I wish I could say I'm a really great planner. But truth be told, I'm usually not. I might just be the biggest procrastinator you know. I've had a life time to master that... unfortunately. My two little boys and I threw a surprise birthday party for my husband yesterday evening (his birthday was the day before but was spent travelling... so luckily there was some surprise involved!). Both my son's have colds, and I think the amount of times I've been coughed/sneezed/snotted on is unfortunately catching up to me as well... so lets just say it was great already having on hand some things that are simple, but add beauty and charm to a party with minimal effort. Here are my main two suggestions-
First thing you should invest in? A pretty, simple cake stand. I got the one below from a Pottery Barn outlet for 12 dollars a few years ago. I might be biased towards getting a white one (because I'm sort of obsessed with white dishes) but in my opinion, food always looks prettier on white, and an added bonus is it can easily be incorporated into different party color themes. My heart has been set on this milk glass
cake stand for a couple years now, but I can't justify buying that one when I have a functional, pretty cake stand already. But maybe eventually I'll give in!
I do have wrapping paper. But its in a bin in my sons closet, with a few heavy bins on top of it. So instead of lugging bins full of things around to get to the wrapping paper, I decided to be a little creative. My 3 year old likes to paint. And because I'm his mom, I always think they are fantastic and have kept most of them. That secret hoarding came in handy when I realized a present wrapped in one of my son's paintings would be much more meaningful and beautiful than store bought paper (at least what I own...its been a while since I've bought wrapping paper because I typically wrap things in brown masking paper and spice it up with yarn/ribbon/japanese tape). It looks pretty, right? Again, its nice having things on hand to give a personal touch with as little effort as possible (is my laziness coming on a little strong right now?).
There are a few other essentials for last minute birthday celebrations, one being candles (or hey, a single candle... you have to blow out something!) so keep those in stock. It would be weird without cake/cupcake/other dessert, and if you don't have time to be a gourmet chef like me and whip up a cake mix, just buy one from a store... and don't feel bad about it. Lastly, you can decorate with whatever you'd like. Luckily I had streamers so we looped some of those around the room for my husband's party last night. A tradition of my family's growing up was we'd decorate with signs. We'd all take a few colored sheets of paper and write something funny, or meaningful, or we'd draw a picture and put them up all over the walls for the special birthday person to wake up to. I still love that tradition and have kept it going with my little family.
Just for fun, I thought I'd share the basic recipe I used for the vanilla frosting on the cake shown above (it was super sweet!). I modified it a little bit: I didn't add quite as much confectioners sugar, and added more milk and vanilla than it called for. Here you go! -Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
(From Sprinkles Cupcakes)
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- In a bowl combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat till blended.
- Add the milk and vanilla and beat for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.