Monday, June 27, 2011

Slow Living: 'Tangled' Birthday Party Crafts

Yesterday we had a mostly-handmade birthday party for my eight-year-old.

She wanted a party based on recently-released Disney film Tangled. None of the local party places have any toys and decorations for that film (one shop told me that they'd sold out of what they had because the movie is so popular; another said their ordering cycle hadn't caught up to films that recent yet). So naturally I turned to other bloggers to see what they'd done. Then I adapted some of the ideas (links are provided as we go) by turning a template for the sun design into a stencil, which I used to add metallic gold suns to recycled-polyester felt pennant flags and recycled-paper goody bags. (Naturally, this technique can be used for any design that's appropriate for stencilling.)

Here's how I made my stencil:

I printed the sun template (provided with this instruction video for how to make lanterns like those in the movie), and followed the instructions with this self-seal lamination kit to laminate the printout.

Then I used an exacto knife and a self-sealing cutting mat for the finicky work of cutting the design out. (I held off having my morning coffee until after I had done this, since a steady hand was required.)

Since the printout was cold-laminated, I could separate the sides when I was finished, so that I had two stencils. The stiff plastic side was best for my purposes, but depending on your design you might be able to use the thinner, more flexible side as well.

For stenciling on felt, I found that the felt was so thirsty that I didn't need to adhere the stencil to the surface (for instance, when you stencil a wall, repositionable spray glue is usually used); I could just lay the stencil on top of the felt and use a pouncing motion with a foam brush. (Don't forget to put something under your felt to protect your tabletop, since it's porous enough that paint will go right through it in places.)

As you can see, the acrylic paint I was using bled under the edges of the stencil a little, but not much. The results look pretty old-world.

Because I was running out of time, I added some tiny slits to the top edge of each sheet of felt and threaded a ribbon through the slits to hang the pennants for the party - but I will be hand-sewing them in place for a prettier, more durable finish before we hang them in their permanent home above the childrens' garden.

I also stenciled the goody bags, which used less paint and more of a brush-stroke application. The edge-bleeding on a paper surface was much worse than on the felt... with my daughter's help, I outlined the edges with purple acrylic paint.

The finished goody bags. Our young party-goers each got a movie tie-in sticker storybook and stickers, a 'dreams' journal, a tree frog toy (shh, it looks like a chameleon), a skipping rope (because we played a 'Rapunzel's Hair Jump' skipping game) or a pirate sword (that looks like it might be Flynn's), and an apple from Maximus the horse, along with some little candies. If it had been less windy at the picnic, we also would have sent everyone home with a Pascal blow-out that they'd made.

We had a heart-shaped cake decorated with a small toy Rapunzel and Flynn in a gondola,

home-made cupcakes decorated to look like Pascal the Chameleon (or in the case of the blue ones with white gumdrop eyes, Cookie Monster),

sun-shaped home-baked bread served in a cast iron pan (thanks to my lovely friend Angel, who also made little paper-bag lanterns with LED candles inside), a plate of sliced cheese, trays of fresh fruit and vegetables, a bowl of apples,

and orange boats with felt sails floating on blue gelatin. Each hull in this case is half a mandarin orange.

We also played pin-the-pan-on-Flynn (using double-stick tape on the back of pan printouts cut out by the kids). In retrospect we should have made a bigger Wanted poster for that game!

We had our party at a local park with a huge playground and spray park, so there was lots for the kids to do in addition to the games and colouring we had planned - which is just as well since it was too windy and overcast for several of our ideas. 

Afterward my daughter announced it was the "best party EVER!", so... mission accomplished!

Lesson: if you're planning a themed party, do a search to see what other people have done before you run out and buy your supplies. Making something amazing for the party took me much less time than I spent hunting in vain through the party supply stores, and the results were much more special and meaningful, not to mention cost-effective!

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