DIY at your own peril

The doorbell rang on Sunday and I dragged myself to answer it.

Pretend Interviewer (PI): *all bubbly and eagerly thrusting the microphone in EP’s face* Congratulations on the DIY Frozen theme party yesterday. The news is that it was quite a blast and your niece and her friends loved it. We have come for the exclusive behind-the-scenes scoop.

EP bangs the door on PI’s face and retires to huddle again under the covers and manically hums

“Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!”

Yesterday, I managed to summon enough energy to quit the injured and aggrieved queen act and deigned to speak to the PI.

EP: *back to her usual gracious self* Sorry about yesterday, you caught me at a bad time. I am making myself a cup of joe, would you like some?

PI: *much chastened* We understand, you must have been quite tired, what with catering for fifty guests

EP: Tired is an understatement. There were aching blocks of wood where my feet used to be.

PI: What happened?

EP: Not what. You see, Murphy happened.

PI: Take a shot at framing a special set of Murphy laws as applicable to DIY birthday parties, based purely on this experience.

EP: Let me think for a minute…hmmm…

  • The larger the number of food items that need to be baked or cooked with the help of heavy- duty power appliances, the greater the duration of the power outage
  • The higher the number of cupcakes that need to be baked, the closer the party will be, and further the nearest functional oven will be
  • The more rushed and stressed you are, the higher the chance of discovering eggs that have gone bad AFTER you have added them to the cake batter *silently wipes a tear at this one*
  • The more critical the ingredient/food item, the lesser the supply, higher the chances of burning it in the oven *shudders*

PI: You mean to say…

EP: That there was an entirely unprecedented major power outage for 24 hours, which left us without any power appliances. We had all the mise en place prepped, so there was no way we could scrap plans and order in at the last minute. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. I ran across the city looking for an oven, with my air fryer tucked under one arm, with all the ingredients under the other.

PI: What made you imagine that you were in a Masterchef service challenge, with the clock ticking down and guests waiting at the doorstep.

Cooking and baking like a demon for several hours. The highlight was getting fifty cupcakes mixed, baked, depanned, cooled, and boxed under an hour. That after discovering a rotten egg after I had added it to the mix. SALMONELLA! Oh the dreadful feeling that seizes the heart, knowing that you MAY NOT have spare eggs – and the bleddy party is several miles but only a few hours away, and the SIL is having a meltdown, waiting with her frosting bag at the other end of town.

The savory small-eats was such a nightmare that I can’t bring myself to even think about it.

You are my cuppycake..
You are my cuppycake..

I dug deep. I dug very deep.

PI: So who were involved in the shenanigans?

The birthday kid’s mom (BKM) and Aunt A (AA) and Aunt B (me, EP)

PI: But all was not wrong from word go, right? You women have done this before and executed a number of similar family parties, albeit at a lesser scale. Let’s rewind and walk through.

You are invited!
You are invited!

EP: Okay where, do you want to begin? You already know about the Olaf finger puppet invites.  BKM stuck them on as pencil toppers and attached a hand written note. The little invitees executed somersaults with delight, from what I hear. Only that one kid’s mom, being unfamiliar with the movie, asked if Olaf was a duck *squints hard, but fails to see the resemblance between a snowman and a yellow bird*

PI: What were your other contributions? There was some attempt to break gender stereotypes on your part? And why are you munching on carrots?

I made paper tiaras and antlers for the children to wear. Tried very hard to convince the birthday kid (BK) to trade in her tiara for a pair of antlers! She booed me and glued more bling onto hers. One little boy, though, did wear the tiara with pride. And I had the antlers on, right through the party! Sven, too, loves carrots, you know.

PI: The décor was quite pretty, I must compliment the organizing committee. Who made them?

BKM did these gorgeously colored snowflakes, along with (BK). She also made snowflake curtains from the remnants of the snowflake paper. I thought the curtains were to die for, till I spent several anxious minutes, seconds before the first guest arrived, untangling and stringing them up.

AA made the birthday banner. Which.was.such.a.dream.

Snowflake curtains
Snowflake curtains

PI *gushing* My favorite were the favor bags.

EP: Mine too! AA’s creations. Made with newspaper. Sven for the boys, and pink crowns for the girls. BKM has a dab hand with gardening, so all the kids carried home a little potted plant. The pots had snowflakes pasted on them, and was personalized by BK, with each name inscribed in blue glitter. Oh, there was even a personalized thank you note!

Thank you for coming to our party
Thank you for coming to our party

PI: The cake was the pièce de résistance then?

EP: The cake was nice enough, with its multi-hued and frozen layers of mauve, purple, blue. But was one of the few items that we store bought. The show stopper was the Olaf piñata that *modest tone, clearing throat* I made using a balloon, a couple of pieces of thick paper, several newspaper sheets, some aluminum foil, and a whole lot of glue. We stuffed it with confetti and sweets and I clutched my heart while BK and BKM punched it for the treasures to rain.  I was convinced it was going to fall, nose and all, and break into pieces. Instead, it worked like a charm and the confetti rained down like a poem about the monsoons. The piñata has been a childhood favorite, and remains the best part about birthday parties for me.

Extremely pleased with the Olaf pinata
Extremely pleased with the Olaf pinata

PI: So do you still love birthday parties with the same passion that you rashly declared during our last chat.

EP: Of course. Even more so, now that I have a finer understanding of the behind-the-scenes madness. My only regret is not spending some quality time at the fake tattoo artist’s.

PI: So will you do it all over again?

The décor and other stuff? In a heartbeat!

The cupcakes, yes, of course. Remind me to tell you how I got Pootle List # 53 “Sell what I cook/bake” scratched off, courtesy Thomas and friends. A story for another blog post.

The catering bit. No, never!! Or ask me again in a few days. This might be like swearing off drinking while in the throes of a hangover. In fact, I have several ideas of how I could have done things differently. It will be a shame not to test those out.

Okay, okay! I shall come clean! Already in talks for a Cinderella party for another niece. She is all of four years old and the naughtiest brat this side of the Equator. Excuse me, I have to go look up Cinderella amigurumi patterns and get me some princess pinspiration!

Templates and inspiration from:
Sven antlers template:
Elsa tiara template:
Olaf Pinata:


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