chocolate birthday cake from
made with chocolate buttercream and a double recipe of chocolate glaze drizzled on top
As a kid, one thing for me was do or die: my birthday. I'd start pouring over Wilton cake magazines in June.  I remember being so excited for cakes of Ducktails, or Ariel, or Care Bears and My Little Pony. Throw in streamers, a pinata, a few balloons, a playground and we had a party!

Nowadays, the idea of  birthday parties is a little more intense. Gone are the days where all I really had to do was pick out cake, tell my mom, and by magic the rest would appear (Thank you Mama!). Now I am in charge of making things happen! Yikes!

My theory with all parties, birthday or not, is simple: you tell me what you want. I try my bestest to make that happen. You want lazertag? Done. You want dinosaur cake? Easy. Oh, you meant a ice cream cake shaped like a dinosaur? Well.....challenge accepted! (Those are all Brandon, my fiance, btws).

Over the years I've realized a thing or two about which parties were more successful than others:
  1. Ask questions. Just like adults, kids know what they want. Just ask! 
  2. Stick to the theme. Be it Dinosaurs or Carousels, sticking to theme makes the party feel cohesive. 
  3. Keep it small. It's easier to pull off an amazing party for 15 than it is for 30. 
  4. Keep the kids busy, but also have a place where kids can play unstructured, such as a jungle gym. Not everyone want to finger paint or make balloon animals, and those kids will need a place to be where they won't ruin it for the rest. 
  5. Have a plan b. Rain happens. Make sure a few activities can be indoor activities if need be. 
  6. Location, location, location. It's not just for real estate. Picking a place that fits your theme can do wonders for a party. If your kid wants a hockey party, take them to the ice rink. 
  7. Have other traditions. Forcing a 12 year old to attend his 5 year old brother's party won't be fun for either of them. Have a family tradition where you celebrate together at another time. 
  8. Have favors. Kids can get jealous when the birthday child gets tons of gifts. Have a party favor for each child to help stem off jealousy. 
  9. Remember the adults: Odds are some parents will stay for the party. Make sure you have refreshments and activities for them as well. 
  10. Have good cake. A pretty cake. It's a focal point. It's going to be in pictures for the rest of your life. Have a good cake. 

Why is this on my brain? Taking up space where wedding planning would be?

Well, none of kid sized kids have birthdays right now, but I have a birthday coming up! Three weeks to go! And what's the plan? A carousel full of ponies, cotton candy, carnival games, and a giant chocolate cake. I'm not much for the growing up stuff. :) That is exactly what I loved and adored as a little girl, and still do! Happy birthday to my four year old self!

Luckily, I live near the BEAUTIFUL Dentzel Carousel! Ponies? Oh check and check! Just a short drive to Glen Echo Park and we've got a great location! It's perfect!
 And, a quick trip before hand to DC-3, a local restaurant that specializes in exactly what I want: hot dogs, chili cheese fries, vintage sodas, and lots and lots and lots of cotton candy!
After that, just a few more things to do, that huge chocolate cake up top and a batch of very cute happy birthday graphic cookies. I decided to amp up the cookies a bit by making them into little cookie sandwiches filled with a yummy vanilla filling!
provided to me as part of the DailyFood Buzz Tastemaker program
We had some great food, AND I created a quick and cheap carnival game!

Admit it, at least a few of you love your Starbucks. I live in DC. It's on every block. I've seen the proof. Well those little bottles that Frappacinos come in are mighty like a milk bottle wouldn't you say? A quick spray of mettalic paint and we have ourselves a milk bottle toss! Easy upcycle!
Our little trial run went well! What did I learn? Chili cheese fries do not travel well. They got smushed. :( Next time, we don't put them on the bottom!


This post is brought to you by Nestle Toll House Birthday Sugar Cookies. Bake some birthday love.