Monday, January 10, 2011

A "Fairy" Happy Birthday!

Ah the magic of pixie dust! What is it about fairies that make little girls swoon? Perhaps the shimmering frocks, the fanciful wings, or the endless possibilities for imaginative play? Whatever the case - it seems that fairies get a lot of credit for being the theme of many a young lady's birthday party and this instance was no different. Here are just a few images and details of one I had the pleasure of planning. Enjoy! :)

By the way - if you have not caught on by now, most of my parties are budget parties. I am a firm believer that one does not have to be rolling in money to throw a beautiful, fun party (although it sure helps if you are crunched for time). In fact, finding ways to be creative with what can be found in a person's house is sometimes a really fun challenge. What IS usually required for a budget party though is often time and one's own hard work. So sometimes I or someone else might make some of these items by hand - and if WE can do it - so can YOU! :)

The invitations were printed on pearlescent paper with indented patterns of butterflies. They were then rolled up and slipped into handmade sleeves of real bark sprinkled with super fine green glitter. A shimmering moss colored ribbon and pale butterflies adorned each sleeve as well.

Main Agenda/Activities:
A treasure hunt for the girls' costume pieces! I wrote a story (and bound it up into a book complete with a cover made of real bark) based on the girls who were coming to the party (naming the fairies in the story after them, of course). Each section or chapter in the book was about the fairies searching for appropriate party attire or items needed so they could have a birthday picnic. Following the reading of each section, the girls would then have to "travel" to that decorated part of the home/yard and complete the required task in order to receive a piece of their costume to wear. Here's an example: Fairies A,B,C,D,E need wings and remember that the most beautiful ones are grown on the Butterfly Tree. But the Butterfly Tree requires a gift in exchange so the girls each take it a special drink of water from Bubbling Pond (where they had just earned their frocks by way of another task). Then they are allowed to pluck their wings from the tree (the wings were laid or hanging on branches). Decor for this section of the yard consisted of large paper butterflies placed on the selected tree. The story culminated when all the costume pieces had been earned and the decorative picnic basket found with many delicious treats inside including the chocolate nests with berries you see pictured above.

We rounded out the day by also including a fairy hunt for tiny fairies hidden around the yard and a station for creating homes for the fairies that had just been found. Items provided for making fairy furniture - rocks, bark, flowers, etc.


**Each fairy costume was custom designed for each little attendee based on her favorite color, AND we attempted to make them all coordinate roughly with each other too. The end result - a beautiful mixture of soft colors and flowers complete with shimmery, translucent wings (try a good opalescent cellophane wrap to achieve the look of our wings) which were also custom made to match each frock/fairy skirt. These doubled as some party favors that the girls could take home. The "frocks" were no sew skirts made of tulle and flowers. Check out this person's site for an idea - she made hers into full dresses for her little girls!

**Book - the story was bound into a book and tied with ribbon. The cover of the book was made from cardboard and covered with real bark to give it more of a woodsy, enchanted look.

**Outside entry - guests were greeted with a shimmery sign letting them know they were entering an enchanted forest. "Fairy dust" (super fine glitter) led the way into the home of the birthday fairy. A word to the wise - sprinkle this on the sides of the path leading in or else you might be finding "fairy dust" all over the floor in your home for weeks afterwards.

**Treasure hunt areas - these were marked by different decor depending on the section of the story. For example: Toadstool Glen was an area set up with various sizes of paper toadstools (make these from good cardstock and then attach to dowels or other sticks - not ones that would be dangerous should a fairy happen to fall and land on one. Poke in the ground everywhere and voila - instant Toadstool Glen!). The meadow where the fairies collected flowers to make their individual crowns was actually a section in the yard where I sprinkled a plethora of fake flowers everywhere (make sure there are holes in the middle of the flowers so they are easily strung on a garland) for the joyous gathering. Letting the children make their own crowns doubled as an activity and creative outlet for each little girl. If you have time, you might also make paper flowers/garlands to hang from branches or hang large pieces of tulle to make canopied areas and/or glue silk or realistic flowers on trees surrounding the "meadow" to give it an even more magical effect. So there are at least a couple of ideas to get you started if you decide to follow the treasure hunt/story route....

**Birthday Picnic Basket - originally I wanted to find some smaller picnic baskets and decorate one for each young lady present so each girl would get her own basket (another party favor to take home as well). However, as the party planning progressed, it became apparent that this idea would not materialize in time - thus, an ordinary picnic basket was transformed for the occasion by adding shimmery ribbon and flowers matching some of the fairy outfits.
** Picnic Area - if you are on a REALLY tight budget, consider a plain green or brown tablecloth or plastic tablecloth (like the kind you find at Walmart for $1-2) for the fairies to sit on and just sprinkle with flowers (I would stay away from glitter - unless it is the edible kind - around your picnic area to avoid the guests accidentally eating the stuff). If you have more of a budget, consider getting large pieces of felt and cutting into squares (or circles and paint on white dots if you want them to look like the tops of large toadstools) and then adding felt or fabric letters spelling out each guest's name to create a giant placesetting for each fairy to picnic upon (these can also be taken home as party favors later on and used as activity/play mats for the guests at home).

**Chocolate bird nests - google these and you should find some good recipes out there - very simple to make but a bit messy! I believe we used shredded wheat for ours. Other food items you could add - Fairy creme (yogurt cups or parfaits), pixie sticks or wands (giant pretzels dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles), or just sticks (regular pretzels), Fairy nectar (any juice will do and can be jazzed up depending on the container by adding ribbon or felt sleeves, etc.), miniature sandwiches, granola, cotton candy (I see this labeled as "fairy floss" on at least a couple of sites), fruit kabobs or fruit flowers, etc. You get the picture - the possibilities go on and on...
**Fairies for the Fairy Hunt: Ours were made of tissue paper and paper and glued to clothespins so lots of them could be clipped to branches, etc. all over the yard. If you have a really great budget - consider checking for miniature fairies in stores and buy a bunch. Also a possibility, miniature butterfly nets decorated with ribbon and flowers for "catching" the little pixies. These can be made using dowel rods, netting, and hot glue! Add "doors" to the bases of trees in your yard as we did and place some fairies behind each one. Doors can be made of anything from scraps of wood you might find or have lying around to pieces of cardboard, painted or decorated with real bark.
Oh so many possibilities with a "Fairy" theme! It is my hope that a few of these ideas will help get you started on your way to creating your very own magical day! :)
BTW - the cake pictured above was homemade! Cute, eh?
A huge THANK YOU to the incredibly creative Kate Landers for posting a woodland party on her blog that inspired the beginnings of this one! :)