Alice in Wonderland Party Prep – Part I (Decorations)
Well, my daughter’s Alice In Wonderland party was this past weekend and I will say it was pretty successful. Thankfully, she is only 5 and just being the center of attention for a few hours is all she needs. I desperately tried to make decorations that matched the theme, while staying on our very limited budget. Of course, nothing turned out like the ideas that I found on Pinterest, no matter how simple the projects seemed in theory, but I have learned to accept my limitations.
Therefore, here’s a glance at what I did in the many weeks before the party, side by side with what I was trying to accomplish and how it all turned out. It should give you a laugh. But, in my defense, I did stay on budget thanks to my minimal DIY skills and power shopping months in advance so it turned out to actually be one of the least expensive parties we have ever done (currently patting myself on the back for the money aspect)! Enjoy.
Idea #1: Incorporating playing cards: I decided early on to just use a basic black/white/red “queen of hearts” idea for the food table so that I wouldn’t have to buy expensive plates, cups, etc. As I have stated numerous times before, my creative ideas tend to flow hand in hand with my “how cheaply can I do this and still kind of pull it off?” brain. I hit up Walmart’s generic party supply aisle and was quite pleased. I now knew I had to use the playing card characters as inspiration to kind of pull it all together. There was no way I could build the life-size men out of wood like some other parties I have seen,
An ideal decoration (obviously found on Pinterest)
nor could I realistically sit there and make a ton of tiny ones like those shown on the “children’s craft” ideas on the Disney website. So, I decided just to buy a cheap deck of cards and string them on some left-over red and black ribbon (shout out to Becky who laughed when I told her that I would be recycling the pretty ribbon that she used at her son’s party earlier this year).
my spectacular card strings (used for the food table and the hearth on the fireplace)
I also ended up making “menus” for the food out of the leftover cards.
see my playing card labels...yeah, I'm that good.
Total cost: $.50. Yep, I’m pretty awesome, even if my outcome wasn’t nearly as spectacular as it could have been.
Idea #2: Mad Hatter hats: I really wanted to be able to buy everyone huge mad hatter hats to dress up in at the party, but the cost of these hats really adds up, so I went with some tiny green hats (leftover from St. Patrick’s Day) that came in a multi-pack and let the kids decorate them with various art supplies I had lying around the house.
Some kids loved it, others could have done without it, but they ended up being cute decorations too.
Idea #3: Character tables – Alice in Wonderland is all about being eclectic, which totally works when you are on a budget, so I wanted to try to incorporate some of the other characters, even if they didn’t quite match the red/white/black general theme. This turned out to be more difficult than I originally thought since our tiny city doesn’t have a Disney store and I didn’t want to spend a fortune ordering random stuffed animals and things we would basically only be using for 2-3 hours. So, we improvised (I’ll elaborate on some of the homemade items in a minute).
White rabbit table (a white rabbit, a clock and the key to wonderland)
queen of hearts table (a heart "tree" and painted roses)
the caterpillar table (our version of the caterpillar and homemade mushrooms)
Idea #4: Talking flowers – I love the talking/singing flowers from the Disney version of the movie so I tried to find some ways to make something even remotely close to that and originally, this is what I was going for:
so cute in the little tea cups
However, I wisely tested this with some googly eyes on random silk flowers I had around the house and nothing made them stick to the flowers; not the adhesive already on the back, not glue, not tape, etc. So, I found another plan: hanging cardboard flowers which the eyes did stay on! These served double duty as they also welcomed the guest into the party room. (Found a 6-pack on sale for $1 at Target! So lucky!)
Idea #5: Looking glass entryway – So many websites had pictures of beautiful antique mirrors as part of the setting for their parties
so pretty, but so ridiculous for a 5-year-old's party
and I liked the “looking-glass land” element, but there was no way I was going to buy a huge mirror for this party, so we went to the dollar store and bought a little one that we could just hang from the door with a sign that read, “please enter through the looking glass”.
it ain't fancy, but it captured the idea.
This worked just fine when paired with ideas #6 and #7.
Idea #6: Talking doorknob – Now, I found a fantastic way to create a huge talking doorknob entrance,
would have been so cool
but knowing how non-artistic I am, I knew I had to pull it off on a much smaller scale, so I found an easy template and made a little door hanger instead.
thank God for Disney crafts and an overabundance of crayon color options
Idea #7: Random signs – I also love the little nonsensical signs found throughout any version of Alice in Wonderland so I wanted to create a few for the outside (originally for the porch posts, but ended up using around the door instead).
I thought about trying to make something like this
but arrows made from foam I already had seemed easier
Idea #8: Painting the roses red – Since we had kind of gone with the queen of hearts theme, I knew it wouldn’t be complete without painting the roses red.
could have been cute if I had the time or energy
However, even though there are a ton of ideas out there for this, they all seemed complicated, time-consuming, messy or all of the above. So, I just let my own little ones paint some white roses from the dollar store to use as part of our queen of hearts table centerpiece (for the record, the dried red paint looked kind of creepy so I’m glad I didn’t do more!)
helping mommy with party planning
Idea #9: Mushrooms for the Caterpillar – I also couldn’t find anything that looked like a mushroom for the caterpillar to sit on! So, I found some floral foam and made two of my own.
looks just like a mushroom, right? RIGHT?
Then I strapped the caterpillar onto one and made a lollipop tree out of the other one, complete with the butterfly that the caterpillar becomes.
who are you?
don't be jealous
These served as a centerpiece for another table and the kids all took home some lollipops at the end.
Idea #10: Tea Pot/Tea Cups– A lot of Alice in Wonderland parties seem to be “tea parties” which is quite cute, but we had a lot of boys coming and didn’t want the tea party to be the main theme. Even so, we wanted to use teacups for something! So, we used them for a relay race where the kids had to crawl through the rabbit hole, grab a marshmallow from one teacup, put it in the teapot, and hop like the white rabbit to the second teacup where they could pour it in to stop the timer! It turns out that this concept was a little hard for a few of the kids to grasp, but they tried nonetheless and it made it quite adorable to watch.
racing from teacup to teacup with the teapot
Idea #11: Cheshire Cat smiles for pictures and play – The last character I wanted to incorporate somehow was the Cheshire Cat. Luckily for me, his smile is the most important part and that meant I could use just that part to create something easy for both picture purposes and for a game!
wish I knew how to create something this cute!
I was able to find simple Cheshire Cat printables, which I glued to 20 popsicle sticks and hid in the garden of the park where we held the party. I’m not one to brag, but it was a pretty great way to use the Cheshire Cat and I’m sure no one else has ever been as inventive as me. 🙂
If you look closely, you can see that a few of the kids listened when I said hold up your smiles for the camera!
All in all, my decorations were less than beautiful, but everything still seemed to work together for the greater good and I still had most of my sanity in tact, as well as a high level of respect from my husband for my ability to restrain myself when it came to ambitious projects and for my skill in not spending a ton of money!
Truth be told, I enjoy thinking of party ideas and searching Pinterest, but I have already warned both of my older kids that we are not doing themed parties next year unless Publisher’s Clearing House shows up with the check that will allow me to pay a party planner.