Wednesday, May 22, 2019

An Alice in Wonderland Birthday Party For She Who is Thirteen

I loved Syd's idea for her birthday party this year: an Alice in Wonderland party is sweet and elegant and perfectly-themed for my brand-new teen.

Especially one who loves to fuss with details and make everything as cute as it can be!


Above is Syd's test recipe for her birthday cupcakes. She tried out the cake mix that she wanted (Funfetti for the win!), the color of food dye (she was pushing hard for red but we're flat out so she tested pink, and she was happy enough with it that I didn't have to start the fight about trying to convince her to let me buy powdered strawberries or beets instead of gel dye--yay!), the color and make-up of spots (she tested Skittles and M&Ms, as well, but everyone thought that the piped-on dots of buttercream looked best), the candy caterpillar (sour gummy worms!), and the speech bubble cupcake flag (after she was happy with this basic design she went to Matt, and he had to go through two rounds of submissions before she approved his final digital design).

Here's the final version of party cupcakes!




Syd put so much energy into the dessert and the activities that she let me be in charge of the Mad Tea Party. I never remember to take photos when I'm busy, so this is the solo one that I took of my own party preparations:


It's petit toasts with cream cheese and parsley. It was DELICIOUS!

I also made tiny cream cheese and tomato sandwiches, tiny peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and tiny cherry tarts. I bought miniature powdered doughnuts, chessmen cookies, miniature spinach and ham quiches, and grapes and baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. I made something like the equivalent of two full-sized sandwiches per kid (even counting the kid who I figured wouldn't eat a thing), not counting all the other stuff, and still ended up kicking myself that I hadn't also thrown a big box of Bagel Bites into the mix as I later cleared away completely cleaned-off platters.

An afternoon of Red Queen Freeze Tag and Cheshire Cat Hide-and-Seek is apparently hungry work!

I also didn't get a great picture--shame on me!--of this beautiful bunting that Syd and I spent basically an entire day making:

It's super elaborate, upcycled from an incomplete deck of playing cards and upholstery samples. I used stencils to trace each letter in Sharpie and then painted the outline with fabric paint, and Syd colored the letters in, glued the fabric to the playing cards, and attached the hemp twine.

It took FOREVER, so long that all the other cute and time-intensive party decorations did not happen, but we both love it so much that it was worth it.

Matt did not love trying to set it up according to my picky instructions, but he's a very good sport on party days:


And see? Isn't it the perfect thing to welcome children to their Mad Tea Party?


The tea cups are mismatched ones from all the thrift stores in town, and the children's plates are paper, but the serving platters and saucers are my Mamma's china. I don't remember once eating off of it as a kid, but I adore using it for every possible occasion now that it's mine. When Matt suggested that setting up the Mad Tea Party on the driveway would work better logistically, however (and it would have!), I told him that we had to have it on the grass to give Mamma's china at least a fighting chance.

It all lived!

I should also tell you about the, um, "tea." It was not my shiningest moment. I promise that I started off intending to serve tea. Fruit tea, to be specific. But it was going to be very warm on the party day, and Syd didn't want to serve hot tea. Fair enough, right? I told her we could make iced fruit tea, and offer honey and sugar cubes (in little pots!!!!) to sweeten it, but then Syd insisted that she wanted it pre-sweetened with simple syrup, and I was all, "If you want sugar-sweetened iced fruit-flavored tea, why don't we just make Kool-Aid?"

And so we did, sigh. I swear, ten kids drank something like two gallons of the stuff in a four-hour party. Whenever I brought out the pitcher for refills, I took to asking them if anyone wanted more hyper medicine, and they always clamored that they did, and then they gulped it down and proceeded to prove to the entire neighborhood that it was working very, very well, indeed.

Ah, well. You're only young enough to guzzle Kool-Aid without a second thought for such a little while.

For the craft (because there always has to be a craft!), we recycled a project back from the days when Syd and a pal planned and hosted a party to earn their Girl Scout Junior Social Butterfly badges. As their craft, they thrifted white tea cups and let the party guests decorate them with paint pens. You just have to send home instructions with the party guests that they need to let them sit for 24 hours, then bake them in the oven according to the directions on the package--30 minutes at 350 degrees, for these.

Strangely, I don't remember those younger girls being so, hmm, well, creative as these older girls are:


Thirteen is such a big year, and this sweet kid has already always felt everything so big. You'll never find someone with a bigger heart, and it's my hope for her that her love for and trust in those around her is always returned in kind:


On this day, surrounded by friends, I surely know that it was:


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