Every birthday is special, but our older two girls especially looked forward to their tenth birthday-- the first time they were able to have a sleepover. For various reasons, Harold and I chose to discontinue sleepovers altogether and start a new tradition for our third daughter's tenth birthday party. (We don’t do parties every year, so this was a big deal.) I asked God for creativity, and He gave me the idea to have a Cooking Birthday Party. We invited ten girls, ages 9-11, for the party that started at 11 am and ended about 3 pm. Invitations
Option 1: Use recipe cards with the following handwritten information: the title “Cooking Birthday” as well as who it’s for, date, time, location, address and RSVP. The recipe card should easily fit into an envelope for personal correspondence. Purchase extra cards and envelopes and use them for thank you notes.
Option 2: If you have some computer skills you can design your own invitation by importing a photo of the birthday girl or some still life reflecting cooking. Be sure to include the same information I mentioned above. Print the invitation on cardstock to give it a little weight. (You can buy individual sheets at an office supply store.) I recommend designing two to a sheet, cutting the page in half (either direction) and folding the invitation in half. Send them in invitation-sized envelopes.
Preparations for each activity are listed below. I set up “stations” in the locations listed, including all the supplies and instructions I needed. If I planned more than one activity at the same location, I had a basket with instructions and supplies for each activity, including an empty basket to hold the supplies from the first activity. I also set the table in the dining room where we’d be eating. Careful, advanced preparations will make for smooth transitions during the party.
I kept it simple since most of the budget went to the party activities. We chose blue paper plates and napkins that coordinated with the invitation. The activities for the party kept us in different rooms, but we decorated the dining room with blue and white helium balloons. Fresh flowers would be a nice touch.
As guests arrive, each girl put on an apron with her name written on the tag and made a chef’s hat. Make a chef’s hat at the kitchen table (15 mins.) Before the party: I cut the white posterboard into strips, according to the directions, and collected the white tissue paper. I had the tape and paper clips available. I also had a stapler, just in case. During the party: As the girls arrived, I explained to each one how to make the hat. Anna helped the others, since she had already made her hat. The girls can chat while you put the supplies in an empty basket and wipe off the table.
Prepare lasagna at the kitchen counter (30 mins)
Before the party: Gather all the supplies you’ll need, including ingredients, measuring utensils, a large bowl, and a lasagna recipe using no-bake noodles. Be sure leave enough time to defrost frozen hamburger. Purchase aluminum foil loaf pans, one for each girl’s lasagna. Use a permanent marker to label each pan with a guest’s name. During the party: Of course you’ll want the girls to start by washing their hands. Explain to them that preparing a meal is an important responsibility for a wife and mother and that today we’re going to practice. I had the girls take turns measuring, preparing and adding ingredients to make both the meat and the cheese portions. I allowed each girl to assemble their own lasagna. (Make sure they have the pan with their name on it.) The lasagnas baked on a cookie sheet while we did the next activity.
Blindfold the Cook at the kitchen table(30 mins.) Before the party: Locate a blindfold, sleeping mask or bandana. Also have available a large spoon, a timer (you can use the stove timer) and two bowls, one with a bag of large marshmallows. (Save some for consumption.) During the party: We followed the directions, however we opted not to eat the marshmallows that had been used in the game since many hands had touched them! I suppose you could set a rule that you can’t touch the marshmallows, but scooping them is harder than it looks.
Eat Lunch in the dining room (30 mins) Before the party: Set the table. Prepare a simple salad and slice some bread. During the party: Serve the individual lasagna on each girl’s plate. Serve the salad and bread family style. I also had a pitcher of water on the table. The girls can toss their paper plates, forks, knives, and the foil containers when they’re finished, but have them keep their cups for dessert. While the girls are eating, prepare the kitchen table and other surfaces for decorating the aprons.
Decorate the Apron kitchen table (45 mins.) Before the party: I purchased aprons in bulk from a warehouse club. Then, I purchase several colors of fabric paint. I think I had 3 or 4 at the most. Mixing paints is not recommended with that many girls. I collected my shaped sponges, paint brushes, and pencils to draw designs. I collected some old t-shirts and had enough newspaper to cover the table. (I removed the kitchen chairs with fabric seats. I needed them in the dining room any way!) During the party: I reminded the girls that the paint was NOT washable, asked them to wear a t-shirt and then let them be creative. Since it’s been five years since I did this party, I’m a little fuzzy on how we fit all the girls and their aprons in my kitchen! You may need to work in shifts.
Open Gifts (30 mins.) This is the easiest part! No preparation!
Decorate Cupcakes on the kitchen counter (30 mins.) Before the party: I baked cupcakes the day before the party so they would be completely cool. During the party: I bought one color of frosting, some sprinkles, and a few small bags of candies like Skittles. When the girls were finished, they took their cupcake to the dining room.
Cake time in the dining room (30 mins.) During the party: While the girls were decorating, I cleared the table, set clean paper plates, and poured waters in their cups. When everyone was at the table, the girls ate their cupcakes together.
Of course, the apron is the party favor. (Remind them to be careful because the paint will probably still be a little wet when they transport it home.) My budget was spent, but you could also include a wooden spoon, utensils from a dollar store or a cookie cutter. If I remember correctly, we sent a recipe card with the lasagna recipe in our thank you note.
Best of All
I believe this is a way to remind our daughters to be keepers at home. It’s good to teach our daughters that cooking healthy meals is an important part of their responsibility as a wife and mother. Practicing their skills in the kitchen helps them to feel more confident and having the apron somehow makes them feel a little more “official.”