You have that endless list of things to do…grocery shop, pick up that birthday present, drop off library books, bake cookies for the fundraiser, run the kids to baseball practice, put that last load of laundry in, get that report done for work, and on and on.

And sometimes it seems that all you do is run from one errand to the next.

But then, while you’re running around one rainy afternoon, you see that friend who gives you a jolt and changes your perspective. That friend who has kids about five years older than yours. As you’re chatting, she reminds you how fast it goes and to enjoy every little milestone – to take time to celebrate the small moments. And as you leave the store you have decided one thing. Since your son just graduated from pre-school – and so did your sisters son – you’re gonna have a party.

Well this is exactly what happened to me. My sister Bo’s son, Winston, and my son, Casey just completed a milestone in their lives – soon they both will be kindergarteners. We shouldn’t be too busy to celebrate, right? As my sister and I chatted about the party, we commented on how many kids in our kids’ classes have allergies. And because each of our sons has a good friend who is gluten intolerant, we decided to throw a gluten-free summer kick-off bash for the just graduated pre-schoolers. We also included another sister into the mix, Allie, because her son, Luke, is just about to start pre-school…and she has great party ideas to boot!

Because my sisters and I do a week-end music, arts, and lifestyle radio show in the Midwest (The Mulberry Lane Show), our schedules are unpredictable during the weekdays. Plus, with baseball, softball, soccer, and dance classes for the kiddos added in, like all moms juggling many things, we knew the party had to be simple, fun, and engaging.

We decided not to sweat the details and put it together in a matter of days. The summer bash theme worked perfectly and lent itself to easy décor. When each child came to the door, they were greeted with a pair of flip flops and sunglasses to get in the summer mood. Two brightly colored striped towels were repurposed as a tablecloth. This is a great idea I’ve used before for the little ones, as it serves two purposes: yes, the tablecloth, and also as a giant-sized napkin…easy to throw in the wash and take to the beach the next day! Mini-watering cans with pastel straws were sweet and summery, serving as cups for gluten-free Minute Maid pink lemonade.

In the center of the table, we filled a large square wooden tray (any tray will work…mine was all-natural bamboo) with sand, paper drink umbrellas, and gluten-free candy (Tootsie Rolls and Starburst) hidden in the sand that the kids loved digging out.

Of course, every party needs cake-pops and we managed to make a great gluten-free version with Cherrybrook Kitchen Yellow Cake Mix and Cherrybrook Kitchen Vanilla Frosting. We added pink sugar sprinkles and placed them in a mason jar wrapped in polka-dot wrapping paper. And, since the days are hot, and a summer party isn’t complete without ice cream, we put our sister brains together and came up with a gluten-free treat that we all agreed should always be incorporated into our non-gluten-free parties! It couldn’t be simpler for a mom on-the-go. We used Julie’s Organic Gluten Free Ice Cream Sandwiches and piled several on top of each other, placing mashed bananas between the sandwiches. We then put them back into the freezer until the bananas were frozen, then sliced the tower into thin wedges that that were the perfect portions for our little guests. The kids loved it! (and so did the moms!)

Before heading out, everyone was sent home with a piece of the party. Instead of the typical goodie bag, each kid picked out a plastic pail that was filled with sand from the party and a handful of gluten free candies – so they could continue the party-fun at home. All in all, an easy, gluten-free celebration to mark a special milestone!


About Mulberry Lane

Singing sensation, Mulberry Lane, is described by Billboard Magazine as a “brand of harmonies so spellbinding, it’s obviously a family affair,” and noted by the New York Post that they “sound as if they were born to sing…”.

Together, Mulberry Lane has written songs that climbed the pop charts, and together, they have toured the world. Through broken hearts and guitar strings, through standing ovations and sitting in airports, through changing notes to changing diapers…they have always been sisters first and managed to find the harmony to the winding melody of life.

Most recently, the sisters headlined with the legendary Beach Boys and continue to perform for their loyal fans. Mulberry Lane also brings their music and story to the radio, every weekend for two hours on the Midwest’s KOIL with The Mulberry Lane Show. Past guests have included  Jewel, Lisa Loeb, Lisa Rinna, Karmin, and Florida Georgia Line. For show times and to listen on the KOIL app or streaming radio, go to


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