When I was a little girl birthday parties were a pretty simple affair. I'd invite all my friends over and their mothers would bring them to my house decked out in party clothes, bearing a wrapped gift. We'd play some party games like pin the tail on the donkey then sit down at the dining room table to eat cake and ice cream. As a crowning touch of high society, each place would have a nut cup. Oooh. Then I'd open the presents, say thank you, and the girls would go home. Every body happy.
Somehow in the years it took me to grow up and have kids, this all changed. I realized this when, after the games / cake / presents extravaganza, a sweet little girl from the neighborhood lisped , "Where's the party bags?"
Hunh? What's a party bag? I asked my kids and they brought me up to date. Apparently you must buy bags for each guest and fill them with candy and stuff. Why? Well, because you must.
I called my sister to ask if she'd encountered this curiosity. She, too, was horrified at the escalating birthday parties. She'd recently attended a catered, sit-down dinner for 50 that was a birthday party - for a one year old! What??
I used to stress out for a month before a my kids' birthday parties, planning the perfect party on a shoe-string budget, trying to give my kids a glittering gala that would be on a par with the ones they attended. I was elated when they were old enough that I could just tell them to go have fun with their friends and I'd bake them a cake.
This year my son's birthday came about 2 weeks after we'd just had a wedding in our back yard. I was barely out of the stress coma and the idea of putting on a birthday party was making me think longingly of prescription medications. Every idea that I had seemed to blossom into a huge party that would require me to work non-stop for a week ahead of time.
In a panic I called my sister, the clipboard commando who'd run my daughter's wedding, and said, "Help! Fix my life. What do I do?"
She said, calmly and wisely, "Just have his friends come over and play in the pool in the backyard." Yes, a pool party. I could handle that.
The little kids swam and played on the slip and slide. The older kids played inside. And they all enjoyed the birthday pie.
It was a swimming pool pie, and it had every good thing a child loves - a crust made from rice krispie treats, a pool filling of whipped cream, blue jello, and blueberries, and a group of gummie bear friends hanging out together enjoying the sun.
Playtime with friends and sugar. What more does a child need?
Gummie Bears at the Pool Pie
(adapted from Taste of Home -makes 2 pies)
40 large marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
5-6 cups crisped rice cereal
1 package (6 oz) berry blue gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
3-1/3 cups fresh blueberries
About 30 gummie bears
Grease 2 pie pans.
In a large microwave-safe bowl cook the marshmallows and butter on high for 1 minute. Stir, then cook for another minute. Stir until the butter and marshmallows are melted and combined, returning the bowl to the microwave for 10 second intervals if needed.
Stir in the cereal. With greased hands, press 1/2 the mixture onto bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Repeat with the other half and the other pie pan.
In a large bowl dissolve the gelatin in boiling water; stir till dissolved. Stir in the cold water. Refrigerate until partially set, about 1 hour. (I got distracted and my gelatin was pretty well set, hence the blue chunks in the pie.)
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the the gelatin mixture, then gently fold in the berries. Divide this between the pie crusts, smoothing out the top. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Garnish with gummie bears just before serving.
Serves 12 to 16.