I have a 1 year old: Noah’s Backyard Luau!

Noah party cakeYes, I went absolutely and completely out of mind over Noah’s 1st birthday! He is the smallest thing in the house. He will never remember this party, nor the guests, nor what he wore that day. Heck, he couldn’t even feast on most of the fancy fixin’s…the kid only has two teeth!!

Nonetheless, in my mind, I was planning the biggest, baddest, best birthday a bouncing baby boy would ever see! It’s a luau for crying out loud! There had to be tiki huts, pig roasting, hula dancing and fire rings!!

Alas, two weeks before the shindig, this mommy ran out of fuel. What with busy season at work, kids in summer activities, a husband in summer school, a mountain of yard work and a soon-to-be-one year old with newfound mobility, it was a wonder I had enough energy to plan bedtime – let alone a party! Luau, you say? I’d settled for grass skirts, plastic leis and a few pineapples at this point. Did I say luau on that invite? I think I really meant ooh oww!!

The day before the party, I ran around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. I’d planned a menu that could easily be prepared the night before or morning of the early afternoon party. Was I cooking though? Nooooo…I was too busy running from store to store trying to find goodie bag goodies, prizes, games, lawn seating, etc. Who has time to cook the food I had planned to pre-cook???photo

The day of the party is all a blur. All I know is if it wasn’t for my mom, oldest daughter and a couple of good great friends, I would have been more than a mess (because I was going to be a mess either way but they saved me from being a gargantuan blob of poo). Not only did they take pics for me (how the heck did I forget that), they helped prepare dishes for which I had purchased a fridge full of groceries but was too exhausted to prepare. They stayed well after the party fare had cooled to help with clean up. What can I say? They are the best!

So regardless of what I was able to pull together (and not pull together), the party was a success! My…err…umm…Noah’s guests were thoroughly satisfied with the food, fun and fellowship. Noah slept most of the time but was wide awake for the most important part – the cutting of the cake! 🙂

2013-06-29 18.47.46Now that the party is over and I have rested well enough to write this post, I realize there are way more things that I planned to do but didn’t. I had tons of hula hoops and even a limbo bar – it’s not a luau if you don’t do the limbo, right? I had planned for the kids to play those games along with pass the coconut and karaoke to win prizes. As it turned out, the kids played volleyball, chased each other and/or engaged in stimulating, intellectual conversation with each other for fun (heh heh…just seeing if you’re paying attention).

I had some really cool prizes I’d found at local dollar and craft stores. I’ve become a prize collector of sorts. I have 6 kids so it’s not like these finds will never be put to good use. Not to mention, they make great stocking stuffers during the holidays. Whenever I find a good deal on cool gifts for kids, I wipe the store out! Among other things, I found watches at Target for under $5, compass bracelets for $1 at JoAnn Fabric Store and custom water bottles at the dollar store.

For decor, I purchased two grass/floral luau table skirts and a bag of leis on amazon. I’d found sand pails at the dollar store and used those to store the leis on tables. For the most part, fresh fruit adorned the tables for decor. For example, I displayed the menu options on fresh bananas. I was so proud of this idea because I came up with it on my own. Now I’m certain I’m not the first to do this, but as the reigning Queen of Google in an effort to avoid reinventing the wheel, I felt quite proud of this innovative idea. It was not only unique and festive (in an island sort of way), it was informative too :D!

For appetizers, the big kids and I threaded fresh fruit on bamboo skewers. I stuck the skewers in a watermelon for an interesting display. The skewers are beautiful and appetizing even if only displayed on a platter. Using a wide variety of fruit with bright colors makes for an eye-catching (and still yumalicious) display. I made fruit dip and had the bright idea (yep, another one of those :)) to serve the dip in the cavity of a pineapple – top in tact! Brilliant, if I must say so myself :)!!!! And these babies did not “stick” around long. The kids and adults really lit into these. I don’t think I could make them fast enough!

Fruit Skewers &Creamy Fruit Dip

Fruit Skewers & Creamy Fruit Dip

I had this bright idea of making salad as finger food (yep…I was full of bright ideas). I had originally planned to thread the salad on skewers as well, but ran out of time so I opted for plan B. As it turned out, I had no time for plan B either. That’s when my crazy, blogger friend, Kris (coincidentally, just as greedy as I am LOL), asked if there was something she could help with. Me: “Why yes ma’am…glad you asked.” 🙂

Plan B was pretty much the same salad fixings…only sans the skewers. This also made for a beautiful display on a platter. This was supposed to be a finger version of a caesar salad. After the salad bites were made, however, I discovered I was fresh out of caesar salad dressing. And there was no way I was about to make my own at this point. So, like most hosts do when they are in a bind, I improvised. The salad was good, but not perfect without the finishing touch of a good and tasty bottle of caesar salad dressing.

Caesar Salad Bites on Boston Bibb Lettuce

Caesar Salad Bites on Boston Bibb Lettuce

So, other than lots of fruit and a few small bites, what else was on the menu? You recall my saying I’d planned a menu of pre-cooked or pre-prepared foods, right? Well, the night before the party, I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to throw the meat in the crockpot. I made super duper easy peasy BBQ pulled pork and Hawaiian BBQ shredded chicken – one of which slow cooked in my trusty, dependable Crockpot and the other in my ever-faithful, Ninja 3-in-1. These sandwiches were served with the choice of a variety of warm, toasted breads: pretzel buns, Hawaiian dinner rolls, and sesame & poppyseed buns.

And just because it’d be sacrilege to serve BBQ without cole slaw (which I utterly loathe), I made Oriental Slaw (yeah, yeah…I know it’s a luau…Hawaiian theme and all…spare me, will ya? :)). This slaw has a sweeter, nuttier taste than regular cole slaw and it’s the only slaw I can stomach (which is why it is the only kind I serve). I also kept single-serve bagged chips of all varieties in bright colored baskets. For the parched, I served mini water bottles in an open cooler and a fruity flavored punch.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special “shout out” to my friends, Chantelle and Sharon. They are so creative, helpful and…well, just downright awesometastic! They made sure I sat down when I was “doing the most” and when I was so exhausted I couldn’t lift every voice and sing, they gathered trash, put away food, brought in tables, etc. Whatever was needed, they did it! It helps that they are also moms, love to entertain, can keep at least 1 eye on approx. 2 1/2 kids while cooking a hot meal, putting on makeup and preparing a Powerpoint presentation. Yep, they’re Wonder Woman times 2! What’s more…they have the same greedy traits as I do so they know food MUST taste good and that can NEVER be compromised…hmmm…we might actually be related :D!

The one thing on the menu that I didn’t make (even with the help of friends), was a sweet potato veggie burger recipe my sister forwarded to me that I had planned to serve as the only item on the menu that Noah could actually gum without choking. What kind of mother am I that failed to make the one thing on the menu that the birthday boy could eat effortlessly?  We will give Noah another 5 years and let him answer that. For now, my husband, 5 other kids and guests would agree I’m a PThirty1 kind of mom…so blessed!

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Joyce

Mother of 6, lover of God, life, family, good food, good friends and good times!

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