ANNABEL LANGBEIN

Happy birth­day baby

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

We were rem­i­nisc­ing about kids’ birth­day par­ties the other day and my daugh­ter Rose, who is now 24, re­minded me of the time I hired a ma­gi­cian for her birth­day party when she was 3 or 4. She was so ter­ri­fied of this skinny, pale man with a black gown and a funny hat, that she hid be­hind me, clutch­ing my skirt and sob­bing for the en­tire party. An­other time we had a Harry Pot­ter

themed party for her brother. I got in all this dry ice, and Rose walked on it and burnt her foot quite badly.

The thing is, kids’ birth­day par­ties aren’t all plain sail­ing. There will be tantrums and feuds, bad be­hav­iour, slights and griev­ances, pos­si­bly bit­ing. Some­one will feel left out and def­i­nitely some­one will need to an­nounce their feel­ings that, ‘It’s not fair!”

If you don’t have chil­dren, you‘re prob­a­bly not aware of all the palaver that con­sti­tutes a chil­dren’s birth­day party. Just work­ing out who is in­vited is fraught, with the po­ten­tial for ma­jor fall-outs. Do you re­mem­ber that scene in the TV se­ries Big Lit­tle Lies, when Made­line, one of the rich moth­ers, on find­ing out that one of the other high-pow­ered mums has in­vited ev­ery­one but Ziggy to Ama­bella’s birth­day party, de­cides to go to war. She gets tick­ets to a very ex­pen­sive Dis­ney show for the same day as the party and gives them out to ev­ery child in the kinder­garten. Hell knoweth no fury like a par­ent wronged.

There are games, themes, trans­porta­tion and ad­ven­tures to or­gan­ise. Money fly­ing out of your pocket like wa­ter through a sieve. And then there is the food. You know you will be judged by the food. The chil­dren will think you are mis­er­able if you fail to put out junk food, and other par­ents will think you are ir­re­spon­si­ble if you do. I say cover all bases. Put out the bowls of chip­pies and chee­rios and sweet treats, but in­clude raw vege sticks and fruit skew­ers as well.

The cake is an­other hur­dle. We had Bar­bie com­ing out of a cake one year, a few years of cake trains dec­o­rated with thou­sands of M&Ms, fairy cakes, cater­pil­lars — you name it, I made it. One year, I was so busy and ex­hausted that I went and or­dered a cake. The thing cost as much as a fancy din­ner out for two peo­ple, but it was in­deed glo­ri­ous, and Rose can still re­mem­ber it, a huge blue dol­phin with about 3cm of moulded plas­tery ic­ing. Oh my, the stakes went up that year.

But the re­al­ity is that the kids won’t even no­tice what kind of cake it is or how long it took you to make it. They just want cake and can­dles and the more lol­lies on it the bet­ter.

I hope this week’s recipes help take some of the stress out of your next cel­e­bra­tion.

CHO­CO­LATE CARAMEL FRUIT FONDUE

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