Wednesday, January 18, 2012

RE-ceiving Guests: Madeline Kids Party

Madeline is an AMAZING series of children's stories by Ludwig  Bemelmans about the adventures of a little girl in Paris living in a boarding school run by nuns.  My daughter really liked Madeline when she was 2 so that year we threw her a Madeline birthday party.   She is pictured above in her Madeline costume in front of a poster board display I made for the party.  The blue coat and hat are part of an official Madeline costume I bought online several years ago from a store. If you want one, currently several  costume versions are for sale on ebay.  My SIL, Yvonne, made my daughter the yellow dress as a birthday gift because the coat was itchy and my daughter didn't like wearing it without something underneath.

The Madeline books and the Madeline tv specials all begin with the same lines, "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.  In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed. They left the house at half past nine  In two straight lines in rain or shine- the smallest one was Madeline."  I decided to alter the rhyme for the invitation, and as we did for our daughter's Peter Rabbit Birthday Party, we took her picture with a doll of the theme to use in the party invitation. 
Front outside of the invitation. I bought personalized Madeline stickers on ebay and used them for the invitation return address, thank you notes and for the favors. 

Back of the invitation above.  Madeline is not as popular as other children's characters so finding her party supplies takes a little more effort.  I found the invitations, thank you notes, a birthday banner, balloons, blow toys, party hats, plates, plastic cups, and stickers like the one above that I used to seal the invitations online. The stickers sheets were put in the plastic cups with the blow toys as favors along with some candy.
Using Available Resources.  There was a French Antique shop in Austin that had a large Eiffel Tower statue in front of it and I took my daughter to take pictures there.  I considered using these pictures for the invitations, but felt the close up ones were better since I already had the pre-made invitations.  If I had printed my own, then I probably would have used an image like this one for it somehow.  Still I like the pictures we took there.  Sometimes ideas work out, sometimes they don't.  But, I think it is good to see them as part of a creative process which is what I enjoy about entertaining.

Making Decorations:  I only had a few mylar Madeline balloons so I bought a lot of blue and yellow balloons to make the party more festive. I also bought poster boards and drew pictures of Madeline, Miss Clavel (the nun who runs Madeline's school) and Pepito, the Spanish boy next door and Madeline's friend. I also used a box to represent Madeline's boarding school.  My parents gave us a large pinata in the shape of The Eiffel Tower since Madeline lives in Paris.   A friend of ours who is into photography very generously took many pictures at the party and shared them with us.  If any of the pictures look good, chances are they are his.  If you don't like the photo, most likely I took it.  Above Photo credit: Leon Little.

Home made Decoration.  This is my Madeline board.  It may seem intimidating at first to make your own decorations, but I have very basic artistic skills and I was able to copy the characters fairly well.  Many children's stories feature characters that are fairly easy to draw.  I got the boards at Office Depot and used latex paints to color them in. 
An old house in Paris that was covered with vines.  I covered a large cardboard box with maroon poster paper that I bought at a Teacher's Supply store.  The roof is made of gray poster paper I got at the same time.  The door and steps are made from regular construction paper and the hinges and handle are painted on with permanent marker.  Around the holes I cut out for windows, I placed extra pieces of cardboard I painted gray and drew slats on with black marker to represent shutters.  I used a green marker to make planters in front of the house and I cut out little pieces of green construction paper to glue on as vine leaves.  There was probably an easier way to do this, but I was very excited about this party for months beforehand so I never thought twice about the time it would take to make a project for it.  
Standing Poster board.  I chose a large standing poster board for Miss Clavel and Pepito because I wanted to cut out their faces and use heavy duty tape to support a hinge/door effect so people could poke their heads in and take pictures that way.   I helped support the board by cutting out another large piece of cardboard and sticking it in the back as a stand also using heavy duty tape to attach it.
My husband and daughter goofing around with the cutouts as we are setting up for the party.  I was hoping they wouldn't be the only ones to use the cutouts.
I was so happy to see guests got into the spirit and posed with the cutouts.
So fun.  I used the poster board cutout again the next year for my daughter's Dora birthday party.   I just painted on the other side.  Cut outs invite guests to be silly and smile and that was the mood I was going for.
In this photo, you can see a little of the back part of the cutout stand and how I used another piece of cardboard to support it.


For kids this young, I thought it was important to keep the activities easy.  I hired a petting zoo that bought small farm animals to my front yard.  The kids LOVED it.
Seriously, look at those smiles?
I like how his tongue is sticking out.  Pony riding takes some concentration. LOL.
The kids roamed around with the animals on leases, too. 

Adorable, right?  I have a LOT of pictures of the kids with the animals. They make for great photo ops.  If you don't want to hire a petting zoo, most zoos allow kids' parties in their petting zoos or you could just get some friends to bring  2 or 3 small animals to your home for the kids to check out.  Bunnies, baby chicks, baby pigs, even kittens and puppies are all going to enchant kids and adults alike and make fantastic photo subjects.
I mean look at that smile.
One more pic because I was so happy with how entertained everyone, including the adults, were by the petting zoo.
The Eiffel Tower Pinata my parents gave us was gorgeous.  I was a bit sad to destroy it.
The kids weren't sad about it though.  They all enjoyed taking their turns hitting the pinata.  My daughter above is adjusting her hat to hit it again.

Since Madeline is French, to keep the theme we offered French champagne and/or champagne mimosas to the adults. The indoor food table had ham and cheese filled croissants, strawberries and a spinach quiche.   Outside, we had a large tub full of water bottles, bottled French lemonade and ice beside an open container of chilled pink lemonade punch.
On the outside table, I also set out a plate of pate beside a plate of baguette slices for people to nibble on. 
Sorry, I don't have any more pictures of the menu to share.  Above you can see one of the guests, enjoying a plate of the party food.
I had seen a Madeline hat birthday cake made from two round cakes (use cake mixes to make two 9- inch cakes and cut the top one back to be smaller, like only 6 inches in diameter) stacked one on top of the other, frosted with yellow icing with a red ribbon made from Fruit roll up online that I thought was adorable. I showed it to my SIL, Yvonne and she suggested she could make it, but she was very busy around that time so I decided to have my parents bring up a Madeline themed cupcake cake from our hometown baker for the party.  The morning of the party, Yvonne showed up with the Madeline hat birthday cake.  Yvonne explained that was some mistake/issue with icing it, but it still turned out super cute, imo.  We used that as the main cake and the cupcake cake as the backup.  If you are interested in making one, I think the original article I saw was this Family Fun one HERE
The cupcake cake.  Sorry, we didn't take a picture before the kids starting digging in for cake.  This gives you the gist though.  For younger kids, cupcake cakes can be really nice because the portions are small and the kids can eat them on their own even as young as two. 

There will be a mess after the cake, of course, but that is part of the fun with kids this young.

Balls are a great favor for small kids.  I found Madeline balls and gave one to each of the kids who attended the party.  They played with them a bit at the party and my daughter still has hers.  I also gave out plastic Madeline cups with candy, stickers, some Madeline coloring pages I found online, crayons and those trinkets they sell at party stores, but honestly I think the balls were the big hit favor.  My friend, Martha, gave her daughter a ball and bubble party about this age with lots of balls for the kids and different types of bubbles and I am sure it was a big hit.  Kids this young cannot do complicated activities so keeping planned activities simple works best I think.
If you are planning a Madeline party and want some info, please leave a comment and I will be glad to offer whatever help I can.  Actually all feedback is very much appreciated.




Stuff and Nonsense

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  1. Now thats what I call a PARTY!! Wow you really did it up right!! The time and effort you put into that darling darling party is so obviously well worth it. This is absolutely one of the cutest and cleverest childrens parties that I have ever seen. And believe me I have seen my share!!You are to congratulated for a job well done. I bet your little girl will never forget this. I know the adults who also came won't.


    PS. It looks like you are from Austin. We lived there for 22 years! We are Texans at heart!!!

  2. Hey Nann!

    Yes, I live in Austin. How funny that you lived here for so long. No wonder we like so many of the same things. And thank you for the compliment on the party. We only have one and I love parties so I love to come up with projects for her birthdays. I haven't done something that special every year but Madeline lent herself to a lot of different ideas. Thank you so much for visiting and being so supportive. It is much appreciated!


  3. What a darling party! I'm a fan of the Madeline books too. And I live in Austin! I'm now following along. ~ Sarah

  4. HI,

    Really awesome moments. Keep sharing i liked it very much.

  5. Sarah,
    Thank you so much for leaving a comment. Madeline truly is wonderful. The books are very empowering for little girls imo. They encourage bravery and confidence which is wonderful, plus I love that they are located in Europe. Kids get a lot of cultural exposure via Madeline's different adventures.

    How funny that it turns out we're neighbors! That is so nice. Thank you for following along.


  6. Kids Party Favors,

    Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. I'm glad you liked the party ideas.


  7. I've always adored Madeline, and your party is absolutely wonderful. Thank you for inviting us for a leak at the process and the event. Precious babies! Cherry Kay

    1. Thank you so much for leaving the encouraging comment. So glad you liked the party. It really did create great memories for us as a family and I think that made it a huge success. That's about the most I hope for.


  8. That's fantastic! That pinata is spectacular! I'd love it if you linked this up to my party I'm having! Great job!

    1. Natalie,

      I'm so sorry, I have been in the middle of a living room project and I am just finding time to reply to comments right now. I am heading over to visit your site. If you have another link party next week, I will definitely link to it then.


  9. What a fun party! I used to love Madeline! I found you through Stuff and Nonsense. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you for sharing this fabulous post to Potpourri Friday!

  11. WOW!It looks like a perfect party.The blue and yellow color combination of balloons looks nice.Thanks for sharing such nice pics.

  12. Hi, Great party. I was wondering where did you pick up the Madeline ball?