January 27th, 2012
Writing about the hungry boy’s 5th birthday earlier this week made me realize that I never shared his birthday party from last year. While I’m aware that writing a blog + being a mom does not require me to share every milestone, last year’s birthday party was relevant. It was a food-themed party that worked really well and I think you’ll like hearing about it. I also hope that it inspires some ideas that’ll help with your kiddo’s birthday, especially if your crumbsnatcher is an inveterate food-lover like my guy.
We ushered in the hungry boy’s fourth year at a local pizzeria. While hosting a pizza party out of the house makes things way easier (no clean up!), it’s not necessary. You can host a party like this at home, though I’d suggest that you keep the guest list small. Pizza making gets messy.
The party plan was simple. The fun started at paper-lined tables where the kids were given paper chef hats, markers and stickers. They had about 20-30 minutes to settle in, draw and decorate their own hat before the cooking began. Then each child was given a small round of pizza dough, just enough for a child-sized individual pie, generously sprinkled with coarse cornmeal.
If you’re at a pizzeria, ask the pizza master to show the kids how to properly work the dough. Otherwise, just give them a sense of what to do. Then watch
them the boys do bizarre things with their dough. (Forgive the stereotypes, but… girl pictured below.) Regardless of gender, as long as the kids keep their dough sort of flat, it’ll all work out.
Once the kids have had a chance to shape their pizzas, put out the sauce. Do not make the sauce accessible any earlier. In fact, if they’re really small—like, oh, let’s say 4 or 5 or 6—ladle some sauce onto the dough and let the kids spread it around using the back of a spoon. Trust me on this one.
Then comes the cheese. Let the kids grab handfuls and go at it. Don’t feel like you need to manage them—really, who cares if the cheese is lopsided. Let the kids do their pizza thang!
Because when they do, it’s so, so satisfying. Just look!
If you can, try to organize or somehow mark the unbaked pizzas so that you can give each child the finished pie on which they worked. If that’s too hard—well, they’ll probably never notice!
Keep decorating for you pizza party really simple. If you don’t want to line tables with paper, use a plastic or vinyl red and white checkered tablecloth. If you want balloons, go red and white. If you’re hosting at home and don’t want to use proper plates and cutlery, consider using sustainable paper party wares. Worried that the colors are drab? Use these red and white striped paper straws for a pop of color! (Black and white striped would be nice, too.) Or check out Susty Party for chic eco paper party goods.
For invites and cupcake toppers, you cannot get any better than these personalized pizza party goods from The TomKat Studio on Etsy. I could not have been happier with these.
(And who doesn’t need an excuse to finally buy a scalloped circle punch?!)
If you’re into giving favors and you’re able, consider handing out books instead of plastic trinkets. Pete’s a Pizza is perfect for a little kid’s pizza party. I paired the book with a pizza cookie from Eleni’s. It was delish, but let’s just say that all the sugar and synthetic red food color made for an interesting end of the soiree.
If you can, convince a local pizzeria to sell you a bunch of personal pizza boxes (you can find them affordably online, but only bundled in high quantities). It may seem like a bit much, but the kids still use boxes from last year. They are a goody “bag” that doubles as a perfect play kitchen toy. Or an, um, 5-year-old boy’s jewelry box.
Aside from the yummy eats, which, in our case, also included these strawberry cupcakes iced with strawberry frosting, the best part about about a pizza party is that making food is a perfect kids activity (easily modulated for different ages). You don’t have to play social director or plan a whole bunch of games. You don’t have to scramble when your activities fall flat. Because everyone loves making a pizza pie!