Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mary Poppins Birthday Party Extravaganza

All the cupcakes have been eaten, the chalk dust has been swept away and the carousel horses have retired to the toybox…and upon reflection I’m pretty sure we pulled off a party that Mary Poppins herself would have been pleased to attend.

The 25 kids that visited our version of 17 Cherry Tree Lane on Sunday sure seemed to have a good time. Despite the fact that we had some April showers that timed themselves just perfectly to make outside play time impossible…

As I mentioned before I had a lofty vision for this party.  I was pretty sure that this would be one of the last birthdays (for a while at least) where my girls would agree on sharing a party and as such I wanted it to be spectacular. I was also pretty sure that some of the kids attending the party would never have seen Mary Poppins.

It turns out I was right about that.  Only about a quarter of the kids at the party had seen it…and that…my good friends...is a tragedy.  Mary Poppins is a classic…a movie that every kid (and grown up too) should see. My girls have seen it dozens of times and they still laugh out loud at the funny bits, sing along with all the songs, and hate the ‘mean old man at the bank that steals Michael's tuppence.’ Seriously…if you haven’t watched this movie with your kids yet…do it now.  You can borrow my copy if you want...but it is a little worn.

Okay…back to party central…let’s break down by the elements:

Best to start at the very beginning right?  I pretty much took the easy way out with the invitations – laying them out in publisher and using graphics I found on the internet to round it out. The text I used was a mix of different invitation styles I found on Pinterest.  Simple yet effective…I was pretty happy with the way they turned out:


London Skyline:
This was my loftiest vision. I wanted hubby to make a skyline of London that covered every wall in the room.  That meant he needed to build 40 feet of skyline. The first challenge was determining what material he should make it out of.  At first I thought we should just find a roll of black craft paper but hubby had an even better idea – he bought a roll of black roofing paper from Home Depot.  It was bigger and much more durable…it turned out to be the perfect choice.

He then created a template of the roof tops to use as a guide and spent several hours with an exacto knife meticulously cutting out every roof and chimney.  The result was nothing short of amazing:

And then…because what’s a London skyline without the most recognizable buildings – he drew a freehand Big Ben and Parliament Buildings as well as the dome of St. Pauls:

My mum pitched in on party day outlining the roof tops in front of each monument in white so that they didn't get lost in the black on black set up. The only thing missing was cutouts of chimney sweeps dancing on the rooftops that I was supposed to make. 

What can I say…I simply ran out of time.  With all the projects we were doing I knew something would have to give at some point and it turned out to be the chimney sweeps. That said, despite the lack of dirty dancing men, I still think it turned out amazing.

Kite Banner:
Let’s Go Fly a Kite is one of the most famous songs in Mary Poppins and so kites had to make an appearance somewhere at the party.  Originally I had planned to have kite making be the “craft” for everyone but I couldn’t find any kite making kits in my price range.  So I decided to make a kite shaped happy birthday banner instead.

I bought cardstock and used a letter template to cut out each letter.  To make the kite template itself I took a letter size piece of paper and drew out the shape from edge to edge.  When the kites were done I glued on the letters and added ribbon as the ‘strings’.  It was a lot more work than I envisioned – mainly the cutting out the letters part – but it was also the perfect addition to the party.

Cupcake Toppers:
My cousin always volunteers to make cupcakes for the girls’ birthday party and I am never one to turn down free baked goods. I looked at many different decorating options for the cupcakes and decided in the end that some simple cupcake toppers would be the best option.  So I designed some basic squares using Publisher and then cut them out and matched them up.  I decided on three basic graphics to use – Mary herself, chimney sweep and the Jolly Holiday Penguin.

I glued them together and added a toothpick in between the papers.  When they were dry I trimmed them down as needed.  It was a bit time consuming but they looked great in action.

Little Touches:
I had bought these awesome little frames from Michael's last year and realized they would be perfect little additions to the d├ęcor.  Again…I created the content for each of them in Publisher and kept them simple in black and white.  They were placed on the food table and cake table.  
And I painted a wooden sign from the dollar store and turned it into an address marker:

Food & Drink:
As the party was planned for the afternoon (just post lunchtime) I knew I didn’t need to worry too much about food options.  We had a basic veggie and fruit tray as well as chips.  I did want to do something to make the food and drink table a little more Mary-ish so I brought in a drink dispenser to serve ‘Raspberry Ice’.  Which was really just Cran-Raspberry juice and Sprite...but it looked prettier on the table than juice boxes.

Goody Bags:
This is the one party item where I wasn’t 100% happy.  I had grand ideas about what to include but in the end time and money were against me.  I was thrilled with the actual bags I got – I found them at Michael's and they were paper bags that all stood up perfectly even when filled. 

Each bag had the following – sidewalk chalk, fruit juice gummies, pencil and ‘tuppence’. The ‘tuppence’ were actually plastic gold coins that I put in bags and labeled “Tuppence to feed the birds…”.  As we had a range of ages the older kids got bookmarks and the younger kids got notebooks.

We labeled each goody bag with the child’s name (so I could make sure the older and younger kids got the right item) and this message: “Thank you for coming to my party and making it “practically perfect” in every way.”   I may not have been thrilled with the contents but they did look uniformly spectacular on the table:
I created these labels in word and just printed off a sheet. Easy peasy...

Games & Activities:
Without a main craft idea (like kite making) we decided on three other activities/games for the kids:

Chalk Drawings – hubby laid down more of the magical roofing paper and we put out a box of sidewalk chalk for the kids to do their own chalk drawings.  Most of the kids started out the party with this activity and they all came back again and again.

I had originally wanted to create separate frames labeled with every kids name (to keep them all civilized) but time and space made that impossible.  Had it not been raining I would likely have moved this activity outside.  We did also let the kids draw on the London Skyline (gasp!) on the wall and they liked that as well.

Carousel Horse Races – in a separate room hubby laid out a horse racing track.  We created three “obstacles” including a hedge (plastic plants stuck in a florists block) and a fake water hazard (blue paper).  Hubby constructed two jumps out of plastic flower bed fencing (thank you Dollarama) and used balloons like cones in a soccer drill.

We had two horses (one girl horse and one boy) and each kid went around the course and I timed them.  This was by far the most popular activity.  The timing really didn't matter in the end - because the littlest kids could never outrun the older ones - but they all loved the spirit of competition.  They also really loved screaming "On your mark...get set...go!" at the top of their lungs!

Spoonful of Sugar Race - I probably should have put a little more thought into this one...had I been more organized I think it would have gone a little smoother.  Basically we divided the kids into 4 teams of 4 and the goal was to carry sugar cubes on spoons to fill up cups at the other end of the room.  I had wanted to use tea cups but forgot to buy any so we just had the drink cups from the party.  The kids had fun - anything that is a competition they seem to enjoy - but I do think it could have been better.

And there you have it - our Mary Poppins Party review.  Hubby and I were absolutely exhausted by the end of the night - as were the kids...but it was worth it.

My biggest regret is that I forgot to take a picture of my little birthday girls on their party day.  I should always try to do that first thing otherwise its too easy to forget it.  We also didn't get a family picture...oh well...it is what it is. 

I will have to settle for the following shots....

How is my baby 4 already?

It truly was a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious good time…


  1. Hey, This is such a great party theme! I'm a party planner myself and can't believe I never thought of this as a theme! I'm currently planning a British themed School dance and wanted to do a London skyline but doing it out of cardboard like I had originally planned was just going to be to tricky, that's when I stumbled upon your great idea! May I ask what roofing paper you purchased and how much it cost?

    1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I checked with hubby re: your roofing paper question and he said it was very inexpensive - around $20 for one roll. There are some options in terms of thickness and he chose the middle ground. Not too thick...not too thin. And the only other options is the height and you just need to make sure you pick one that is tall enough for your needs.
      Hope this helps...good luck with your party. If you remember come back and share some pictures.