I always said I wouldn’t be the kind of mom who stayed up until 1:00 a.m. making their kid’s birthday cake. Well, not only did I do it, but I did it for the second year in a row.
Yup, we went overboard for my daughter’s birthday again this year. Last year? It was a visit from Cinderella, a candy-covered cake, and about 75 balloons.
For her 4th birthday, my little lady requested a “mermaid” party. I wanted to try and be more inclusive, and offer another, less gender normative option, and so we expanded the mermaid dress-up theme to include pirates or other fairy-tale creatures, which some kids from her class interpreted as a pumpkin, a Ghostbuster, and Elsa costumes.
I also got into the fun with a bandana (side note: Bandanas are awesome for greasy hair days). But by far the cutest getup belonged to my 3-month-old. This is her “plundering and pillaging” face.
Was there a red carpet photo op? Of course, because what 4-year-old doesn’t need a photo backdrop for the press. OK, but actually my talented sister-in-law Becca of SuitePaperie set up this adorable backdrop with homemade jelly fish creatures. Here is my daughter and my niece getting into the photo-taking spirit.
Snark aside, the rest of the party wasn’t so out of the ordinary. It was in our backyard, no crazy party venue. We served pretzels and chips (and beer for the adults), put out tables with coloring pages and crayons, and hired a face painter. OK, I did stay up until 1 a.m. making this “under the sea” cake which I will confess had been stressing me out for weeks, but in the end it was pretty easy to make and I was contented with the result.
For those interested, I used this white cake recipe, this buttercream recipe, and graham crackers for the “sand.” Those adorable shells are actually made out of chocolate that my friend Danielle kindly made using colored candy melts and a chocolate mold. They were really the icing on the cake—or in this case, the shells on the cake.
Despite our best attempts to keep things under control and organized, it eventually erupted into chaos as all parties with 20 kids ages 3-6 will do. For example, there was a terrifying Lord-of-the-Flies-esque moment as the kids tore apart the piñata. But like any bikini wax: It was painful in the moment, but over quickly. And totally worth it.
At the end of the day, after all the kids had left and the anarchy had subsided, my big girl just kept saying, “This was the best day, this was the best day.” And so my back pain, cake planning, and exhaustion was worth it.