Nine months ago he had started talking about his next birthday. Nine months notice to organise a cowboy-racing car-rocket birthday. I couldn’t really say no, after being given so much warning now could I?
– local shop ordered in a kids cowboy hat for me
– opshop shirt (thrifted and still new)
– bandana from a stash at home
– cowboy pants and vest made by my mum
– Playforever car
– vanilla cake, strawberry jam and vanilla mascarpone inside.
– A chocolate ganache for the outside.
– Rocket made from sugar paste and colouring.
Honestly, birthdays make me just a touch nervous. I adore birthdays, love the fact that we are slowly creating our own traditions for our little people, forming hopefully wonderful memories, while also having had many beautiful birthday memories of my own.
So why would they make me a little nervous? It’s the overload possibility factor. An overload of “things.” I don’t generally feel that comfortable stipulating what people can and can not buy for my kids. I don’t want to sound like a poop, but I really don’t want people to purchase things just because they feel they have to. Environmentally, living in a small space and the fact that The Monkeys really don’t need much are also factors. So each year, I suggest certain family members contribute towards something bigger, (or something they really do need). A combined gift that can be enjoyed for a long time and later can be passed on, instead of a quick gratification, breaking and ending up in landfill.
For friends this year I’ve also said that no gifts were necessary. If they would like to draw a card, Little Monkey would love that. Otherwise just them being there and getting to share a cupcake at the park is super exciting for the little fella. I’m aware that I may not be able to do this forever. Perhaps in years to come, if one of the boys has a party and there is an envelope there to put in a dollar or two and then that money can go towards something of his choosing? How would people feel about that?
A friend of mine gets people to donate to a charity of her choosing and close to her heart instead of bringing a gift. This is a wonderful idea but apparently people still want to bring a gift as well. Who wouldn’t, a lot of people love giving gifts…I love giving gifts!
Then there is hand made gifts. If someone goes to the trouble of making something by hand or even purchased from someone who in turn had hand made something…. oh I’m over the moon, but hang on, I said no gifts!
Aaahh, you see… this is why it makes me a little nervous each year.
Anyway, a lovely day was had. Little Monkey loved every minute of it and now gets to be a cowboy any day of the week that he chooses, (and it looks like it well may be every day this week.)
links for people that may like a few little-people gift ideas.
Playforever car- these cars will last FOREVER. Beautifully made, they look awesome and would appeal to any sex or age (Mr Chocolate wants one now.)
Tiger Tribe car boxset- everything packs inside its own box. Handy, compact, well made and fun.
If you are in Australia I bought both of them through this company.
What’s been your favourite gift? To be given or to give?
This is my go to cake at the moment for a basic cake recipe. Simple and can easily be used for mini cupcakes or scaled up to a larger cake.
Vanilla Birthday Cake
150g softened butter
150g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla
80mls milk (1/4 cup)
2 tbls natural yogurt
225g s/r flour (1 1/2 cups)
In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until changes colour to a white shade, then add vanilla, eggs, and milk/yogurt. Fold through flour.
Bake at 180C for approximately 10-15 minutes for smaller cupcakes, and obviously longer for bigger cakes.
1 tbls softened butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
For the icing you can switch the tastes round to basically anything you feel like. Lemon juice instead of vanilla, with some lemon zest through the cupcakes, amaretto, a little chocolate. Lots of possibilities…
I actually used to feel like that when going to birthday parties with my kids. I used to feel terribly frustrated that I had instilled this love of healthy home cooked food in my kids and they were going off to eat frozen party pies and lollies…even harder with one wheat intolerant kid and the words, ‘Oh just one won’t hurt him….’ (the words echoed in my head as I held a hot water bottle on his tummy later that night).
As our kids grow and emerge into that other world it does get a bit tricky, but doing what you do at home will make a world of difference when they are older. My two now 12 and 14 go to homes and make ethical and healthy choices without ever being asked to because of the home they have lived in.
You are doing a great job!
ps cow boy outfit just so very beautiful.
Thank you Kim. It’s lovely to hear from someone with kids a few years down the track from me.
and I’d love a birthday party at your farm!
I love the car. What a fantastic cake. You’re so creative Brydie. And what a great cowboy outfit – that’s so good. I just love the theme of this party – there’s something there for anyone! I like the idea of everyone putting in money so one special gift can be purchased. We do that too and it’s so much better than all those little things that take up a lot of space, cost too much and and all too soon broken or forgotten. Great post Brydie xx
I had quite awhile to plan, so really no excuse not to come up with something. There is a count down until Christmas now…sigh.
Happy Birthday Little Monkey!! What a clever mumma you have, making such a beautiful rocket cake and your fantastic cowboy outfit.
Thanks Keri 🙂
Gifts are nice- but take up a lot of space.
My niece got her little guy a ton of dirt in the back yard- and then made the party into a dirt party with shovels as favors and a dirt cake (Oreo cookies with gummy worms). But you need a back yard.
A big gift is nice- we used to take the boys on an outing with the money that would be used on gifts.
Great costume,cake, and love the car.
Oh I love that dirt party idea! How fantastic that would be. The Monkeys would love that in a heart beat… now I would who’s backyard I can ‘dirt up’?
Happy Birthday to your gorgeous Cowboy! The present thing is tricky. I really mean it when I specify “no gifts” but I would always have a gift if someone said the same to me – hypocrite 😀 I just hated the huge amounts of mass produced plastics and junk they seem to get when they were younger. Yes, it does get better as they get older. The kids absolutely LOVE getting the $5 or $10 in a card from extended relatives so they can go shopping and buy what they like so I think the donation idea is wonderful actually. I would;d be more than happy to do that for someone if they suggested. Thank you so much for this recipe too – I was just about to look up Taste.com.au for a cupcake recipe for my daughter to take to school tomorrow for her birthday when your Post arrived. I didn’t have natural yogurt so I used the blackberry yogurt we had in the fridge. Hope it won’t make too much of a difference -the texture is awesome. It looked like the egg curdled but then it looked ok when I added the flour? 24 mini cupcakes and 4 normal ones came out perfectly. Thank you!!!!
Mel, how awesome are you 🙂 That was super quick.
The egg curdling, it does every time. I’ve tried adding the eggs slower, (apparently room temperatures is better as well) but still it curdles every time. It never seems to matter to the overall cake crumb both in the batter form when the flour is added and when it is cooked. Not sure. Remember I’m only a hack baker that really doesn’t know any of the science behind ingredients, (maybe one day…)
What a cutie! The gift thing is hard isn’t it? I usually let people know if there is something special my daughters want/ need/ and that mostly works out ok, but now I also ask for gift cards as they love to choose their own gifts. I love themed parties, but three choices are hard! Looks like you pulled it off admirably Brydie 🙂
I’m actually really enjoying the theme thing and think I will try that over the next few birthdays as well… and who doesn’t love a costume eh? 🙂
What a gorgeous monkey!! I feel the same way about the influx of gifts and stuff! Scared. It looks like you created a lovely memorable day. Happy Birthday.
Thanks Rachel. He did have a lovely day.
I think practical gifts for kids are perfect and something edible and home made for my adult friends 🙂
I totally agree Tandy. The only thing is, most kids these days already get the ‘practical’ stuff as everyday things not on a special occasion. Tricky!
I think I’d be the same. I also want everyone to be happy and have a good time, and so when I’m responsible for an event, I get nervous! It looks like your little monkey had a great time though – what a wonderful costume and cake – and I think the message of presents being unrequired is a wonderful one. We like to give Mr B’s nieces and nephew ‘active’ or craft type gifts, but as the girls are getting older it gets a bit harder. I like buying them clothes but it feels wrong somehow! We do charity cards at Christmas and that works well but it’s hard to get the balance right.
Anyway – happy birthday again to your 4 year old and I love your efforts for the party 🙂
Yep, lotsa loopholes in the birthday present lasso.
Uncomfortable in receiving, always happy to give..the dilemma!
I know ‘wishing wells’ are popular at weddings but I don’t much like the idea for birthdays. Pre-teen girls are a different matter though…because who knows what they possibly like? They are much better choosers. Yep, I buy vouchers for girly parties, hypocrite, right? I hear you with the space issue…nothing worse than a room full of landfill debris at the end of a party..again, the dilemma.
My mum gives the girls ‘vouchers’ for her time..ie- a trip out to do something special of their choosing..the zoo, a movie, a boat ride etc. I do like this idea a lot!
No clear solution from me, just a whole lot of grey. Gunsmoke grey!
Happy birthday to the little guy, loving that rocket cake. 🙂
Brydie, it sounds like your little Monkey had the best day ever. You and Mr Chocolate are great parents! xx
This is gorgeous. I love the outfit and the cake. Sounds like you gave him a great birthday to remember. I understand your birthday concerns. I felt the same way about Sylvia’s birthday this year and suggested people just bring something for her craft box – thinking we might get some useful and small like buttons and stickers but those who brought along craft gifts brought more elaborate gifts than she needed. I have said no gifts when I invite people for my birthday though.
Ooooh. this is soo lovely! =)
I loved reading this. And I’m with you, girl. Birthdays are wonderful, but the gift frenzies are often way too much, and it starts to create expectations and needs that were not there in the first place. Giving is more that buying and I understand your nervousness. Not taking anything away from the birthday boy, and at the same time tactfully placing wishes with family and friends – it’s a balancing game. I love symbolic gifts. Like if people are getting a house; then buy a tree. A new apartment, then buy a plant or something practical. Make art! For children, create events, bake, play, giggle and shower with thoughtful gifts, not by the dozen, but a handful.
And oh, that cake. Wow.
Little Monkey looks so happy and handsome in that outfit – love the first shot. And the cake looks amazing, as expected! I’m one of those people who will bring a gift when there is a request for no gifts – but they are thoughtful, meaningful. I am giving a fair-trade handmade backpack, filled with second-hand story books for a little one’s upcoming birthday.