Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gabriel's 3rd Birthday Party - a GabriElvis Tribute

Ever since we stopped by Elvis Presley's home, Graceland, on a cross-country road trip, my then 2-year-old has been the biggest fan of the "King of Rock 'n Roll." While most of his friends ask their parents to play Elmo, Mickey or Dora, the Explorer songs and videos, my son asks us to play Elvis' hits such as Suspicious Minds and Burning Love. So when it came to plan his 3rd birthday party, I had no doubt on my mind it was going to be an Elvis-themed one... a little curious fact: idol and fan share the same birthday, 8 January!!
I had a design in mind for the invitation, and while in Brasil visiting family, I asked my sister to help me bring it to life using her awesome design skills. I then printed the cover image on glossy photo paper and cut in the shape of a CD sleeve. Inside were the party details written as a record label on a black cardstock paper "disk".
The colors chosen were black (inspired by the Elvis' silhouettes), blue (as in blue suede shoes) and white (to balance it all out).
At the beverage table I set an Elvis record on a display stand with a couple of silver permanent markers for friends to leave a message for the birthday boy.  The vinyl record and its cover are now framed and on display in his bedroom.

The main food table
For the table centerpiece, I used "leftover" Elvis silhouettes from my work crafting the gift bags (keep reading to know more about it...), plus black music notes-shaped large confetti and silver stars sprinkled all over the table.
Caprese salad "on a stick" with homemade pesto (recipe at the end of this post)
Some of the food served was inspired by the King's favorites as barbecue chicken pizzas and the famous peanut butter and banana sandwiches (and it didn't hurt that they were a hit among the kids...)
To display the food names, I chose "Welcome to Las Vegas" placecard holders as a reference to Elvis' Las Vegas phase.
Musical notes and guitar-shaped pita bread with homemade hummus
Star-shaped toasts with salmon-chive spread
This amazing cake was made by my talented "cake master" friend Theully.  I found a similar image online and asked her to re-create adding a few personal touches.  For the record label I used an Elvis CD sampler that came with a Collector's Limited Edition box of Elvis PEZ dispensers
As a "cake topper", I used these Elvis bendable figurines which Gabriel now carries everywhere with him in his backpack.
Paper crown hats for the kings and queens of the night :-)
The candle is another collector's piece - a hand-painted candle modeled after a Red Hagstrom Viking II guitar Elvis used during his 1968 TV special.
I had a small surprise reserved for my little star - a recording of Elvis singing Happy Birthday!!  His face when he recognized his idol's voice (even before many of the guests did) was priceless.
For the party favors, I continued to use the black and blue theme colors. I printed an Elvis silhouette, traced it down on black card stock paper and hand-cut them individually to be glued on the front of each gift bag.  Yes, cut them one. by. one.  Glad I only had about half a dozen bags to prepare :-)
An Elvis Presley themed birthday is not necessarily "kid-friendly", but I managed to find great items for the favor bags: the "King" paper crown, a plastic microphone, Elvis-style sunglasses, Elvis PEZ dispensers (featuring 3 versions of the King: 50's, 60's and 70's Elvis), and an Elvis CD entitled: "Elvis Sings for Kids" which includes songs like Old MacDonald and Teddy Bear. I even had an Elvis interactive dress-up magnet set for kids to play with.  The little tag attached to the bag's handle reads "Thank you. Thank you very much", which many know is how Elvis ended his songs and/or his concerts.

Life is good... Gabi in his Elvis suit.
Photo by "tia" (auntie) Katia who, along with my parents, came from afar especially for the party. 
I also dressed the part wearing a Priscilla Presley beehive wig I found on Ebay ;-) The Elvis sunglasses were distributed to the guests upon their arrival, along with blue, black and white leis which were a nod to Elvis' Hawaiian movies.

We were even awarded a special performance by our little "king" :-)

Pesto alla Genovese 
Adapted from "Il Grande Libro della Cucina Tradizionale Italiana"

The "secret" to a good pesto is on the freshness and quality of the ingredients you use, so make sure you get the freshest basil, the best quality parmigiano-reggiano, salt and olive oil. Buon Appetito!

  • 15 organic basil leaves (washed and lightly patted dry, stems removed) 
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 g toasted pignoli (pine nuts) 
  • 25 g finely ground parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
Place garlic and a pinch of salt in mortar and start rubbing it down with the pestle to break up the garlic (the salt helps grind it.) Add teared pieces of basil and smash using a down and outward motion, being careful not to bruise it. Add the pignoli and pound, working them into the garlic and basil mixture.  Mix in the parmesan and then the olive oil, mixing with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a storage container and cover with a fine layer of olive oil to preserve its color, moisture and flavor. Store covered with a lid or plastic wrap in the refrigerator for a week or more, depending of your storage conditions (and use, mine never lasts past a couple of days, since we find so many uses for it in the kitchen!)  

You can also freeze it in small ice cubes and remove as needed.  Some purists say you should never freeze pesto because of its oil content, others advise on freezing it without the addition of the cheese.  I personally think that yes, nothing beats the amazing flavor of just-made pesto, but the handy frozen cubes of this sauce mean less time in the kitchen, less loss/waste of ingredients and a small feeling of summer in the middle of the winter, when I cannot pick fresh basil from my backyard.  In other words, still very yummy!

Note: The traditional pesto is made using a mortar and pestle to smash all the ingredients into a paste, but you can use a food processor as well (but try to avoid, ok?) Just make sure the blades and bowl are very cool so that they don't burn and bruise the leaves - you can put them in the freezer for a couple of hours prior to use. 

Para uma versão em português da festa, clique aqui.


  1. Thank you for these wonderful ideas! I am planning an Elvis themed party for a 4 yr party and it has been very difficult to find ready made items. I will use some of your ideas, thank you, thank you very much!

    1. Thank you (thank you very much :-) for your sweet comment! I LOVE that you picked this fun theme! Have a fantastic party, and happy birthday to your little one!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...