Spe­cial day

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING -

IT would be so great if par­ents came up with cre­ative ideas on birth­day cakes for their chil­dren. We have been get­ting the same frosted lay­ered sponge cakes for ev­ery birth­day in our school,” quipped one of the Montes­sori teach­ers I was hav­ing tea with.

Birth­days are spe­cial oc­ca­sions for par­ents and their chil­dren. It is a great time to cel­e­brate and ev­ery child looks for­ward to blow­ing out the can­dles and the ic­ing on their birth­day cake. On the other hand, chil­dren love hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties, and they en­joy at­ten­tion. Maybe it is worth the ef­fort to make ev­ery birth­day mem­o­rable with some­thing else other than just a birth­day cake. How about a spe­cial birth­day plate with in­ter­est­ing snacks from all over the world?

For your child’s first birth­day, try to keep it has­sle-free. This birth­day is re­ally for the adults, es­pe­cially for new par­ents. The birth­day boy or girl will prob­a­bly like the at­ten­tion from the guests but not too much of it. Plan a flex­i­ble party for your child. All par­ents know that their chil­dren’s be­hav­iour and moods can change with­out warn­ing. Have a back-up plan. In case you need to look af­ter your child, some­one else can en­ter­tain for you.

Small cup­cakes are great fun for the chil­dren. Fin­ger foods made out of fruits and veg­eta­bles are more healthy than eat­ing pro­cessed snacks like sausages and nuggets. You can add to the fun by of­fer­ing dips (blended from fruits and yo­ghurt). Rice balls and soft bread sticks are also fun to eat.

Chil­dren like mov­ing to fun mu­sic and crawl­ing through tun­nels. A home-made ob­sta­cle course will keep them busy. Be sure to keep the ac­tiv­i­ties short and sim­ple. The birth­day child may feel tired when it is near his nap­time. Set out a cosy corner with a few pil­lows and a soft mat laid out for any­one who needs a rest.

Let your child’s pref­er­ence be your guide for dec­o­ra­tions. What is his or her favourite an­i­mal, game, ve­hi­cle, fish or colour? Trans­form with sim­ple things that you have in the house. Many par­ents go for bal­loons and stream­ers. Try us­ing brightly coloured scarves and large stemmed leaves in­stead. You can even use your child’s toys as dec­o­ra­tions for the party venue.

Two-year-olds like mak­ing things with real tools. They want to do what grown-ups do. It will be great to let them pre­pare their own birth­day cake. Get a small round pound cake. In­stead of but­ter cream for ic­ing, try dust­ing it with ic­ing pow­der and let your child dec­o­rate it with fruit slices, fresh and dried ones.

You may want to in­vite your two-yearold’s close friends. At this age, they may be a bit wary of new peo­ple and other chil­dren. Your two-year-old loves be­ing with friends he is fa­mil­iar with. Choose an ac­tiv­ity that they can en­joy to­gether and cel­e­brate the birth­day with min­i­mal fuss but max­i­mum fun.

Make a pan­cake stack as a birth­day cake. Tod­dlers this age love build­ing things. They can put marsh­mal­low “bricks”and low sugar jam “ce­ment” to build their birth­day cake. Ba­nana slices and gula Me­laka syrup can add to a great tast­ing cre­ation.

Three-year-olds are so­cia­ble. They like to play games with their friends. They also have many fears. Do not start with clowns or mas­cots in par­ties when your child is fear­ful of masks and painted faces.

Mum­mies and dad­dies can or­gan­ise wa­ter play with wa­ter toy ac­ces­sories or mu­si­cal chairs. They also like sto­ry­telling with props and sound ef­fects. It will add to the fun when the story en­gages the birth­day child and his friends as char­ac­ters in the plot.

My late grand­mother was of ny­onyade­s­cent. I re­mem­ber fondly how she or­gan­ised the cel­e­bra­tion by cook­ing and mak­ing her all-time ny­onya favourites. The yel­low gluti­nous rice and curry chicken were def­i­nitely must-haves. Ny­onya “kueh” and red hard-boiled eggs were also in the menu. One favourite for the chil­dren was “por­cu­pine” pineap­ples. She would put fruit cubes on short skew­ers and placed them all over a cut pineap­ple. This was one party food that was a rave with all chil­dren.

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