Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Homey's Adventures in Wonderland

You can see the planning process and back story here and here

As previously mentioned in the other posts, it's a priority of mine to make magic out of a birthday.  That's doesn't have to be expensive!  You can use things you already have or buy ahead.  Can this sweet little dress from Target be an Easter dress?  Can she also use it during her Alice party if we add a little white apron?  Can she be Alice again for Halloween and "storybook character" day at school.  Yes.  It's done.

 Buy real clothes that lend a nod to the theme you have in mind.  It will serve you well!  Then delve into the story.

Wonderland is an intriguing, exciting, and magical place to be.  So let's pick apart a few elements and make them work to create a bit of magic for the children. 

In this particular case, there are clocks, mirrors, decks of cards, hats, roses, and many beautiful quotes.  When you get past the gimmicky silliness of most "theme" parties, you can make a more in depth personal magic for the children.  Just got to get started a little bit earlier.

Here are the details for Alice:

There has to be a tea party (also known as: the children have to eat).  For the menu, we did a simple little spread: 
Sandwiches cut to look like cards in a deck (shapes cut out of fruit roll-ups)
Heart pastries (palmiers from Trader Joe's)
Lemonade for "tea"
Assorted fruit to round out the lovely snack

For decor on the kids tea table, I pulled from what I had with a few small additions.  A vintage table cloth, in Alice blue, worked perfectly.  I added some cake plates in varying heights to hold the food.  We made color copies of a vintage Alice in Wonderland book (text pages and illustrated pages), cut with shears and tied together with ribbon to make a table runner.  A Mice on Main figure as the dormouse sleeping in a teacup round out the decorations. 

Like a lot of children's parties, there was a significant adult presence, so we had a separate food table for us grown ups.

Setting up the other food table up inside, is another chance to bring the "world" we've created to life.  Along with showcasing the birthday cake (away from bugs, heat, and little adorable grimy icing-hungry fingers), the indoor table is perfect for more quotes, decorations, and nods to Wonderland.  It spreads the magic and gives the adults a chance to take advantage of the air conditioning and grown-up conversation.  At a 6 year old's birthday party, those are both huge.  Speaking of grown-ups...
I had a brilliant idea right before this party.  Literally the day before the party.  I went to the local beer and wine store to find a lovely beverage to tie into the theme.  Even asked the guy working there if they might have a label that featured a caterpillar with a hookah.  Maybe I went a little to far on that one.  But look what he did find...are you kidding me??  Who knew there was Mad Hatter IPA?!  We'll take it.

In true "we're all mad here!" style, I tend to get a little, um...specific for my cake orders at the bakery. For our party in Wonderland, I really wanted a cake similar to the Disney version. 

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It's a time honored family tradition to get a cake from Strossners, a local bakery that tickles your senses the second you walk in the door.  The smell of sugar and the artfully done cakes and pastries provide a magical place to spend time taking home special treats or ordering the annual birthday cake.  I think they may dread seeing me walk in the door during birthday season, as there's a tendency to turn the order sheet over and draw what I want the cake to look like.  I really need to let go sometimes.  They did a great job putting my scattered ideas together for this!

I find that it's easy to get caught up in the pretties of the party, creating the landscape, perfecting the menu (simple as it was).  For a child's birthday party, I suppose the children will want, well, activities.  Games and shenanigans to burn off the excitement and sugar.  Keeping in mind that this and that most of our parties are equally split between little girls and little boys, I couldn' expect a tea party to tide them over for long.  So let's play!

One of the main parts of the Alice story is croquet.  Not everyone has croquet handy.  Honestly, I wouldn't have if we hadn't acquired a vintage set from a family member.  Since I like to take it to the next level, I figured I could mimic the card figure wickets by adhering inexpensive cards to our wire wickets.  Cute, no?

There was also the chance to play dress up, Mad Hatter style.  I collected various hat and headbands...flower headbands for the talking flowers, Tweedle Dee/Dum whirly-gig hats for the fellas, and various other fun hats in a hatbox I usually store scarves and purses in.  With a little mirror and the fun quote from the Caterpillar "Who Aaaare You?", it created a fun pretend play area for the littles.  Plus, these little adornments were part of the take home favor.  Kill two birds with one stone?  Yes, please!

Lastly, and most proudly, is our pinata.  I think the pinata idea is a great idea for most parties.  Plus, I've decided that these days they can be adapted to most themes.  There was an epiphany moment while deep in the Wonderland of brainstorming that I decided that we should Slay the Jabberwocky.  Fantastic!  It lends a slightly darker, less girly angle to the party.  And for the kids, it's really just a great reason to beat the dickens out of this papier mache dragon.  Great fun!

 Finally, it's time for favors. 

 They've picked their hats to take home, but a few more trinkets never hurt anyone.  Since it was everyone else's "un-birthday", I chose that quote for the favor bag label.  The bags included silly straws, pocket mirrors for girls, decks of cards for boys, and Pepperidge Farm chess cookies.

We may all be mad here, but this was a fun and magical party.  Full of Wonder like it was intended to be. 

*Special thanks to Grammy for lending her backyard and house since we had some unfortunate house repairs come up right before Go Time*

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