Monday, February 6, 2012

Matthew's Birthday Party!

In honor of our son turning 2 years old, we threw a small celebration at our home. I have always wanted to host a birthday party, but Matthew's birthday falls in the month of January where you are forced to host an indoor party, jamming around 20-40 people into one tight space. Being slightly claustrophobic, this was never a super appealing option to me. However, my desire to host a birthday party for my little guy overcame my paranoiac fears of tight spaces and overly warm rooms and Paul and I proceeded to plan a Dog-Themed party for our little Matthew.

I planned to hand out dog-themed decorated sugar cookies as party favors. I made a basic sugar cookie base and then cut out shapes of paw prints, puppies, and bones. I then made up a royal icing frosting to use to paint each cookie. If you have never worked with royal icing before, let me tell you that it is a super painful experience until you get the hang of it. Tedious, tricky, and extraordinarily frustrating - it can be really difficult to achieve the right consistency for the amount of detail you desire for your cookies. With Paul employed as my willing and energetic assistant, we had a bumpy start with the decorating due to some major issues with dying and thinning out each batch of frosting we made. Paul was pretty grumpy about the whole experience. I think I have mentioned before how much he truly detests cookie decorating. But, he also loves me and knows that I'm crazy.

Thus, Paul merely uttered a single question question before sitting down to help me decorate 100 sugar cookies the night before our party: "Why can't we give out stickers and candy like normal people?" About 20 minutes later, when I had just moved on to only my 2nd cookie of the night, I began to wonder the same thing.

Once we got our cookie decorating groove on, we actually picked up the pace quite a bit and produced some pretty gorgeous looking party favors.

I also made a clothespin birthday banner for Matthew using some of my scrapbooking materials. Paul had rented a truly horrible film for us to watch one Friday night and I was so bored that I decided to do something productive with my time. Out of my boredom came the creation of this banner - I simply cut thin strips of scrapbook paper and pasted them onto the front of some clothespins. Then, I took several pictures of Matthew in various stages of growth from newborn to the present and pasted them onto decorative pieces of card stock. To assemble, Paul and I strung a long piece of rope from the top of our kitchen cabinets to the window of our kitchen and we pinned the pictures on in chronological order. While we were at it, we also made a simple birthday banner to hang over the window. That was pretty much the extent of our decorating. Matthew enjoyed gazing at pictures of himself while eating. He really is his own number one fan.

For the menu, we chose the theme of "whimsical childhood favorites." We planned to make macaroni and cheese, ham and cheese sliders, soft pretzels and cheese dip, puppy chow, raspberry-lemonade bars, and homemade twix bars. We also threw in a veggie platter with hummus and a taco dip with tortilla chips into the mix. Drinks consisted of assorted soda and Capri Sun flavored waters for the little folk.

I chose to make a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layer Cake for Matthew. He absolutely loves anything Peanut Butter or chocolate, so I thought if I made a cake utilizing these flavors that he might actually venture out to eat a slice. The cake was a snap to put together and looked pretty cool once decorated.

My brother and sister came into town the night before the party. This proved to be super helpful for multiple reasons but mainly because they took Matthew to look at some puppies at the pet store while Paul and I finished throwing the food together. Unfortunately, the pet store trip was a little bit of a bust because my sister Catherine chose a small pug dog to visit with and apparently the thing ended up going crazy once it was let out of its cage. The maniacal dog scared the birthday boy into a corner where he sobbed, seeking the protection of the 6'7" of human flesh that is my brother Raymond. So, he arrived home a complete emotional mess just in time for his guests to arrive. However, once he saw the pile of presents accumulating in the corner, he quickly began to cheer up.

Overall, the party was a great success. Matthew enjoyed being sung to by a crowd of nearly 30 people. And, to my heart's delight, he LOVED the cake! He kept taking bites of it and declaring: "MMMMMMMM!!"

He received some pretty neat gifts, including a Thomas Train Set, some baby kitchen tools, a couple new outfits, a football, a little chair, blocks, lots of Toys R Us gift cards, and a scooter. He was especially interested in that scooter and immediately employed the help of some of Paul's fellow engineering friends in opening it. It took them a little too long to figure out how to set it up. They eventually figured it out and Matthew was on his way!

As it came time for each person to go, Matthew handed them their favor cookies and waved goodbye at the door. We had so much fun planning and hosting this party. I am already looking forward to next year!

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