Let’s face it, the older our kids get, the less likely a Betty Crocker cake and a few rounds of pass the parcel will cut it in the birthday party stakes. In fact, Dubai is notorious for the kind of ‘my party’s posher than yours’ snobbery that sends perfectly sensible parents into a money-spending frenzy when little Billy’s big day is on the horizon.
But making sure your child isn’t the odd one out when it comes to brilliant birthdays doesn’t always have to be a complete pain in the credit card. Shop around and you’ll find lots of options available that will entertain a horde of lively tweens without breaking the bank or (most importantly) ruining their street cred. Our birthday girl tester, 11-year-old Chantelle Popat, tried out the pizza-and-pasta-making party package at Sana Bonta along with 15 of her friends – and tells us in her own words why she’d recommend it.
Chantelle says, ‘My 11th birthday party at Sana Bonta, was truly fantastico! We had the run of the place so, once all the guests arrived, we entertained ourselves playing crazy playground games. After that, most of us were pretty thirsty, so we started the afternoon’s activities by making our own juice. Everyone put on their gloves and aprons and squeezed their oranges. Crazy Marvin, the bartender, put on a show using the red grenadine and caramel to make different-coloured drinks. My mum said he reminded her of Tom Cruise in Cocktail, a classic movie in her time, I think. He did some amazing tricks and made everyone laugh too!
‘Next up was pizza making with Chef Carlido. Before mixing the dough, we learnt all about the history of pizza and had a quiz about the ingredients. When the dough was ready, we smothered it in flour and threw it around – which ended in us having a flour fight. By the end of it, all the kids’ hair was white. Then we assembled the toppings. First we added the rich, tomato sauce and then the stringy, mozzarella cheese to make the classic Margherita pizza. Did you know the pizza’s name came from the Queen Margherita of Italy, l85l-l926, and the colours of the food resemble the Italian flag: red for tomato, white for mozzarella and green for basil?
‘Making pasta was slightly trickier. We all did badly at the quiz – which was to name the different types of pasta – although actually making it was great fun. We popped the pasta sheets through this ‘antique’-style machine, which flattened the sheet to make it longer. Then we wound it through one of the cutting sections, either to create the spaghetti or fettuccine. The only downside to this was that it took ages – they should have had more than one machine – and there wasn’t much space. I think there should have been two tables, as 16 kids fighting to see what was happening meant we were all squashed together.
‘In the last activity – making dough balls – Chef Carlido split us into two teams and we had a competition to see which team could make the most. After some bits and blobs flying around, my team won.
‘To fill in time while the food cooked, we played “hip-style” musical chairs. It was lots of fun and we were all starving by the time our dishes arrived. All the girls thought their pizzas were pizzalicious and their pasta pastalicious, but the dough balls were a little crispy. The boys’ efforts earned more modest praise – but then I’m not sure that they can cook, or if they even have taste!
‘After we’d gobbled the food, we threatened to have a food fight. Mum panicked and speedily brought out my “Chef” birthday cake. I blew out the candles out and made a wish. Fun, eh! Ciao!’
Sana Bonta, DIFC (04 425 0326; www.sanabonta.com). Open Sun-Fri 11.30am-9pm; Sat 12.30pm-6pm. Party package per child Dhs70, with decorations, food, beverages and cake.