Dottie’s cookie (and pizza) party

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Helen Jane

Even if you don't have kids, you WILL be inspired by this toddler's birthday party — who doesn't like cookie-decorating and pizza-making!?


Dottie's Cookie Party: don't those words just look like they go together? Seems like Dottie should always have a cookie party, just because the words fit so nicely.

This post originally appeared on helenjane.com

All those iEeees!

We believe strongly in letting our kids decide what parties they're throwing (I mean, how else would we have ended up with Nora Lea's last birthday theme?) Asking Dottie, "What kind of birthday party do you want to have?" returned the answer, "COOKIE PARTY!" so James and I shrugged and went to work and came up with an assemble-your-own-cookies-and-pizza party concept — which turned out pretty simple. Assembling your own food helps divert attention from food sensitivities and gives guests something to do when conversation slows.

Decorating
I decided against gift bags, after the amazing bags the girls have come home with from parties past. Sometimes, when faced with something that I should be into (see: My Wedding) I get so overwhelmed with possibilities, I just shut down. So when it came to gift bags for my two year old's birthday party, I just… just… didn't have space in my brain (or wallet) to put something charming and whimsical and damn it, USEFUL, together.

Instead of spending tons of cash on flowers and signage and things, I picked up some helium-filled balloons at the grocery store and sent them home with our toddler guest. For decorating, I found two disposable tablecloths in the garage and that was good enough for me.

We moved the coffee table over by our dining area and put the little chairs around it so the girls would have their own space. They loved it.

Digression: I know that decorating parties is the biggest part of all the party pr0n all over the internet, but when you actually have people coming to your home to eat food, perfect printables stuck on a dessert table are quite literally my last priority.

Is the food delicious?
Will my friends be comfortable?
Better yet, will they have fun?
These are the questions I worry about, not the perfect tablescape.
(But you already knew that.)

Guests
We kept the invite list low, only one kiddo, heavy on the grown-ups.

Timing
The party was Tuesday night. Since the days I work in San Francisco find me out of the house until 8 PM, I have to plan as much as I can ahead of time.

Make-your-own-pizza time was from 5:30-6:30pm.
Cookie decorating from 6:30-7:30.
(Bedtime could be stretched a little later.)

Saturday
Make lists (to do and shopping)
Pick up non-perishables (drinks, napkins, paper plates)
Make cookie dough

Sunday
Bake cookies
Mix frosting
Make pasta

Monday
Pick up drinks and perishables on the way home from work
Make pasta salad
Make playlist

Tuesday
I worked from home on Tuesday and was able to fit in a pre-work trip to the grocery store. I bought pizza dough from the grocery store (1.99 per ball of dough!), but you could also pick up pizza dough from your local pizza place (really! They sell it!).

The Set-Up
After emptying a jar of marinara sauce into a bowl, I set out shredded mozzerella cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms. I also had picked up arugula and fontina for the fancies, but no one really wanted the fancy stuff.

Pro-tip: People love a basic pizza bar! Unless they are fancies. Which my people are not.

Minutes before the guests arrived we assembled a big old green salad to round out the buffet. We were eating cookies for dessert so I put the water on for some decaf at the same time.

Guests arrived around 5:45. We opened each gift as soon as it came in the door — it made everyone happier. Each toddler had their toys and each guest got to watch her open it. There were only five guests, but it worked for us.

We baked cheese pizzas earlier so they would be ready for the toddlers at party time. That way the toddlers had time for a dance party. Turns out the kids ate much faster than the grown ups so they had extra time to work on their cookies. And dance.

Stretching out our dough balls (heh),
spooning on the sauce,
sprinkling on the fixings,
making our own pizzas was something we all were strangely good at.

I bet you're pretty good at making your own pizza too.
Then we decorated some cookies.

Cookies!
We set out all kinds of sprinkles in those vintage lunch trays from Alison from Petit Elefant. I gave the girls baked cookies in various circle sizes and let them have at it. It took all of my self-control not to intervene, and not-intervene I did.
Guests took their cookies home in a box lined with tissue paper.

A super sugar-filled dance party helped get the sillies out before bedtime.
(As super sugar-filled dance parties tend to do.)

  1. This is SO TOTALLY ADORABLE. My birthday is next week and a friend and I are planning a party together – we've been so inspired by the linked "pink cupcake donut rainbow princess yoda santa baby jesus butterfly birthday party" that we're going to throw ourselves a "renaissance penguin Shakespeare cupcake pie karaoke birthday party." We're quite excited. 😀

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