Saturday, November 24, 2012

Home Court Advantage

My daughter turned 4 last week!  Unlike past years where I called the party shots, I decided to ask my daughter what kind of party she wanted to have, this year.  The other years, we had done large parties where pretty much everyone who could attend, around her age, was invited.  She is not really a fan of large groups, so this year she opted for a small party, with just a few friends, at our house.  She said she wanted to do some art, so we decided on an "Art Party" theme.

Doing the party at our house, with just a few friends, meant some extra work on my part, versus the Chuck E. Cheese's party from last year, given that I had to come up with all of the activities, entertainment, goody bags, food, etc., but it gave me the glorious benefit of absolute control of the environment, which as my fellow food-allergy moms can probably understand, is simultaneously stressful and relaxing.  I had the stress of getting a bunch of stuff done by the time the party rolled around, but I had the wonderful flexibility of doing everything on my terms, and on our "turf". :)

Normally, I would stress out about a party that spans a meal-time, but this was our party, and I had a menu planned with Alpha Tots and Popcorn Turkey Corn Dogs from Ian's Natural Foods* and some gluten-free corn bread muffins made with the HEB (our local grocery chain) mix.  I also made allergy-friendly "Crispy Rice Treats" using Erewhon*, marshmallows and brown rice syrup.  Since I spent a lot of time on getting other things ready, I went with a box cake mix this time and used King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix.*  Since it calls for 4 eggs and replacing any more than 2 is difficult, the two cakes came out pretty shallow, but my guests were kind of enough to remark that it tasted more like a hybrid of a cake and a cookie, and seemed to like it (or were graciously humoring me). ;)
*--Risk of flax cross-contamination

The week before, my daughter had gone to a party with a piñata, but there was no way she could grab at all the contents, given that it was full of allergy-laden candies.  I decided the solution was to buy a pull-string piñata and fill it with toys!  My daughter just loves little toys and I figured the kids would love to have things they could play with long after the party.  I went to the store and bought a bunch of cool toys that I could fit into the piñata hole.  Some of them did not fit, and those went into another goody bag.

When it came time for the piñata, I told the kids to line up and I said, "This piñata is special - this one is full of TOYS!"  I loved how their faces lit up! :)  They were so excited!  My daughter was so excited, as well, and I was so happy to see her so happy, and I knew I could relax and let her grab at the goodies without any fear.  It was pretty funny, because the pull-string function didn't quite work and we ended up opening the bottom by hand, but they didn't mind and when all the toys came pouring out, it was fun to see them scramble for the goodies.  It was great not having to worry about any pesky allergens!

We did have one asthma-related problem, though, when I cooked the Alpha Tots in oil, since I didn't have time to bake them in the oven.  I used a high quantity of oil in a pan, since I was making so many of the tots at once, and I think the aggravated her poor little lungs, and we had to do a couple of quick puffs of her inhaler, since we couldn't get her cough under control for a while.  However, after I ran the vent for a while, and got her a little fresh air, she was back to enjoying her party.

She had so much fun with her friends, and her Grandma and Grandpa were even there to celebrate with her, so it was a really great day.  I am always so thankful when her birthday celebrations go well.  Having the "home court advantage" made it that much more enjoyable, this time! : )

Having the same lunch as her friends!

Allergy-friendly Rice Crispy Treats
Hello Kitty Pull-String Piñata
Woo-Hoo! Toys!

Comparing loot with her pal...

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