When Mr. P and I found out our kid’s due date was December 14 (bumped up from December 24), I swear to you, my first thought was, “That kid is never getting a decent birthday party.” Weekends in December, they are so valuable! Nobody wants to take the time during those precious, harried weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to attend a birthday party. Sorry, kiddo.
And yet. As Halloween approached, and then Thanksgiving, our family started to ask about Little P’s birthday party. There was enough inquiry that I thought, ok, fine. We’ll throw a party and I’ll make it absolutely clear that no one is under any obligation to actually come. I scheduled it on a Saturday afternoon in between Little P’s two naptimes and figured that if it was just me and Mr. P singing Happy Birthday, well, then that’s enough of a party!
Then the RSVPs rolled in and I discovered just how much I’d underestimated our friends and family, as almost twenty people wanted to come celebrate Little P! I also learned that I’d vastly overestimated my ability to throw a lunchtime party for twenty people in the middle of the holiday season after traveling all over for job interviews. And so, I kept it simple.
I know you are saying SARAH HONEY, THAT DOES NOT LOOK SIMPLE. But it was! I am just fooling you! All the food was premade straight from the grocery. Chopping the broccoli and arranging the cheese was about as much effort as I expended, and that was only because I didn’t have time to find the pre-cut broccoli and cheese at the grocery.
As for the table décor, I’ve already shown you that it came almost entirely from IKEA. Oh yeah, and my parent’s backyard. Seriously. That’s where those tree stumps and pinecones came from. Hauled all the way from Mimi and Papa’s house in Tennessee!
But premade hummus and sliced cheese do not a lunch make. So I took a page from my sister- and brother-in-law who hosted an open house with a one-month-old (seriously!), borrowed a couple of crockpots, and made a chili lunch.
(I will never ever be able to take properly-lit photos of this corner of the kitchen. Sorry.)
I pre-cooked the beef and used a rotisserie chicken, so all I had to do on the morning of the party was open a few cans, chop a single jalapeño, and dump it all in. Carrying the borrowed crockpots up to our third floor walkup was probably the hardest part.
Toppings and chips were also on hand, and drinks were just bottles and cans in the fridge. Easy!
Oh, and if you’re wondering if I hand-lettered those cards, I most definitely did not. Handwriting fonts, people!
I did hand-letter a chalkboard, though, as I already showed you. And it was designed with a hot cocoa bar in mind!
Sure, a hot cocoa bar is just what everyone needs on a 70-degree December day with the windows open. Sigh.
Still! With enough mix-ins – marshmallows, syrups, whipped cream, sprinkles, and Bailey’s – it turned out to be a hit!
(Cups and garland from IKEA, pedestal tree stump from my parent’s backyard, faux snow made with some leftover quilt batting from some long ago project.)
But of course, the real dessert centerpiece at a party is CAKE. As you saw above, we went with cupcakes. This was mostly because the thought of picking out, let along making, and serving a cake seemed so hard. I do realize it is not actually that hard, but I chose the path of least resistance whenever I could. That meant that I had a grocery story bakery lady asking me if I was absolutely sure that I didn’t want to choose a design, that I just wanted plain white frosting with no decorations, and I was just like YES, that is fine, right now I am only concerned that they are made of cake and I can just throw money at you to make them so I don’t have to.
In the end, though, I Amazon Prime’d some clear sprinkles to make them look more wintry. And the best part was the special cupcake Mr. P eventually picked out for the birthday boy (as he apparently does not suffer from crippling indecision):
A cupcake that looks like a mug of cocoa! So much more perfect than anything I could’ve made! Know your strengths; piping frosting is not one of mine. And anyway, the birthday boy enjoyed it, which is all that really mattered.
(Not so much a “smash” cake as a “wait for mom to cut it up into little bits so I can daintily eat two bites” cake. To each his own.)
So that’s how I served a big lunch to a bunch of sweethearts who were willing to take a Saturday afternoon to attend Little P’s party! I am so relieved that it all came out so nicely considering how last-minute it felt. Next time, I’ll fill you in on the décor deets!