A birthday party at home is a big deal. It needs preparation, time, and much thought on “what I’ll need, what I’ll cook, how I’ll organize it.” It also needs dedication and goodwill. Especially if you decide to create a buffet with homemade healthy foods. And the birthday cake, don’t forget the birthday cake! This is quite the puzzle. But it is an important event that will fill our little ones with joy, so we want to prepare something right and with love. So, if I tell you that I have everything collected to help you, how would that seem to you? Menu, organization, tips, and recipes, everything is here, in this article! Don’t lose any more time, then, and let’s get started.
Whether you’re a full-time parent or a working parent, your time is definitely limited, and organizing a party might seem like a huge chore. What follows is a timetable for a correct organization. I consider a timetable very helpful, almost necessary, ever since it helped me prepare for my wedding in 6.5 months—yes, that’s how long passed between the moment we decided to get married and the wedding day. And we both had full-time jobs, while we wanted almost everything to be handmade, so as you can imagine, I truly believe in a correct timetable.
I started a month before the party so that I could be relaxed and sure that I’d manage. I didn’t put time into it every day, of course, and I could have prepared even more things, especially handmade items, but as long as my child thought the party was perfect, then it was perfect even without those additional things! I mention some of my ideas, though, so that you can add them to your own timetable if you want.
1 month before
Decide on the date, the space, and the theme of the party. Record your needs regarding consumable items, ingredients, and materials, and do your shopping. You must decide the number of guests from the beginning of your preparations.
The number of guests will affect the place where the party will be held, the menu, as well as the number of consumable items like plastic or paper plates, utensils, and everything else you might need. So, one of the first things you should do is write down your guest list. Don’t forget to learn if there are any allergies or special dietary preferences. Our objective is to take care of everyone and has predicted one, if not two, foods for them.
For many reasons, I chose our house to host our party, making sure to move the furniture around to widen the free space so that the children and the adults could move around freely.
The decoration and the theme
The theme, first and foremost, must be liked by the birthday boy or girl. I chose the theme with Martzi’s help from teleioparty.gr, who listened to me, gave me suggestions and ideas, and with perfect professionalism took care of our party’s decoration, even from afar. It was amazing the fact that through our messages, she managed to understand my tastes and make targeted suggestions and beautiful combinations around the farm animals theme, which I was sure would be adored by the little hands.
I had decided to shop earlier to avoid problems even if we run into shipping delays due to COVID-19, yet my order from teleioparty.gr had left Athens on Wednesday and was at my front door on Thursday. I had no stress regarding shopping, then, and continued with the rest of my preparations, completely focused.
Make a shopping list with everything you’re going to need and make sure to buy everything, or at least what you’ll need to have delivered that has longer delivery times.
Below, you can find an example list of things you’re going to need:
- Disposable food and dessert plates*
- Forks and spoons*
- Paper towels
- Disposable serving trays (you can find paper ones that are recyclable, but that’s optional)
- Little gifts for the kids
- Wooden skewers for souvlakia in various sizes
- Birthday cake candles
* If you can, prefer paper, wooden, or simply reusable instead of disposable. Recyclable and reusable items that don’t pollute our planet are the best.
Additionally, write the first draft of the shopping list for the foods you’ll be making, organizing them by recipe. This is important so that if you have time and can prepare one of them, you can easily see and buy one of the recipes without getting confused.
2 weeks before
- Finalize the menu and start preparing recipes and foods that can be stored in the freezer.
- Complete the shopping list of the items you’ll need from the grocery store if you haven’t already.
- Prepare and send invitations to your guests. I made the invitation myself and chose to send it electronically to avoid wasting paper.
1 week before
- The best time to prepare the rest of the recipes can be prepared earlier and stored in the freezer.
- Buy the beverages you’re going to need, as long as they can be stored at least until the day of the party.
- Make the party music playlist. Ideally, get help from the birthday boy or girl so that they can make their own musical choices.
- If you have decided to prepare any kind of handmade items, now’s the time.
- Make menu labels. (Something that I had noted, I didn’t do, and I really missed it as I needed to explain every dish about 20 times, as many as the guests.)
- Start making space in your fridge by emptying it of items that are already running out. On the day of the party, or rather from the day before, you’ll be needing at least 2 empty shelves.
2 days before
- Buy the fresh fruits and vegetables you’re going to need.
- Organize activities to entertain your small guests and define the space that will be used only for play. Of course, activities should be fitting to the guests’ ages. Ideas include drawing (and you could print designs fitting the party’s theme for them to colour), making soap bubbles, playing with balloons, participating in music and movement activities, and role-playing games.
- Remove any toys you don’t want to be broken.
- Baby-proof the area if you haven’t already, especially if you’re organizing your child’s first birthday party or are expecting tiny guests.
1 day before
- Remove everything you’ve prepared and stored in the freezer and place them in the refrigerator to defrost them.
- Clean the house. Ask for help if you need it.
- After the house is clean, reorganize the space so that it’s more accessible and comfortable. For example, prepare the table that will serve as the buffet and place it in the appropriate spot. Close up any rooms you won’t use during the party, and in general, organize the space.
- If you’re making my birthday cake, prepare the cake, without the frosting.
- Decorate the space or at least some spots.
- Cook everything that you’ve set aside to make the day before. (In the menu below, I’ve written in detail when I did what and which foods were cooked the day before.)
- Set aside the clothes you and your child/children will wear.
The day of
- Prepare the final menu items and serve them on platers. For the day of the party, it would be best to have to make just the salads and the general presentation.
- Finish up the decorations of the space and the table, if needed.
- If you’re making the birthday cake yourselves, prepare the frosting and decorate it.
- Remove from the fridge all the items you had set aside to defrost and heat up what’s necessary.
- Give roles to your friends and relatives that are going to help.
- Take a shower and prepare. Congratulations, you made it!!!
Of course, my favourite part about this year’s birthday party was the creation of the menu, since I took it upon myself completely, to create new recipes on the same time. I was naturally worried about whether my guests would like it or not and whether it would be enough for everyone or not. In the end, it was not only enough, but some were left over, and that was one of the biggest rewards that help one forget any tiredness.
The savoury foods
The vegetarian options
- Zucchini balls with yogurt dip. Besides being incredibly tasty, they can be made days before and kept in the freezer ready for cooking on the day of the party or the day before. Convenient, isn’t it?
- Pasta salad with peas and yogurt dressing. Quick, easy, delicious, and of course, nutritious and light. You can make it a day before, in 10 minutes!
- Cool black-eyed pea salad. A salad that’s the complete package, cool, colourful, delicious, and certainly quite nutritious! As we said, at this birthday party, each bite counts. I boiled the black-eyed peas the day before and stored them in the fridge to complete the salad the next day.
- Horiatiki salad on a stick. Here, things are very simple. You’ll need wooden skewers, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, diced feta, and oregano. I have made this often in many buffets where guests had to eat on their feet, even up to 50 skewers, and it’s always quite the success.
- Carrot crackers. At parties, there’s usually something for the time when guests arrive, something crunchy to keep us occupied, and it’s usually unhealthy potato crisps—well, not anymore! Crackers are the best for that, as they’re homemade, crunchy, delicious, and can be made in any shape you want, to fit the party’s theme. I prepared them the day before, as well.
Meet the meat
- Chicken meatballs with peanut butter sauce. Another certain success, since what kind of child would be able to resist the tiny, round meatballs? These ones were reinforced with many vegetables, and were quite delicious. I prepared them a few days ago, cooked them, and stored them in the freezer, completely ready. I put them in the refrigerator the day before to defrost, and on the day of the party, I served them and made the sauce. If you’re wondering, they taste like they were just made—besides, they’re tastier and cold.
- Mini minced meat pies. The protagonist of the menu were these mini minced pies, which I had made the day before, with minced meat that I had prepared days before and had stored in the freezer. You’ll find more details on the page, too. Their shape drew attention, as I had made them like little pigs, integrated into the party theme.
- Minced meat pizza. When you’re tired of making mini pies, you make a minced meat pizza and dazzle everyone. The recipe is the same as the mini minced meat pies.
- Chicken nuggets. This is a recipe by our beloved Katerina and the Bubbles & Avocado blog, which I had made before and had decided to integrate into the menu, afraid there wouldn’t be enough food. They’re delicious and healthy and made in the oven. Unfortunately, since I made them last-minute, I couldn’t marinate them for as long as I had to, but they were delicious anyway. If you marinate them the night before, you can finish them up on the next morning.
- Energy pops. Impressive, chocolatey, super nutritious, sweet, and delicious. They came to replace the cake pops, and they’re going to stay. Prepare the energy balls one, two, or three days earlier (though I can’t guarantee there will be any left by the day of the party), and on the morning before the party, transform them into pops by adding their icing and the sticks.
- Mini tsoureki pancakes with fruit. Another recipe that can be prepared a few days ahead and stored in the freezer, is to be placed on the dessert buffet on the day of the party. Of course, you can make them with any pancake recipe you want. I had set out to make them with our beloved peanut butter pancakes, but at the last moment, I changed my mind and decided to make these tsoureki-based ones which are certainly unusual and attract attention. I fried tiny pancakes in various sizes and when I served them, I pierced them with wooden skewers, 3 at every stick, topping them with a banana. I wanted to use a variety of fruit, but unfortunately, I didn’t find good quality fresh blueberries or raspberries, so I just used strawberries. You can also use grapes.
- Banana donuts. Aah, I have no words about this recipe. It’s by far one of your favourites, and I’ve seen you often make it in muffin trays as well. I made it two times, the first many days before the party, stored in the freezer, and the second I made it on the day of the party, in the morning, with the little hands. When making it the second time, I dipped them in a cinnamon and coconut sugar mixture while they were still hot. I had initially planned to cover the first ones with chocolate, but I, unfortunately, didn’t manage to do it.
- Chocolate birthday cake with sweet potato base and mascarpone cream. The best closing for the evening. Its taste was indescribable, I’ll just tell you to try it yourselves. I’ve written the details on how to make it in the article, here. But I’ll leave the image to talk for itself!
I used large glass jars with taps, which I still had from his baptizing, and I had filled them with:
- Water with many ice cubes so that it’s cool.
- Infused water, which was water with lemon and fruits. I used what I had in the house already to give the water a natural flavour and aroma, and of course, added ice cubes here as well. I added lemon slices, strawberries, and frozen fruit like diced mango, blueberries, and raspberries. I personally chose to drink from this. Tip: Don’t skip using frozen fruits, since even if you don’t use ice cubes, the frozen fruit will function as ice. You can also try different variations.
- The rest of them were directed mainly to our adult guests and Dad was responsible for that.
In closing, I’d like to leave a file of the menu here for you to print out and get ideas or solutions from, whenever you need some. Also, if you do follow it closely, you can hang it next to your buffet, so that your guests can look it over.
The satisfaction a mother gets when seeing her child, the rest of the children, and the adult guests, being happy, eating, having fun, and smiling, is quite significant. It makes you forget any fatigue and tiredness. And the reason I didn’t manage to do some of these things is that I was experimenting with recipes at the same time, I was trying things and making mistakes. But you have everything is written down here and a menu already prepared with detailed instructions, tips, lists, and advice that were discovered through organizing our own party. Since you’ve managed to read everything up to here, you’re ready to prepare your own. You just need to add your willpower and love, roll up your sleeves, and get started. Good luck!
P.S.: If there’s something missing or if you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll gladly reply or even add it to the timetable.
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