I am a sucker for a themed birthday party. There is just something about everything coordinating that makes my obsessive compulsive brain sigh with happiness. But it doesn't have to cost the earth, especially if you make the food part of your decorations and use things from around the house.
I chose the theme of Alice in Wonderland for one reason: Bobbin received a little Alice costume from her Aunty Kitty for Christmas. I couldn't resist.
First things first we had to show Bobbin the movie to make sure she actually liked it, and PHEW! she did because otherwise we'd be screwed. So what is a themed party without a themed invite? On to PicMonkey I went with a couple freesource Alice images and the text from a page out of the book and voila!
Then it was on to sourcing all things Alice to decorate on a budget. I was after a whimsical feel, wanting the guests to feel like they had stepped in to Wonderland for the afternoon.
Off to the Op Shop I went to grab some adorable little tea cups. I bought one set of four for $3.00 and a single tea cup for $2.00 from one shop but then at the next shop I loved another set of four so I grabbed that too, for $3.20. It meant I had extra in case of breakages - these are three year olds remember! - and because it was from an Op Shop, the money was going to a good cause. The girls thought it was the best thing ever to have real tea cups filled from a real tea pot!
I headed to Kmart (of course) and grabbed some small metal flamingos for $1 each that are technically garden decorations, but I thought they'd be perfect - remember the croquet scene? The plants, bunnies, and serving trays were things I had around the house. Who doesn't have ceramic bunnies around the house?
The most expensive part of Operation Alice was spray painting the IKEA Mammut stools to look like toadstools. It wasn't a necessity, but I've been meaning to do it since we got them from a swap meet a few years ago. Plus the table, which I got from kerbside rubbish last month, was old and faded and really needed a spray.
I used the Rust-Oleum 2X Ultra Cover in gloss white and gloss Apple Red at $11.95 each from Bunnings which go on to plastic really well. I coated each chair with white first, then cut out and placed randomly shaped blobs of cardboard on to the top before spraying over with one coat of Apple Red. They didn't turn out perfectly because I was a bit short on time, but they looked good enough for me, and cemented the Wonderland feel.
I decided to put the party in to Bobbin's bedroom rather than a corner of the back yard because the decorations all close together are so much more effective. I grabbed a two pack of cards from the local cheap things shop for $2.50 and pulled out some old fishing line from the craft drawer to make card bunting to hang from her ceiling. I made four strands with 20 cards on each, and hung them from the corners of the room to the fan in the centre. It looked so good!
On the window sill I placed three black photo frames with Alice in Wonderland silhouettes I'd printed out as a gift for Aunty Kitty last year... yep, she loaned them back to us when she found out the party theme! Plus she let us borrow a movie poster and a little Alice book we placed on the food table.
To add a bit of cheer to the walls I made some "rose bushes" out of cardboard, and adorned them with crepe paper "roses". There were three with red roses and one with white roses, and as soon as Bobbin saw them she started sing "We're painting the roses red". Winning! She got the reference!
We brought in the Queen Anne dresser to be the food table, as is usual for parties around here. I saw it on the side of the road a few years ago and it was in such amazing condition I thought it couldn't possibly be out for the taking, so I knocked on the door and the man said it was! His daughter had long ago grown up and moved out and he was clearing out all her old stuff. He even helped me load it in the car. I got it home, painted it up and put some new handles on it with the help of my Aunty, and it's been a great piece ever since.
I covered the table in the playing cards left over from the bunting, and little quotes from the book/movie I'd made using PicMonkey and printed out including "we're all mad here", "six impossible things before breakfast", "curiouser and curiouser", "this watch is exactly two days slow", and of course, "eat me"! It was a food table after all.
I cut some flowers from a gigantic straggly bush on the side of the road, then covered the dresser with them. Stuffing them in the drawers and some on top for good measure, plus I pulled out some empty jars for vases and had them all around the room. It made such an impact and cost nothing.
I ordered the "Eat Me" cake topper from eBay for a few dollars and it took five weeks to arrive - ordering early is key for online purchases! I added some paper bunting to the top of the cake, too, which I grabbed at Target for around $3. The cake itself was three Woolworths mud cakes ($4 each) that I levelled out and stacked together. The icing went all wrong - too thick at first and then I thinned it down. Big mistake. HUGE. It was then too runny and I didn't have any more icing sugar to thicken it. Not gonna lie, I cried a bit.
For party food I used a white bread plate and a borrowed three tier serving tray. I served fairy bread (duh), cupcakes with rainbow icing (because at 2am I couldn't sleep and figured I would try something new) and Dr Oetker rice paper butterflies (from Woolworths $2.50 for a pack of 12), two punnets of strawberries, a punnet of blueberries, and a few Tic Toc bikkies because they suited the Alice theme so well!
We only had two activities for our tea party guests; we decorated some plain biscuits with Dr Oetker glitter icing pens, sprinkles, mini M&Ms and little jubes; and pass the parcel. If you've ever played with three year olds, is a lot of effort ensuring everyone is actually passing said parcel and not ripping it open the second they get their hands on it. Each layer had a mini icecream eraser that they loved and only cost $1 for the whole packet. The rest of the time the girls were free to just play with toys and have a tea party.
It was such a lovely tea party, and I adored the way the room came together. So much so it is still set up nearly a week later! We have had a mini tea party in there every day since because who can resist the pull of those toadstools and a room bursting with flowers?