She requested a birthday party themed to Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and I was glad to oblige.
Life is a little busy right now, which means that we didn't prepare in advance as much as I normally do for a party...nearly everything was prepped and decorated on the day of the party itself, which added a nice sense of urgency to the preparations. ;) Nothing like procrastination to motivate you...
The most important piece of decor was the gigantic candy tree on the wall. Mom and Dad have had some sort of tree on their wall for months--first a Christmas tree, then a Chinese New Year-inspired tree, and now we re-used some parts of those trees, added new ones, and created a tree that looks good enough to eat!
Balloons hanging from every conceivable shelf or light fixture added the touch of whimsy and the "edible room" look we were going for.
"Whipped cream isn't whipped cream unless it's been whipped with whips, just as a poached egg isn't a poached egg unless it's been stolen from the woods in the middle of the night."
Best quote ever.
The food is, of course, the most important part of any party, and obviously we opted for a 3-course meal, in homage to Wonka's memorable gum! However, our entire family agrees that tomato soup is not delicious, so we made a hybridized "Wonka & Bucket" meal and had cabbage soup as the first course, since that is the only meal the Bucket family can eat on their tight budget. I happen to love cabbage soup, so to me that was a great choice!
In addition to the 3 "courses", we had a variety of other sweet available, including rice krispies, because rice krispies are awesome.
Pretzels were among the dippers for fondue, but, personally, I tend to think that anyone who ops for a dipper other than a strawberry when it's fondue time is a bit crazy...
MaryGrace wanted to give little gift bags of candy to her guests, so she did, and inside each gift bag she put a handlettered bookmark that she made herself and laminated. I mean, sure, gift bags are more natural for birthday parties for 5-year-olds, but when is it not cool to give someone a bag of treats? I sure wouldn't say no!
The infamous fizzy lifting drink! There are a number of versions of the chocolate factory, as you know. We borrowed from the book as well as both movies, but our party was most strongly influenced by the 1970s film. In fact, one of the party activities was watching that film, because MaryGrace, and most of the other guests, had never seen it. This was nearly inconceivable to me. When I was growing up, whenever my parents would go on a date, we would stay at my grandparents' house. My grandparents had only one movie for kids--a VHS tape of "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", which they had recorded off the television. The 90s, you know. :) I would watch that same movie every time we stayed at their house.
This is me telling them that they can trust me not to give them anything nasty to eat. I think it says a lot for my honest reputation that everyone was willing to eat whatever I handed to them without looking at it. If it had been Angel handing them something to eat blindfolded...I think we would have had a revolt on our hands...
Also, my dress choice for the evening was inspired by the Everlasting Gobstopper.
I taped all of the different candy bar labels to one sheet of paper so that guests would know which candy bars they might possibly be eating. Also, this had the added benefit of being a spelling reference sheet for the younger guests. :)
Our second game, played a little later in the evening, was a Candy Trivia Game, where two teams were pitted against each other to answer questions like: "What was the career of the man who invented cotton candy? a) a Hershey Executive b) a Doctor c) a Dentist d) a Mechanical Engineer"
My trivia questions were rather challenging, which made for a very intense games, with lots of questions where the opposing team would end up with a chance to "steal" the question after the first team guessed incorrectly.
We watched the film while we ate, with lots of commentary and laughter. As someone who's seen the movie countless times, my favorite part is all of Wonka's side remarks and deadpan "Stop. Don't. Come back." requests. For the kids who were seeing the movie for the first time, the spooky tunnel that the boat goes into was deemed the favorite scene.
MaryGrace loves art and coloring, and wanted to have a coloring sheet to give her guests. She couldn't find any she liked on the web, so, obviously, she drew her own coloring sheet and printed out copies on the printer. That's the sort of thing my family does. We believe that as long as we have pens, paper, and a working printer, we can take over the world. At the end of the evening, all the teens and kids sat around one big table with a bunch of colored pencils, coloring the edible room scene and telling stories--trying to figure out who had the best story of pulling a prank or getting in trouble. The adults washed dishes in the kitchen and we all agreed, another wonderful party completed.
MaryGrace feels that this was pretty much her best birthday ever, because besides the fantastic party, and her presents, when we went out for lunch on Sunday, we happened to be at the same restaurant with another family from our church. We were about finished with our meal and getting ready to leave when a waiter walked up to the table carrying a plate with four slices of cake and a lit candle. We were all confused and were saying, "Umm, I think you have the wrong table...this isn't for us..." Until he said, "This is for MaryGrace's birthday." The odds of there being two people named MaryGrace in the same small restaurant in Malaysia are not high, so then we accepted that the cake was for us. The waiter told us that it was from our friend, but when we turned to look for the other family we'd seen earlier, they were already gone! MaryGrace was glowing with happiness!! She felt so special. The restaurant, it turns out, didn't even serve cake, so the family we knew had gone to the nearby Starbucks, picked up a few slices of cake and a candle, had come back to the restaurant, and arranged with the waiter to serve the cake to MG and the rest of us. How sweet and thoughtful is that?
Did you watch the Willy Wonka film when you were a kid? What would be your ideal birthday party theme?