Throwing parties is something I’ve always loved. The planning. The prep. Seeing a vision come to reality. And there’s just something about birthdays, the celebration of life itself, that moves me, and so… we like to go big. By big, I mean we like to give the biggest celebrations possible, but we still like to keep it within a reasonable budget, which means there are many DIY activities behind our parties. We’ve recently received many requests as to the “how to’s” for our girl’s Wonderland inspired birthday party. So… here you go!
Decor: We wanted to gather inspiration from the original Alice in Wonderland tea party and keep it whimsical and colorful. My mom made all the tissue poms using this tutorial from Martha Stuart, and we hung those on fishing string tied to the house and nearby trees along with the lanterns we had left from Aliyah’s third birthday (where they were wrapped in cellophane and hung in trees to look like giant candy for her Candyland theme party).
To keep in the tea party theme, my mom and I thrifted for a couple of weeks to find enough vintage-style floral tea cups for each girl to have her own and take it home with her as a keepsake. For the boys, we found these large vials at Michaels for just $1 each, perfect for the Drink Me vial Alice came across in the movie and yet not quite as girly as the tea cups. I designed and made the Drink Me tags available for download here. Just print on cardstock, cut with a 2″ scalloped punch and tie on your cups and vials with a ribbon.
The Treats: PB&J and turkey sandwiches cut into butterfly and flower shapes with oversized cookie cutters, wrapped and tied with an Eat Me tag added that touch of whimsy to an easy childhood snack. Sandwiches and individual bags of pretzels were packaged in pink lunch bags and had each child’s name at their seats. Trays of Eat Me sugar cookies adorned the long lunch table. Water bottle labels are from Onlinelabels.com, and we printed them ourselves. Topsy turvy cake was made locally by Nicole from Custom Cake Designs, she did a great job, it was as moist and delicious as it looks!
For the main centerpiece, I found a set of ugly blue tea cups from The Salvation Army for about $3 for the lot of them. I scooped them up and spray painted them white and pink and then glued them together in a stack, alternating the color. The top was adorned with a half circle foam piece and about $1.50 worth of flowers on sale at Michaels… the same place I picked up the large green moss balls that I wrapped in pink and white polka dot ribbon.
I enlisted the help of my dear friend, Christina, who is a master with the paint brush, to offer face painting for the kids. The catch? She had to be Alice. So for the cost of some material, her grandma whipped up the costume you see. And another friend brought all the bunnies, her daughter shows them, and they had the hook up.
My mom and I made the bunting line. It was easy but tedious. I cut two styles of material into long triangles, and my mom hot-glued the long end over twine. The best part? We can re-use it!
Party Favors: Under our actual birthday gift to our daughter, a canvas that now hangs over her bed, were cute little tin pails filled with goodies for the kids to take home with them, along with the tea cup or vial they used. The pails we found on sale at Target, and the goodies, ahem, we still had from previous birthday parties… silly straws, whimsical tattoos, bouncy balls, and mini slinkies originally ordered from Oriental Trading. Shhhhh…. don’t tell anyone.
The Invitations: I had a ‘tea party’ photo shoot with my daughter and designed the invitations that were sent out with a skeleton key, found in bulk on ebay, and a note that said to bring the key to unlock a hidden treasure. To be honest, when we mailed out the keys, we didn’t know how we were going to use them, we just knew that it tied in perfectly with the Alice in Wonderland theme. At our party, the kids took turns gathering treasure from a large treasure trunk, but I think it would be fun to take the theme even further and build a set of doors where the key can unlock one, like the mini-doors Alice walks through in the movie.
There were so many fun touches to this party! The bounce house (from Aliyah’s first birthday party), the cotton candy machine we rented from a friend, and the dress-up studio, complete with a large mirror (from our living room), tons of tutus, hats and just about any accessory a little girl could use to dress up. We used all of Aliyah’s dress-up stuff, found the hats at resale shops and my mom hot glued ribbons and flowers on them, and we made some of the tutus with elastic and tulle (here’s a great tutorial).
One of my favorite transformations was to the old, yellow school chairs. With some twine tied around each chair and a mish-mash of ribbon and lace knotted on, topped off with some flowers, it made these chairs a whimsical statement piece as opposed to an eye sore.
This party was a dream to work on, and I can’t wait for the next one I get to plan for my girl.
For more photos and details of the big day, check it out here.