Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
Fond of games and amusement; lighthearted.
Let’s Play! Such a simple concept. So perfect for the tone I wanted to set for the twin’s Birthday Celebration. Play is the very definition of a party (hey…what are you doing on Saturday want to come over and engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation?), so how ideal to have the theme define the very purpose of our gathering – really any gathering. While everything didn’t quite go as I had envisioned (mental note: put games closer to the food and bar next time), it was one of the most fun, playful, and memorable celebrations to date. And it was thankfully one of the most simple set ups of all! The Let’s Play theme works for almost any occasion – anniversaries, family reunions, birthday parties for kids of all ages, and even casual afternoon weddings.
The Playful Props (and/or games strewn about the yard):
Giant Jenga (who doesn’t love Giant Jenga?), giant Connect Four (pretty sneaky sis), Ladder Ball (a new game for us, but rather addictive), Corn Hole (a popular summer past time), and mini super soakers for the kids in the pool (obviously).
In hindsight, I wish I had put the games closer to the bar set up. Turns out my friends don’t like to be too far from the food or the bar. So the Connect Four set that I had put at the back of the yard hoping to lure people to the far side of the pool went untouched unless I dragged over an opponent. Mid party I moved it closer to the action and it got a lot more participation after that.
Giant Jenga was more in the center of the festivities and when the adults playing had erected a teetering tower the entire party surrounded the game to see who’s false move would crumble the creation. The kids, being kids spent most of the party in the pool with their super soakers; though later they ran around the yard playing games and tag like they were 8 year olds. This giant tag game was something to behold. We had kids ranging from 3 to 15 engaging in the tried and true game of chase. It was fun and refreshing to watch. Let the kid’s play.
The Playful Appetizers:
In general, I am drawn to recipes that are easy to make. Sorry guests, but I don’t want to spend my day making fancy food. I want simple food with high impact, crowd pleasing qualities. For the kids that equated to the inhalation of pigs in a blanket and about 4 bags of tater tots (out of a bag! for shame). For the adults I went with my go to summer apps: Minty Pea Dip and Bruschetta. Both are summer personified, easy to eat, and a breeze to make – win! win! win! Let’s remember the theme…Let’s Play. When you play you want to win or at least come close right? When she was just a tot my niece, who is now a mom herself, always asked, “How do you win this?” when presented with a new game. I always admired that question and it was on target for who she became as an adult.
The Playful Welcome Cocktail:
For the kids – old fashioned lemonade in old fashioned sturdy glass tumblers with fun oversized red and white straws. And for the adults… I was so inspired by this cocktail I already wrote a post about it – Veuve Clicquot Rich on Ice. I saw some of my guests yesterday at the beach and they were still talking about this libation. More winning! Highly recommend.
The Playful Dinner Repast:
Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Fruit Salad and Mac and Cheese for the kids and for the adults who thought it was their responsibility to test all of the food.
For the adults:
Flank Steak with my mother’s marinade (garlic, olive oil, candied ginger, pickled ginger and soy sauce).
Shrimp marinated with tomato paste, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh basil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, juice from 1 lemon, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons sugar and olive oil, then placed on the grill.
A giant bowl of Corn Salad with red peppers, red onion, arugula and avocado with Spoonful of Abby’s killer and healthy avocado dressing (lime, garlic, avocado all blended in the Vitamix).
The all important playful grand finale:
The cakes. Every year to recognize that although the children were born on the same day, they still came out as the individuals they are learning to be. So we always have two cakes. This year we further celebrated their individuality and had each child not only choose their own cake, but make their own cake to be presented and consumed by our guests. The kids didn’t even bat an eye at the suggestion, they just got busy handing me their lists of ingredients.
My daughter created an oreo pie inspired by the musical Waitress (2 oreo pies to be exact). At the show that we all loved, they sell mini pies in cute little jars. Margaux’s pie was inspired from the ingredients on the back of the little jar she purchased at the show. Ingredients include: Oreos, cream cheese, butter (for the crust) and cool whip. She did not follow a recipe, she just made up the pie by herself by experimenting with the ingredients. If you see her you can ask her for her the recipe. Thank you Sara Bareilles for your wonderful show and for inspiring my daughter!
My son’s contribution to the party was his now infamous Monkey Bread. We discovered this recipe years ago and he has brought it to school on the last full day since 1st grade. Thankfully he gets up all by himself at 5:30am on that day to make this sugary, buttery confection. Teachers literally scout the hallways looking for him to get their share of his treat. So he makes extra, a whole lot of extra. Thank you Ree Drummond for this score of a recipe that has become a tradition in our family. We love you!
You know the saying you get back what you give? Well the kids got back a whole lotta love for the desserts they presented. Our group was so kind and generous with it’s adulation for the children’s creations. One parent wondered if it was a bake off (it was not), but I did start asking which dessert people favored and it was a 50/50 split and just like that a new tradition in our house was born: let them make cake!
Grab your group and play! It’s what you were going to do anyway so why not add a label!?? Cheers.