By Shawn Bowman
The folks in my family are big fans of the ridiculous, with bad jokes and slapstick gags at the top of our fun list. Our favorite kind of summer party involves delicious food, lots of friends and the definitive gesture in slapstick humor; a good old fashioned pie fight. (We don’t use real pies, but it’s still a tremendous amount of fun.) Here are some tips on how to host your own pie fight, complete with combat rules and some easy pie plate fascinators to make for your pie-gladiators.
Pie Fight Rules
Our pastry smackdown has a few simple rules, since some of the grown-ups in attendance aren’t keen on getting pie-eyed. First, we don’t use real pies. As a former pastry chef, it would break my heart to see good crust and filling all over the yard and not in my belly. Instead, our fighters fill up tins with whipped cream and decorate them with sprinkles on the sidelines. This part of the process is a huge kick for kids, especially those who don’t normally get to play with their food.
To pull off a party where willing participants and spectators can have equal fun, we divide our back yard into zones, with a potluck buffet on one side and the pie fight arena far, far away on the other. The contestants file in, and then we count down from 10 to begin the mêlée. Pies and throwers have to stay in the designated area. After a competitor throws a pie, he or she can go back to the decorating station and make another, but they have to toss it from back inside the ring.
Pie fighting at parties is a lot like a Laurel and Hardy movie: there really is no specific object to the game, just joy in embracing the sticky chaos. We usually fight until all the whipped cream runs out. This year I asked guests to each bring one can of whipped cream, which meant that everyone was able to fight for about four rounds.
Rule breakers get sent to the penalty box, where anyone can step up for a free pie-throw or two. Our penalty zone this year was a cardboard “Tiki of Shame,” which doubled as a fetching photo booth.
It’s a must to have a source of running water for a pie fight party, since guests will get insanely messy. A sprinkler zone is handy for quick clean-up. This year, I borrowed an outdoor shower from a neighbor, which the kids loved almost as much as the pie throwing. On our invitation, I suggested that folks wear a swimsuit and bring a towel and something to change into. I also had a basket of old clothes and towels handy just in case friends needed a quick change.
I like to have at least one craft activity at my parties. It’s a great way for folks to have something fun to take home and it’s also a nice refuge for shy guests who are just warming up to new friends. This year we made Pie Tin Fascinators: darling hats which combine the sophistication of a royal wedding with our quirky whimsy. Most of the supplies for these hats I pulled from my baking and craft stashes, with a trip to a local cooking store for the small tart tins and extra-cute candy baking cups.
Small 2 1/2″ disposable tart tins
Bamboo skewer or large needle
Polyfill or cotton stuffing
Paper baking/candy cups
Step 1: Measure elastic or ribbon long enough to hold your fascinator on top of your head. Kids will probably want cords to fit snugly under their chins, while grown-up ladies tend to wear their elastic on the backs of their heads.
Step 2: With a large needle or bamboo skewer, poke two small holes in the bottom of the tart tin for the elastic or ribbon. Poke the ends of the elastic through these holes and then tie nice, big knots so the elastic can’t pull back through.
Step 3: Hot glue some stuffing to the bottom of the tin. While you’re at it, get plenty of glue around those elastic knots, so they’re extra secure.
Step 4: Glue all the embellishments you like to the top of this “pie.”
These fascinators can also be worn inverted, with folded doilies for a flapper feel. Pretty much anything goes with this project – the more bling, the better. If you find yourself feeling extra defensive, you can always strap a few extra pie plates as mock armor.
About the author
Shawn Bowman lives in Portland, OR where she writes and creates devious espionage and noir projects under the alias of Miss Demeanor. Her first book, Criminal Crafts, will be in stores next spring.