For my kids' birthday parties, we always choose a theme that fits who they are or what they're interested in at the time of their birthday. For Griffin's birthday, we chose a Gingerbread Man theme. Click here to read about the inspiration for Griffin's party theme.
I was so thrilled to find a theme that Griffin loved so much. I often find myself trying to make up the components of a birthday theme because my kids rarely choose one I can purchase. This year, I was ecstatic to be planning a Gingerbread Man party during the Christmas season. The tough part was not buying every single gingerbread item I crossed in a store.
I managed to limit myself to these items (plus a few extras I found after I took this photo):
We have a family tradition of making gingerbread houses every Christmas season, so this year we just did it slightly early so we could have the houses as decorations for the party. This year I bought a Gingerbread Village kit at Walmart for $7.97 because it had 5 individual little buildings. Here are our finished houses:
|Mine and Jared's|
I also bought a paper gingerbread house kit at Walmart for $1.97:
And a foam gingerbread house kit from Michael's:
I used my hot glue gun to assemble both of the non-edible houses. Let's be honest: I had a lot of fun making them!
Griffin got to take birthday treats to preschool the day before his birthday. He asked me to make his favorite cookies: oatmeal cookies with mini chocolate chips and mini m&m's. I found gingerbread man treat bags at Walmart, and I put two cookies in each bag. Then I used an Avery online template to create labels with a gingerbread man and "Happy Birthday Griffin!" to seal the bags.
I used those same treat bags to hold fillers for the pinata. I made one bag per child, so each kid could just find the bag with his/her name once the pinata busted open. I thought that would be a little more dignified than the kids all fighting over the loose candy.
There was one unexpected hitch: a couple of the bags busted open inside the pinata because of all the kids whacking it with the baseball bat. So much for my brilliant plan. All the kids had lots of fun with the pinata though, and no one got upset about broken toys or stuff missing from their bags. I filled the bags mostly with small toys and then added a few pieces of candy at Griffin's request.
Each bag had a pair of these glasses:
I asked Griffin if he wanted his cake to be a gingerbread man or a gingerbread house, and he chose house. Whew! I thought that would be a little easier for me. When I asked him what flavor he wanted, he replied, "blue vanilla." He later told me he wanted it blue and white swirled. So, I made a white cake mix (I cut corners when I can). I added blue food coloring to half of the batter, spooned the blue batter and white batter in splotches in the cake pan, and then swirled them with a wooden skewer.
I baked the cake in a 9x13 pan and then trimmed it to look like a general house shape. Jared helped dispose of the cake scraps. :)
I covered the cake with a layer of vanilla frosting.
I had made a batch of marshmallow fondant the day before and stuck it in the fridge. Click here to see my favorite tutorial on marshmallow fondant. If you've ever tasted commercially made fondant before, you probably gag just reading the word "fondant." But I'm telling you the truth: this marshmallow fondant is tasty. It's marshmallows and powdered sugar. Seriously, how could it be gross?
I pulled out my prepared fondant as well as my food coloring gels.
I made most of the fondant brown and then left a portion white, colored a portion red, and colored a portion green.
I covered the cake in brown fondant.
Then I gathered all my supplies to decorate the covered cake. I rolled out the colored fondants and gathered some small cookie cutters, knife, pizza cutter, etc.
I used water and a food-safe paint brush to adhere fondant decorations to the brown fondant. I used leftover vanilla frosting to adhere sprinkles and mini M&M's.
The finished gingerbread house cake:
I made one additional dessert. Griffin has a slight obsession with banana bread. He watches our bananas and asks me all the time if they're ready to make banana bread. And he actually eats the bread. So I surprised him with a loaf of banana bread to go with his birthday spread.
I found this silicone pan/mold:
I made a batch of banana bread and baked it in this silicone pan (on a cookie sheet for stability). The limbs seemed to get overbaked before his belly was even close to done. The finished bread didn't look too pretty from the outside:
Several people had a slice during dessert, though, and it seemed to be okay on the inside. It was humorous to see people struggling with the idea of cutting up the little man.
Of course, I had to include actual gingerbread man cookies at this shindig. I bought a mix to make them, but then I found these:
I'm not above buying cookies rather than making them, especially when I had to cook dinner for 22 people. In fact, I also bought Gingerbread Oreos and gingerbread marshmallows.
I put these goodies in our gingerbread house cookie jar that used to belong to Jared's grandma.
The gingerbread lollipops went into the pinata treat bags, and I put the leftover lollipops in a cute little gingerbread gift box I had picked up (I think from Walmart or Hobby Lobby).
I also bought a gingerbread man towel at Kroger and a spatula at Hobby Lobby.
I put the forks in this cute little gingerbread man holder (from Hobby Lobby):
I set up all the kids squeezed in at our regular kitchen table. Each kid's place was identified by their name on a decorate-your-own gingerbread boy/girl sticker activity kit (from Oriental Trading).
I also put the edible gingerbread houses and some 3-D gingerbread stickers on the middle of the kids' table.
We set up a long table in our living room for additional seating. I covered the table with gingerbread man fabric (I had previously purchased 3 yards, just in case). I used the paper and foam gingerbread houses as centerpieces.
I also bought a set of gingerbread window clings and let Griffin put them on our front glass door:
I forgot to take pictures of the food, but we had pancakes, scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, sausage, and hash browns. Griffin had requested "brinner," which is what we call breakfast for dinner.
I had also made Griffin a shirt to wear at his birthday party.
I purchased a long-sleeve blue (his favorite color) t-shirt from Walmart. I photocopied a gingerbread man from one of the treat bags and increased the size to about 250%.
I outlined him with a black marker to make the outline more visible. Then I traced the outline onto a piece of freezer paper.
I forgot to take more pictures, but I can tell you how I did it. I cut out the gingerbread man and ironed the outer stencil onto the front of the shirt. I also ironed a piece of freezer paper inside the shirt (behind the design). I used brown fabric paint to paint in the gingerbread man. It took 3 or 4 coats of paint, letting each coat dry. Then I used white fabric paint to add the details on the gingerbread man. I used my Silhouette cutting machine to cut out "One Smart Cookie" from white flocked iron-on material. I ironed on the letters, and the shirt was done.
I know this was gingerbread overload. I can't help myself. I hear a theme and I go hog wild. Plus I always feel bad for Griffin and Nora that their birthdays are in the same month as Christmas. I really enjoy finding ways to tie all the details into the birthday theme. I want the kids to feel special as we celebrate their birthdays in big and small ways. I'm slowly learning how to distinguish between the things that are fun and worth it and those that are too far and not worth it (like knowing that just because I can bake gingerbread cookies that doesn't mean I shouldn't just buy the pre-made ones).
I'm so glad that we were able to have a big family party to celebrate 5 years of Griffin's life. He is a unique little boy, hand-crafted by God. I'm excited to see what will emerge in the next year of Griffin's life!