Go shawty, it’s your birthday!
…And even if it’s not, we’re gon’ party like it’s yo birthday!
But first, like a good ole’ mullet, I’m going to take care of business in the front, and then we’ll party in the back end of this post! (Orrrrr you can just scroll straight to the party below, if that’s how you rather roll!)
If you haven’t noticed (which, ironically you likely haven’t), things have been kind of mute here at HueLaLa for some time, but I’ve been noisy offline working on some fun, exciting, and goal smashing projects.
Here’s a quick catch-up with a sprinkle of highlights in as few words as possible…
-I moved into my own design studio at the beginning of the year (goal smasher). Sneak a peek on Instagram: @thewhitespacestudio
-I just finished a 4-month coast-to-coast Home + Garden Show tour in support of the Habitat for Humanity “Ultimate Upcycle Challenge” and had the privilege of meeting some of the kindest, and most amazing people across Canada
-I’ve been popping up on the bewb-tube weekly to flex a little DIY muscle on Cityline (Check our www.cityline.ca to watch past episodes)
-I’m FINALLY dedicating time and energy to renovate my own home and we FINNNNNALLY booked our complete kitchen overhaul… which has snowballed into a family room, dining room, AND living room gut. Oh, and removal/ replacement of our staircases. UGH… THE DOMINO EFFECT! I’ll be sharing all of the trials and tribulations on an upcoming Cityline (obvi)!
-I have some super cool projects on the horizon for spring/ summer including a lakefront resort restaurant makeover
-I’m getting new online digs! Hopefully, by the next time you (hopefully) visit huelala.com, it will look a WHOLE. BUNCH. DIFFERENT. I launched this site when I started my own business more than 4 years ago, and I was literally making things up as I went. Since then, a lot of amazing things have happened, and my goals for my business and website are as clear as ever. I can’t wait to share my new cyber home… (which *may* also include a little HueLaLa Shoppe…squeeeee!)
So, since I launched this site with an online “party”, it’s only fitting that I close this chapter of it in the same way…
One of the coolest things about what I do, is that I get to partner with some pretty dope brands to create a fun narrative around some super dope products! Recently, my friends at President’s Choice (PC) asked for some help designing a yummy “compromise-free” birthday party to promote their extensive line of gluten and lactose free products, and I immediately had visions of a colourfully classic and budget friendly at-home birthday party!
ANECDOTAL BREAK: After dropping nearly $700 on my youngest son’s recent playland adventure, my husband and I were left questioning what the real value was… (and whether we should take out a second mortgage to start funding these pricey fetes). At the end of the day, our boys just want to celebrate their big day with friends (regardless of where), have fun, and eat CAKE!
And speaking of cake… it was at my son’s party that I had my first experience with just how difficult it can be for children with various food sensitivities and allergies to indulge the same way as their peers. In prep for my son’s shindig, I thought I had checked all the boxes… we had lots of healthy food options and had ordered a cake from a “peanut-free” facility since I knew that one of the boys had a severe allergy. So when one of Everett’s friends showed up holding a tiny container with a sad looking muffin inside, I was bummed to find out that he couldn’t enjoy our cake because of a non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Fast forward to my “compromise-free” party project where I was challenged to create an affordable at-home party with delicious and INCLUSIVE food options for ALL children!
Here’s my party planning play-by-play…
Pick A Theme
My oldest son, Nolan is art obsessed, so it was only fitting that we have a “pART-ay”!
In terms of décor, I kept things pretty frugal by raiding my local dollar store for materials. I used pages from a colouring book to create the table cloth that the kids could scribble on, bristol board to cut out drippy paint-looking placemats, and mini art canvases sprayed with a coat of chalkboard paint to make custom name cards. I also made some simple paint-splatter decals out of extra bristol board that I attached to the wall with low tact tape to create a colourful photo wall backdrop. Aside from being super inexpensive, the best part about the paper décor was that everything got folded up and placed in the recycling bin afterwards!
Create A Grab-And-Go Menu
When you’re feeding a brood of squirmy kidlets, a formal 3-course meal obviously doesn’t work. Consider opting for deconstructed grab-and-go options where the kids can help themselves to what they want between the fun and games. A nacho bar is a great way to offer a variety of food groups, and with compromise-free dining in mind, I used gluten-free corn chips, and lactose-free cheese and sour cream… all from PC! And if you’re wondering “what on earth is that blue stuff”… I added a splash of food colouring to the sour cream to keep my nacho bar in-line with the rainbow art party theme. It might look a tad questionable, but the kids loved It lol!
I like using my outdoor acrylic dishes and bowls for children’s parties to avoid any broken glass if things get a little wild. And they usually get a “little” wild!
Another super easy and themed snack were these individual rainbow fruit skewers! My sons helped me make them, and they were a fun alternative to a typical fruit bowl.
And a self-serve juice or water cart let’s the kids fuel up on their own, and saves you from having to constantly run around when you hear “I’M THIRSTY” every 20 seconds!
Include An Artfully Delicious Activity
Remember that boy with the gluten-sensitivity? Well, he will never be left out again at one of our birthday’s thanks to PC’s gluten-free cake mix.
I’m going to drop some honest honesty here (sponsored post aside)… I had very low expectations when I read the mix was “gluten-free”. I’ve tried my fair share of baked goods with this same claim in the past, and I was often left feeling like I had just gnawed on cardboard. BUT…this cake mix was very different! I’m one of those people that won’t blow smoke and endorse something unless I actually LOVE and enjoy a product (which I know can be hard to believe in a world where many people’s “opinions” are bought), but this product was legit one of the best cake’s I’ve ever tried… gluten-free aside. In fact, my kids didn’t even know it was GF when they ate it, but they independently echoed my opinion.
So, with a deliciously fresh dozen of cupcakes complete, it was time for the fun to begin. I love the idea of letting the kids be their own artist and decorate their cupcake as a party activity. And let’s face it… it was one less job for me to do while party prepping!
I whipped up a super simple vegan icing recipe ahead of time…
Vegan Icing Recipe:
1 cup vegan butter substitute, softened
3 ½ cups organic icing sugar
¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
-in a large mixing bowl, add softened vegan butter and whip with a hand mixer or stand mixer for 3 min until it becomes a fluffy texture
-slowly fold in one cup at a time of the icing sugar, and when all is added, whip again at a low speed for a few minutes until the texture is consistent
-add in the coconut milk and vanilla extract, and whip again for a final 2 minutes
*recipe makes enough to frost a dozen cupcakes
Now, you can leave the icing plain or dye the batch a fun colour for the kids to pipe and decorate with, OR you can kick it up a notch! Here are the instructions for teaching all the birthday party-goers to make their own mesmerizing rainbow icing…
Rainbow Icing Instructions:
-separate the icing into 6 small bowls (can be done ahead of time)
-add food colouring to each to make the colours of the rainbow (red, blue, yellow, orange (red+yellow), green (yellow+blue), and purple (blue+red). The kids love to help mix the colours…just like in art class
-place the contents of each bowl into a separate piping bag and snip the ends
-place a square of plastic food wrap at each place setting and have a pair of kid-friendly scissors closeby
-pass each piping bag around the table in the order of the rainbow, and have each child pipe a line of the colours right beside one another on their individual plastic wrap. Leave at least 1” of plastic wrap at each end of the piped lines
-carefully roll the icing into a tube by lifting each parallel end of the plastic wrap
-twist each end of the plastic wrap, and snip one end with scissors right where the icing begins
-place the rainbow tube into a fresh piping bag (snipped side down), and pipe out colourful rainbow swirls!
I plated each of the cupcakes on an inexpensive plastic paint palette and added coloured sugar and sprinkles for some extra decorating fun!
It took a bit of time and DIY effort to plan and prep my “pART-ay”, but we definitely saved a lot of money, and everyone got to indulge in the compromise-free menu and celebration fun!
I’d love to hear about your at-home party ideas! Leave a comment or tag me to a picture on Instagram!
Now, LET’S EAT CAKE!
But for real, I want some cake!!
Photography: Michael Carson
*Sponsored post in partnership with President’s Choice (www.pc.ca/foodsensitivities)