This Birthday Party Pairs Grown-Up Style with Kid-Approved Treats

Lonni Paul daughter
Photo: Victoria Pearson

It's a twin win for designer/mom Lonni Paul at a chic-meets-fun kids' birthday bash.

01 of 15

Preteen Twin Birthday Party

marble table and chandelier with birthday decorations
Victoria Pearson

For parents of twins, the "one and done" method for birthday parties doesn't always sync, especially when one child is a boy and the other is a girl. But Los Angeles-based designer Lonni Paul was determined to streamline the process for her kids' 11th birthday.

With the duo teetering on the cusp of teenhood, Paul decided that the party shouldn't be strictly kid stuff. The gathering for son Jett, daughter Sophie, and their friends mixed formal, adult-style accoutrements with enough doses of color, decoration, and candy to make it fun.

Currey & Company's "Forest Light" chandelier dangles crystal glamour above a marble-topped table. Polished brass "Zephyr" chairs from Arteriors and Kartell's "Ghost" chairs provide sleek seating. The commode from Grace Home Furnishings hosts a candy buffet dubbed the "Sugar Station." Draperies are "Tripod Gold" linen from the Nicolette Mayer Collection.

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Making Adult Style Fun

Lonni Paul daughter
Victoria Pearson

"Kids should always be introduced to an adult style of entertaining," Paul says. "But there's a way to do it in a language that they understand and isn't too stuffy."

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Cheery and Colorful Decorations

Coloful, Kid-Friendly Party
Victoria Pearson

Paul didn't forgo fine china for paper or plastic. She used what she owned: chic turquoise-and-gold china that got a cheerful boost from a contemporary geometric pattern on the napkins and placemats. She also scanned the pattern from the fabric house and used her computer to print coordinating placecards, along with signage for a colorful candy buffet. Paper pom-poms hanging from the chandelier brought in bursts of fun.

"Truiq Happy," a modern windmill pattern from the Nicolette Mayer Collection, drove the multicolored palette. In linen, the geometric was fabricated into napkins, while the grass-cloth wallcovering version was cut to deliver zest under clear placemats from California Acrylic.

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Kid-Approved Place Setting

kate spade flatware
Victoria Pearson

Happy patterns from Kate Spade New York serve up child-approved charm. "Larabee Dot" flatware and etched glasses repeat the dot theme of Iittala's "Kastehelmi" footed bowls.

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All-Ages Menu

Lonni Paul daughter and guest
Victoria Pearson

The menu appeals to all ages: turkey meatball appetizers, honey-glazed salmon and noodle bowls (and grilled peach tartines for the adults), and a classic banana split.

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Sundae Toppings Station

assorted candy-counter toppings
Victoria Pearson

Assorted candy-counter toppings for a classic banana split hit everyone's sweet spot.

07 of 15

Birthday Buds

lonni paul twins jett and sophie
Victoria Pearson

Lonni Paul is pictured here with twins Jett and Sophie.

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Colorful Candy

pastel candy in jars
Victoria Pearson

Pastel candy fills a mélange of lidded jars.

09 of 15

Personalized Party Favors

personalized jewelry party favors
Victoria Pearson

Jett and Sophie's guests left the birthday party with personalized jewelry (bracelets for boys and necklaces for girls) from New York-based Ryan Porter. Gift tags are by Lobird Stationery.

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Recipes for Everyone

birthday party menu
Victoria Pearson

Lonni Paul's birthday party menu for her twins is a double-the-pleasure, double-the-fun event—both kids and adults will enjoy these recipes by chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary, Food of Grace.


  • Lavender-Mint Lemonade
  • Turkey Meatball-Cucumber Skewers with Raita Sauce
  • Green Tomato and Grilled Peach Tartine
  • Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon and Soba Noodle Bowl
  • Banana Split Bar

Shopping List

We've organized a shopping list to make shopping for this party menu easier for you. Package sizes are included so you have enough for duplicated recipe ingredients.

Check your pantry for these necessary items before shopping:

Note: Unless specified, when we call for "butter" we mean the unsalted variety. When we call for "olive oil" we are suggesting good quality extra virgin. When we call for "brown sugar," we are calling for light brown sugar.

  • Granulated sugar (need 2 cups + 4-1/8 teaspoons)
  • Brown sugar (need 1/2 cup)
  • Honey (need 2 tablespoons)
  • Cornstarch (need 1 tablespoon)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Ground coriander (need 1-1/4 teaspoons)
  • Paprika (need 1 teaspoon)
  • Ground cumin (need 1 teaspoon)
  • Kosher salt (need 3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil (need 3/4 cup total)
  • White wine vinegar (need 1-1/2 teaspoons)
  • Butter (need 2 tablespoons)
  • Mayonnaise (need 2 tablespoons)
  • Dijon-style mustard (need 1 teaspoon)

Specialty grocery store

  • Fresh lavender sprigs or dried lavender buds
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages soba or rice noodles


  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger
  • 5 lemons
  • 2 medium peaches
  • 8 bananas
  • 1 (5-ounce) container strawberries
  • 2 medium Persian or English cucumbers
  • 2 medium green heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 (5-ounce) container baby lettuce mix
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 (12-ounce) packages fresh green beans


  • 1 (32-ounce) bottle fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 (5-ounce) bottle reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle rice vinegar
  • Chocolate fudge sauce
  • Caramel sauce
  • 1 jar Maraschino cherries
  • Candy aisle: mini Reese's peanut butter cups, chocolate nonpareils, jelly beans, gummy bears
  • Fresh roasted peanuts or Marcona almonds

Baking aisle

  • 1 (1.75-ounce) jar pine nuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Rainbow sprinkles
  • Chocolate bar for chocolate curls


  • 1-1/4 pounds ground turkey breast


  • 8 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless, boneless salmon fillets


  • 1 (15-ounce) container crème fraîche
  • 1 (6- to 8-ounce) container sour cream (need 2 tablespoons)
  • 1-quart container whipping cream


  • 1 loaf ciabatta

Frozen foods aisle

  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Strawberry ice cream
  • Vanilla ice cream
11 of 15

Lavender-Mint Lemonade

lavender-mint lemonade
Victoria Pearson

Two summer herbs add flavor and depth to traditional lemonade. The sophisticated beverage sets a summery mood.

Prep: 20 minutes

Chill: 4 hours

  • 8 sprigs fresh lavender or 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds*
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint
  • 4 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 4 to 5-1/2 cups Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
  • Ice cubes
  • Fresh lavender and mint sprigs for garnish

In 2-1/2- to 3-quart pitcher muddle together lavender and mint. Add lemon juice and Simple Syrup, and stir to combine. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Add ice cubes to serving glasses. Pour lemonade into glasses through fine mesh sieve. Garnish with lavender and mint sprigs. Makes 8 servings.

Simple Syrup: In large saucepan stir together 4 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove and cool. Makes 5-1/2 cups.

*Note: Not all lavender buds/flowers are edible, so make sure you are purchasing a culinary variety, such as English lavender, especially if you are growing your own crop. (Potted lavender is a lovely addition to the deck or patio.) Check with a reputable garden center, or purchase edible lavender buds from a specialty grocery store.

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Turkey Meatball-Cucumber Skewers with Raita Sauce

Coloful, Kid-Friendly Party
Victoria Pearson

Ground turkey and applesauce keep the fat out of these meatballs, making them a good choice for kids to snack on. To keep them moist, serve the meatballs in the flavorful pan juices before skewering.

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes to 8 minutes per batch

Turkey Meatballs:

  • 1-1/4 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 lemons, juiced (2/3 cup)

Raita Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium Persian or English cucumbers, cut into 1-inch rounds and halved, if desired
  • 1 lemon, sliced

For Turkey Meatballs, in large mixing bowl combine ground turkey, applesauce, coriander, paprika, salt, cumin, and pepper; mix well.

Using hands coated with nonstick cooking spray, shape ground turkey mixture into 1-inch balls.

In large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add half of meatballs. Cook meatballs 6 to 8
minutes or until browned and cooked through, turning once. Add half of lemon juice; season with additional salt. Gently stir meatballs,
scraping up any browned bits. Pour meatballs and liquid into bowl. Repeat with remaining oil, butter, meatballs, and lemon juice.

For Raita Sauce, in medium bowl mix together crème fraîche, mayonnaise, sour cream, mint, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper.

Serve meatballs in reserved cooking juices alongside cucumber slices with picks for skewering. Serve with Raita Sauce for dipping; garnish with lemon slices. Makes 10 servings.

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Green Tomato and Grilled Peach Tartine

green tomato and grilled peach tartine
Victoria Pearson

A tartine is an open-face sandwich that's a knife-and-fork affair. Typically, it's defined by great bakery bread and sophisticated toppings. This version, for the adults at the party, features summer-time bounty with green heirloom tomatoes and fresh peaches.

Prep: 20 minutes
Grill: 4 minutes

Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 8 slices ciabatta
  • 2 medium peaches, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 medium green tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
  • 4 cups baby lettuce mix
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme for garnish

For Lemon Vinaigrette, in screw-top jar combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and shake well to combine.

For Tartines, brush ciabatta slices and cut sides of peaches with olive oil. Season with kosher salt. On gas or charcoal grill, grill ciabatta and
peaches (cut side down) on rack of covered grill over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side for ciabatta or until toasted, and 4 to 6 minutes for peaches or until lightly charred; set aside.

In small bowl combine crème fraîche, 2-1/2 tablespoons Lemon Vinaigrette, and pinch of kosher salt; set aside. Cut peaches into wedges.

Place grilled ciabatta on plate; spread with prepared créme mixture. Top crème fraîche spread with peach and tomato wedges.

Toss greens and pine nuts with remaining Lemon Vinaigrette. Season lettuce, peaches, and tomatoes with salt. Top tomatoes and peaches with greens. Sprinkle pepper over salad. Top with thyme leaves or sprigs. Serve. Makes 8 servings.

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Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon and Soba Noodle Bowl

honey-mustard glazed salmon and soba noodle bowl
Victoria Pearson

Kids might prefer a smaller, 4-ounce serving of salmon. Regardless, the sweet-savory glaze is a crowd-pleaser for everyone.

Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Bake: 12 to 14 minutes

  • 4 cups cold water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 8 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless boneless salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 shallot, halved
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Oven-Roasted Green Beans and Soba Noodles (recipe follows)
  • 4 green onions, sliced on bias
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sesame seeds

In large, deep dish combine 4 cups cold water, kosher salt, and granulated sugar; stir to dissolve salt. Allow liquid to sit 10 minutes. Place salmon in liquid. Brine fish 25 minutes in refrigerator. Remove fish from dish; pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, for glaze, in small saucepan combine soy sauce, brown sugar, 1/4 cup water, rice vinegar, shallot, honey, ginger, and mustard. Bring mixture to simmer. Reduce heat; gently simmer 10 minutes. Strain through fine mesh sieve. Return half the glaze to saucepan. Reserve remaining glaze. In small bowl stir together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into glaze in saucepan. Cook 3 to 4 minutes more or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Set aside.

Line two 15x10x1-inch baking pans with foil. Heat large skillet over
medium-high heat. Coat half salmon with cooking spray; season with salt and pepper. Add salmon to skillet. Cook 2 minutes without turning. Remove to one of prepared baking pans. Brush with some of unthickened glaze. Repeat with remaining salmon. Place salmon in oven; bake 12 to 14 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork, brushing with unthickened glaze twice while baking.

To serve, arrange Oven-Roasted Green Beans and Soba Noodles in serving bowls. Top with salmon. Sprinkle with sliced green onion, cilantro leaves, and sesame seeds. Serve with reserved thickened glaze. Makes 8 servings.

Oven-Roasted Green Beans and Soba Noodles
The oven-roasted green beans are a great side dish to accompany any meal.

Prep: 10 minutes
Roast: 35 minutes

  • Nonstick spray
  • 2 (12-ounce) packages fresh green beans
  • 2 red onions, cut in thin wedges
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups cooked soba noodles or rice noodles

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Spread green beans and onions on pans; do not crowd. Coat beans and onions with nonstick spray. Sprinkle with salt. Roast 20 minutes. Stir vegetables and rotate pans in oven. Roast 15 minutes more or until tender. Combine with cooked soda noodles. Serve with Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon. Makes 8 servings.

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Banana Split Bar

banana split bar
Victoria Pearson

Who can resist a banana split? This make-it-yourself dessert bar is easy to set up, making it a great entertaining time-saver. Just fill bowls with your (and your kids') favorite toppings.

  • 8 bananas
  • 8 mini scoops chocolate ice cream
  • 8 mini scoops strawberry ice cream
  • 8 mini scoops vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate fudge and caramel sauces
  • 2 cups whipping cream or Chantilly cream (whipped cream with powdered sugar)
  • Assorted toppings: mini Reese's peanut butter cups, Maraschino cherries, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate nonpareils, jelly beans, chocolate curls, toasted peanuts or Marcona almonds, gummy bears, and/or sliced strawberries

Cut each banana in half lengthwise. Arrange in 8 bowls. Place a scoop of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream between the banana slices in each bowl. Top as desired. Makes 8 servings.

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