While I admit, I have been somewhat in denial our first daughter was turning 13 this year, I also knew I wanted to plan a fun and special party for her. When I asked her if she had any ideas she said she wanted an outdoor movie party. I enlisted the help of one of my fabulous, event-planning, party-giving sister-in-laws, who really brought all my ideas together into the perfect way to celebrate. I decided we’d go with fall colors and decor. Our pumpkins were ready for picking, so they were set around the yard, along with fresh flowers, wheat bunches and cornstalks.
The kids and I put together a pallet platform bed so the girls would have a raised area to watch the movie. Stephanie’s homemade cushions and pillows, our covered air mattress and lots of toss pillows made it a cozy area to sit. Each of the girls brought blankets to curl up with too. Stephanie also created additional seating areas with a chairs, table and a fire pit.
The girls chose to watch Zootopia, which is such a fun movie with a great message. She has a great group of friends and they had fun running around the yard playing games as they waited for it to get dark. We also used the movie screen as a photo booth.
Mackenzie had a cross county meet that same day so we left Aunt Stephanie in charge of transforming the space, which she totally did! The strings of lights and paper lanterns really created atmosphere and ambiance. We wanted it all to be a surprise for Mackenzie so we kept her hidden for awhile before we could reveal it all.
The menu was fun to plan. I took a little input from MJ, but also I wanted to surprise her. I made a big pot of chili and had all the fixins’—green onions, cheese, crumbled bacon and sour cream. We had a Hot Cocoa Bar with different coffee creamers, mini marshmallows, toffee bits, mint bits and whipped cream to flavor the cocoa. This was a huge hit with the girls.
I made homemade kettle corn and regular popcorn, which the girls could season on their own. We also had a S’mores Bar with regular, strawberry, caramel vanilla, and toasted coconut marshmallows. Since the party was held later in the September, it was chilly by the time the movie started so the girls roasted marshmallows around the fire.
Other desserts included semi-homemade Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe to follow), Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs, mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and mini KitKats (her favorite candies), mini crunch donuts and chocolate covered fruit (another favorite and surprise).
Instead of bringing birthday gifts, the girls brought canned food and non-perishable food to donate to our local food bank. They were very generous!
Life is short and definitely worth celebrating! I’m so glad we put this outdoor movie party together to celebrate our brand new teenager. She’s bright, funny and thoughtful. Although I still think time goes by too fast, I am enjoying my kiddos at each stage of development. I’m sure there will be plenty of eye rolling in the years ahead—both hers and mine—but do I look forward to watching Mackenzie and her friends grow and change. They had a fun night hanging out just being kids. Happy Birthday Peanut! You are such a blessing and we love you so much!
Semi-Homemade Pumpkin Cupcakes
1 box White Cake Mix
1 small can of pumpkin
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup water (add 1/4 at a time to get right consistency)
Mix all the ingredients together and put in cupcakes liners. Bake as directed on the box.
I used two packages cream cheese, 1 stick of unsalted butter and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar to make the frosting. (I bake like I cook…I add to and take away depending on what I have. Just mix and beat ingredients together until you have consistency and flavor you like.)