Summer-in-the-Winter Birthday Party

I am so jealous of parents who have kids with warm-weather birthdays. My girls were born in late fall and early winter which basically precludes any attempt at an easy breezy outdoor party (aka: One of those let-them-run-around-then-serve-cake-then-say-goodbye parties). So for Phoebe’s 8th this year, we all decided to ignore the weather and have a summer party anyway — inside the snow-shrouded house. Phoebe insisted on planning the order of events, the playlist, the invite list. And though it didn’t exactly end up being easy-breezy, we had so much fun planning it that it was totally worth the effort. Here are some highlights:


The Invitation

Phoebe is really into Peanuts, so Snoopy of course found his way onto the invite. I always have the kids make their own invitations then I shrink and photocopy. It becomes an instant keepsake — not to mention costs exactly zero.

Leis and Sunglasses greet the guests. I ordered both from the all-powerful Oriental Trading Company.

Pin the Fin on the Shark
I google-imaged “shark” about a week before the party, freehand-copied the easiest one I could manage onto poster board, then had the girls help paint it. Then we played Pass the Coconut. All the credit for this one goes to Rebecca Ffrench, who was the party editor at Cookie.

Prize Table
I don’t give a prize to everyone — I think it makes the kids get so much more into the games when they know something is at stake. I wrap all the prizes (little crappy things, really, like a Polly Pocket, a yo-yo, etc.) to add a little more mystery to it and the game winners get to choose whichever one she wants.

Starfish Buddies
These were really cute (again, Oriental Trading), but I had budgeted 20 minutes for them and they only took about three, which left us scrambling a bit to fill time at the end. (Thank goodness for freeze dance.) The girls got to take them home in their goody bags.

Tropical Smoothie Bar
Another Rebecca Ffrench suggestion. (I’m telling you, the woman is a genius.) The kids got to choose whatever fruit they wanted and Andy did the blending and topped each off with a hibiscus straw.

Beach Cake
I would say we had the most fun with this. I drew it a couple different ways before Phoebe decided on this layout, then the girls helped me decorate it.

The “sand” is Nilla wafers that have been crushed in the food processor; the frosting is store-bought (with a little bit dyed blue for water); the parasols are from Oriental Trading, and the cake is, of course, Rosa’s Mud Cake, pretty much the only recipe I ever use for birthday parties.

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JR – How do you do this? God – you are amazing! Thank God Tomas is born in Sept – and so far, we have been blessed with amazing weather. Admittedly, a 2 year old’s requirement for a good time may be a bit more simplistic than an 8 year old’s – but I am grateful for the neighborhood park, a bunch of colorful balloons, and a frozen yogurt cake from JP Licks 🙂


Grid: That sounds like the most perfect party ever. What is JP Licks — does it have anything to do with a certain beloved diminutive B-dorm roommate of ours?

Lori R.

i’m so happy my daughter’s upcoming bday party is at 2:30! don’t know how you do everything! we’re not even doing the baking ourselves.


What a great idea. My mom always had my sister’s birthday at her half birthday because her real one was in the summer…and she didn’t have a lot of friends because of the summer. I think it’s a great idea to celebrate for your kid even if they have a summer birthday! Great ideas.

Stock Pots


This cake looks great- I may borrow your idea! And I have to second Ingrid on the JP Licks frozen yogurt cakes. Yum!


I LOVE THIS POST! Going to make this cake for my two year old’s party tomorrow. Wish me luck! One question though. What did you use to write on the cake? Having a great time reading your book!


Thanks for all the great ideas for my soon-to-be 3-year old’s January B-day party. I will be attempting the cake with beach umbrellas, orderd some great stuff from Oriental Trading and will also do the smoothie bar for kids and parents. LOVE that idea!


I found your post on a google search. My daughter has a December birthday so I feel your pain. Thank you for all the fun ideas!