Spooky marshmallow treats on a stick! Fun (and easy) Halloween themed party food for kids.
My daughter JJ loves Halloween so much that she decided to have a Halloween-themed birthday party – back in May! I’m just getting a chance to share this fun (and spooky) marshmallow treat that we made for the party with you now… (And many thanks to The Decorated Cookie for the inspiration!)
This post was originally published 18 March 2014, and has been updated.
We made these cute little Cheese Monsters for my nephew’s 5th birthday party. Healthy party food ftw!
A sharp knife (a filleting knife is perfect), a few googly eyes in different sizes, some non-toxic kids PVA glue, a tiny bit of wool for hair and a couple of packets of mini Babybel cheeses all come together to make a plate of monsterlicious treats.Continue readingCheese Monsters
This is a sponsored post for Nuffnang and illoom balloons.
I just heard about this really cool new product: glow-in-the-dark balloons! Seriously! They are called illoom balloons, and they have an actual little inbuilt LED light inside each balloon, that lights up for up to 15 hours.
Illoom balloons would be perfect for a night-time party or a dark indoor disco, where you can hang up them and add a bit of light and festivity to otherwise dark corners. The darker the room (or night), the better and brighter they appear.
How to make DIY sparkly fairy wand invitations – perfect for a fairy themed birthday party.
We had a fairy-themed birthday party for my daughter JJ’s 5th birthday. JJ and I made these DIY wand invitations, and she had so much fun handing them out! I’m still getting lots of comments about them several months later, and some of her friends even still use their wand invitations for fairy role-playing at home, so I thought I should share how we made them.
It’s a bit tricky sharing DIY invitations though, because they have our personal details written all over them! If I had thought ahead, I would have made up a mock version with fake details, but in the pre-party planning madness, I was too busy just trying to get all the things done so I’ve just blocked out all the personal bits from the photos. Sorry that this makes them look at bit sketchy!
To make DIY fairy wand invitations like ours, you need
(I’ve included affiliate links* to items that are similar to what we used.)
Make a (quick) homemade kids’ footprint Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday card.
This was entirely JJ’s idea. She’d been invited to a Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle themed 5th birthday party, and was quite excited. You see, she hadn’t really had been exposed to the whole TMNT thing yet, and was so intrigued about the whole ninja side of it. And they wear masks. And they’re turtles. Cool…
Then, about an hour before the party was supposed to start, she declared that she wanted to make the birthday boy a homemade card, it had to feature her footprint, and it had to be TMNT themed. Argh, talk about pressure! So I quickly googled, and was shocked that I couldn’t find anything – so we improvised. Quickly.
Step 1: Paint on foot. Check.
Step 2: Press foot down on a blank card, and the put the card in the microwave for fast drying. (I’ve never actually considered this before, but it worked really well! Otherwise we would never have gotten this card made in time.)
Step 3: JJ painted the coloured masks with cotton buds. We discussed the fifth toe situation, and she decided she could step up and be the extra TMNT with a pink mask (because purple had already been taken by Donatello). Pop back in the microwave for another minute to dry.
Step 4: Because we were pressed for time, I stuck on the googly eyes using a low temperature glue gun. If we had more time, I would have used a regular clear drying glue so that JJ could do this part as well. (Tiny googly eyes are really fiddly, so they would be great fine motor practise).
Step 5: Write a turtle-y awesome birthday message! Haha, I borrowed this particular pun from the front of the birthday invitation. JJ (at four and a half) is still learning to write, so I wrote on the front of the card and she wrote her name on the inside.
Step 6: Pop it in an envelope, and go enjoy the party!!!
She must have had a great time, because afterwards she asked if she could have a Unicorn Ninja party for her fifth birthday, which sounds like an absolutely amazing birthday theme (but one that I’m not sure I could quite pull off).
So far she wants a Unicorn Ninja party, a Hippo Has A Hat party, an Alice in Wonderland party, an Under The Sea / Mermaid party… I suggested an Alphabet party, but I don’t think she’s buying it. I hope she can decide on something soon, because I need to start planning!
Easy DIY glitter party poppers – fun for kids parties or New Years Eve.
With the Christmas hustle and bustle behind us, we’ve been enjoying a few lazy days at home. I wasn’t actually planning on making any New Years Eve arts & crafts this year, but lazy days at our place tends to involve making something or other, and with the excitment of our first proper New Years Eve celebrations approaching, we made some very sparkly homemade party poppers that are easy for the kids to pop and refill again. Hours (or at least minutes) of entertainment! 🙂
These party poppers are actually remarkably easy to make. You’ll need:
empty toilet paper rolls (or other similar cardboard tubes)
a few good quality balloons
craft glue and super fine glitter (optional)
your choice of small and light weight fillers (see below for suggestions).
The first step is to gather your TP rolls, balloons and scissors. You can make your own party popper with just these three items. Helium quality balloons work best.
Tie the end of the balloon and cut a very small section off the other end.
Then stretch the cut section over the end of your TP roll. Some balloons might split at this point, so it’s good to have a few spare. I found that the lower quality / old balloons from my stash split really easily, whereas the higher quality helium style balloons were much better.
And technically that’s all you need to do to make a DIY party popper! You could even make these after the party has already started, especially if you have balloons and confetti or similar on hand. It seriously takes less than a minute, and costs just a few cents.
Pour your filler into the open end, pull back on the knot ‘handle’, let go and watch your fillers shoot out! It even makes a loud popping sound. And you can refill to pop over and over and over again.
Or, of course, you can always add in an extra step and decorate your party poppers. You could paint them, or wrap them in washi tape. We chose to coat them in copious amounts of glitter. 🙂 JJ helped with this part – we painted the party poppers with craft glue inside and out, sprinkled on super fine glitter in silver and gold, and left them overnight to dry.
We tried out a few different filler options:
glitter works really well – it shoots out like a stream of sparkles. (The very top image on this post is edited, because glitter shooting out is VERY hard to photograph, but it is quite a good indication of what it looks like).
cut sections of sparkly pipe cleaner was my favourite of the fillers we tried. They are really light weight, so the party poppers could shoot them a long way, and they are big enough to make them easy to pick up to refill (or clean up afterwards).
little sequins work well (ours were star shaped), especially when combined with the glitter and cut pipe cleaners. My main concern was that they are so fiddly to clean up afterwards.
tiny sparkly pom poms sound good in theory. They did work, but they were slightly disappointing. They tended to get caught in the bottom of the balloon knot bit.
we didn’t try confetti but I think this would work well too. I’ve seen metallic sparkly confetti for sale at craft shops that looks like it would be perfect for this sort of thing.
JJ has declared the gold one hers ‘because she likes gold best’ and the silver one Bee’s ‘because Bee likes blue and silver best’.
Now we just need to wait for the big night – which is coming up VERY VERY soon!
See you in 2015!
Here are some of the other TP roll art & craft ideas we’ve tried.
And I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to this versatile craft material!
Ok, maybe I’m over-selling it a bit in the title, but I have made this dark chocolate mud cake (with dark chocolate ganache and fondant icing) four times in a row now. It’s my new go-to birthday cake recipe, because it holds up really well to decorating, and mud cake is always a party pleaser. Each time I’ve made it, people have begged me for the recipe. So here it is folks!
But before we get to the technicalities, let me show off some of my designs. 🙂
Here’s my most recent, a number 2 train track cake for my vehicle-obsessed lass who turned two a few weeks ago.
The train is from her massive train set that we bought second hand for her birthday present. (Are we the only ones that give pre-loved birthday gifts?) For this cake, I bought pre-coloured dark green icing from a speciality cake supplier, then I mixed it with white and yellow to achieve the various shades of the ‘grass’.
I used the same green icing for Bee’s Dorothy the Dinosaur cake, for her other, Wiggles themed, second birthday party. (Two parties for a second birthday? Apparently I’m a sucker for punishment…).
The red, yellow and black icing is store-bought pre-coloured fondant that actually uses all natural colours. Awesome! Alas, the green is not so additive friendly, and it (ahem) kind of covers the whole darn thing…
I made this Dashi cake for my daughter JJ’s Octonauts 4th birthday party earlier this year. The most difficult bit was cutting and positioning the face and hair, so that it neither overlapped, nor left any gaps. I really like how this one turned out. I think the key to getting cartoon character cakes right is all in the shape and position of the eyes…
I’ve also used this same recipe to make smaller cakes, just by cutting the large cake into several smaller ones before ganaching.
Last month I made four smaller cakes, intending to donate three for the preschool Father’s Day cake stall, and keep the fourth one for our own Father’s Day celebrations. Bee cemented this decision when she decided to be the official taste tester a couple of days in advance. Bah! She doesn’t even look remorseful!
The Moistest, Most Yummiest Chocolate Birthday Cake, ever
400g dark cooking chocolate
4 cups caster sugar
2 tsp instant coffee (optional)
3 cups of water
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa
250g dark chocolate buttons
1/3 cup cream
Fondant Icing (optional)
Pre-made fondant icing
Food Colouring (preferably without artificial colours)
Heat the butter and dark cooking chocolate in an extra large saucepan over low heat until melted. Add the sugar, instant coffee (if using) and water, and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 150℃. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy.
Add the (unsifted) flours and cocoa to the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix until all ingredients are roughly combined. Add the eggs, and mix well.
Pour into the lined roasting pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Set aside to cool in the pan (for several hours, or possibly overnight).
Combine the dark chocolate buttons and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on medium heat for 20 seconds at a time until melted. Add cream and mix well. Set aside to cool at room temperature for roughly 1 hour until the ganache is thick and spreadable.
Carefully remove the mud cake from the roasting pan and place cake <i>upside down</i> on your cake board / serving platter. Cut cake to your desired shape.
Spread ganache over the entire top and sides of the cake, making sure to leave no areas ‘unsealed’. Smooth the ganache using the flat edge of a spatula (or other utensil). Any major imperfections will show through the fondant icing.
Fold paper towel over the edge of a blunt butter knife, and use to wipe clean the edges of the cake board.
Set ganached cake aside overnight at room temperature.
For 2D cartoon character designs, google for a colouring-in page of your preferred character.
Mix food colours in a ceramic bowl until correct hue is achieved before adding to white fondant. Wear disposable gloves when adding food colouring. Natural food colouring is fantastic for pastel coloured fondant. For more vibrant colours, artificial colouring (or pre-coloured fondant) does look better.
To cover a large cake, use a rolling pin (or glass bottle or vase) to roll fondant out onto a large silicon baking mat (or I use a large BBQ hot plate liner). Turn upside down and carefully place onto the cake. Peel back the silicon mat or liner, and gently ease the fondant into the nooks and crannies of your design. Cut away any excess.
Add the details to your design. Use a small dab of water between any layers of fondant to act as glue. Minimise the number of thick fondant layers, to prevent the fondant overwhelming the flavour of the cake.
Set aside overnight at room temperature to set.
For the sake of your sanity, I recommend to start baking at least 3 days before the party, so that you can ganache the next day, ice the day after and be able to go to bed on the eve of the party knowing that the cake is done. If you feel like being super organised, or if party prep leaves you feeling overwhelmed, then you might even want to bake the mud cake up to a month in advance and freeze it. Just make sure it is fully defrosted before ganaching.
And for some reason I feel the need to explain something. I find myself in an ethical dilemma when it comes to party food. I’m quite strict with my kids diet most of the time. Part of our strategy is to generally eat a balanced diet that is high in fibre, low in sugar and to ensure that healthy food is cooked in a way that makes it as yummy as possible, so they grow up learning to love good food! But rather than totally ban high sugar junky foods, we instead label them as ‘party foods’. My kids happily accept (most of the time) that we don’t eat these foods unless we are at a party. We do make (and love) lots of healthier party food options (like this, this,this or possibly this) but lately I’ve been making an exception for the cake.