Want to plan a birthday party that is flexible enough for any budget and suitable for any type of weather? Then why not try a “Fancy Friends” party? Whether you hold your festivities indoors or out, a Fancy Friends party works well for groups of many sizes and is a good choice when you have a combination of girls and boys ages five to nine.
A lavish table: What’s handy about a swanky theme like “Fancy Friends” is that you can make use of what you already have on hand that is appropriate. For younger children, hold back on the breakables. But older kids enjoy the opportunity to show they can handle the sophisticated treatment. For my daughter’s eighth birthday, I dug up a shimmery tablecloth, my husband’s grandmother’s teacups and tea plates, some pastel streamers, and a few crystal bowls and platters we rarely use.
Extravagant (yet inexpensive) favors: There are a few types of party favors that will help you set the right tone for your festive occasion, when you set them out for guests to put on as they arrive: sparkly sun glasses (look for star shaped), tiaras or tops hats, fine gems (sparkly necklaces, rings, bracelets, and hair clips—these often come in a combination bag). If you want to go extra elegant, you can find marabou feather boas in a wide variety of colors at your local art supply store and black canes at your local party supply.
Borrow from the grown-ups: If you are fond of throwing parties for adults, be sure to check your stash before you shop. Those frou-frou toothpicks or colorful drink stirrers might be a blast for the kids to try. Then simply find napkins, balloons, plates and silverware in colors that round out what you already have at your local party supply or dollar store.
Shop around: A focus on “fancy” rather than a specific character theme offers you a lot of creative leeway when it comes to planning. Check the clearance aisles first and then cruise the entire store for the most economical combinations of supplies. For example, our tiaras came from the bachelorette aisle, our necklaces from the Mardi Gras display, and our top hats from the Oscars party aisle.
Focus on fun food: Unlike other parties that skip mealtime altogether, your Fancy Friends will benefit from a solid meal in their tummies before the fun begins. Here’s what’s on the menu: three varieties of sandwiches on whole grain white bread cut into shapes with cookie cutters (cream cheese & cucumber, peanut butter n’ jelly, and almond butter n’ jelly), a colorful veggie plate/fruit plate (carrots, snap peas and red pepper slices with strawberries, melon chunks, green grapes), and a bowl fancy chips of your choice (chips with ridges or cheese puff balls work well).
Pinkies extended: If you are using special teacups, cold tea makes an easy substitute for hot tea. Just pour it straight into their cups at room temperature. You can also provide pink lemonade or milk, since most kids will prefer a variety of drinks. For the cake, either opt for a matching flowery design, or if you have a tiered holder, opt for a cupcake tree instead. Flowery paper cups also work fine.
Flamboyant movement: After lunch, the kids are going to be ready to get down and party. Here are some simple activities to keep them moving until it’s time for cake and presents: Freeze tag is a simple game that works for kids of all ages. An impromptu dance party or fashion show can be set to music. A room full of blown balloons or a game of Twister is a happy way to pass some fancy time. Bubble blowing is an activity that pleases kids of all ages and can happen outside or on a patio. Clip-on paper butterflies (from your local art supply) hidden around the house or yard make for a fun scavenger hunt. Musical chairs, a marching parade, or pin the accessories on the _________ (you decide) are other fun ideas whether you are inside or out.
Something anti-fancy: With so many elaborate activities, your guests will appreciate an anti-fancy climax like whacking a piñata (in a fancy shape, of course). Your local store’s selection will likely include cupcakes, stars, crowns, purses, nail polish bottles, rainbows, flowers, poodles, or castles. Stuff your piñata with lollipops, mini granola bars, and chocolate kisses or a selection of healthy snacks such as dried fruit rolls and protein bars. Everyone will be more settled for cake and gift opening after they’ve stuffed goodie bags with treats to take home.
Add one final favor at each place setting just before candle lighting, like a silly straw or a bouncy ball, and you’ve got a party your child will fondly remember. Happy fancy fun!
Christina Katz is a freelance writer and mom, who loves fancy things. Her latest book is The Writer’s Workout from Writer’s Digest Books.