Making mud pies is a classic kid activity, full of creative, dirty, outdoor fun. That outdoor kid activity gets transformed into a fabulous birthday party theme in the Mud Pie birthday party.
When I was a little girl, I had a book called Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow.
In fact, the well-worn copy here (only $1.95 according to the price on the cover! Geez, am I that old?) is my actual childhood copy. It's an incredibly earnestly written real cookbook--except for the fact that the ingredients are things like "torn flower petals" and "freshly gathered bark." I adored how this book took me and my backyard mud pie experiments seriously, and spent many happy hours with it when I was a kid. It was out of print for many years, but is now available once again. What better inspiration for a party?
And so I came up with the Mud Pie Bakery party. A celebration full of good, clean (dirty) fun.
I like small parties, because it allows me to do things that would be cost prohibitive (at least on my budget) if there were more guests.
For example, in this party, I gave each family a set of Ikea Duktig play pots and pans and utensils and a copy of Mud Pies and Other Recipes. (Incidentally, this is one of my very favorite gifts to give kids for birthdays and Christmas). The pots and pans are really wonderful--only $10 and made out of sturdy metal that can take a LOT of muddy, rowdy play.
I had some extra fabric left over from my other crafts (I always buy too much), so I made drawstring gift bags to wrap the gifts for the kids. (Thanks to one of my readers, Claire, for that inspired suggestion!) what a great way to use up leftover fabric and create a beautiful package that fits in with the rest of the party perfectly.
I think my favorite craft project from this party (of course there's a tutorial coming up) was the banner with its twig lettering.
Nope, not a fun and rustic font--the letters were made from actual twigs. I used to make stuff like that all the time when I was a kid. This whole party was a nostalgic trip back into my youth.
No bakery would be complete without chef hats. Fun, puffy, calico fabric chef hats, to be precise. The contrasting fabric flowers on the bands of the hats are actually removable hair clips--another fun little takeaway for the guests.
Before the girls could raid the sweets table, we had a simple picnic lunch.
I just love using these kraft boxes designed for restaurant carryout. They're inexpensive, and so versatile. Making pre-packaged lunches not only makes serving food at a party a breeze, but add a simple ribbon and it makes sitting down to lunch feel like opening a present. I swear that my children eat at least twice as much food if they get to eat it out of a box like this as they would otherwise.
I wrapped all of the food in waxed paper. It was in keeping with the vintage vibe, and the kids loved unwrapping each element as well. Who knew bread "sticks" could be so much fun?
Fabric-wrapped water bottles were placed by each lunch box, but we also served "muddy milk" and "rainspout tea" (which is actually a recipe in the book!).
After lunch, it was time to don aprons and get messy.
These jars full of dirt, sticks, and sand made easy centerpieces for the table, and provided easy ingredients for the kids.
They weren't limited to just those three ingredients, of course; the girls had a delightful time foraging in the garden for other ingredients.
One of the really lovely things about this party is how much fun ALL the girls had, age 4 through 9. They all enthusiastically made mud pies and had a wonderful time. So often we have parties with a large age range (we almost always invite siblings and families to come to our celebrations), so whenever I stumble on an activity that works well for a large age range, I get really excited. Don't judge.
Whew...I think that's enough for one post. I'll cover the dessert table details tomorrow!