As a (birthday) party enthusiast, I never tire of finding new inspiration, and lately my go-to source for ideas has been vintage party books. I’m kind of on an unofficial mission to collect as many as possible, and I started by purchasing an original copy of Betty Crocker’s Party Book off Amazon for just a few dollars.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit the number of hours I’ve spend reading this compact collection of carefully curated party ideas and recipes, but every time I pick it up I come across something new to note. Some of the ideas are really fresh, despite being almost 60 years-old, while others definitely show signs of their age and the recipes wouldn’t stand a chance of landing on my dinner table anytime soon (i.e. the Harvest Gold Salad for Thanksgiving, which requires smearing mayo over a carrot gelatin mold studded with cabbage, green pepper, horseradish and pineapple).
As for the section on kids’ birthday parties, here are a few fun ideas that could still stand strong today:
For boys and girls 4 to 6 years old:
My Pet Party
At this age children begin to take a real interest in pets—both friendly family pets and exotic, imaginary pets they’d like to have. Let this be the basis of a simple party theme.
- What to Do: Make models of pets using coloured clay
- How to Decorate: Centre animal-themed birthday cake in the middle of table and decorate the rest of the table with little stuffed pets.
- What to Serve: A boxed lunch of a sandwich, veggies and dip and piece of fruit. The boxes can be premade and the kids will be intrigued with a meal served in a box that’s been tied with ribbon.
- The Party Cake: A puppy dog cake or animal of choice.
For boys and girls 7 to 9 years old:
Faraway Places Party
- What to Do: Give each guest the name of a faraway country to stick on his or her forehead. Ask them to walk around and ask yes/no questions of the partygoers in an effort to guess which country they come from.
- How to Decorate: Use paper maps for placemats and/or cover a table with kraft paper and draw a large compass in the centre of it.
- What to Serve: Round-the-World Hotdogs. Serve lots of barbecued or broiled wieners on toasted buns and set out trays of relishes to accompany them. Explain that the pineapple relish is from Hawaii, the olive relish is from Italy and the hot chilli relish from Mexico.
- The Party Cake: A sailboat or anchor cake.