La petite Claire recently turned one year old.
To celebrate this occasion, I created the following French Bakery themed party.
The Paris Postcard Invitations
I used a customizable postcard of the Eiffel Tower on www.zazzle.com and added in the text and photos to both sides. Before mailing them out, I added a vintage postmarks from Paris from a rubber stamp collection (being a French teacher, I own these kinds of things). I thought they were the perfect invitation to set the tone for the entire event.
I used the lovely assistance of David Lebovitz and Julia Child in making the pastries pictured above. The tartes aux fraises (strawberry tarts) and the babas au rhum (rum soaked mini cakes) were from the Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook by Julia. The macarons au chocolat (French chocolate macarons) and the madeleines (shell-shaped little cakes) were from David's website (click here). I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the raspberry macaron base and got creative by making a raspberry chocolate ganache filling for them using the leftover chocolate ganache from the chocolate macaron filling and adding in high quality raspberry preserves. I made a few pains au chocolat (chocolate croissants) as well. The cream puffs and éclairs were just prepackaged ones from Sam's Club, but I couldn't make ALL the pastries!!!
The Piroulines were on clearance at Marshall's (of all places!) as were the "C" black damask napkins pictured on the "café" table. The black damask stands that held the food labels were just 3x5 notecards from Target cut in half. Double sided "permanent" scotch tape is my best friend with party decor.
In the other room I set up this café area with typical French café beverages and snacks. I found the black metal letters in the dollar bins at Michael's and bought a simple chalkboard at Hobby Lobby. I simply covered the oak frame with hot pink ribbon.
The Foods and Beverages
I made miniature French baguettes and made two types of sandwiches out of them: Les hot-dogs (small sausages in French baguettes) and sandwichs au jambon (sandwiches made of ham, butter and baguettes). I set out a jar of Grey Poupon for the hot dogs as well as some croissants, Brie cheese and red grapes. I added Nutella last minute just because I love it.
In true French café fashion, I got Coke in glass bottles, Orangina, limonade (a lightly sweetened, lemon flavored soda) and Perrier. To accompany the many sweets being served, I had milk available. I fully intended to have coffee too, but got too busy.
Party favors for the kids
For all of the kids age 2 and older, I ordered these kids cloth aprons online and personalized them with fabric paints before hanging them on display. After a while, I announced that each child could come and get his or her apron to put on for our baking activity. They were thrilled. I was fun to see how excited they got when discovering their names on their very own aprons.
Once they put on their aprons, I took groups of two or three to go to the baking stations to make their own "Pains au chocolat" which is basically chocolate-filled croissants. I didn't use actual croissant dough for this, but just used pre-frozen puff pastry dough and chocolate pieces along with an egg wash on top. The kids seems to enjoy rolling them and painting them with the egg. After I baked them, I put them in the pastry boxes for them to take home as their party favor.
I used www.picnik.com to edit some snapshots that I took of Claire throughout her first year of life. I then added hot pink, black and white borders as well as her age at the times of each shot (written in both French and English). I did a similar treatment on some recent photos of Paris taken by a friend and then interspersed themwith the shots of Claire and displayed them on the wall.
The birthday girl
I think that the party was a huge success overall. Claire had all over her grandparents, several aunts and uncles, cousins and lots of friends there with her. The guests all seem to have had a great time trying new pastries and enjoying one another's company.
Now it's time for those darned thank you notes...