The Meatball-Monkey-Pajama Party

Last Sunday -- February 7th -- was Eve's seventh birthday. We had her party on Saturday. Her third birthday was at home (my husband made a castle out of a huge cardboard box that I painted, and all the girls dressed up as princesses). For the last three years we've had her birthday somewhere else -- a neighbourhood play gym, an art studio where they all painted t-shirts, and the place where Eve took gymnastics. Angus's birthday parties haven't been at home since he turned five, I think (the Space Birthday Party). I always used to say I was more comfortable in my own usual environment, but many people assured me that being off-site, with the preparation and clean-up left to someone else, was the way to go. And to an extent, this was true. Honestly, even after this party I don't think it's any less expensive to do it at home -- at least if you prove utterly ineffective at limiting the guest list, as I seem to. But there is something nice about welcoming your child's friends into your own home, and being able to collapse on the couch when the last one leaves, instead of having to load all the gifts and leftover cake and decorations into the car and get yourself home.

Eve was leaning heavily towards Build-a-Bear for her party this year, which is in a mall about twenty minutes from our house. But then she mentioned that she really wanted to have a pajama party. The idea of herding ten-plus little girls around Build-a-Bear, then to the food court for cake didn't thrill me. Having those ten-plus little girls in pajamas and slippers wasn't something that made the idea more attractive (not that I haven't taken my kids places dressed in stranger costumes). Then I read Magpie's post about the Monkey Bread birthday, which intrigued me. I floated the idea to Eve and it was an instant love match. She also wanted to have a movie, so we decided we would show Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which Eve hadn't seen yet. It turns out that one of the principal characters in the movie is, in fact, a monkey, which made me happy (I don't insist on total unity of theme, but I appreciate a connection between elements, no matter how tenuous).

I ordered the aprons from the Dharma Trading Company and stencilled the names on (in glitter, at Eve's express request:

I got Eve some new pajamas (with monkeys and cupcakes on them!):

We got straw-coloured streamers and brown balloons to make spaghetti-and-meatball decorations:

(Is anyone else surprised that they make brown balloons? I was a little surprised).

While searching online for colouring pictures from the movie to have on-hand, I came across this fantastic recipe for spaghetti-and-meatballs cupcakes. Mine came out looking more like linguine than spaghetti, but it was still a big hit. The white chocolate 'shaved Parmesan' blew my shaker-cheese-loving little girl's mind:

The morning of the party, we put on our pajamas:

We got the stencils ready to decorate the aprons:

We got our next-door neighbour to come over early to prevent Eve's head from actually exploding:

When the girls arrived, we got them to decorate the aprons with stencils and fabric markers (another great tip from Magpie -- after they were done decorating, my friend Pam took them downstairs and ironed them to set the paint, rendering them ready for service in under half an hour). The stencils were also a godsend -- for one of Angus's parties we had kids over to paint t-shirts, but we let them go freehand: the result was twelve treasured but unwearable shirts featuring vaguely Spiderman-shaped blobs and explosions of colours that should never be seen together.


The girls coloured and played a game involving being blindfolded and having to pick their stuffed animals out of a bin in which all of them had been placed (it was way too easy. I meant it to be way too easy. I loathe and despise party games and I can't stand to have anyone lose. It's a character flaw.) Once the table was ready, we put out bowls of melted butter and cinnamon-and-sugar, pulled out the many huge bowls of dough that looked ready to take over Ottawa and distributed judicious lumps to each kid:

After they'd each filled an 8" tinfoil pan, we had cupcakes:

Then we got them to fill the family room with a huge pile of pillows and blankets we had assembled and distributed popcorn from enormous bags of buttersalt from Kernels:

If anyone got bored watching the movie (or talked too much) we sent them back out to the dining room table to colour.

It was a great party. Everyone had a good time, there were no conflicts (because there was only one game and no one lost, I'm sure of it), everyone got to take home a pan of bread to pop in the oven and scent the house with cinnamony goodness. The last guest left at 9:30 p.m. (but it was the next-door neighbour -- everyone else was gone by four-thirty). Eve said it was the best party ever, and even though most recent things are 'the best thing ever' in her mind, I think she really liked it. My friend Pam was amazing, and we also had help from a girl who babysits for us -- Eve was thrilled that a teen-ager was going to be at her party. And I got to do it in my pajamas.

She got a lot of great presents -- mostly craft stuff, which she adores. But her very favourite? The thing she said she was most hoping for?.............



Anonymous said…
That looks like a great party!

I have actually not hosted a kids' party yet. Up until now, my Hannah has wanted family parties with her grandparents. This year I feel a little more compelled to have something, but with my husband working at the Olympics I'm basically a solo mom right now and I don't want to take on my first party on my own. Next year, though, my kid will be in kindergarten and there will be no way around it, methinks.
Lynn said…
The Captain is turning 7 in two weeks and we are basically having this same party! People are coming in their jammies...we will do colouring, mazes, and word searches ...we're doing a craft (making parachute men)... having pizza and make-your-own cupcakes... and then watching a movie. Awesome!

Did you wear jammies yourself? I'm torn... I think I will wimp out and stick with jeans.
Lynn said…
I forgot to mention that I agree completely about the cost -- we'll be having 11 kids (including sisters) and the total cost is pushing $200. I actually think bowling or minigolf might have been *less*. But ah well!
Anonymous said…
You threw an awesome party. Eve looked so happy and all the kids had a great time. I'm sure they totally got the monkey theme and it's statement on society today- or maybe it was the cupcake induced high that made them glow. In any case, you have made turning 7 lucky and magical for your great girl. Congrats!
Mary Lynn said…
That's so awesome! I just had the biggest silly grin on my face by the time I finished that post. Sounds like a great party.
Anonymous said…
AWESOME....I loved doing the parties when my kids were little. We did the theme home ones and the ones at other places...sometimes I miss those days!
Magpie said…
That sounds great. And those spaghetti/meatball cupcakes are the bomb.
Anonymous said…
In the morning, I will have an award waiting for you at my place.
Anonymous said…
What an adorable party! I be the kids had a blast. I always loved having the kids friends over. They are all grown now! :-( You sound crafty like my sister. I so am NOT but wish I was.
Julie said…
what an awesome party. the bean's bday is coming up. the big 3. haven't figured out what to do yet, but it will be his first party where he invites friends, not just family. we'll see what i make of it!
Rosemary said…
Those cupcakes were awesome! Eve looked thrilled by her party, you rock! Can you tell I got 2 hours of sunshine yesterday?
Amber said…
Amazing cupcakes and the balloons and streamers were a great idea too! Looks so fun.

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