Shrek Royal Ball -4yr- Redwood Picnic Area
Debbie in San Rafael, CA USA
Shrek II - A Royal Ball (4 yr girl): My daughter had a difficult time deciding between different themes for her 4th birthday, until we realized Shrek II could combine the fanstasy/girly elements she wanted with some of her favorite Shrek characters. Because she had a large guest list, it was decided to hold the party at a local park that once was part of the grounds of a large estate. The picnic area includes towering redwoods, stone walled garden paths, and the stone wall remains of a garden room, but does not include the distraction of a playground; in other words, a perfect fantasy setting.
INVITATIONS: The invitations were prepared in the style of a wedding invitation, and asked the children to please join us in the kingdom of Far Far Away for a royal ball in honor of the marriage of Shrek to Princess Fiona, and in celebration of Alycia's 4th birthday. I printed onto a pretty green tone with leaves paper design, that I later trimmed and pasted onto muted gold card stock. My birthday girl helped me decorate the invitations with pearlized flower stickers in various pastel shades, that complimented the leafy design on the paper well. A final note on the invitations encouraged guests to come dressed as favorite fantasy or fairytale characters, and envelopes were addressed to "Lady X" or "Sir Y".
DECORATIONS: The park gained an extra element of fantasy once I rearranged and covered the picnic tables. Two tables were paired into a long banquet table set inside a circle of redwoods. This table was covered in gold plastic cloth, as were the benches. The tables edges were drapped with billowing tulle and wide gold wire ribbon. Flowers were strewn over the top, and a large bouqet of balloons floated from the middle. The table was fully set starting with paper plates in a tuscan pattern. Forks and blowout's wrapped inside a napkin and tied with olive green / gold edged wire ribbon were placed on each plate. The table was also set with cups I had bought on summer close-out, with pretty flower shaped bottoms, that I hand painted (using special paint plastic) with additional flowers and each child's name.
Having such a lovely banquet table, in the setting of the redwoods trees, really created the feeling that this was a royal event in a fantasty land. It was perfect. Two picnic tables were placed nearby and covered in cream plastic cloth; one was used as a food buffet, and the other as the gift table. A flower garland also decorated the gift table. A bit off to the side were three picnic tables lined up together, which I coverd in a creamy yellow and set up for crafts; with deocrated, stand up signs indicating shop names related to each craft.
GREETING THE GUESTS: I like to keep the first half hour or so of a party fairly informal, since guests tend to arrive a little staggered. For this part of the party I had asked my son (age 7) to dress up as a Shrek character, and he choose Puss n Boots. A friend of his agreed to dress up as Shrek. The birthday girl was dressed as Princess Fiona. Both the Puss n Boots and Fiona costumes I had to sew; Shrek we were able to purchase. My son had a little act he did as he introduced himself to the children, where he mimicked the part of the movie where Puss n Boots sets out to attack Shrek but ends up coughing up a hair ball. Lolly pops were passed out to the kids at the end of the act under the guise of hair balls. Really cute, and kids who knew the movie loved the act.
During this time children were also encouraged to visit Caps & Crowns, An Accessory Shop, Where they decorated colored handled gift bags to use for collecting goodies through out the party, plus had the option of decorating a tulle topped princess cap or a crown. To make sure the items could be used right away, I supplied stick on jewels, stick on foam, and stick on felt decorations that didn't require glue, although glitter glue sticks were also available to those who wanted that added sparkle. During this period, the children were also invited to pose for pictures with Shrek.
POTION FACTORY QUEST: Once the children had settled in and finished decorating their collecting bags, I told everyone how sad Shrek was that his new in-laws didn?t seem to like him very much, just because he?s an ogre, and he thinks things could improve for him with the help of some magic potion. Then I told the children that somewhere on the stone lined paths leading up the hill, bottles of Happilly Ever After Potion were hidden, and it was their job to find them. So, parents and children went off exploring the paths, which is quite an adventure in itself, until the potion bottles (Shrek II potion candy) were found, dangling on strings from a tree.
After everyone came down from the hill, I told the children that Fairy Godmother's elves, who guard the factory, are trying to keep them from escaping with the potion. I led them inside the former garden room, where I had a large cardboard fold out with a picture of a group of elves (my son drew this one; really cute). To get past the elves, the kids would have to attack them with water balloons. What a blast! By the time the last balloon was thrown, the elves had been defeated, and the children were free to escape with their potion.
REFRESHMENTS: By this time it was clear the children were thirsty, so we took a break to enjoy the buffet, with mini muffins and fruit, and to sample some kiddy champagne (aka sparkling cider) from the personalized goblets.
FAIRY GODMOTHER ENCOUNTER: The next game was keep away, using a soft stuffed felt replica of a wand that I made. The kids seemed eager to get to the pinata, so we didn't spend much time with the keep away game. The pinata I purchased was designed to have a mylar annagram pasted on to it, but instead I drew and glued on a picture of Fairy Godmother, which my daughter helped me color. When the pinata didn't break despite all 20 children getting a solid crack at it, I told them maybe Fairy Godmother's wand could break it. Then I waived the wand and used the pull strings on the bottom, and the chase for candy was on (hint - hold aside some candy for the children who are too shy to grab their fair share).
FIESTA: Once Fairy Godmother had popped, We were ready for the ball. We had a portable CD player, and a portable bubble blower (hint Keep the bubble blower where little fingers can not touch it). We served the cake (pretty floral cakes topped with Princess Fiona and Shrek statutes, like a wedding cake), and played pin the tail on Donkey (a large picture I drew of Donkey from the movie, which, again, my kids helped me color; mounted on a child size art easil. For tails, I used a sheet of 20 address labels, colored to match Donkey, with some yarn stuck to the bottom edge as fringe, and each child?s name added).
During this time children also had a chance to work at the second craft area I had set up, The Muffin Man Bakery. I had purchased and finished 4 Wooden gingerbread men placards, supplied a selection of rik rac trim, eyes, and fuzz balls for decoration, and supplied magnets so the completed Gingies could be placed on the refrigerator at home. It was really fun to see how creative the children got, also using many of the jewels and decals I had supplied for the earlier project. The parents, especially, loved the Gingies.
FAVORS: The guests, of course, got to keep the bags, caps, and Gingies they created, plus the cups I had painted for them, and the potion bottle candy, hair ball candy, and pinata candy they collected through out the day. For a final addition to their collection they received a small bag with Shrek stickers, Shrek gummies, and either a bracelet or a frog toy, PLUS a printed copy of the picture they had posed for with Shrek (my sister was actually able to print these on a portable printer in her car; which completely wowed people).
FINAL THOUGHTS: Having the children in costume, and having perfect weather, were the final pieces that added magic to the day. As one mom told me, she keeps remembering the image of the children running towards the pinata, their dresses and costumes sparkling in the late afternoon sun. We had Snow White, Cinderella, Fairies, Princess Annalise, Belle, Prince Charming, and even some Cow girls. The mom said it was just such a huge awe Moment. I think we had lots of those, awe Moments, which made this party perfect for a group of 4 year olds And their parents. I have received so many awesome compliments. There is a lot of material in the Shrek II movie to work with for great party ideas, and I had actually thought up many games and decorations that I just didn't have time to prepare and include (they weren't needed; this party was quite full!). I highly recommend a trip to Far, Far Away for your next party!
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