03 August 2010

Fancy Nancy Party How-To's (and GF Menu)

The Plan...
A simple plan is a good plan. My plan for this party looks fancy, but was really very simple in execution. The trick is to pay attention to the pretty details without going over the top! After all, the girls are there to have fun, and probably won't notice your hand-embroidered tablecloth or intricately beaded napkin rings...

Dressing Up Fancy:
This was the basic plan for everything.
I fell in love with the Fancy Nancy book where she persuades her plain family to dress up fancy and go out somewhere all dressed up for Parfaits. That book was the seed of the idea.

DRESSUPS: I sourced all my fancy dressups from either the Salvation Army Charity shop or the local $2 shop. I raided the Sallies on a day when they had a $1 sale going. Hats and shoes were .50c. I came away with armloads of gorgeous colourful silky and sparkly things for about $25. Adults sizes, of course, so I twisted my lovely friend Meg's arm (since I don't know my way round a sewing machine) and she whipped some new seams in. Perfecto.

Jewelled hairclips, strands of beads, makeup and other bling were either leftovers from previous parties or found at the $2 shop. I let them choose a spray of perfume as a finishing touch (sprayed on by ME!)

The little white clothing rack was borrowed from Meg. It was the perfect size for little girls to rifle through hanging garments. Shoes, accessories and bling were displayed in old baskets or colourful cake boxes I had lying around. Never throw anything pretty away!!

Decorating Fancy:
Think, Emporium! I raided Geoffs Emporium and found the most gorgeous fabric to use as a fancy tablecloth; pink and gold paisly pattern, with a velvety feel. Cheap!! A couple of metres of that, thanks.
Then ribbons and lace, pink and white at .10c a metre. Bargain! My good table napkins got rolled up and tied with several different types, a bud off a $2 bunch of rosebuds poked in to finish off. Ribbons were tied on the chair back and helped to fancy up the light shade.

Bring out the Best China...
I've been collecting trios, cake plates and cut-glass dishes for about the last year, just because I love old pretty things. What a great chance to use all my fancy things! Should I have been scared in case they got broke?? Maybe. But these little ladies I had as guests were very well-mannered and careful, so no worries there. Everything got presented in the old glass serveware and pretty china. Even the twisties and chicken nibbles.

So you see, it looks very fancy, but most of the things I used are things from my cupboards. And the few extras I found at the Sallies for $2 a pop are now added to my collection. Bonus!

Playing Fancy...
The Party guests were requested to arrive at 3pm. I figured a good couple of hours playing dressup, no problems. I hadn't counted on how quickly these junior fashionistas would put together their outfits!

Ouch, it's only 4pm... tea is not scheduled til 5pm - what to do???
Singstar! What else?? Not particularly tuneful, but a great impromptu time-filler!

The girls also decorated their own pair of heart shaped sunglasses ($2 shop)
 which was their take home gift; a fun creative activity, glue-gunning jewels on.

They also took home an organza bag of old-fashioned rock candy and jellybeans...

It was Mr G's great idea to dress up as a butler and serve the girls, and they were delighted with "their servant"! He was hilarious, refusing to pour their strawberry milk until they said please and thank you; all in the poshest of voices of course. 

A silver bell we picked up in England was put to use, the girls ringing it to call their "servant" when he disappeared to secretly munch on some goodies.

To top it all off, we lit the brazier (firepit) outside and toasted marshmallows, and told fairy stories. Magical.

The Fancy Menu:
Less than two weeks before the party, I deduced that my birthday girl is gluten intolerant. All of a sudden I had to go on a crash course, figuring out how to put together a delicious, pretty, gluten free feast!

Thanks to everyone who sent me encouragement and recipes; I couldn't have done it without you!

I like to keep party Menus simple, so they can be prepared ahead of time. Who wants to spend their kid's party in the kitchen?? Not me.

Here's what we did...
  • gluten free cupcakes decorated two ways - butterflies & iced (see below)
  • meringues
  • gluten free heart cookies (see below)
  • fruit kebabs
  • watermelon
  • GF rock candy and jelly beans in glass dishes
  • Hersheys Kisses (gluten free, yay!)
  • GF sausages on sticks with dipping sauce
  • GF marinated chicken nibbles
  • GF pretzels (they do exist)
  • Twisties corn snacks (these are gluten free enough for those who can tolerate "traces")
  • Strawberry & Banana Milk served in teapots (made with Nesquik)
  • Sparking Pink Grape juice

Gluten Free Cupcakes

125g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup caster sugar (fine grained sugar)
2 eggs
1 cup Gluten Free Baking Mix e.g. Bakels
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy and paler in colour (I used an electric hand beater).
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
Sift flour and baking powder together and fold into the creamed mixture. Stir in milk.
Place spoonfuls into lined muffin tins (use cupcake papers). Mini-muffin tins make 24 mini cupcakes.

Bake at 190oC for 15 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched. These cupcakes are delicious!! You would never know they are gluten free.

Decorate with a swirl of buttercream icing and top with sprinkles or a sugar rose.

TO MAKE BUTTERFLY CAKES: Slice the top off each cake; cut this in half. Place a teaspoonful of whipped cream on top of the remaining cake and then arrange wings on top. Dust with icing sugar. So pretty!

A disaster. I'm not even going to post the recipe. This was a non-GF butter cookie recipe for which I substituted GF baking mix. Horrors when the carefully cut-out shapes spread like billy-o all over the tray. I had to rush and cut out some new shapes while the mixture was still soft, and hope that some could be salvaged.

Once the cookies had hardened, I disguised the disaster with pink icing, sandwiching two thin cookies together. Some cracked. So I disguised the cracks with yet more (runnier) pink icing and sprinkled 100's and 1000s on top, to make them look edible and nice. I managed to salvage five cookies, just the right number. They did taste good though. I think disaster would have been avoided if I had
  • rolled the dough out thicker
  • cut the hearts out with a smaller cookie cutter
They would have spread but not so far and would have retained their shape.
PS: The 100s and 1000s sprinkles are special Gluten Free ones. Usually sprinkles contain wheat flour. You can find them online here (NZ Only).

GF SAUSAGES ON A STICK (instead of hotdogs)
Get a kilo of good quality GF sausages (pork or lamb) from a real butcher. Bake in the oven for 20 mins at 190oC, in an oven tray lined with baking paper (no washing up!) When cooked, use a knife to poke a slit it one end of each sausage and then poke an ice-block stick up it's bum. GF hotdogs! Dip in tomato sauce. Yummo!

GF CHICKEN NIBBLES (instead of chicken nuggets)
Marinate a kilo of chicken nibbles in GF soy sauce and golden syrup (or melted honey); bake in the oven for 50 minutes. Oh so delicious. Your kids will never miss their processed chicken nuggets again!

You can't go wrong with fruit kebabs (thread fruit and GF marshmallows onto sticks; I dip my banana in lemon juice and then roll in dessicated coconut; delicious). Chopped up watermelon always goes down well and satisfies our mummy-craving for healthy-ness. I was going to do chocolate-dipped strawberries... but I didn't.

GF SWEETS: Some brands of sweets are made from wheat glucose not cane sugar or corn glucose. I contacted my supermarket to ask about their bulk sweets suppliers and received a call from Cadbury directly! They were very obliging and reassured me that the items in question (jellybeans) were made with corn glucose (but warned that this can vary).

In NZ the best brand for marshmallows is Mr Mallow. They are Gluten Free and so delicious; they toast up really well too.

I found a GF sweet supplier with an online website, by googling "Gluten Free Sweets" in my area. Here is the NZ Website: Crazy Candies

CORN SNACKS: Doritos* (cheese and salted) are GF; Twisties* are GF, you can find GF pretzels; potato chips which are ready salted or salt'n'vinegar are GF. Other flavourings use wheat.

(* = "May contain traces" - fine for an intolerance, but not for a coeliac)

Rainbow Layer Cake:

I used Meredy's recipe but substituted GF Baking Mix for the flour and added 2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup (as her recipe uses self raising flour).
It's a very easy recipe and with this simple modification it tastes no different to regular non-GF cake once baked.

Follow Meredy's most-excellent instructions; it's really the same. And turned out fine. I did only four layers and found that one batch of cake batter per two layers was what I needed.

The thin layers did sink in the middle a little though.

And I really should have cut the baking paper out, rather than using my lazy fold'n'scrunch method! (Erm, yes, it has an uncanny resemblance to a certain Leaning Tower...)

I disguised the lumpy layers with icing and ribbons! Looked pretty in the end, dontcha think?? (and you can hardly tell that its leaning)  xx

This awesome party could not have happened without the enthusiastic help of the following people:

MEG: Who lent me stuff, and gave up her time, sewed dressups, and listened to my endless ideas

KRISTEN (My sister):

Who gave me the GF baking mix and helped me test it out. Who came over and helped me with the last of the food prep; who marinated chicken nibbles, threaded fruit kebabs, iced pink cupcakes and turned others into Butterflies. I couldn't have got this ready in time without your help.

Who gave up her Saturday afternoon to come and help me play dressups with five little girls. Who's enthusiasm and able assistance made it all the more fun - and who manned the Singstar when I had a planning emergency (and really enjoyed Abba Singstar!!)

Mr G (a.k.a Jeeves): 

Your good humour and crazy sense of fun were the icing on the cake. This Tea Party would not have been anywhere so fancy without Jeeves the Butler. Thanks for lugging bench seats, moving furniture, lighting braziers and minding Scrag. Sorry if I get a bit unbearable at party time. I promise to do better and relax more in future. Kisses.


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Sammy said...

Yay, I am the first commentor! Commenter? (sp!) Anyway, it looks amazing and you did a fabulous job. As your friend and someone you love VERY much I think you need to help me with planning my kiddie partys! I need your talent!

Sophie said...

Simoney, as ever you are FABULOUS! Wow, love those tips - like the banana rolled in coconut! Too cool!

Anonymous said...

you did an amazing job Simoney!
hey did you see that Aiden posted his other holiday pics on his blog?
check it out
her will not be entering a pic this coming week as we will be away, but he will be back!
love and light

Anonymous said...

her of course should say he
; )

Anonymous said...

That is fantastic and very inspirational. My little chatterbox turns 5 in January and also loves Fancy Nancy. But I'm going to wait and see what she dreams up closer to then! :)

count it all joy said...

I am in awe....this party will be one that will surely be remembered by all those little girls for the rest of their lives. You've absolutely captured the fantasy for that age group....it's such a small window and you've made the most of it! The party food all looks fab and the rainbow cake looks perfect! Well done, clever girl. Meredy xo.

Kristen said...

Great party! I am going to have to tuck away this idea for my daughter. GF baking is a pain -- it's all trial and error. Namaste brand mixes and flours seem to work best for me. :)

Unknown said...

AHHHHHHH! That is fabulous! I wish I could have been there, it looks like so much fun! Great job with the decorating, the menu... everything!

Anonymous said...

Hey Simoney
i seen over at Gail's place that Lyns is coming for lunch...so fun!!!
I wonder.....
will you post about it?????

*subtle hint*

Widge said...

absolutely awesome simoney!!
So jealous Lyns got to meet you today!!! (In a totally sisterly love in Christ kind of jealously way ;);)

banban said...

Wow what an amazing GF party! And how is that going for Princess? You noticing a big difference in her tummy pain??

You did a fantastic job, along with all your helpers.

Holyoke Home said...

Those girls will remember that for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. What a gift you gave them!!!!

Kitty Deschanel said...

WOW! I wouldn't mind going to a party like this myself. I especially love that the girls had a butler!

If you have a free moment, I'd love if you linked up this fabulous party post at my blog :)

Lamb’s Most Recent Post: Come Link Up! 200th Follower Link Party - You’re Invited!

Neetz said...

one word to sum this up: awesomelysuperfantasticallybrilliant!!

You rock!! I am looking forward to doing 'girly" type parties when my baby grows up a bit :)
Im sick of Ben 10, spooky themes, superheroes etc!! lol

PaisleyJade said...

I am loving catching up on all the posts I have missed - this is amazing! What a great party idea and all the little extra ideas make it so special!

Natasha in Oz said...

Simoney you are incredible! Your sweet Miss Fab is one lucky girl! I am so happy that she had a wonderful birthday party.

Thanks also for sharing these great ideas! I don't know how you keep coming up with such brilliance!

Best wishes,

Holly Lefevre said...

This is great and totally getting filed away in my party file!

Kerri said...

I enjoy your site! I just shared this post on Facebook - have a cousin who just became gluten-free, and a cousin and sis-in-law that would love your ideas! Thank you!

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