Monday, 8 August 2011

How do you celebrate?

A couple of weeks ago our eldest child turned 13.

We had talked about the impending celebrations for a while.

13 is a biggy.

We don't usually do the whole big birthday party thing.

I am kind of disillusioned by the way kids birthday parties have become another way to compete as parents.  Surely being a parent is hard enough without all this competitive stuff?

Birthday parties have become big business.

The idea seems to be that the bigger & more fantastical the party you give the bigger & better you are as a parent.

And inviting every child in the class?!

I don't get it.


My children are certainly not friends with every child in their class so why would I invite them all?

Isn't a birthday something you celebrate with the people you love and who love you?

I know it isn't very popular to take this stance but I don't do what is popular in anything I do.

I do it because I believe in it.

Because I think it is right.

It is important to me that I live with honesty.

It doesn't make me popular all the time but I am the one who has to live with me and as me.  I need to do what is right for me.

Mr. 13 had thrown around the ideas that are kind of common for a child of his age in terms of party ideas.  Laser war parties, or go-karting, bowling etc.....

I struggled to get excited...and really so did he.

Then one night as we were sitting around the table chatting as a family sharing bad jokes, stories, insights, music, food & love; as we do.......then  Mr13 said something.

"Mum I know what I want to do!  I want to have my friends come around and just hang out; you know like we do.  Just sit around the table chatting, maybe have a campfire & maybe we could do our Portuguese chicken for dinner."

His eyes had lit up.

Mine too.

It was fabulous.  I couldn't have been happier.  I love that he wanted to share his family with his friends.  How could I not be happy with that?

He wrote the invites himself.  He chose his friends carefully.

It will go down as one of my favourite parties EVER.

His friends were a delight.

They sat around the campfire.

They climbed the treehouse.  They played ping pong. They played with potato guns. They jumped on the trampoline.

We ate sitting around the fire and then they toasted marshmallows for smores.

Kind of old fashioned stuff.... but on every single child's face was a SMILE. 

It rained for some of it but we just found enough raincoats and stayed outside anyway.

What was so lovely was to see how they engaged with each other & with all of our family.

It was a great night.

We talked the next day and I asked Mr 13 what he thought of his party.

"It was everything I hoped it would be."

Me too...........

How do you celebrate birthdays?

You can change the ingredients for the marinade.  Mine is never quite the same.  I like that about recipes like this.  It kind of evolves as you discover what you do and don't like & what is available to you.  Have the confidence to try different stuff and see what works.  For Mr 13's party I kept it relatively simple as I didn't want to scare off his friends!
We cook ours on our spit roast over charcoal in a special chicken press but you don't need to have this.  It will be delicious cooked in a regular oven too. The marinade will make sure of this!
Splitting a chicken to flatten it for Portuguese chicken is super easy.  I find using Chicken shears makes it even easier.  Once you have done it once you won't ever be afraid again I promise!
Just cut the chicken from the parsons nose through to the neck- NOT the breast side but the other!  Once cut turn over the chicken and give it a good punch to flatten it down.  Hey presto!  You are ready to marinade. Told you it was easy!

  • 1 large organic chicken
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon (rind cut off and reserved & juice will be used too)
  • generous glug of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoons spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 large red chilli (remove seeds if you don't want it too spicy)
  • 1 whole bunch coriander (be sure to rinse well as you want to use the ENTIRE plant- roots & all!)
  • S & P

Flatten the chook as described above.

Add all other ingredients to a food processor and blitz baby blitz, till it's a paste like consistency.

Smear marinade over every part of the chicken, bottom and top.

It is best to leave overnight but a few hours ahead will still be great.

We put ours into the press and it spins happily for a couple of hours basting itself as it goes.  The result is incredibly juicy chicken as the basting keeps the juices in the chicken. Truly amazing.

If using a regular oven it will be best to place it on a rack and cook for an hour at 175C.

Here's how it looks out of the chicken press- so good! 

We like to serve ours with my spicy wedges, roast pumpkin wedges that are cooked with a little garlic & rosemary and a crunchy green salad.  Add a squeeze of lime if you like! YUM!

Happy Birthday Mr13! You make me so proud each and every day.  It was a joy to be part of your celebration. xx


  1. So happy to hear it went well. Lovely. Yes, that inviting the entire class smacks of umm "ridiculous" to me. I love the invite the number of the age you are celebrating rule...if you have to have a rule ; ) x

  2. That chicken sounds delicious! my mouth is watering! I haven't used our spit in ages, so this will be perfect! thank you :) x

  3. Great to hear Master 13's birthday party was everything he hoped for. It's also really lovely to hear of another parent who looks at birthday parties the same way. I've never done the big 'invite every child you've ever met' party and don't even give all of them a party every year. Mr 5 didn't have a party this year, Mr 4 had half a dozen friends from the street over, Mr to-be-2 is still to-be-decided. I like them to look at it as something really special, not expected, and think of it how I'd like my own - celebrating milestones with those nearest and dearest: those people I celebrate my normal life with.

    It looks like such an amazing night and so happy for you to hear that all had such a great time. x

  4. I SO love this. What a gorgeous family you have and it sounds like your Mr 13 has some wonderful friends. What wonderful memories he's building too.

    I'm not at the stage where I have to worry about inviting every kid in the class but I won't be doing that either. I'm the only Mum in my Mum's Group who doesn't invite every other kid already. We have enough people in our life who want to celebrate my little munchkin without adding every child in to the mix. This year we won't be having a "party" in the way we have for him for #1 & #2 but we are having a gathering with a couple of his little friends, his 4 favourite cousins and my Mum & Grandma cos if I didn't we'd have to see all these people separately anyway! :) And any excuse for cake right? :) As Natalie says, it's about celebrating with the people you life your normal life with.

  5. glad the party was a hit....sweet thing;xxxk

  6. Couldn't agree more. I did a few bigger ones when the kids were small, because I worked full time and I had no energy left, but even by today's standards they were not huge.
    This year my daughter wanted a baking party, she invited 3 friends and they spent the day baking in our kitchen. It was lovely, and so very much her, as a pastry chef want to be.
    I am at a complete loss at to why everything needs to be bigger, better, cost more.
    You 13 year olds party sounds just perfect.


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