Friday, December 6, 2013

s'mores on a stick {and ideas for a wilderness survival birthday party!}

This past week, we threw a children's "Wilderness Survival" birthday party. With a birthday in December, planning is always a little tricky. We have no idea if we'll have snow or sunshine, temps in the teens or 50's. But our local nature center promised an outdoor adventure no matter the weather, with just the planning of treats and favors up to us. 

My son has classmates with both nut and egg allergies, and I wanted to come up with a birthday treat or two, that all of the children could enjoy. A little poking around online, and I assembled some ideas.  My younger son saw the s'mores-themed cupcakes and was sure I could make them {me? not so sure}, or, he eagerly suggested that once the kids learned to build a fire they could make s'mores. Not sure if fire-building was really part of the gig, I decided to surprise him with a happy compromise of s'mores on a stick. I'm not usually one to get so cute-sy with my food, but these were cool, and the kids loved them. Here's how you make them:

First, melt chocolate chips in a double-boiler. Or, if you don't have a double boiler, just nest a mixing bowl in a pot filled with a few inches of simmering water {it's the steam that will melt the chocolate without scorching it}. If allergies are a concern, be sure to check to make sure the chocolate chips you are using are safe.

Stir the chocolate so it melts evenly. Then turn the burner off when the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Next, dip lollipop sticks {which I found at our local Party City store} in chocolate, then push about 3/4 of the way into each marshmallow. {The chocolate will harden, and this is is to hold the marshmallows onto the stick. I ran the kids to tae kwon do and tennis lessons, and the chocolate was hard when we came back.} 

Third, pulse graham crackers in a food processor, until just crumbs. Place them on a plate or bowl.

When I got home, I just reheated the melted chocolate, then rolled each marshmallow stick in the melted chocolate, rolled it in the graham crack crumbs, and placed it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet {so they wouldn't stick}.

Super easy, and the kids thought they were really neat.

The other treats at the party included a crunchy wildlife-themed {nut and egg-free} "trail mix" made with Kix cereal (rocks) + Teddy Grahams (bears) + goldfish (fish) + Annie's whole wheat bunnies (bunnies).

And, we served "mud, dirt and centipedes" {chocolate pudding (mud) topped with Oreos run through the food processor until crumbs (dirt) and a gummy centipede}. All of the treats were hits, and were simple to assemble. Healthy? Absolutely not. But fun? Yes.

On to favors! I wanted to give the children something "wilderness survival"-themed. These child-sized snow shovels are one of my children's favorite things in the winter. They make paths around the yard, igloos, snow forts...

So, we bagged a little compass, instructions for making a snow shelter, and some more centipedes up and tied each goodie bag to a snow shovel. It ended up being 50 degrees, making this snow shovel favor a little random, but the snow will arrive soon enough.

At the party, the kids hiked

teamed up to build stick shelters

and learned how to build a fire, creating sparks using steel wool and batteries... and, how to safely put out a fire

Then the tired survivalists headed back for treats.

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