How do you celebrate a child’s birthday when you can neither go places nor have people over? After 11 months of varying degrees of lockdown, it was my youngest’s turn and the ‘let’s make staying at home fun’ ideas had started to resemble something you might read in a Ladybird parody book.
This is when I decided to make Birthday Eve a thing. We erected a small tent in the house, crowned it with fairy lights, lined it with cushions and blankets and at 18:00hrs I funnelled my children into it and presented my youngest with a hamper full of shredded paper hiding various small jars of treats. When your mother is a chocolate correspondent it’s hard to give chocolate as presents as it seems like cast-offs. Not this time. All her favourites were in there and all things she knows I don’t eat: Mentos, Minstrels, chocolate M&Ms (not even peanut so I could have some), Oreos, chewing gum, mini eggs. You get the idea. Mercifully, reputation was saved by some Misco’s Cake Balls (the best ones: orange and dark chocolate, from £2.50), which I know she coveted. I’ve written about these before, but they’d make excellent little, but delicious, birthday treats sent to someone you can’t see: they travel well.
While the kids tore through the hamper, I indulged in Summerdown’s dark chocolate peppermint creams, £7, made using ‘single estate’ Hampshire-grown mint. I usually associate peppermint creams with Christmas, thus it felt suitably celebratory.