Wizard of Oz - Party Planning Tips
Diana in New Berlin, Wisconsin, USA
November 2003 Winner
We’re off to see the Wizard! You and all your guests will be off to see the Wizard when you follow some of these suggestions for a wonderful, Wizard of Oz fantasy land! Using the suggestions below, you can make planning for your party just as much fun as the actual party itself! I had so much fun planning and decorating for my Wizard of Oz party, that I’m sure you will too!
PLANNING & PREPARATION:
1. Use an old binder or folder to keep all your ideas and other papers for your party together, in one place.
2. I always start planning a party with the guest list, because then you know your limitations for other things you’ll be planning down the road. For instance, when you know in advance that you’ll have a big group, you’ll realize that maybe that game you were thinking of doing might be too expensive, and you’ll improvise with other activities. When you write your guest list, first write down all your friends and classmates. Then label your list, deciding who absolutely has to be invited, who you would like to invite if possible, and who you wouldn’t mind too much if you couldn’t invite them. ( Use, for example, 3 stars-\*\*\* beside the guest’s name, if they absolutely have to be invited, 2 stars-\*\* for the guests you would like to invite if possible, and so on.) Make sure you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings when it comes to inviting guests, but you can’t always have a birthday party with a lot of kids.
3. Present your list to one or both of your parents, and discuss how many kids are going to be invited. Narrow the list down to the amount you’re allowed to invite, and this is when the labeling you did on your guest list will be a big help.
4. Prepare a short list of things you want to do at your party. Estimate how much the things will cost to do. Include everything you can think of: food/cake/drinks, favors, invitations, games, crafts, thank you notes, decorations, plates/cups/napkins, etc. Labeling this list will also be a big help, in the future, because you probably won’t be able to do everything, and this will help you narrow the list down. Once again, show one, or both of your parents your list, and go over with them your budget for this party, and have them help you minimize the list so that you have a basic outline of the things you’re going to need for party, and the games to play at your party, and so on.
5. If you are planning any games or crafts, try them before the party to make sure they work as you expected. You wouldn’t want to start doing a craft at the party and realize the glue doesn’t work, or play a game that ends up being really tricky or way to easy.
6. Trying to accomplish everything the week before the party will NOT work, so keep a cool head, start in advance, and slowly work on the things that need to be done before the party. Your first priority is your invitations. Make sure if you order your plates, napkins, cups, etc. from a web site or a catalog, that you order them plenty in advance. Buy any of the things on your list as soon as you can. Just make sure you don’t get some of your food until a couple days before the party, because certain things don’t stay fresh as long as others.
TIP: If you’re willing to do a little searching on the web, you can find some really great deals on your plates, cups, napkins, etc. on less well-known web sites. Birthday Express had some great party ideas, but I found the same plates, napkins, cups, tablecloths, Wizard of Oz balloons (very cool!) on a different web site for much less. However, birthday express.com does have some great ideas for a Wizard of Oz party and how to plan it. If you prefer not to use the Wizard of Oz tableware for your party, just go with solid colors! The main colors should be ruby red, emerald green, and brick road yellow, but since Oz is somewhere over the rainbow, tie in as many colors of the rainbow as you can!
INVITATIONS: It’s your choice whether to make your invitations or buy them. If you want to buy them, yes, there are Wizard of Oz invitations that go with the tableware and decorations. If you choose to make your own invitations, one idea for an invitation is a large green postcard shaped like the emerald city, with all the information on it. Make sure you use thick cardstock so you can mail them, or put them in envelopes before you mail them. A phrase you might like to put on your invitations is Follow the Yellow Brick Road and Come to a Wizard of Oz Birthday Party! Or Just click your heels together 3 times because there’s no place like a Wizard of Oz party! Whatever you do for your invitations, make sure they’re colorful, and rainbows would be fun to use.
FOOD /DRINKS /CAKE: It’s up to you what to do for lunch. Whether you’re just having Munchkinland Munchies or you’re having a full lunch, check out birthday express.com for some great ideas. For a fun drink idea, try this: At least one day before the party, make Kool-Aid ice cubes by following the instructions on the package to make it, and then pouring the Kool-Aid into ice cube trays to freeze for a few hours. When they are done, either leave them in the trays until the party, or put them all in a big bowl and store in your freezer. (I know- make room for that bowl!) Buy 2 liter bottles of Sunny Delight and Sprite, and when it comes time for lunch, the guests can choose which drink they want, and then add the Kool-Aid cubes to the one they choose. The drinks are really good because the Kool-Aid cubes gave them a special flavor. I’m not too fond of cake, so I had two cookie cakes, with Wizard of Oz figurines in them. If you want to make a cake, I think the Emerald City is the most obvious idea. You can either buy a castle-shaped cake can or bake 3 round cakes, in 3 different size pans, stack them on top of each other with the biggest on the bottom and smallest on top, and put green frosting on it to make the Emerald City. If it seems too plain, put the cake on a large board used for cakes and add a yellow brick road leading up to the Emerald City, as well as some red poppies in the field.
PARTY HATS: If you want to be different, why not give the boys tin man funnels and the girls Glinda crowns, which you yourself can make from pink and/or silver paper. Or, trace out a pattern on different colors of construction paper, and let the guests decorate and put together their own party hats with markers, stickers, and glitter!
WHEN THE GUESTS ARRIVE: Give your guests a grand welcome to the Emerald City (or Munchkinland, whichever you prefer) by having friends dress up as some of the characters. At my party, we had all sorts of characters there to greet the kids. There was, of course, Dorothy, wearing a Dorothy outfit loaned from a friend. She had a little basket with a stuffed dog in the basket as Toto. Glinda was wearing an old pink bridesmaid’s dress found at my grandparents’ house, with a crown and wand we had made. A Wicked Witch of the West lurked in the trees, waiting to jump out at anyone who came near. I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too! My two little sisters, dressed as two members of the Lollipop Guild, with colorful clothes and socks, greeted the guests at the door with a sucker for each one. Each sucker had a number written on the wrapper, from 1-14.
Since we had so many guests, there wasn’t a big enough table for everyone to sit at, so we had our dining room table and 2 card tables set up in our living room. Each place setting was numbered. Depending on what number was on your sucker was where you sat for the party. The guests found their seats, and it worked out so great, because I didn’t have to feel bad about who I chose to sit by me. Out of green paper and a picture of Dorothy and Toto, I made a sign that said This Way to the Emerald City, with an arrow pointing to my door. The funny thing is that our front door is emerald green, so it was just as if they were all entering the Emerald City! GAMES: We didn’t do too many games at my party, but like I said before, Birthday Express’s web site has Wizard of Oz party ideas, including games, if you need some more ideas for games. Thewizardofoz.com has printouts such as coloring sheets and a maze if you would like to use those materials for your party.
You can also find many other things that may be of help for your party- a photo gallery, links to other Ozzy web sites, lyrics to the songs, posters from when the movie came out in 1939, and an online store if you want your child to have a wonderful Wizard of Oz birthday gift, as well as a party. Instead of giving out prizes for the games, we gave out tickets for each game depending on how well you did. (Check your local party store for a big roll of perforated tickets that just tear right off. They are available in many colors and even sizes.) Give each child a bag with their name on it to put their tickets in for each game. (You can use the same bag for the pinata later if you’re having one.)
For each game, make sure everyone at least gets a couple tickets for participating, even if they didn’t win the game. At the end of the party, or once all the games are done, have each child count their tickets, and arrange them in line with lowest amount of tickets first in line and so on. Then, they can use their tickets to pick out prizes, laid out on a table, with different ticket values for each prize depending on how good it is. Awarding tickets for the games is a good system, especially if you have a big group of kids, because then each kid gets maybe 2 or 3 good prizes instead of little junky items they don’t need. The prizes need not be anything extraordinary. My suggestion for prizes is your local Dollar Store, or you can just keep an eye out for good prizes on sale at other stores.
1. I made a Wizard of Oz word search on puzzlemaker.com and we also did the classic Make the most words out of the phrase ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road!’.
2. Another game you can play is pin the heart on the tin man. For this game, I blew up a picture of just the tin man’s head, along with funnel hat, from a picture off of the internet. Then I cut out a simple shape of his body from about waist up out of posterboard, and covered it with tin foil. Then, I glued the head onto the body that had been cut out, and made the outline of a heart with a marker where his heart should be. Then, I cut out red hearts from construction paper and wrote the kids’ names on each one, and they each got a turn to get as close to the correct spot as they could. Award different amounts of tickets based on how accurate they are, such as 15 tickets if you are right on, 10 if you are pretty close, and 5 if you put it pretty far away from where it’s supposed to be.
3. Relays are fun games. Be creative! There are endless ideas for relay games, such as dressing up in large clothes and shoes, hopping with a ball between your legs, obstacle courses, and so on.
4. If you’re planning a pinata, my suggestion would be a rainbow. Fill it with colorful candy and rainbow-colored little items like mini erasers, etc.
5. Small party or sleepover? Play Wizard of Oz Monopoly or the Wizard of Oz trivia game, if you own them, or make up your own trivia game if you want.
DECORATIONS AND PARTY ATMOSPHERE:
1. Like I mentioned before, the land of Oz is colorful, so make sure your party scheme is too! Hang bright streamers from the ceiling or over doors, tie big bunches of colorful balloons to the birthday kid’s chair and around the house, or just let them float on the ceiling. Incorporate your personal Oz collection to add to the party atmosphere. Blow up pictures of the characters from the movie and tape them to the walls. Have the Wizard of Oz movie playing on your TV as guests are arriving, or play the Wizard of Oz soundtrack or downloaded Oz songs from the internet. You can’t go wrong no matter what fun color you use, so have fun!
2. An awesome decoration is to put the Wicked Witch of the East’s legs with ruby slippers on the end sticking out from underneath a door or garage door, just as they appear in the movie after Dorothy’s house lands on her! Unless you have black and white striped tights, use black tights and cut out white stripes of paper, wrap them around, and tape them on the back side, which will not be visible. Use tissue paper or newspaper or whatever you think will work best to stuff each leg. It might take a while to get the right effect, because it just looks lumpy at first, but play around with it and be patient, and you should get a satisfactory result. Lastly, put some red dress shoes on the end of the stockings, and slide the other end under a door. It’s quite funny!
3. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a must to have something Ozzy playing (and I don’t mean the Ozbournes J), like the soundtrack, the movie, or downloaded music from the internet. If the movie is playing when the guests walk in, they can find their seat at the table and watch The Wizard of Oz to keep them occupied until the other guests arrive. I haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz DVD yet, but I’m sure it has lots of great special features on it. You might want to lead everyone in a sing-a-long of some of the classic songs from the movie.
4. Parents: If you want to go all out, rent or buy a life-size cardboard stand-up of Dorothy or Glinda, available online if you order them in advance, and are willing to splurge a little. Or, even better, you can hire a Dorothy or Glinda impersonator for all or part of the party! (Make sure you have your camera ready and take lots of pictures!) Keep it a surprise from the birthday child, because they will be shocked when one of the characters they’re watching on the movie shows up at the house and rings the doorbell! Once again, this could result in quite an expensive party, but it’s an option that’s out there, depending on what your budget is for the party.
FOR THE PARENTS: CAPTURING THE MEMORIES: A birthday party as wonderful and magical as this will never be forgotten, but here’s some tips that will help you remember this special party even better for a lifetime. 1. Take pictures! It’s easy to get caught up in the party, but if you think you’ll be too overwhelmed, enlist someone to help you, so you can enjoy the special day with your child. Have your camera ready to take pictures of the guests on their way in, candid pictures during the games and other action going on, the birthday child with all his/her friends, the child with his/her birthday cake, and blowing out the candles, opening gifts etc. Another important reminder is to make sure that YOU get in some pictures with your special birthday kid, so they remember what an important part you were of that day, not just the unknown person always behind the camera.
2. Don’t just leave the photos in a box, instead scrapbook them or insert them in a photo album, as soon as possible.
3. If you want to make a special keepsake for your child, put together an album just for the party, with copies of all the pictures. Have all the friends at the party include a Happy Birthday message in it as well. Include fun items from the party, such as a sample invitation, a Wizard of Oz napkin, your child’s sheet from How many words can you make out of ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’, etc. Use your imagination, and make it as magical and colorful as the party itself! It will be something sure to last a lifetime.
4. If your family owns a video camera, you might want to put someone such as your spouse in charge of it for the day, so they can capture all the moments on tape! Then you can remember your party , live, as many times as you please! I truly wish you a wonderful birthday party and the best efforts with your party planning ahead.
I hope all this information will take away some of the stress of party planning so that you and your child can just enjoy it all! Well, goodbye, I’m off to see the Wizard