This is the time of year that I start obsessing.
My daughter’s birthday is Oct. 19. About now, I start planning the menu for her birthday party.
She’s turning 3. So I’m not burdened by trying to feed a bunch of children yet. My husband and I have confined these affairs to family luncheons.
That doesn’t stop me from endlessly perusing cookbooks, searching for the perfect birthday cake, as well as a meal that will please both adults and a toddler.
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One of my favorite cookbook authors, British food celebrity Nigella Lawson, advocates a streamlined approach to children’s parties: the same menu every time. For her children’s birthdays, Lawson would make the same cake with different decorations, the same butter cookies in different shapes and different colored frosting, the same cocktail sausages, store-bought chips, fish sandwiches and maybe a bowl of fruit.
Lawson finds value in repetition. In her book, “How to Eat,” she wrote, “The routine is reassuring to your children (just like the same old Christmas tree decorations coming out year after year) and helpful for you.”
I love this idea that the same menu becomes an integral part of your child’s birthday experience and memories.
So far the only consistent item at my child’s birthday meal is a layer cake that has cracked because I was too tired the night before her party to trim the layers before stacking and icing them. (Uneven layers will crack when stacked.) I’m hoping that this is the year that I finally nail it.
I’m sure readers with years of experience cooking and baking for children’s birthday parties may have wisdom to share. Send me a note with your advice, and I’ll share the best tips in a future column and maybe a recipe or two.