In a few days my son will turn 4 years old! I have no idea where the last four years have gone. The good news is he has grown into a very charismatic boy but still loves his cuddles! His birthday typically falls around President’s Day which means we are on school vacation. We hosted his birthday party yesterday at our apartment. I try to be a good DIYer and create an amazing party at home, but the truth is you need some help too. Here is how I managed a 4-year-old’s birthday party while staying (mostly) sane and keeping my apartment from getting destroyed!
By the time your child turns four they have a lot of opinions about everything, especially their birthday. Once we decided on where to have the party (at home), we started working on the guest list. As I mentioned previously, my son is pretty fun. His teachers last year described him as a charismatic playmate. I wasn’t surprised that his guest list was long. Knowing it was a school vacation made it a bit more reasonable as a lot of families travel during the break. But I knew if I was going to keep everything in order, I was going to need some outside ‘entertainment’. I wanted to do something different and when I found the Karma Kids Yoga website it seemed like the perfect activity. Shari came to our home with all of the yoga mats and supplies to keep the kids busy for about an hour. Did I mention the party was a Sea Creature/Beach theme with snow (because it is the middle of winter)? Shari did a great job incorporating our theme and keeping the kids’ attention.
Next up was lunch and while I typically prefer to cook, I knew that it wasn’t realistic to be in the kitchen and be able to enjoy the party. We ordered pizza, mozzarella sticks, pasta and salad. To make it a bit home-made I created a Shark Watermelon Bowl (thank you Pinterest)! Keeping with the theme we also had sand buckets filled with pretzels and crackers set out for the kids to snack on. Everyone enjoyed their meal and the leftovers went to the office with my husband where his team enjoyed a nice afternoon snack! Dessert was ice cream cone cupcakes. I find cupcakes are much easier for a kid’s party since there isn’t any waiting for the cake to be cut. While it might seem fun to have different flavors to satisfy different tastes, it is actually better to keep them all the same. Then no one gets upset that they didn’t get the flavor/color/icing that they wanted. We had a 4 shaped candle and my son had a huge smile on his face.
After cupcakes, it was time for everyone to go home. I find if you put some thought into the goody bags for just a few more $$ you can get something useful. Our goody bags were shark shaped and had a beach towel rolled up inside. Clean up isn’t always fun but we used disposable everything so a few garbage bags later the apartment looked pretty good. A quick run of the vacuum and the place looked pretty much as it does every afternoon.
To sum it all up, to make the most of your child’s birthday party be sure to have some help but put a little home-made love into it by creating a few of your own pieces. If the birthday boy or girl is happy, you’ll be happy too. Now I’m off to make the real birthday cake we’ll have on his birthday. I’ll be sure to share it on Instagram so follow us there.
To celebrate National Pretzel Day today I have to share this recipe from Julie’s Eats and Treats for Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels. I found it on Pinterest a few weeks ago and am just looking for an excuse to try it out. I’ll be using Cacao Prieto Almond and Salt Bark for the chocolate bark! If you try the recipe let me know how it goes!
Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzels
Makes 6-8 servings
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 bar Cacao Prieto Almond and Salt Bark
-Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.
-Mix peanut butter and butter together with a mixer until combined.
Add the sugars and beat until combined.
You should be able to roll the mixture into balls without it sticking to
your hands. If it is still sticky, add
more powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency.
-Roll the mixture into balls. Sandwich the balls between two
mini pretzels. Place in the freezer for
about 30 minutes.
-Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt in a double boiler, stirring occasionally
-Dip each pretzel sandwich into the mixture and place onto
the prepared baking sheet. Let set at room temperature and store in an air tight
I’ve always loved to cook. I grew up in a family that cooked. I have very fond memories of working together with my grandmother, mother and sisters to put together a Hanukkah celebration at the St. Louis Botanical Garden. I have fond memories of making pies late on Christmas eve with my dad and sisters. Most of my cooking memories when I was younger involved family and the holidays. My sisters and I also used have what we called ‘gourmet lunch’ on occasion. Looking back I realize this was a way for our babysitter to get us to prepare lunch but we loved it. Everyone drew a course and went to work making something for the group with whatever was available in the kitchen. It was a Food Network Chopped before that came around. Some of the dishes worked and some of the more creative ones weren’t quite as delicious or edible! As I got older(high school age) and could cook by myself, my mom often asked me to help with dinner. I loved that being in the kitchen but what I didn’t love was following a recipe. I wanted to be creative, not measuring and following directions.
I love cookbooks for their delicious stories about food and the ideas they provide for mixing new ingredients together. Check out our Pinterest Board for some of our favorite cookbooks. Unless I am baking, I typically use recipes as a guideline for flavors and quantities but allow myself to stray. I learned a great lesson from my son’s teacher last year… Once you have done something the right way (i.e. followed the recipe or built the Lego kit the way it is intended to be built) you can do it in a new way. This is a great lesson for a three-year-old and for grown-ups. Then I came across this great article in the New York Times by Sam Sifton, You Don’t Need a Recipe. In the article Mr. Sifton describes guidelines for cooking a certain dish but not a strict recipe. He points out that it takes practice to have the confidence to execute a dish without following a recipe but we can all get there if we try. I got some great ideas from the flavor profiles he outlined and signed up to receive the What to Cook Newsletter and get no-recipe ‘recipes’ sent to my inbox each week.
I cook dinner 6-7 nights a week at my house so I am always looking for inspiration on what to bring to the table. Some of the dishes will be winners with my family and some won’t; that is all part of the process. Follow our Instagram account(@juliesbeet) and check out our stories to see what I am cooking most nights of the week. When a dish works out, I often publish a recipe in the form of an Instagram post or place it in the Recipe Box on the Julie’s Beet Website. I hope you’ll follow along!