In my first blog post, I suggested the ice cream party theme, to bring the summer to an end in a fun way. I know it’s hard to imagine that fall is just around the corner and the kids are all headed back to school. The days are still long, the weather is still warm, and it doesn’t feel like we should be so close to the end of the season. In this blog post, I want to share three great ice cream sauce recipes with you, and show you a cute and simple way to package them up. I mean, who doesn’t love to leave a party with a little gift! Your friends and family will love these three simple sauces, and this is something that would also be great to make as hostess gifts or Christmas gifts for colleagues or neighbors.
I have a question that may age me. When did favors become a “thing” at children’s birthday parties. Although, I guess they aren’t called favors, they’re “goodie bags”. Ok, in spite of my fear of sounding like someone’s great grandparent, back in my day, we just went to a kids birthday party and were happy that they served us cake and ice cream!
When our oldest son was a year and a half old (so 24 years ago), we moved into a brand new neighborhood, in a cute little house. All of the neighbors were young families, just starting out like we were. I was so excited when a new friend came to my door and handed me a cute, Hallmark party invitation for her son’s second birthday party. I was really excited to be invited to this party with other babies and young mommies and daddies, and my son (again, he was just a baby) would meet his future best friend (in my mind), and I would meet all of these other women who I’d seen pushing their little strollers around the area. I was really excited.
So the day of the birthday party came, and I got our son, Kevin, all ready, grabbed the birthday gift, begged my husband to come with us and we were off to the neighbor’s house. This was my first children’s birthday party since becoming a parent so I was curious to see if they had any food or just a cake and ice cream and if it would last an hour or any longer than that. We got to their house and they opened the door, and I wasn’t prepared for the children’s utopia that we were entering. There were about 100 balloons, all in the two shades of blue that went along with their Thomas the Train birthday theme. There was a 5 foot tall Thomas the Train engine in the backyard that the kids could sit in and have their pictures taken. There was a bounce house that was, you guessed it, in the shape of Thomas the Train. There were about 25 kids under the age of five and a house and backyard full of adults. Trays of food were everywhere and there was a margarita machine for the parents, a snow cone machine for the kids and the guest of honor was nowhere to be seen. That’s because he was napping in the corner of the room in the middle of the chaos, presumably passed out in a sugar coma.
The party was actually fun because my husband and I got to meet a lot of neighbors that day, and we had some really good margaritas, of course. But the biggest surprise came when we were leaving and the mom thanked us for coming and said, “Wait, don’t forget your goodie bag!”. I honestly had no idea what she was talking about. She came out with a blue paper bag with a train on the front and it was filled with candy, a slinky, a Thomas the Train sippy cup, children’s sunglasses, more candy and several other little plastic toys that my baby was of course too young to play with. I was, however, enthralled by this bag of gifts they gave us for coming to the party.
Reading this back as I type it right now, I sound like Dorothy who just landed in Oz or something, but this theme saturated- goodie bag- bouncy house, margarita festival that we just left had really affected me. I could do this!!!! I could make our son, Kevin’s party, all of this and more! I had now been bitten by the Themed Children’s Birthday Party Bug.
This was a great party, but I knew I could do all of this on our small budget and make things by hand. It was on! It was on like Donkey Kong! I think my husband was nervous, because by the time we got home, I’d already started planning our son’s second birthday party (101 Dalmatians), and I had ideas of a piñata, pin the tail on the Dalmatian, crafts for the kids… I was excited. I will include a picture of his birthday cake that I made for that party. The first of many, many birthday parties and cakes for my boys.
But I digress. (and I always do!) The point I had actually started out with was that party favors/goodie bags were not always a thing. At least not going back to the 70’s, when I was a little kid. And I don’t necessarily think they were a good addition to children’s parties. I think the ‘idea’ of giving something to thank the guests for coming was a good one, but what it turned into was actually a bit of a nightmare, now that I think about it. I mean, how many trips to the Dollar Store did you have to make as your kids were growing up, to fill a little bag with a bunch of crappy toys that would end up in the trash by the end of the week? And on the flip side, how many plastic themed bags filled with candy and plastic, cheap toys have you had to slyly make their way to the garbage at your house?
On more than one occasion, I distinctly remember little boy arriving at our house and immediately asking me where the goody bags were. As if he wanted to know if this party was worth staying for, all the way to the end. One year, I tried to be a responsible parent by putting non-sugary things in the goody bag like Goldfish Crackers and useful things like a themed tooth brush and socks. Rookie move. I might as well have been the house that gave out raisins for Halloween!
So, in conclusion, I have loved planning parties since Kevin was a baby. I have mixed feelings about goodie bags given out at children’s birthday parties. I think it’s nice, in theory, to give the kids a “thank you” for coming to the party. I really enjoyed making creative little packages for our young guests and letting my kids help prepare them.
I guess as parents, we just have to be more aware of explaining to our kids that they aren’t to be expected and maybe they shouldn’t ask for them as they walk through the door of the party. By the way, the recipes I’ve included for you for these ice cream toppings would be a perfect party favor for any adult at any party.
Thanks for stopping by to read my blog post. Please comment below with any questions or suggestions for other celebrations that you’d like to hear about. I hope you will visit my YouTube channel on Friday (8/13) to watch me struggle through my very first video and also show you these cute little jars all packaged up.
Celebrate your day and hope you’ll come back to visit my blog next week! xoxo
- 4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
- 4 Tbls butter
- 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 small pinch salt
- In a small saucepan, melt baking chocolate and butter on low heat, stirring as it melts
- When melted add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and pinch of salt, whisking gently until smooth and combined.
- Serve while warm or spoon into two 6-oz jars and store in the refrigerator.
- 2 cps light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbls vanilla
- In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, salt and heavy whipping cream.
- Bring to low boil and cook, stirring constantly for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Let cool slightly.
- Add to jar or container with lid.
- Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.
- To reheat, put in microwave for 30 seconds in glass bowl or jar. Stir and heat in 10 second intervals until warm and melted. Serve over ice cream.
- 24 oz strawberries, (washed and stems removed) roughly chopped
- 3/4 cp sugar
- 2 tbls lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- In a med saucepan, add all ingredients.
- Cook over med-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to boil; then reduce to med-low.
- Cook for about 15-20 minutes, mashing the strawberries with the back of the spoon, while stirring.
- After the sauce has thickened, remove from heat. Strain the strawberries through a strainer into a bowl to remove seeds and pulp, pressing down to get out as much of the juice that as possible.
- Pour liquid back into the saucepan (discard the pulp from the strainer).. Continue cooking the strawberry sauce over medium heat for approx 10 more minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
- Remove sauce from heat and let cool. Serve room temperature or spoon into 6 oz jars to save for later or give as gifts. Refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before serving.