Tag: birthday cake

How to Plan a Birthday Dinner Party

I have a passion for planning events. From small get togethers to big parties and even our wedding, I live for planning every little DIY detail. If a party is coming up on the calendar, you better believe I’m spending my free time on Pinterest looking for decor inspiration, printables, menu ideas, and more.

Birthday Dinner Party

 

When we decided to turn our weekly get together with the Vitales into a small birthday dinner party for Laura last week I was excited to give our dining room and kitchen a festive, celebratory feel – and I only had a few days to come up with a plan. My favorite way to decorate for a party is through personalized printables and crafts that make an event feel special and custom, so I decided to share my process for picking and choosing the perfect details for a dinner party that will pack a visual punch without breaking the bank.

Here are my tips for planning a simple-yet-chic birthday dinner party:

  1. Choose a color as a theme. I chose to pull everything together with pink, so I brought that color through several aspects of the party – from the paper straws to the printable birthday signs. Choosing a simple theme (like a color) helps the party feel a little more grown up and it helps ensure your decor is visually cohesive. If decor is too busy, the eye will be bouncing around from feature to feature and your space will start to feel cluttered.
  2. Keep the menu simple. You know your limits, and a birthday dinner party isn’t the best time to test them. Choose recipes that you’ve already tested at least once before to avoid disaster that is sure to occur when you ruin a dish 20 minutes before your guests are due to arrive. Delicious food will win out over a fancy dish that doesn’t turn out any day – so keep it simple!
  3. Bake a birthday cake from scratch. Keeping the menu simple allows the birthday cake to steal the show. Baking one from scratch just. tastes. better. Unless you’re shelling out some serious dough for a high-end bakery confection, skip the boxed and canned stuff. From lemon to chocolate to strawberry and beyond, find a cake recipe that your guest of honor will truly love. Your thoughtfulness won’t go unnoticed.
  4. Use real plates, cups and cutlery. Dinner parties traditionally have less guests than a full birthday party, so skip the paper and plastic in favor of finer glassware and cutlery to make your dinner feel extra special. I chose clear glass plates, cups and bowls and white china serving dishes when registering for wedding gifts because they go with any occasion so I can always use them no matter the holiday or theme. It really makes a difference!
  5. Add personal touches. Printables are a great way to make a party feel more personalized. One of the first things I do before choosing a theme is search for free printables on Pinterest. You’d be surprised how many awesome graphic designers and bloggers create free printables that are available for download, like the one in the picture above. Some printables like this one can even be customized with your own text and colors. This was originally part of a suite of printables for a baby shower, but after changing the text you’d never know. Keep an open mind when searching.

In my experience, following these five tips will help your dinner party flow smoothly and feel cohesive while making your guest of honor feel like a VIP. I used a ‘secret board’ on Pinterest to gather my thoughts and ideas throughout my two-day planning process so Laura wouldn’t see pins popping up in her feed and get a hint that I was up to something. Here’s an idea of what my Pinterest board looked like when I was finished planning:

Without further adieu, here’s how I translated my Pinspiration into a weeknight birthday dinner party for Laura!

Table Setting

Centerpiece Close Up

Centerpiece

 

Champagne Bar

Birthday Cake Happy Birthday, Laur! Here’s to many, many more!

 

Nigella’s Nutella Birthday Cake

I’m sending a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout out to my BFF Laura Vitale today! We have a standing hump day date with the Vitales where we nosh on whatever Laura has filmed for Laura in the Kitchen that day and catch up on our favorite shows (thank god for DVR). With Laura’s birthday falling on a Thursday this year, I decided to turn our Wednesday with the Vitales into a fancy schmancy birthday dinner – and I kept all the details a surprise from Laura until she walked through my front door last night. As far as she knew we were having a normal weeknight dinner. Nothing special. Boy, was she wrong!

Nigella Nutella Cake

I’m working on a full recap of my planning and execution of Laura’s birthday dinner in a post slated for next week, but I wanted to share one very special detail with you while it’s still fresh (both literally and figuratively). Per Laura’s request – while she’s simultaneously testing and shooting very rich Thanksgiving recipes – I kept dinner simple and light, so I wanted to WOW her by baking the perfect birthday cake. This girl doesn’t do baked goods unless they’re from scratch, so I had quite a task ahead of me, and Nutella was my inspiration.

After a quick search I stumbled upon this recipe from Nigella Lawson for Nutella cake. If you follow Laura in the Kitchen you know Nigella is one of Laura’s favorite chefs and Nutella is one of her very favorite sweet treats, so I knew this recipe was a match made in heaven.

Overall, this cake was fairly simple despite one difficult step – making my own hazelnut meal when I couldn’t find it anywhere in my local grocery store. I have to thank my husband Mike for being a trooper and shelling an enormous bag of hazelnuts for me that I ground up in my food processor to make the one cup of hazelnut meal needed for this recipe. Best hubby award? I think so. Pinched fingers and all.

Hazelnut MealThis is a very damp cake. The hazelnut is the only dry ingredient so it was definitely one of the most moist cakes I’ve ever had. Here’s a quick look at the ingredients you’ll need to make it.

Nutella Cake IngredientsLook at that heaping bowl of beautiful hazelnuts. You’d never know it took Mike two separate hour-long sessions to get through all that nut cracking. But it sure was worth it! I texted him the above photo of the hazelnut meal the next day as a, “Hey, look what you helped accomplish!” momentum of gratitude. He certainly keeps me going, that’s for sure.

When all was said and done I arranged the Nutella cake on the vintage ice cream parlor table in my kitchen, complete with a festive pink pumpkin and a Happy Birthday sign. I loved the pumpkin’s homage to fall (since Laura is a November baby, after all) and the fact that its pink color was perfect for the theme of the evening. And my purchase of the pink pumpkin supported breast cancer, so it truly was a win-win.

Nutella Cake Presentation

All of Mike’s hard nut-cracking work wasn’t in vain. This cake was truly the perfect sweet ending to an even sweeter birthday celebration.

Happy Birthday, Laura!

B & L