Jenelle O'Brien, of Dallas, posed a challenge for herself when planning her daughter's birthday party this year. She wanted to find something unique and active to occupy about 20 6-year-olds for a few hours, and she had to think a bit out of the box.
Instead of the same old routine, O'Brien organized a make-your-own-pizza party at Original Italian Pizza in the Dallas Shopping Center for her daughter, Kyla, and 19 of her closest friends on Sunday, Feb. 10.
I used to be a teacher so I like it when the kids can do something interactive, said O'Brien. It's better than kids just going to a party and eating.
The kids decorated their own aprons and chef hats upon arrival and took turns making real (including rolling the dough) and fake (using paper mache crusts) pizzas during the two-hour fete.
It was the first event of its kind to be held at the pizza parlor owned by Joe and Joann Tomasino.
We've had pizza parties, but not this kind of hands-on learning experience, said Joe Tomasino, who opened the location about six years ago.
Under Joe's instruction, the miniature chefs-for-a-day floured and rolled out their own dough and assembled colorful culinary creations with several different toppings at their disposal.
I like pepperoni, said the birthday girl. That's all I eat.
O'Brien chose Original Italian Pizza because it's one of Kyla's favorite places to enjoy a slice.
It's an amazing honor, said Joann Tomasino. We value our customers' opinions. It's pretty tough to get kids to eat, and when they say something is their favorite, that's huge.
Parents in attendance said it's difficult to plan and create party offerings for youngsters that will engage them and provide an enjoyable atmosphere.
Kim Baltruchitis, of Courtdale, said her 5-year-old daughter Brianna loves to cook, so the party was a great way to spend the afternoon with her friends.
She loves to make anything with flour and water, said Baltruchitis.
Brianna's birthday is next and her mother is still trying to figure out what kind of party to throw for her.
This is something out of the ordinary, Baltruchitis said of the pizza party. We usually go bowling. It's tough to find something to keep the kids interested and to have stuff for the parents to do.
Joe Tomasino enjoyed the idea that the children are exposed to new experiences, even potentially inspiring some future foodies or chefs.
I think this is the start of something – we may develop of a package deal (for parties like this in the future), he said.