When I first asked my daughter what she wanted to do for her 5th birthday, she said, “Have a butterfly tea party!” Then, when I asked her who we should invite, thinking she would rattle off a list of her pre-kindergarten buddies, she definitively exclaimed, “Gail!”—our dear 51-year-old neighbor. Suffice it to say, my daughter prefers hanging out with adults to playing with kids her own age (though she does have plenty of little friends). But a butterfly tea party it would be, we decided, with a mix of friends old and young. I have to say I kind of love the fact that when the big day came, we had every age group represented, with little girls, teenagers, thirty-somethings, fifty-somethings, and sixty-somethings, all specially invited by Christine to celebrate her happy day. I like to think it gives a panoramic of the community she is growing up in, with connections in lots of places.
Since I’ve had a break between my spring and summer nutrition internships the last few weeks, I had the chance to
go totally overboard spend plenty of time planning and preparing for the party. My husband kept making fun of me, saying that I was doing the work more for myself than for our 5-year-old…which may partly be accurate, but really, I wanted to create an event that would be fun for both grown-ups and little girls, and I felt that took some serious design. In the end, I hope I succeeded!
Here are some details of the decorations, activities, and foods from this fun, girly party!
Flowers in a teapot is fairly standard for prettying up a tea party, and this time, I found a butterfly on a stick (or more like a skewer, but that sounds rather unpleasant) at the dollar store and added it to the arrangement. As you will see, my local Dollar Tree played a major role in decorating for this party.
For a display that was large enough for my 8-foot dining room table, this “custom” table runner came together with craft paper and lace.
The dining table display.
So….about the dollar store…these sparkly butterfly wings from Dollar Tree were the perfect way to adorn dining chairs and doubled as a parting gift for each girl who attended the party. The only downside: it may be the next century before I get all the glitter out of my carpet.
Decorating my chandelier was possibly my favorite part of preparing for the tea party. Using some purple tulle, I wrapped the chandelier to resemble a butterfly net and added some butterflies held captive inside. No butterflies were harmed in the making of this display.
If there’s one thing you know you’ll see every time at a party at my house, it’s a banner. I would probably make a banner for a funeral. I may need a banner intervention. This one was fun to assemble with shabby chic craft paper.
More butterflies and flowers!
Annnnd…even more butterflies, this time clipped to a shabby chic birdhouse to make a centerpiece for the kids’ lunch table.
1. Greetings, Great One
As an icebreaker at the beginning of the party, we played something called “Greetings, Great One,” a guessing game that let Christine feel like the real Guest of Honor. She stood with her back to all her guests, and one by one, we approached her from behind and said in a disguised voice, “Greetings, great one! Happy Birthday!” She then had to guess the owner of each voice. It was surprisingly tough!
2. Coloring Pages
Another activity awaited guests after lunch and tea were served and we sat down to eat. At each table were various butterfly and tea cup coloring pages, with crayons in little china cups nearby.
3. Tea Bag Toss
Tea Bag Toss, as you may have guessed, is a variation of a classic toss/skeeball game. It was the result of my last-minute party planning panic that there might not be enough activities to fill the time, and I’m glad we had it as an option. The girls seemed to really enjoy trying to rack up points by tossing tea bags into the various receptacles. My niece was the big winner, beating even the adults with a whopping 200 points. I smell a college skeeball scholarship!
4. Pass the Parcel
Finally, before Christine opened her presents, the rest of us got to have some fun with a present of our own. Sitting in a circle while music played, we passed a gift around that had been wrapped with numerous layers of wrapping paper. When the music stopped, the person holding it got to unwrap one layer. Finally, the person to open the last layer got to keep the prize inside: a gift card to Target (where I figured a winner of any age could find something to like).
The best part! I think I could eat tea party food everyday and not get tired of it for a veeeeery long time. All those little finger foods give you the beautiful illusion that you can try a bit of everything and not overeat.
Dilled Cucumber Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches
Roast Beef with Lemon-Rosemary Aioli Tea Sandwiches
Apple-Almond Chicken Salad Puffs
Individual Fruit Trifles
Arugula Salad with Figs, Pecans, Chèvre, and Blackberries
Smoked Salmon Spread with Butter Crackers
Vanilla Cinnamon Black Tea
Jasmine Green Tea
Peach Passion Herbal Tea
Strawberry Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting and Sugar Paper Butterflies
Last year for Mother’s Day, my mom got me a package of edible butterflies she found on Etsy. I used some for my own birthday cake back in September, but what better opportunity to use them than a butterfly tea party? I love the way they rest so delicately on the side of each cupcake, just like if a real butterfly stopped by to enjoy the party. Except then you eat it, which I personally would not do with a real butterfly, but if you would, that’s cool. You’re probably lots of fun at parties.
Christine watching over her cupcakes–she had her eye on the purple one.
The girls’ table:
The grown-ups table:
When all the guests had gone home full of tea and wearing their glittery wings, Christine and I did what any sensible girls would do after a long day of tea partying: watched The Little Mermaid in our underwear while one of us drank a sizable glass of wine. It’s good to be a girl.