This may be my last year for a magical, over-the-top birthday party and I intended to savor every minute of it. Since spying Astrid’s party in July, we’ve been planning and plotting the fun.
The invitations: I especially loved the rose paper that reversed to keys and locks– it may be Martha Stewart but it seemed designed just for Alice. To my surprise and delight, Mary requested ‘No gifts, please.’– because she “has enough stuff.”
We discussed finding a blue and white costume, but decided this peacock feather dress is just the sort of thing Alice would have in her closet.
I love decorating with paper and ribbon– it’s a huge effect for a few dollars.
These incredible goblets came from my mother’s shelves. I remember how giddy she was when she bought all nineteen of them in a rainbow of colors– red, pink, blue, green, white, yellow.
Italian made, gold trimmed and perfectly ostentatious for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, they still had the price tags attached.
The tea pots, the cake platters, the chickens and pigs and carrot pitcher are all my mother’s and I could feel her with us– delighted with the table, the games, the stories, the adorable little girls, and most especially sweet Mary.
We all loved reading the Alice playing cards.
(and Ruth, my darling sister, if you want any of these dishes, they are yours. I’ve just borrowed them– not laid claim.)
Hats and giant cards hung from the back of each chair. For the birthday girl, the choice was obvious: seven of hearts.
Preparing for flamingo croquet. The morning after Mary was born, my mother covered my snowy lawn with a flock of pink flamingos– so they’ve always been precious to me.
Poor little hedgehog– he’s going to have a rough day as a croquet ball.
Each guest stopped by the table of ‘eat me’ cookies and mysterious ‘drink me’ bottles. Clearly, Alice ate a few too many of the shrinking jelly beans but I think all these little girls are simply going to grow.
After dozens of wild boy parties, I’m amazed at the way girls will sit in a civilized little circle and play Queen of Hearts Bingo and Pass the Red Hot Lobster.
But they got pretty wild during flamingo croquet.
We’re lucky enough to have not one, but five Mad Hatters serving tea.
The girls filled their plates with nutritious treats.
Gabe took ice-cream scooping quite seriously.
And you’ll laugh at me, but I regret all the photos I didn’t take– Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum three-legged races, my sweet friends who stayed for the entire party, the sugar cube toss, Hans and Xander pouring tea, little girls whispering in each other’s ears and twirling in delight. But that’s how parties go– the camera has to be set down to fully immerse yourself in the joy.
Too quickly, the candles were blown, the table left in beautiful disarray; tiny girls filled bags with candy and proffered hugs and kisses as they walked out the door clinging to their mother’s hands.
But some of the best fun happens after the party.
Gabriel was finally able to guzzle the ‘drink me’ cream soda he’d been coveting for three days.
Crafting wonderland bugs with daddy.
Giggling on the couch with friends who lingered.
And harnessing balloons to hapless flamingos.
I think we all got carried away.
Alice in Wonderland Cards
Giant Playing Cards
Tissue Paper Flowers
John Tenniel illustrations— these are all over the internet, but the best place is oldbookart.com where you can add the entire album to your cart (it’s free) and download them in one click. It’s an incredible website and could inspire a dozen parties. Maybe I can talk Mary into a Red Riding Hood party next year. Or are eight year olds all about manicures and pop stars? At least I can feel confident about fully savoring little girlhood down to the very last drop.