My daughter asked if she could have a rainbow party for her 5th birthday this year, so I immediately got onto Pinterest and searched for “Rainbow Birthdays.” Many of them were filled with Skittles, jelly beans, lollipops, jello, and cakes made with artificial dyes. This was just not going to be okay with me! Did you know that artificial food dyes are derived from petroleum and require a warning label in other countries? I thought I can totally do this without junk food and dyes, so I got to work. Here’s a peak at the end result (with detailed instructions below):
My daughter is my fruit and veggie lover, so I knew I wouldn’t get any complaints by serving up a rainbow of colors with healthy foods. As we were looking for ideas on Pinterest, we came across a watermelon “cake.” She immediately fell in love! This is my child who asks me everyday when it is going to be “watermelon season.” She had her heart set on this cake, but I figured that if I didn’t at least have a “regular” cake her friends might not ever come back for another birthday party. So we had both.
The Rainbow Cake
During the holidays I used my juicer to make a ton of pretty rainbow colored juices, which got me thinking. So I contacted a baker I’ve used in the past and asked if I could bring her naturally colored juices to use in a white cake she’d make for the party. She agreed, and I dusted off my juicer again and juiced a few carrots (for the orange) and spinach (for the green). I bought a can of beets and used the juice they were sitting in (for the red). I defrosted frozen blueberries (for the blue) and blackberries (for the purple), and put them through a mesh strainer. I had some turmeric on hand (for the yellow). She said she added the colors a teaspoon at a time until she got the right color on each one, and she also used this online tutorial for guidance. She made the rainbow and the sun out of fondant, and we didn’t eat those. My daughter had a string of butterfly lights in her room, so we borrowed a few for some added decoration. I even put a few drops of glitter glue on the non-edible butterflies to add some bling!
The watermelon cake was honestly not the easiest, but my daughter really wanted one.
This can be made with a variety of fruits, depending on what is in season.
Here is what I used:
- Red: 2 packages of strawberries, stems removed and berries sliced in half
- Orange: 5 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
- Yellow: one pineapple, cut into chunks
- Green: 5 kiwi, peeled and sliced
- Blue: 1 package of blueberries
- Purple: grapes
I made two veggie platters because …well I just couldn’t help myself when I was buying all the vegetables. Again, feel free to use whatever veggies are available/in season or ones that you like.
Here is what I used for the first veggie platter:
- Red: red cherry tomatoes and 1 red bell pepper
- Orange: 1 orange bell pepper
- Yellow: 1 yellow bell pepper
- Green: 1 green bell pepper
- Blue: Organic Blue Tortilla Chips (from Trader Joe’s)
- Clouds: 1/2 of a head of cauliflower (blanched*)
Here is what I used for the Second veggie platter:
- Red: heirloom Tomatoes
- Orange: baby carrots
- Yellow: heirloom tomatoes and leftover peppers (from the first platter)
- Green: heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers peeled and cut into thin circles, and fresh green beans and broccoli (both blanched)
- Purple: 1/2 of a head of small purple cabbage, sliced thin
- In the center: organic regular hummus and chipotle hummus (from Trader Joe’s)
*To blanch any of these vegetables, bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook your vegetables for 3 minutes and then transfer to an ice bath immediately. Once cooled, remove from the ice water and lay on a clean towel to dry off. I blanched some of the veggies because my kids like them better that way – all my kids love broccoli, but won’t eat it raw.
I wanted to use the food and activities as the main focus of the party, so I assigned each girl to wear a different color of the rainbow. The few things I purchased from Target were rainbow plates, napkins, cups, glittery hats, and solid colored plastic table cloths. I left the table cloths folded and placed them in order of the rainbow, and I used a “Happy Birthday” banner that we already owned.
What do you do at a rainbow party? You craft! It is a favorite pastime at our house.
- Picture Frame Decoupage
I bought unfinished wooden frames for each guest and put out Mod Podge, paint brushes, and LOTS and lots of fabric, tissue paper and scrapbook paper cut into pieces. The girls painted the Mod Podge on the frame first and then placed whatever pieces of the scraps struck their fancy onto the frame. A lot of Mod Podge was painted on top of the scraps to make a pretty, unique picture frame.
- Painted Canvas
I bought each of the girls a canvas to paint, put out acrylic paint and paint brushes, and then let them go to town. Afterwards I kept all of the girls paintings and hung them in my daughter’s room to help her remember this birthday celebration with her friends.
- Tie Dye
Last, we tie-dyed shirts. I bought each girl a white t-shirt and a tie dye kit. They picked out the design they wanted and we put the rubber bands on the shirts for them. The kits are really self-explanatory and helped with the instructions. The girls picked their colors and my husband did the dying since it would be pretty messy for 5 year-olds. I wrapped the shirts in a bag and they all took them home and washed them out the next day. I think they turned out great!
I am big on being practical as far as party favors go. I find it a strange tradition to give out gifts to guests at a birthday party, but I am not going to be the one who stops it. The girls got to take home their shirts and their frames. I would normally think that this was plenty, but since I was feeling crafty I spray-painted cans with chalkboard paint. I bought water colors and Trader Joe’s Organic Fruit Strips to go inside the cans. I also made these cute little heart crayons. I have more crayons than the Crayola factory, so I had my daughter peel the papers off and break them into small pieces which she used to fill up silicon heart molds about half-way up. We placed the molds onto a cookie sheet and put it into an oven preheated to 200 degrees F. It took about 15 minutes for them to set, but I suggest you watch them very carefully. I used a toothpick to stir the wax a bit. When they are melted you can leave them on the counter to cool, but I was impatient so stuck them in the fridge.
In the end the party was a huge success. If you’ve had a rainbow party or have other ideas for “rainbow” foods or activities, we’d love for you to share them in the comments below!