The month of March is usually a flurry of activities. Lot of planning, organizing and shopping. Its been like this for the past 6 years. March is the month when my daughter was born. We celebrate it like a religion, with such a fervent zeal, that even the simplest act of cutting a cake, becomes elaborate. By religion, I don’t mean, we go overboard. Just simple excitement, happy faces and the abundant blessings is all that we wish to give Milee.
But amidst all this, the fact of the matter is I “love” to plan my kid’s birthday! I love the detailing, the fancies, the themes, the challenge to do something wonderful in a limited budget. And I capitalize the fact that Milee is still small, she will indulge me in my bizarre ideas and excitement. A few years later, the kid is not gonna listen, and most probably banish me from planning and entering her parties(according to the ever optimistic husband of mine). So, might as well, use her age and my child like spirit to plan the day that will remain etched with us forever.
This year Milee’s birthday fell on a friday, but we decided to celebrate the occasion on Sunday, the 31st. So, on her real birth day, we spent the day with Milee doing what she likes best. That is goofying around, avoiding the milk and all the healthy stuff, getting our hands dirty in sand, building castles on the beach and up in the air. Licking an ice candy… called “Gola” is her most favorite thing in the world. So we let her be. I baked a rich Chocochip cake for her, which looked like a dud, but tasted absolutely divine. Lastly, we exchanged stories, secrets and dreams, after which she hit the sack. That was her special day spent with us.
For the 31st, sunday, we zeroed in on a Little Chef Party. By “we”, I mean, Milee and me. When and how the germ of this idea incorporated itself in my head, I have no idea, but I fervently wanted to start.
I have great people around me – FACT.
Husband, parents, siblings, friends — all give in to my idiosyncrasies, humor me with their exceptional patience and love. So, banking on their undying support and excitement invading my body, mind and soul, I set to work:)
Since the birthday celebration was to be at home, I had to be careful with number of invites. In India, let it be a wedding or a birthday, we have too many people to call. And truly, I feel real bad leaving out anyone who has been remotely good to my kid. But the line had to be drawn somewhere. So, we had 30 kids and almost 20 adults attending the do! I had no idea how I would squeeze or manage so many in a match box of a Mumbai home. But we still went ahead.
Small Cupcake motifs, with the details of the party on the inside were handmade by Milee and me. Though the result was not professional, we both agreed on the personal touch the card exhibited. On the day of the distribution, I made bite sized cupcakes, and attached the invites to the cake using a toothpick. Then Milee and me went around distributing them. It was fun.
The husband was rushed and made to work like a low wage laborer. But the usually grumpy guy did it anyhow. Dad’s do almost anything for their daughters. The table, the balloons, the placards were hung from the ceiling, precariously standing on a rickety ladder. The mumbling – grumbling of the laborer was falling on deaf ears 🙂 Looking down at 2 pairs of wide, innocent angelic eyes was enough to melt the extra tough leathery heart. The job was fabulous. I assured the geek turned drudge, if he ever lost his consultancy, another option was easily available. The joke went unappreciated.
We had 6 counters:
- Hat making
- Fondue Bar
- Sandwich Area
- Pizza Making
- Salad Bar
- Cupcake Corner
A word about my fabulous friends. I unabashedly took help from my pals. They were required to handle a counter each, and give their superlative service to the incoming little master chefs. Smiling faces, helping hands and enormous patience was their mantra on the D day. They were at their marvelous best. I could not have done it without you guys.
A sneak peek into little chefs, complete with their aprons and hats. They all looked adorable and perfect little cooks.
The Chef Hat making Counter
A young girl with this colossal fortitude in dealing with kids is my friend. Yay!! Apt for her part to be with children to help them draw and decorate their chef hats. She joked, she laughed, she helped, she stole all my kids hearts. Making these wonderful make believe hats from paper to balance on little heads was no easy task for this maiden. The kids badgered her with their never ending demand for colors and designs, but she tackled them all. Hats off to you Ayushi!
The Fondue Bar
Rich creamy chocolate and a saucy herbed cheese dip is all that you need to make little kids go nuts.
With accompaniments like potato wafers, bread croutons, sponge cake, creamed wafers, marshmallows and fruits, the kids went all out to dip their treat into a slow burning pot of their favorite sauce! Apurva was given the task of the fondue section. Since the fondue idea appealed to the young eager antsy lads and lasses, they wouldn’t give a breather to the girl. This young mother to a 7 year old(although she looks more like a child herself), braved the onslaught. Tactfully she gave them all a chance to chip and dip!
The Sandwich Counter
Green mint chutney, Creamy Cheese Spread and mixed fruity jam was not enough for kids to try their hands at making sandwiches. Sonali, a very dear helpful friend, tried all her antics to appeal to the young. Gently helping the kids smear their desired cream on tiny triangles of brown bread, Sonali was at her supreme best. A few older kids did try, and liked the result.
Milee, ever open to try anything and everything, made a go at the sandwiches, and guess what!? She made many more after one!! Sonali, I am every ready to try the amazing sandwiches you make.
The Pizza Stall
My 3 a.m friend, Sonal, helped me with this one. She stood like a rock there, encouraging the kids to prepare these tiny coin pizzas, replete with a yummy pizza sauce, some corn and grated mozzarella. Kids love pizzas, so they wanted to devour the little treat without baking!! It took gentle persuasion from Sonal to take the coins back, bake them and then let them satiate their pizza pangs. Good job Girl!
The Salad Bar
Ha! Salads? and Kids?? HAHAHA!
Trust me it was not supposed to be a joke. Boiled corn, boiled chickpeas, boiled diced potatoes, some lime juice, chaat masala and salt, was enough to make a yummy salad like thing — or so I thought. Well, needless to say, the salad counter was pretty placid. No rush, no pushing, no pulling, no screams, no screeches. The stall was managed like a dream. Ya, this was a joke.
Poor Pooja, I put her in charge of helping kids whip up a tasty yummy salad. But not many wanted to eat. The ever hopeful girl beckoned the little ones with an extra dash of humour, jokes and clownish antics! A few came, they saw and they left without conquering. Resilient Pooja still stuck till the end of the game. Gold medal for her tenacity.
The Cupcake Counter
Even Before the counter went live, it was a hit!! Kids refused to budge. They wanted to ice, top and eat away. Khushi Harwani of Joy Box fame is my friend and neighbor. Lucky Me!! She gladly obliged to help out with the cupcake counter. She made these amazing bite size cupcakes. Brought her own frosting tubes, and an array of beautiful toppings in stars, silver balls, sprinklers, edible hearts and what not. The kids went berserk! They went all out. Khushi was mildly amused and highly flattered. A quiet sweet girl, she smiled her way through the scenario of dealing with sugared hyper kids. The counter was the most successful, and the cupcakes were iced super quick.
We took the cupcakes back, so that they would accompany the main cake. I am so proud of the little ones, they gave it back readily, though with a heavy heart.
So, finally with all the stalls visited and little chefs cooking like a pro… here’s a peek at their creations:
Done with the cooking part, the little ones assembled in our living room for some games.
Organized by dear husband and executed with the help of my loud, boisterous, golden hearted friend, Surabhi.
The games instantly caught on. We gave all kids a bunch of twisties/pipe cleaners, and asked them to make any edible thing. It amazed us with the stuff they came up with! soon, parents were also helping and enjoying. Jelabi, onion rings, noodles, 3 tier cakes, banana, sunflower oil…. were some of their creations!
Surabhi’s superlative performance to get all the kids to sit ( its a big deal to make a kid sit in one place!.. really.) and complete the given task is commendable. She was funny, clownish and extremely entertaining. The kids did whatever she asked them to do. She had some pretty neat tricks up her sleeve. Well done.
My friends and me started prepping the cake and getting the dinner ready, so, till then the kids had to be kept occupied. So what better than some music and dance! Time to remove the chef hats and put on some dancing shoes. Grooving to the latest hindi music, and husband playing DJ, Surabhi as dummy choreographer, the kids had a whale of a time!
Time to cut the birthday cake. The main attraction was prepared by Khushi( of JoyBox ). She made a perfect kiddie colorful cake, replete with kitkat fencing and topped full with gems/Mnm’s. The cake was drool worthy, and kids fought and clamoured for a first bite.
The return gifts were Aprons( as you must have noticed on the kids), and a cookbook. The cookbook was my mum’s idea, she encouraged me to write and compile some easy kiddie recipes, which later I got printed from a local printer. The cookbook advises and encourages the mother to let their kids enter the kitchen and help them with culinary tit bits.
So, finally the day went by like a dream. One thing that stuck with me for a long time was, how everyone readily came forward to help. willingly, smilingly, I did not even have to ask. It was such a personal affair, with relatives, guests, friends all collaborating and leaving no stone unturned to make the kids happy. Thank You.
All the arrangements, the prepping, the decorations, the hosting, the entertaining, the beautiful fabulous helpful people around me, Milee smiling, what more could I ask for?!