Alice In Wonderland Party Prep – Part 2 (Food)

Continuing on with my party planning woes, we now come to the food choices.  Our party was around lunch time so I knew we had to serve more than just snacks, but my daughter wanted “Alice-specific” food, not my usual go-to choice of pizza (which is what we did at the pirate party and it worked out wonderfully).  So, I headed back to trusty ol’ Pinterest for ideas.

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of themed foods (other than cake/sweet stuff) for most of the Alice in Wonderland parties out there.  People generally suggested finger sandwiches because of a tea party theme and things that said “eat me” and “drink me” on them and those ideas would work just fine for the main part of the meal, but I needed more, which meant that I was actually going to have to come up with some ideas on my own!  Blerg!

I sat down with my older two kids and we tried to come up with healthy-ish food that could be named after individual characters (It was also important that it be food that mommy could make herself without struggle and without having to throw it away when it didn’t turn out – this is always a challenge, even for a simple dinner).  It took some time before the menu was finalized, but our totally cheesy, themed menu was finally complete!  Here’s what our lucky guests got:

  • Drink me: In my fantasy world, all of our guests would have received antique glass bottles with a magical elixir and a tag that said, “drink me” on it!

so cute....but as it turns out, quite expensive

However, once I went to the craft store and searched online for something like this, I quickly realized that it would just cost too much (and would probably be dropped by one of the children, thus resulting in a trip to the emergency room) so I tried to find something comparable, but more practical.

not nearly as pretty, but these are made of plastic and could be purchased in 6 packs at the grocery store...they still say "drink me" 🙂

I also thought it would be cute to personalize some “wonderland water” bottles for the adults in case they weren’t interested in the “mad hatter punch” or “looking-glass lemonade” (told you it got quite cheesy with the labeling of the food), but I’m not great making my own labels, nor did I want to pay someone else to do it, only to have them get wet in the ice and peel away like I have seen at so many other parties.  So, I used checkerboard duct tape!

Note to self: this could also be used for a Cars party that may occur in the future

I must give credit to Pinterest because I never would have thought of this myself since I am certainly not a connoisseur of fine utility adhesives, but they make so many patterns now that I just went with it!  It worked much better because it was easy, cheap and water-repellent!

  • Sandwiches: I knew we would be doing some kind of sandwiches because if I couldn’t get pizza, that’s about the only other thing that could be done easily.  So, we decided on basic PB&J for the kids and chicken salad from Costco for the adults.  But how could we make this part of the theme?  For starters, we named the sandwiches “Tweedledum’s PBJ” and “Tweedledee’s Chicken Salad” – I really am so clever (or so desperate).  Then I saw a cute idea for creating a sandwich checkerboard with playing card suits toothpicks.

so cute and clever

I was pumped to make this, purchased dark and light bread, etc.  For some reason, it didn’t occur to me until 2 hours before the party that I didn’t have a square platter.  I had some large square plates, but they wouldn’t fit enough sandwiches for everyone, so we just worked with what we had and it turned out something like this.

a round checkerboard - things get a little crazy in Wonderland

  • Fruit: I wanted to make sure that I had something somewhat healthy to serve along with all of the usual sweet party goodies so I bought some grapes and some apples (we won’t debate how fruit also has sugar so not really as healthy as it seems since it’s the thought that counts).  How could we tweak plain apple slices and grapes to fit our theme?  Here’s how.

grapes on flamingo toothpicks = mini croquet sets

Apple slices, peanut butter, and marshmallow teeth = cheshire cat smiles

Neither of these were quite authentic, but the idea behind them was solid.   Yeah, that’s what I am going with.

  • One more nibbling food: I wanted to grab one more little thing to make sure there was an array of food, so I went with some buy one, get one free baked lays (I am also sticking to my theory that baked chips = super healthy snack) and labeled them “red queen bbq” and “white queen plain”.  Perfect.

    dueling chips

  • Cupcakes:  Believe it or not, Alice in Wonderland is not a popular enough theme to warrant grocery store chains having special cakes with those decorations.  So, you either have to order a specialty cake from a small bakery (which generally costs a fortune) or make something yourself.  I am an awful decorator and can only bake with a boxed mix.

    the absolute best thing ever invented

I freely admit this limitation because I think it will lower your expectations and then you could be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  There was no way I could pull off the topsy-turvy cake covered in fondant that so many others seem to have mastered with very little effort.

wouldn't it be nice to be this talented?!

And, I wasn’t about to spend the time and money trying, only to end up baking cupcakes at the last-minute because I failed miserably.  So, I made the logical decision to just go ahead and bake the cupcakes because that’s where I would end up anyway.

It would have been very easy to print out cupcake toppers with different colorful characters (all of which can be found online with very little search effort – shout out to others on the web with talent that share their printables FOR FREE; I appreciate you more than you know) but of course that would have been too easy.  We had to try for something a little more difficult.  Originally, we were going to attempt this cute little guy from the family go website.

looks simple enough

But, once I started piling up all the different ingredients it would have taken to decorate 3-4 dozen cupcakes, it would have been easier to just get a cake from a baker.  Ugh. Then my daughter came up with the idea of having white rabbit cupcakes since it was almost Easter and we were seeing a lot of rabbit stuff around town.  Sounded good to me.  I found some gummy rabbit teeth candy and bought some plain white icing, cotton candy for the noses and chocolate covered raisins for eyes (again, pretending that these raisins are healthy to make myself feel better).

It was a master plan….that I could not seem to execute on my own.  The ears wouldn’t stay put, the teeth looked funky, etc.  Fortunately for me, my mom was able to come early so she could help me salvage what I could and I think they turned out okay, considering how I had almost destroyed them earlier that morning.

exact replicas of the white rabbit

I did get tired of decorating after a while and I figured most of the adults would want a more basic cupcake (or at least I hoped they would) so we just put some heart toppers that I had leftover from Valentine’s Day on the rest.  Good call on my part.

heart cupcakes that I wisely displayed in cute cupcake stands to distract from the fact that I had gotten lazy

  • Eat Me: And, of course we had to somehow incorporate the “eat me” idea, so we filled some heart-shaped boxes (also left over from Valentine’s Day – way to go me) with some candy and wrote ‘eat me’ on the lids.  Mission Accomplished.

I have lovely penmanship

All in all, we had a perfect amount of food, most of it tasted much better than it looked, including the cupcakes, and it was a lovely buffet.  Considering my food abilities and artistic talent, I’d say it actually went better than expected!

But, next year, we’re getting pizza.

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!)