Five years ago, I was stuck in the hospital with preeclampsia, a magnesium drip and two preemies in the NICU. My life has changed so much since then — homes, countries, employers, careers, hobbies — but these two little kidlets have been a constant grounding force for me. Which is not to say they have been constant. They seem to grow before my very eyes. And they are always revealing details of their hysterical little personalities that we hadn’t seen before.
Their first 3 birthdays were celebrated with parties that were more for us than them. When they turned 4, they again had a joint party. They were in the same nursery school and had the same friends. It just made sense. In the run-up to this years party, skirmishes kept breaking out over the theme (I DO NOT want fairies at MY party! And I DON’T want pirates at MINE!). I asked if they would like to each have their own party. They stared at me in silence — and the fight was over. They went on planning their separate parties and divvying up the guest list.
Just because twins share a birthday does not mean they must share a party. And why should they? I think every kid should get to be the star, rather than the co-star, of the show at least once a year.
With the philosophical bit settled, that left the logistics. Several friends thought I needed my head checked, but we ultimately had both parties on the same day: a butterfly fairy brunch in the morning, followed by a set change and a football/soccer party in the afternoon. I designed the menus to be as appealing to adults as to the kids so that I could streamline the preparation. A dear friend, with an enviable talent for sugar work, made a special cake for each party. And, as a sanity saving measure, we outsourced the entertainment to professionals. Everyone was completely birthday’d out by the end, but the looks on the kids’ faces when their friends sang Happy Birthday to each of them alone was priceless.
Happy Birthday, lovelies. xo
Mini bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon
Platters of crudités and fruit
Hotdogs on the BBQ
Mac & cheese balls (recipe below)
Popcorn & Pretzels
Platters of crudités and fruit
Mac & Cheese Balls
Macaroni and cheese is a great dish for entertaining adults and children together. Everyone loves it and the need for separate “kid dishes” can be avoided. For the party, I wanted to make this a finger food for the kids and a canapé for the adults so I set them into tidy little two-bite balls. This can be made in large batches and can be done ahead – the keys to entertaining happiness.
½ lb/225g macaroni – the smallest you can find
1 heaping tablespoon/20g flour
pinch of dry mustard
pinch of cayenne
1 heaping tablespoon/20g butter
290ml whole milk
3 oz/85g finely shredded gruyere cheese
1 large egg, beaten
Cook pasta: Boil pasta in salted water to al dente. Do not overcook. Drain and cool.
Make sauce: Melt butter and whisk in flour, cayenne and dry mustard. Cook for 1 minute. Off he heat, slowly add the milk, whisking continuously to keep the mixture smooth. Return to heat and boil for 2 minutes, continuing to stir. It will thicken to a light coating consistency. Off the heat, mix in the cheese until melted and smooth.
Season to taste with salt & pepper. [For a more grown up version, increase the cayenne, Tabasco, bacon or ham,
Mix the pasta and sauce together. Allow to cool slightly (at this point, you can also set this side for up to a day).
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Mix in the beaten egg til evenly distributed. Spoon into a mini-muffin tin. Approximately 1 ½ tablespoons fills my cups to a tidy round dome. Bake until set and the top has just begun to color. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then turn out of the tin. Can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to 2 days and reheated to serve.