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes… and that I will go overboard when planning my daughter’s birthday party.”
This year she turned five. It is also the fifth year in a row where I told myself I wouldn’t spend entirely too much time and money on the celebration. As expected, it is the fifth year in a row where I did, in fact, spend entirely too much time and money on the celebration. On a related note, if you have stock in Amazon (AMZN), Michaels (MIK), Costco (COST), or Sprouts (SFM), you have me to thank for this quarter’s stellar earnings. Looks like I have some carbon footprint offsetting to do, y’all.
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You can blame it on Pinterest (PINS) if you wish, but my love of theme parties predates any online apps. Why, my love of theme parties predates when “apps” meant something besides cheesy fried morsels alongside 2 for 1 well drinks. It’s a love that rapidly turns into a compulsion presented as glitter crafting, fun food making, baking until 3 am, mason jar centerpieces, kid craft table extravaganza.
Feast your eyes on Exhibit A, when I made my kitchen look like a murder scene at 10 pm on a weeknight so I could churn out approximately nine cake pops in the shape of Clifford the Big Red Dog for her second birthday party. You see that Clifford star thing in the background? My mother and mother-in-law spent a good hour and a half gluing those together under duress from their tyrannical daughter/daughter-in-law (me). Do you know what the kids attending the birthday party did with those? They spent a good hour and a half banging them on dirt because THEY WERE ALL TWO.
Can we also do a quick sidebar here to note that the Clifford series illustrators need to pay more attention to scale? How is he sitting on a bridge on one page and then the same size as that bridge on the next? I can’t read Clifford Takes a Trip anymore because of this egregious distraction. Clifford theme birthday parties are hereby banned in my house as a result (and because I already did one, duh).
For her third birthday I tortured myself with a garden theme party (which was super cute, BTW). Her fourth birthday was tropical birds. And her fifth birthday—to which I will dedicate the rest of this article—was mermaids of course!
Mermazingly Mertastic MerNacho Cheese
All of the items I used for the party are at the end of this article, should you wish to also mer-overextend merself for mer own merparty.
2019 seems to be the year where young girls have two requirements: to love unicorns and to love mermaids. Both mythical creatures have their own entourages of related friends like kittycorns and purrmaids – basically any living creature with a tail or horn slapped on for authenticity.
So it was no surprise that one early May morning, my daughter barged in on me as I was otherwise engaged (on the toilet) and declared that she wanted a “rainbow cake on the inside with pink frosting and sparkles and mermaids along the side” for her birthday party that would happen in three months. Over the course of those three months, she vacillated between the only two mer-uni-options she had, eventually settling on mermaids. Thankfully the rainbow cake idea fell off for cupcakes “that look like the ocean with mermaid tails coming out.” When the white chocolate hit the mold, she helped me with about 7 of the 36 mermaid tails despite promises that she’d do more. Though I’m a huge proponent of scratch-made, mostly because I enjoy baking, I made the desserts from a mix. So there, I have learned a lesson or two over this past half-decade.
The rest of her artistic vision was pretty loose, so I took some liberties and dusted off my Oriental Trading Company and Amazon accounts, and took no less than 76 trips to craft and dollar stores within 15 miles of my home and work. If it sparkled, it was ordered. If it was pink, in the cart it went. If it was mermaid, it was mine.
We had a taco bar upon her insistence. I bought almost all the food at Costco, as they have great prepared beans and carnitas at our local store. Meal prep was pretty quick, which was good because I could immediately get to eating the six pound can of nacho cheese sauce I threw in the crockpot that morning. Six pound can of nacho cheese sauce, you say? Yes. Yes, indeed. And I’m going to tell you right now every person’s secret inner junk food lover appreciated the hell out of that stuff. Don’t be ashamed, you know you love it too. We had water, juice, and lemonade for the kids, and an assortment of alcoholic beverages for the adults should they wish to imbibe. The beverages served a dual purpose, as I was pretty concerned we’d get in trouble with our HOA for so many kids using the pool. Our contract stipulated that our reservation was only for the clubhouse. So, I greeted every single person who walked through that pool gate with an invitation to eat some food and have a glass of beer or wine. It worked as far as I know. I haven’t received any angry letters at our door yet.
Although I am cooling off on the idea of gift bags, we did give each child a beach bucket with an inflatable beach ball, a stackable crayon, and a coloring activity book. I justified it by telling myself the kids would use the buckets even though I feel like I spend about 65% of my own time trying to find a place for the assortment of 457 buckets my child has somehow acquired in her brief life.
Overall, it was a great day and I was reminded of how much I enjoy entertaining even if it does cause me much anxiety leading up to the main event. Next year I’ll try to take a more balanced approach. But for now, I have some Halloween costumes to plan.
All the MerStuff
A guest had peanut allergies, so I ran the cake mix, frosting, and toppings by her mom to make sure she could enjoy the cupcakes as well. I also purchased the white chocolate for the mermaid tails from Chocoley (https://www.chocoley.com/). I highly recommend their products; they tasted a lot better than the candy melts I’ve bought at the store.
I used the Sakolla 16 Cavity Mermaid Tail Silicone Mold (https://amzn.to/2L9KrDo) for the tails. This took a heck of a lot longer than I expected, since about ten of them would break every time I’d try to extract them from the mold. However, you should know I’m very impatient so you will likely have more luck than me. We sprayed them with Wilton Pearl Edible Food Color Spray (https://amzn.to/2ZesnSq), brushed them with Wilton Deep Pink Color Dust (https://amzn.to/2NvWspB) using a food brush set I already had, and then sprayed them again. I made the cupcakes from a mix but added some nut-free chocolate chips to it so the cakes were richer. I frosted them with frosting from a can, dyed a light blue from food coloring. We sprinkled them with blue sprinkles and Wilton Edible Glitter Silver Stars (https://amzn.to/2ZrapY5) and wrapped them with dark and light blue sparkly cupcake wrappers from Michaels.
Kids Craft Table
In my attempt to keep some of the kids out of the pool so the HOA wouldn’t come charging after us with torches, I set up a kids craft table. It included sheets of coloring paper a friend gave me from her own daughter’s mermaid birthday party. I also had Aquabeads (Mega Bead Set: https://amzn.to/2Z90ZW2, Layout Trays: https://amzn.to/2L8Pqo3, Designer Template Set: https://amzn.to/2L7TtAK). I don’t know if I’d do that again, but it kept some of the kids busy. Besides, isn’t every parent thrilled for their child to have one more tiny plastic toy they have to keep track of?
The decorations were a mish-mash of things I already had and those I acquired on my plows through online shops and brick-and-mortar stores. I did get Mermaid Plates and Supplies (https://amzn.to/2L2N7Th) and Glitter Gold Cutlery (https://amzn.to/2KQ7ILD), though I’m planning to invest in sturdy reusable supplies for future parties. Tabletops were covered with either white paper tablecloths or Mermaid Scale Table Covers (https://amzn.to/31YyrLN) and Blush Pink Sequin Table Runners (https://amzn.to/2Zajzgx).
My daughter and I made the centerpieces a few weeks before the party, which was a fun activity in itself. We filled mason jars with different colors of Sparkle Sand and seashells from Michaels. We wrapped them with ribbon threaded through a seahorse and starfish charm. We also filled other jars with glass beads and stuck in some Let’s Be Mermaids Centerpiece Sticks (https://amzn.to/2ZboM7Z).
Tell me about parties you’ve planned or would like to throw.
Share them in the comments!
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Jesus. I asked and you delivered — FAST (and good).
If it helps with Clifford — second frame just imagine he is very close to the camera, so he is going to look bigger than the bridge which is far in the background. That should help the sanity — just a little.
I had the draft in the works and you calling me out lit a fire under my ass. I told you it was Suzy Homemaker, though. As for Clifford, I was wondering if I should be less critical and chalk it up to to the artist’s perspective. Do you really think they were drawing it from the vantage point of a boat in the water, though? I don’t know, Kieran. I just don’t know.
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I don’t either. Just trying to ease your worried mind.
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