Last weekend, my biggest baby girl turned 6! While in previous years we have hosted big parties with lots of friends and classmates, this year we decided to keep it smaller and take my daughter along with a small group of friends to a local rock climbing gym. The celebration was great, and the smaller size allowed me to be more creative with the snacks since I didn’t have to feed lots of kids.
For those of you who don’t know me, let me stop here to say that creativity is NOT my strong suit! I love to cook, but making food look beautiful? Not so much. If you take a look at my lunch photos you’ll see what I mean – healthy and balanced, but no sandwiches made to look like pumpkins or Frozen themed meals. There’s a reason my business starts with “Simply” – I focus on the quality, and leave “cute” and “fun” to others.
That being said, I really wanted to make this celebration special. I turned to the trusty internet for ideas to carry through the rock climbing theme, since much to my dismay, Party City does not have a section with rock climbing paper goods and decor. I ended up going with a silver, black, and white color scheme and some snacks to keep any rock climber’s energy up!
I started with granola bars – no need to buy Cliff Bars with this recipe in my back pocket. I also found a recipe for popcorn balls on Weelicious, and loved how they made popcorn a little more interesting, while also looking a bit like rocks! These popcorn balls were also surprisingly simple to make. Every climber needs some fruit, of course, so I included a bowl of apples along with freeze-dried mango and strawberries. And for hydration? Water, as is standard at every birthday party I’ve hosted – and I’ve never had a single kid ask where the juice is! The table looked beautiful and inviting, showcasing snacks that are special and delicious, while all being made from real ingredients.
But the highlight was the cake. In the past I have shied away from cakes, instead making cupcakes which are easy to adorn with a plastic flag or ring on top to go with the theme. But this year my little one REALLY wanted a cake, and so I went to Pinterest to see what the creative moms out there are making for their kids. Most rock climbing cakes were WAY out of my league. I did find one that maybe, possibly I could recreate…?
After a bit of a mishap on the morning of the party…
…we ended up with this!!
I was so proud of myself, and my daughter LOVED it! The cookie cake base is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, I decorated it with my chocolate fudge frosting (and one of those Wilton frosting tips that I picked up at Target), and then used a pretty basic crisp rice cereal treat recipe for the wall. The hand/foot holds are dark chocolate chunks, and our climbing superheroes are harnessed in by toothpicks. I definitely spent WAY more time worrying about it than actually making it, and that includes making the cookie cake twice! If you are ever interested in making a cake like this, let me know and I’ll walk you through it so you don’t have to spend all that time worrying yourself!
So there you go! A fun, delicious party spread with no food dyes, minimally processed and whole grain ingredients, and a very manageable amount of stress…allowing me to thoroughly enjoy watching my newly-6-year-old achieve new heights 🙂