Fairy Tale Princess -5yr- Fairy Tale Book Invite
Holly in Albany, CA, USA
For her 5th birthday party, my daughter could not decide between a princess theme and a fairy theme. So I suggested a fairy tale theme, which could include both! She agreed and we began reading lots of different fairy tales with an eye to incorporating common elements into party activities and decorations. From one of the fairy party ideas on this site I got the idea of having the party guests enact a story, so I started writing our own fairy tale that I could work the party activities into.
INVITATION: We created little fairy tale books, using shiny copper cardstock (from a stationery outlet store) as the covers and plain ivory printer paper for the pages. Each book was a quarter sheet size, and said Fairy Tales in a traditional calligraphy font with a frame of curlicues on the front cover. (Printed from my computer, cut out and glued on to the cardstock) On the inside of the covers we glued endpapers printed with a color scan of a card I'd found with folk-art style pictures of fairy tale characters (Snow White and dwarves, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.) The pages of the book had the actual invitation which read, Once upon a time in an enchanted kingdom, there lived a charming princess named L-, who wished to celebrate her 5th birthday. So she sent invitations to all of her friends to join her in the castle garden. [date, time], M-(our last name) Castle, [address] Come dressed as your favorite fairy tale character and help us finish the story! [RSVP info]
On the second page there was a list of character costume ideas, from king and queen to frog and bird, with a note to please NOT include weapons in the costume, plus a color clip art illustration of a castle. I printed the text using a combination of calligraphy font and a Goudy font which looks appropriate for a storybook. We used a long reach stapler to staple the pages into the covers. These were mailed in copper-colored envelopes with a M- Castle return address label and king and queen of hearts stamps.
DECORATIONS: In order to transform our house into a castle garden, I bought a party mural Scene Setter that looks like a fairy tale garden (it's meant to go with the Disney Princess party decorations but we did not get the castle or princess figures) a roll of backdrop decorating paper that looks like white bricks with ivy growing over it. We covered the living room walls with the garden scene and a dining room wall with the brick paper so that it looked like a garden wall. We had a paperboard stand-up princess carriage (from a party supply store) in one corner, and a card table with a castle play-tent cover (sewn by my mom) for the gifts. We used a storybook princess tablecover on the dining room table and some scans of fairy tale book covers as additional decorations.
We turned our round kitchen table into a fairy mushroom, using a pink plastic tablecover with silver spots cut from wrapping paper on the top, a white plastic tablecover around the table base for a stem, and a cardboard door at the base of the stem. Some fairy figurines from the dollar store completed that. We also had a few balloons, various princess design mylar ones plus a mix of solid colors that coordinated with the other decorations and party goods, and a fairy-tale-princess design Happy Birthday banner. All that was the easy part! The more complicated project was to turn the backyard into a neighboring enchanted kingdom. We built a refrigerator-box castle using the plans and box rivets from mrmcgroovys.com and an enchanted forest using the Mr McGroovy's maze plans. (These box rivets are a fantastic product! Highly recommended for building great party props.)
The castle was painted pink, with a stone pattern drawn on with black paint pen. The maze was painted to look like a forest, in various shades of green and brown, and then I painted assorted fairy tale characters that you might find in the woods (Puss in Boots, Goldilocks, Briar Rose, the princess and the frog, a fairy, etc.) in various places, to be discovered as you made your way through the maze. One wall of the forest maze, facing the castle, was covered with the white brick paper so that looked like a garden wall. Building, painting and decorating the castle and maze took several weeks but it was a fun project for all of us and the kids loved playing in them! Around the castle we hung fake ivy garlands (garage sale find), fake roses (dollar store) and green plastic tablecovers (dollar store) as a magic hedge of thorns; these were attached to slip-knotted twine so that they could be released quickly to fall on the ground. (Explanation below.) Finally, in another corner of the yard we hung a castle pinata, and that was the evil sorcerer's lands. The red-and-black castle pinata I found had big stickers on it that said King's Castle so we covered those up with a cauldron graphic and the words Wizard's Castle; my husband created that on the computer and printed it to the right size. (We wanted to also turn our front door into a castle gate, but just ran out of time.)
ACTIVITIES & COSTUMES: The party began with the Princess L- (wearing a gold ballgown and birthday tiara) inviting her friends to decorate crowns (foam craft kits from Oriental Trading, with foam princess-themed and plastic jewel stickers), color fairy tale pictures (coloring pages printed from various websites), and play with various prince-and-princess or fairy-tale-land themed toys (Barbie, Playmobil and Schleich figures, a unicorn hobby horse, dress-up clothes, etc.) We also had all of our fairy tale picture books set out, and we had a frog prince poster with lip print cutouts for a kiss the frog (like a pin-the-tail) game, from a party supply place. My son wore a prince costume (Gunne Sax blouse from thrift store, purple felt tunic I made, his own black track pants with side stripes, black boots and belt from a pirate costume set) but most of the boys ended up coming dressed as pirates and they were very cute! We also had another prince and a witch as well as other little girls dressed as princesses. I was dressed as the fairy godmother, in a Renaissance Faire outfit plus wings and wand from my daughter's dress-up box. Waiting for some late arrivals, I decided to read a fairy tale to the kids and my daughter chose Cinderella from one of the books we had out.
After everyone had arrived, suddenly a fairy flew into the room and begged for the party guests help! The fairy was a puppet, manned by my husband and voiced by me, via a Bluetooth speaker in the puppet (I called my husband's cell from our home phone). The fairy told the children that an evil sorcerer had enchanted the royal family in a nearby kingdom, and asked them to come to the rescue. She brought them outside, to the sorcerer's castle (the pinata) where the fairy godmother awaited them. I explained that the sorcerer had used magic potions to put the prince and princess into an enchanted sleep and raise a hedge of thorns around their castle. The kids needed to sneak into the sorcerer's castle to get the antidote - plus they could steal his treasure. We handed out belt pouches (inexpensive fabric treat bags from OTC) to carry the loot and they took turns choosing a route - a ribbon on the pull-string style pinata - and trying to get the potion - by pulling on the ribbon. The pinata was filled with Pixy Stix, plastic-jewel rings (OTC), assorted chocolate coins (World Market), and small bottles of bubble solution - colorful ones with a star on top from OTC. The bubbles were the magic potion. Once the right ribbon had been pulled and everyone had some potion and treasure, it was time to make their way through the enchanted forest to the pink castle. But the first stop was a humble cottage (our backyard playhouse) where they met a scary old hag (me, with a big shawl over my head and wings) who begged them for a crust.
When the kids (our fairy tale heroes!) generously offered the hag some of the treasure from the pinata, she transformed back into the fairy godmother (I threw off the shawl) who explained how to use the potion to melt the hedge of thorns and cast a spell that would allow them to capture the dragons left behind by the evil sorcerer. Then she divided the kids into small parties and sent them into the enchanted forest (maze). As they all found their way through the maze and out in front of the castle, they started blowing bubbles at the hedge of thorns. Eventually the magic bubbles melted the hedge (my husband pulled the slipknot) and they gained access to the castle, where they captured the dragons (small stuffed animals from OTC and some plastic figurines from Michael's craft store) and rescued the royal family (prince and princess Barbie and Ken dolls, bought on eBay) from various places in and around the castle. There weren't enough prince and princess dolls for everyone (too expensive) but there were plenty of dragons and nobody seemed to mind not getting a princess. We let the kids just play in the castle and the forest for a while after that, and then announced the celebratory feast (serving the cake).
SNACKS and CAKE: For the party snacks we had simple finger foods: cheese and crackers, chips, baby carrots and dip. Plus juice. We used cookie cutters to cut sandwich bread and sliced cheese into crowns, glass slippers, numeral 5s and stars. For the cake, I made a large storybook cake - a rectangular cake with the curve of open book pages carved into the top and sides, a fondant base for the cover, and frosted with a ridged texture on the edges to look like pages - with pop up figures (a castle, horse and carriage, prince and princess) made from candy melts, which were inserted into the cake with popsicle stick supports. The pop-ups were mostly pink and white. The right hand side of the cake had Once upon a time in piped calligraphy and there were scattered flowers and bushes as additional illustrations. This was a very complicated cake but a lot of fun to make and I got many compliments. We had a set of princess-themed candles, and paper plates and napkins in a mix of storybook princess (they said Happily Ever After), unicorn and fairy themes, all in the same colors (standard girly colors: pink, purple, turquoise, lime, yellow).
FAVORS: After the cake, we had Princess L- sit in a throne (dining room chair) next to the gift table and open her presents. I'd meant to have her give out the party favor bags to each guest as she opened that person's gift, as we usually do, but realized on about the fourth gift that we hadn't been doing that! So instead, we waited until after she opened everything, and then we had the guests form a line to pay their respects to the princess, and she gave each guest a favor bag as that guest curtsied or bowed to her. It was adorable.
The bags contained a fairy tale sticker scene (OTC); coloring page and crayons with Disney Princess, Tinkerbell or Pirates of the Caribbean wrappers (dollar store - I wanted knights or maybe Shrek for the boys but couldn't find any); a fairy, unicorn or knight party blowout; a fairy, unicorn or stars pencil; and a little book that contained the fairy tale we'd acted out for the party, telling the whole story of the enchanted prince and princess and how the evil sorcerer's spell was defeated by the heroic party guests!
These books were made the same way as the invitations, using the same fonts and with the same copper cardstock covers and ivory pages. Of course the guests also had their foam crowns, pinata loot and the captured dragons and rescued dolls. We left the cardboard castle and enchanted forest maze up for about another week, and invited some kids who'd missed the party over for a playdate. Then we had to take them down because of rain, but the fond memories remain!
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