A tornado of nine giggling, squealing first grade girls descended upon the house after school on Thursday, leaving a chaos of cupcake crumbs, sanding sugars, non-pariels, frosting, stickers, jewels, balloons, streamers and scattered conversation hearts in its wake.
My daughter and I threw a Valentine’s Day party for her friends.
I love Valentine’s Day, sentimental fool that I am. We came up with the idea in the icy, dark depths of January, when we were constantly snowed in and barely able to dig out at times. A blizzard of pink cheer was definitely in order. We decided on card making and cupcake decorating as activities. She and I started by making the invitations out of construction paper cut into hearts and glued onto pink poster board cut to fit some funky lined envelopes I had on hand. She decorated the invitations with foam hearts of all colors and ruby-red stick-on heart jewels for added bling. I addressed them in super-loopy curlicue script and sent them using “Love” stamps from the Post Office.
I should have known at that early point that we’d end up going overboard.
I transformed the dining room into an explosion of pink streamers, dangling hearts and red heart-shaped balloons, then set the table with pink plates and matching heart napkins and cups upon a pink disposable tablecloth. I framed the entryway with a glittery heart garland draped like a giant, metallic feather boa.
My daughter and I made chocolate-covered strawberries, mainly for the mothers to eat when dropping off and picking up their daughters. But they were devoured by all. I also put out some chilled Prosecco (Champagne entails just too many expectations) and foil-covered Swiss chocolate hearts and squares from Rohr for the adults.
With all that melting chocolate laying around, I got a little more ambitious: We used molds to make solid hearts and two-tone roses in both white chocolate dyed pink and dark chocolate. Selections of each were put into heart-covered cellophane gift bags, tied with a frizz of curling ribbon and placed into the larger pink paper goodie bags. I also tossed in a valentine’s candy necklace in each. My daughter begged and pleaded at Michael’s Craft Store to please, please, please buy the glitter heart wands because they were “covered in real fairy dust.” I did, and one went into each girl’s bag as well.
But honestly, the girls did all of the work and filled the bags with their efforts. The cards were a blank canvas, with a pink background and doily edge, and they turned out very well: the girls mainly made them for mainly for their parents or teachers and included lots of hearts, X and O kisses and hugs, and wrote loving sentiments. The girls worked very intensely and quite nicely together, cooperating, politely helping each other when asked, and sharing stickers and jewels. It was really quite sweet to watch.
Then all hell broke loose though after a break, during which the girls raided the princess dress-up chest while I set out the cupcakes and accoutrements. But what a riot!
My daughter and I pre-baked both chocolate and golden-butter cupcakes and turned – seriously - a half gallon of store-bought tubs of vanilla frosting into different colors. The girls got to decorate one cupcake of each flavor. Some had never used a pastry bag before, so there was a learning process and a lot of laughs involved. Cupcake décor included Sweet Tart conversation hearts, pink and lavender M & Ms, Jelly Belly jellybeans in all shades of solid and speckled pink, large heart-shaped Wilton sprinkles, edible pink pearls, a pink red and white non-pariel blend, electric pink, violet and red sanding sugars, Williams Sonoma gold and silver shimmering sugars over from Christmas and – how could I resist? – Maraschino cherries for those who wanted them on top. All were set out in bowls that criss-crossed the table, were shared, spilled, mixed together and eaten out of directly (that was the candy …)
The girls’ super-frosted delectables went into fuchsia and white boxes shaped like Chinese-food containers (thank goodness for the dollar store!), to maintain the integrity of the cupcakes. I suggested that the girls all take one to school the next day as a lunchtime dessert, to be part of “The Valentine’s Cupcake Club.” Within a split second, one girl said, "Um, no" without even looking up, and I was shot down. The others pretty much agreed with the "no." Forty years after I was their age, and Mommy is still a dork.
In the end, surprisingly few of the girls were in sugar-shock, and none of them wanted to leave. That was fine, since some of the mothers lingered over a glass of Prosecco. Thankfully, the mother of one of my daughter’s best friends came over to help with the insanity, and we both needed a glass by the end of the party!
I sent the girls off with their goody bags and their choice of balloons from the house, fed my daughter dinner, cleaned up and nearly collapsed.
But amazingly during her evening bath, my daughter and I started planning her next event.
We can’t wait!