Well, we survived! After months of planning and weeks of cutting cardboard, painting pumpkins, and teaching myself how to bake, Ella’s Enchanted “Four”est Party finally came. And I have to say, I loved it. And most importantly, Ella loved it. When she first asked me to throw her a party (“Mama, when is my party?”), I was kind of annoyed and nervous. I go through such emotional rollercoasters putting these events together and while it’s fun for me, it also causes so much anxiety. But this year, I worked so much harder than I normally do but the anxiety wasn’t there (well, just a little bit). I think that’s because I had more input from Ella and more confidence in myself. I wanted to give Ella what she wanted and challenge myself and miraculously, I really think we accomplished both.
This showstopper was a work in progress all the way up to the party. Initially it was going to be more like the patio wall (scroll down) with a bunch of different things all over it. Flowers, some unicorns, and pictures of Ella were all on my list. Then I had the idea to make some sort of tree and even that went through several different iterations. I ended up cutting leaves and flower petals from a few different books of prints (I’ve used these for every party I’ve ever thrown– they’re my weakness) and using pictures as the trunk and stems. I love incorporating pictures into parties, even if it makes me look like I’m a little crazy about my kids. Spoiler alert: I am.
Setting up the table is always one of my favorite parts. This was the first time we didn’t have all the food on the table and I loved that! It made the table pretty and more decorative. And it put a spotlight on the cupcakes, which may be my greatest achievement ever. Seriously, look at them.
I made Ella’s tiny pitiful smash cake when she was one and it was tiny and so, so pitiful. It was dry and from a box. So these scratch made cupcakes and homemade icing were my redemption and they turned out so, so well. I’m no longer afraid of our mixer! And originally I planned on all the cupcakes being identical but then I thought it would be more fun to have them be different. And that would have the added bonus of hiding any imperfections.
But back to the table. It’s fun to put together because I always look around the house and find things that can fit perfectly into the theme. The owl is normally in our kids’ bathroom. Half of the jars and vases are normally in Ella’s room. I knew I wanted to have fresh flowers and painted pumpkins since it’s October and I found these at the Dollar Store. Then all I had to do was arrange everything and I just love how it turned out.
I won’t change my mantle for just anyone or anything, but I’ve always wanted a reason to get this unicorn bust and putting it above the fireplace seemed like the perfect opportunity. This, too, was a work in progress until the end. Just a couple days before the party, I thought to make a sign with the party theme. And then just the day before, I realized that the theme fit pretty well with my favorite book growing up, Ella Enchanted so I had to incorporate that as well. It also gave me a bit of confidence boost, like the whole thing was meant to be.
The patio was the last piece of the puzzle and was born out of necessity more than creativity. With the rain percentage at 80%, I knew I wouldn’t be able to rely on our backyard to be the enchanted forest. So I tried to turn the patio into a magical space where the kids could play. I had the idea to make a tree out of streamers and pom poms and I used extra materials I had to hang all around it.
The biggest source of my stress when planning these parties is always the activities. I’m the first to admit that I don’t like kids that much. Seriously. The only ones I’ve ever really interacted with are my own! I know, I know, I’ll work on it. But because of this, I’m never sure if they’ll like what I have planned. I made three activity stations: dress up, popsicle stick fairies, and decorating unicorns.
The unicorns were the biggest hit. A couple weeks ago, Ella told me she wanted to have a “unicorn family” at her party. So I thought about how I could do that for her and came up with this ride-on unicorn DIY. I thought I could let the kids decorate them and they could also be the main party favor. They took a few weekends to complete but for someone with zero artistic talent, I couldn’t be happier with them. And truly, I couldn’t be more shocked at how much the kids liked them! Made the work worth it.
After every party I’ve thrown, there’s always this overwhelming mix of joy, relief and sadness that it’s over. I think joy, relief, and sadness are also a pretty accurate depiction of motherhood, but maybe that’s just me. I feel joy because Ella clearly had a great time. And she’ll remember this one. She and I did it together, for the first time. I feel relief that I can finally use Jack’s nap times and the kids’ bedtimes to do things for myself again. And I feel just a little sad because my family’s gone home, I have to take everything down, and I’m coming down from the high of seeing everything I’ve been working on be truly appreciated. I feel so proud and happy. Motherhood is sometimes referred to as a “thankless job” but it feels much less like a job when I get to be creative and learn new skills and use my talents to show my love for my kids. Ella didn’t need a party but I think I needed to plan one. I feel inspired and excited for whatever’s next.