Monday, March 13, 2017

It's a Birthday Party Charlie Brown!

This year my son is obsessed with the Peanuts comics by Charles Schulz. Back in middle school when I played the role of Schroeder in a production of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," I got really into it too. And yes, Schroeder is a boy, but the director wanted Schroeder to really play the piano on stage and I happened to posses that skill. Of course Schroeder is my favorite character from the comic too! Anyway, my son found one of my old Peanuts books and hasn't been able to put it down since. He spends a lot of time pretending to be the World War I Flying Ace and Joe Cool. He has even suggested that if the new baby on the way is another little sister we should name her Rerunette, the way Lucy called her second little brother Rerun. Inevitably this all led to request for a Peanuts themed birthday party. The other kids at the party may not have been as familiar with Peanuts as Sam, but given my own affinity for the classic comic, it was a lot of fun to put together.

Happy Birthday Sam! You are growing into one amazing young man! 


We went back to the dance studio for this year's party, and I think the owner repainted just for Sam's party! The new yellow walls, (actually "mango tango" I believe), made it easy to add a simple decoration that had a lot of impact. Yellow wall + strips of black construction paper + double stick tape = Charlie Brown zigzag shirt wall!  Add some Peanuts stuffed animals and black and yellow table settings and that's all you need!

That may be all you need, but we did have a little more. The aforementioned director of my middle school play was my mom, who has been involved in other productions of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown since then as well. She was able to bring in some cool props from the shows, including Schroeder's piano!


The food was very simple and kid friendly with the birthday boy's request for his favorite food - pizza. Some clever labeling makes things a little more fun and on theme!

For example, Sam read one strip where Snoopy says something like, "Joe Cool never eats at the dorm cafeteria, he always orders pizza." We knew then that it wouldn't just be any pizza, but Joe Cool's Pizza.

Of course we all know that the World War I Flying Ace's drink of choice is root beer! I found the perfect picture to go on our pop labels. To add a little variety to the beverages we also included Linus and Lucy Lemon Lime.

Instead of a traditional birthday cake, the birthday boy opted to have "Charlie Brownies." Of course you can make any brownie recipe you want, and then just top them with yellow frosting and a chocolate frosting zigzag. I used a recipe from the family cookbook titled "Julie's Awesome Brownies," (the recipe can be found at the end of the post!). They truly are awesome, some of the richest, gooiest brownies I've ever had. Thanks Julie!

 I divided the recipe in half to make both plain brownies and ones with peppermint patties mixed in, (get it?). I put the peppermint patties in the bottom of the pan and poured the batter over them. This method made the brownies stick to the pan. I had to wrestle them out of the pan a little, but they were delicious! I would recommend pouring some batter in first, then adding the peppermint patties, and then topping off with the rest of the batter to try to prevent sticking.


I don't have any pictures of the games but we did have fun with them!

Peanuts Musical Chairs
We played a modified version of musical chairs that we had played at church for All Saints Day. I put pictures of different Peanuts characters on chairs and played music while the kids walked around the circle. For the music I played the soundtrack from "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" as well as the classic "Linus and Lucy."

When the music stops everyone sits on a chair and the name of a character gets pulled out of a hat. Whoever is sitting on the chair with that character gets a prize! In this case the prize was a bag of peanuts. We kept going until everyone  got a prize.

Pull the Football Away from Charlie Brown (Pinata)
This was just your classic birthday pinata, but we got one that was in the shape of a football.  My husband played the role of Lucy and pulled the football away from all our Charlie Browns trying to hit the pinata. Of course we had to fill the pinata with peppermint patties and peanut butter cups! A black Sharpie turned some plain red and blue bags into Linus and Lucy treat bags.  On the back I wrote, "Happiness is Celebrating with Friends!"

Julie's Awesome Brownies

This is a huge recipe! It makes two 9 x 13 pans of gooey, chocolatey goodness.
This is the original recipe - I used cocoa powder instead of baker's chocolate and omitted the  extra chocolate chips, coffee, and walnuts when I made them for the party, (and of course added some peppermint patties in!)

1 pound unsalted butter (you heard right! That's 4 sticks.)
1 pound plus 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips - divided
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 eggs
2 Tablespoons instant coffee
2 Tablespoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour - divided
1 Tablespoon baking power
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups walnut pieces

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate and cool slightly.

Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and remaining chocolate chips in 1/4 cup of flour, then stir into the chocolate batter.

Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 18 pan, or two 13 x 9 pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a skewer come out clean. About halfway through the baking process rap the pans against the oven shelf.

Cool thoroughly and refrigerate before cutting into squares. They are so gooey and rich if you try to cut them while they are warm they will crumble! 

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