Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Zahrina is One! (How to throw a Russian Tea Party)

I'm very late with this post and I realize that BUT, here is Zahra's first birthday party! For those that didn't know, I am a Russophile. I have a Russian linguistics degree and I lived in Saint Petersburg for one short semester when I absolutely fell head over heels for that city. So, when my Zahrina was turning one, a Russian tea party was hands down the best option for our little celebration.

Here is the invite that I designed in Microsoft Publisher (with my address blurred out). The  "castle" is my toddler building blocks version of the "Church on Spilt Blood" in St Petersburg. I am sure this was lost on nearly everyone (meaning everyone that I didn't email and ask if it looked CoSB-y enough to make the cut...) Some people also apparently had trouble reading it because of the Cyrillic inspired font, but, "K Chortu", I tried. (Russian for, "to the devil", slang for "dang it", I suppose.)

Let's start with a photo of the little lady on her big day.
In these emails and phone calls with my party advisors, I tried to determine what people know about Russia. We came up with a pretty short list:
  1. They have backwards R's
  2. Vodka
  3. Those little dolls that go inside each other, i.e. matryoshka

That meant we were going to need a lot of White Russians and matryoshki. Enter the party favor I made for each little girl. Notice the tan faces, just like the Zahrina herself! (Plus they match Zahr's outfit!) I gave each kiddo a bag with a Chamomile tea, a matryoshka doll, and a wooden matryoshka ornament that they could paint! On the bags, I added name tags with each child's Russian name. I think the idea was lost on all of the toddlers but a few older siblings thought it was so cool to see their name in Russian! Oh, and I stored them in a teacup planter!

I also put together a Matryoshka Wreath of sorts with Zahra's photo inside to hang on the door. Here is the piece in action. I can't seem to find the completed wreath, but the inspiration photo is on my Pinterest board.

In the way of decor we had some of my treasures from Saint Petersburg, little signs explaining the Russian-ness of each dish or activity and, my favorite item I have ever made for a party, the 0-12 month Zahra Matryoshka banner!

For food, I hit up the only Russian Market in town and scored some great finds

Real Russian black bread (Chornii Xleb) and Russian beef salami.

Russian Chocolates

Latkes! A Polish specialty enjoyed in Russia.
One of my favorite things was our blini bar! A very special thanks to this lady who made them all!

A blini bar with banana/chocolate, mushroom/cheese, or sour cream/caviar fillings.
I have an amazing baker-BFF (see above) who lives in Houston and was kind enough to drive up for the party and be put straight to work. Beyond all of her help keeping the party running smoothly, she designed and made the fondant topping for Zahra's cake! This fondant was HOMEMADE and tasted delicious - just like a marshmallow! We saved a lot of money on the cake by buying a plain sheetcake and making it Russian-esque at home. We subsequently spent that money on caviar and vodka. Honestly, it doesn't get more Russian than that!

For activities, we have a range of things playing on the Russian princess theme. (For clarification, a Czarina is a Russian Princess.) We had a coloring station with four different crown designs that could be made for each royal Russki baby. There were also painting supplies to let the kids decorate their wooden matryoshka. Some of our favorite friends come from a family of four kids, so they received a whole nesting matryoshka set!

We had three teaparty tables set up with real chamomile tea that (trust me) toddlers LOVE pouring. We have tea parties around here a lot. It is a mostly calming activity and requires great hand-eye coordination!

Please ignore the Dos Equis in this photo. 
 Despite the numerous events and activities going on inside, the kids wanted to enjoy a cool 60-degree Texas December afternoon. We just so happened to be undergoing a major construction project during the party, so we made the best of it.

Pretty soon it was time for cake and ice cream! Here is Zahra with her smash cake!

The last event before we sent all of these sugar-riddled toddlers home with their moms was the pinata. If you are not from San Antonio, you might find it silly to have a pinata at a Russian-themed birthday party. But lets just leave it with, you are not from San Antonio. And there must be a pinata.

Our sweet nanny spent a good 10 days trying to find a pinata that would fit the theme. Matryoshka - obviously out. Tea cup? No. Tea pot? No. Castle? Couldn't find a castle. I kept getting the same calls. "Dora, Diego, Elmo?" Ugh. Then, one day, the nanny found an Easter Bunny. Hmmmm, they have rabbits in Russia. I was sold.

Here is Sam getting caught feeding Zahra Nerds.

 And then there is the best part of any party. When the guests go home and the family takes stock of the days success while drinking all the leftover soda and picking Nerds boxes out of the grass.

Thanks to everyone who showed up to show the Zahrina some love. Special appreciation to those ladies of mine who show up and get straight to work. I could never host such crazy functions without a whole lot of delegation.

Stay tuned for Brazilian Olympics themed third birthday for Zayd. We will be hosting at Zayd's gymnastics studio and while I realize the Russian Olympics will be much closer to Zayd's party, I think one Russian party a year is Sam's limit. I'm thinking plantains and gold medals!

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