There was only one thing Sugar wanted for her 7th birthday: a Frozen-themed party!
I’ll say about birthday parties: They’re not for everyone. Not everybody has the means, energy, or inclination to throw a party for every child’s birthday. That’s fine. I’m all for simple! And considering all 4 of my kids + me + both my in-laws all have birthdays within a month of each other, simple is more than a preference. It’s a necessity!
That said, I have one more thing to say about birthday parties: They are a gift. A magical party is imagination come to life–your child’s imagination and yours. It is a precious, precious thing to listen to a daughter’s or son’s dreams and then (as much as is in your power) make them come true.
It is my belief that birthday parties are not essential to a child’s happiness. My daughter will not necessarily remember every game we played, every treat we made, what the decorations looked like, or which presents she received. Those things, in and of themselves, are not important. What is important (and what I think she will remember) is that wide-eyed awe and glow of feeling special. Cherished. Loved.
But enough of my precursory sentiments. Let’s get down to brass tacks.
I used Elsa-teal-blue and white as our theme colors. (I used the same colors for Pumpkin’s baptism, so we already had some things laying around.)
Crepe paper streamers can go a long way in making your party space feel festive without breaking the budget. I also used strategically placed latex balloons (we had 9), and tissue puffs (the kind in the wedding aisle at your local craft store). Blue-glitter ribbon and sparkly foil star garlands (popular 4th of July decor that was on sale at our Michaels!) to add some extra pizzazz.
The final touch was a teal tablecloth on the picnic table and a sprinkling of jewels and snow-like glitter.
Let’s Get This Party Started
I love having an activity of some sort to keep the children occupied as guests start to arrive. In honor of Frozen’s hit number “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” we “built” our own snowman pizzas! I made the pizza dough and sauce the day before (you could easily substitute store bought) and formed the dough it into small balls about an hour before the guests were due to arrive, stacking them between layers of greased parchment paper to keep them from sticking.
Each kid got two balls of dough. They took turns rolling out them out and then used the two circles to shape their snowmen. Slap on some tasty sauce, then go to town with mozzarella, olives (for buttons and eyes) and baby carrots (how else to get an authentic nose?).
Snowball Toss: Make a pyramid of plastic drinking cups (3 on the bottom, 2 in the middle, and 1 on top) on a card table. Each kid gets 3 tries to knock it down by lobbing a snowball (ie. a giant Campfire-sized marshmallow) at it. You could offer prizes for those who succeed, but I’m not a big fan of that approach. I prefer a more low-stress competition. (And I offer a second round for anyone who wasn’t happy with their first attempt.)
Marshallow Race: Each child places a giant Campfire-sized marshmallow anywhere on her face. The goal is to eat the entire marshmallow without using your hands. It’s pretty silly and a lot of fun.
Frozen Statues: Play the song “In Summer” from the Frozen soundtrack while the kids dance around. Each time you pause the song, the kids must freeze in whatever position they’re in. If someone is caught moving, they’re out.
If your group aren’t dancers, a good alternative would be a game of Freeze Tag. Or if you have a group of boys. For some reason, boys seem to prefer chasing each other over dancing. Go figure, right?
Melted Snow: This is the simplest beverage you’ll ever serve: ice water. I put mine in a fancy crystal dispenser for a Queen Elsa touch. Don’t worry, no snowmen were harmed.
Snowcap Punch: Mix 1 liter Sprite with 10 squirts blue Hawaiian Punch concentrate. Scoop in 1 quart vanilla ice cream. Serve with a ladle and a smile. (Warning: It is reeeeeallly sweet. But the kids seemed to like it.)
Elsa’s Snowflake Snack Mix: I’ve seen similar mixes on Pinterest, but some of the combinations sounded a little strange to me. After several strolls down the aisles at our local grocery store, I landed on a combination I thought would be a hit: Vanilla Chex, yogurt covered pretzels, York Pieces, blue Almond Joy Pieces (we picked out the cream and brown ones to munch on later), and salted popcorn.
I have to say, this stuff was dangerously yummy. I may have eaten a good quart of the stuff. Maybe. On second thought, it might have been more. The kids had me beat, though. Actually, it took a lot to drag some of them away from the bowl!
Snowman Noses + Reindeer Drool: Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it! This oddly named treat is actually just baby carrots (noses) with ranch dressing (reindeer drool). If you haven’t seen the movie, there is a running gag where one of the characters is always sharing carrots with his pet reindeer — after the reindeer has already had a bite! Icky, of course, but kids love that kind of thing. Or, at least mine do. I imagine this snack would go over particularly well with any little boys.
Birthday Cake: Sugar designed this one herself. Two layers of white cake, Pillsbury’s blue raspberry frosting, with white icing writing, edible pearl decals, coarse teal sanding sugar. This was actually the single most difficult aspect of the party. To learn how I did it, you can read the post here. If you’d rather save yourself the hassle, you can always order a cake from the grocery store.
Going Out on a High Note
This is my single most favorite kids’ birthday party tip. After all that running around in the sun and all that sugar, you want to end things early enough (two hours tops!) that the kids don’t all start to unravel on your front lawn–and you want to go out with a bang.
Most parties finish off with a handing out of the goodie bags (though I know some parents are starting to go without these). I prefer a more novel approach: the treasure hunt.
Treasure Hunts are something my mother invented for my own childhood birthday parties. Rather than handing out pre-stuffed goodie bags, you hand each child an empty goodie bag as the party dies down (usually about the last 10-15 minutes before you anticipate parents to arrive). Sugar helped me decorate each guest’s bag with his or her name and stickers (Frozen ones, of course). Then, I taped a scrap of colored tissue paper to the bottom of each bag. Each bag needs a different color, which will coordinate with the tissue paper used to wrap each child’s “goodies.” The wrapped goodies are hidden, then just as things are winding down, you can set the kids loose to find their hidden treats!
The gifts can be as elaborate as you want, but we kept it pretty simple: ring pops, Twinkle lollies, novelty sunglasses, and crystal bracelets in Elsa blue-and-white.
Well, that’s it, folks. My humble tips on how to create your own “howler in July!” But remember, in the end, it’s not about the decorations, the food, or the games. It’s about the love with which they’re offered.
A very happy birthday to all the little Elsas, Annas, Kristoffs, and Olafs out there!
And to all the mamas: If things don’t go as planned, just Let It–well, you know.