Sunday, December 13, 2009
A couple of weeks ago...as I spent a day trying to unpack from our Thanksgiving trip and return to life as usual...my daughter kept running up to me and hopping around me, shouting out ideas for "her party". Declarations of "At my party we'll do ballet and pretend we're in The Nutcracker"..."At my party we'll dress like princesses."..."At my party we'll..." well, you probably get the idea. My daughter has quite an imagination and I guessed that she was just pretending that she was the hostess of a party, so I answered each of her party planning announcements with phrases like, "That's nice." and "Oh, that will be fun!" as I went about my daily tasks. I didn't realize that she was really planning a party. That is, until that night after we'd said her prayers and I tucked her in. As I turned to leave her room, she started crying. "What's wrong?" I asked (truly trying to keep the edge out of my voice) I wanted to be patient and understanding. I really did. But honestly, I was tired and ready to be "off-duty". I mean, as a mom, you're always on-call, but there is something wonderful about that hour after the kids are in bed and the house is quiet (or you're alone with the sound of your favorite t.v. show) and you're sort of off-duty. I was one step out of her door and on my way to this magical quiet time when she replied, "Mom, I've been trying to talk to you all day about my Christmas party and I can tell that you're ignoring me." She called me out, and she was totally right. I thought back over the day and realized that she had been pretty focused on this "party" all day long. Her little tears melted my heart. I apologized and promised to discuss the party over breakfast. I kind of thought that she'd forget about it. I should've known better...this kid doesn't forget a thing!
Over Coco Wheats (for her) and coffee (for me) we came up with the idea of a cookie decorating party. We'd serve hot chocolate and the guests could dress up in princess dresses (from my daughter's collection)...if they wanted to. My daughter wanted to set a strict dress code, but I explained that 1. it's kind of rude to tell your friends what to wear to such a casual party 2. Her friends might not own a princess dress and 3. Princess dresses are NOT practical cookie decorating apparel. I explained to my daughter that she could invite 4 friends and then we set about making the invitations.
I found some printable coloring pages and then typed the party information in the center, dictated by my daughter, of course. Then I gave her some water color paints and a glitter stick and we painted them while my youngest napped away the afternoon.
The day before the party, we baked the cookies, my favorite White Velvet Cutouts recipe found here, and mixed up the Buttercream frosting. Before our guests arrived I hung an apron on the back of every chair, put down a piece of waxed paper where each child would sit, put a variety of cut out cookies on each piece of waxed paper, placed sprinkles and a roll of paper towel in the center of the table, made a batch of hot cocoa on my stovetop (recipe on the cocoa container), tuned into the holiday music channel (which the girls did spend some time dancing to...although I'm not sure it was at all like The Nutcracker), and set out a couple of snacks for the grown-ups that chose to stay for the party. That's it! This party came together quickly and easily.
Once the girls had changed into princess attire and danced a few numbers to the holiday tunes playing from our television, the decorating began!
The class monkey joined in the fun (he goes home with a different student each weekend and the kids write about where the monkey travelled in a journal, shared on Mondays). One of my daughter's friends had "Monkey" this weekend.
My toddler ate her weight in frosting.
She also decorated her first cookie ever. Hey, not too shabby for a not-quite-2-year-old. Restraint with the sprinkles will come in time....
As the afternoon wore on, the girls shared the frosting, and decorating tips, and little girl conversation....
And they got those cookies frosted.
Okay, so maybe the moms helped a little...pictured here is the cookie decorating culmination of dynamic mother-daughter duo, our good friends Staycie and Anna.
Each guest took home a big box of cookies. I was going to purchase cookie boxes from our local cake decorating shop, but my local grocery store was nice enough to give my husband 4 doughnut boxes. They worked perfectly.
This cookie decorating party is definitely a tradition that I'd like to continue. It's just fun! Fun to see the what the girls come up with...fun to catch up with the other moms...fun to eat the cookies! I felt so festive after the guests left that I had to go Christmas shopping!
Later in the weekend, we made gingerbread cookies. I have been making these gingerbread cookies since my oldest daughter was just 3 months old. It's "our" tradition. Every year she get older and takes on a new responsibility in the "gingerbread process". I love rememembering back to previous years and realizing how much she has learned and grown. That first year she slept through most of the cookie making in her bouncy seat. Now she helps to measure, mix, cut out, put on the "buttons, sprinkle the sugar, and tie the ribbons. This year, her little sister scooted a chair over the the kitchen counter and joined in the fun. Someday I'll be old and gray and these sisters may be teaching their little ones how to make gingerbread cookies....
You can read all about our gingerbread cookies and get the recipe right here.
Well, after 5 years of making gingerbread cookies, I welcome a change. I'm not ready to give up the gingerbread tradition, but I was happy to find a new way to decorate our gingerbread cookies. A friend called me last week, "Did you see how Cheryl's Cookies had the gingerbread decorated in their catalogue? It was SO cute!" I checked it out. She was right, gingerbread reindeer are super cute and a nice break from the usual! I put my own twist on them and came up with these Rudolph gingerbread cookies....
The second that I turned that cookie upside down, I could totally see a reindeer!
I also baked pecan tarts, caramel corn, and made a big batch o' fudge this weekend too! Recipes coming soon....