A veeery merry unbirthday! To who? To Jacs!
August 23rd is Jaclynn’s half-birthday, and we celebrate it every year. I know you’re shocked, right? The half birthday tradition began when Jacs was almost 6 months old. My husband laughed at me because I already had Pinterest boards started for her 1st and 2nd birthday parties. I just couldn’t decide on one theme! Knowing my love of party planning, he told me to give Jacs a half-birthday party for just our family. He thought that would help get some of the party planning bug out of my system. He gets me. Because it wasn’t technically her birthday, it meant it was her un-birthday, and what better theme for an un-birthday than the Mad Hatter’s tea party. It turned out really well, but instead of curing my party planning fever, it only released the beast.
When planning the DMNs for the summer I try to plan menus for July and August that don’t require indoor cooking. Weather well into triple digits, plus oven, plus people just doesn’t work well. I decided to do Alice in Wonderland, and a tea party was the perfect menu that didn’t require anything to be eaten hot out of the oven and you can mix and match your decorations and make it all work together.
The décor was pretty easy and didn’t require too much crafting on my part. It was all tea party style finger foods, so I set up the sideboard like a buffet. Along with filling out the sideboard, it was convenient because we could all share the food while sitting at the table. For the background, I borrowed Marissa’s giant wall clock and set it for 3:00 tea time like the movie. I wanted to use more from the movie than just the tea theme, so I used my Cricut Explore to cut out pastel arrows like the road signs and pasted them around the clock. I used pastel because it matched my tea cups that are pastel flowers trimmed in gold. I also used books to create different heights on the buffet and used my kitchen clock and tea rack to bring some height to the sides of the buffet.
The tablescape mirrored the sideboard with tea pots and cups galore. My grandmother collected tea things, and some of her tea goodies were passed down to me which means I had plenty of pots and cups to round out the centerpiece and place settings. For the place settings, I used my gold chargers and gold rimmed wine glasses to mimic the gold in the tea cup. I also set the cup and saucer on the white plate for a pop of color. I had small pixie dust jars from DMN: Peter Pan so I filled them with colored water and cut out small “Drink Me” tags. Jacs actually filled the jars with a dropper, and she loved it! Motor skills plus me avoiding the tedium? Winner! Winner!
I wanted the centerpiece to be high and bring focus to the tea cups hanging from the light fixture, so I stacked some old books up where I could set Jacs’ tea set up as the centerpiece. I thought the hanging cups were fun and brought a “madness” element to the otherwise fancy tablescape. I also used my grandmother’s crystal dishes for some white chocolate raspberries, Nutella, and all of the scone accoutrements: raspberry jam, Devonshire cream, and lemon curd. I rarely get to use my crystal and tea dishes; the last time I used them was DMN: Cinderella. It felt nice to have them out again, especially for a theme she would have enjoyed.
For the kitchen island theme, I wanted to highlight some other memorable parts of Wonderland. We have a blue hookah, so I had to use it for the Caterpillar. We haven’t used it since DMN: Aladdin, so it was fun to break it out again. To give a nod to the mushrooms he sits on to smoke, I took dollar store plastic serving bowls and hot glued them to dollar store vases I had. Because the vases were the same height, I brought over the book theme and used them on the island. Marissa also lent me her blue and white tea set, and I used it on the island with the blue hookah. I also cut out “Who are you?” out of blue cardstock and taped it to the cabinet to round out the caterpillar themed island.
I also cut out a couple of characters to bring more of Wonderland to the décor. The Cheshire Cat popped out at us over the edge of the island, and you had to pass the Doorknob on the front door to enter.
Although we had a tea party we couldn’t be teetotalers. After all, the DMN signature cocktail is a must for any and all Disney Movie Nights. This one in particular was super fun. In July, our friend Paul from England introduced us to his Earl Grey martini, and I knew I had to use it for DMN: Alice in Wonderland. Light and refreshing, it was a perfect to start the evening. My husband and father-in-law are not big gin fans, so they stuck with teadrivers (aka Firefly, a sweet tea flavored vodka, and orange juice). Along with the cocktail, I wanted something to munch on before we started the tea party and wanted to bring the mushroom theme to the appetizer because we were gathered around the island. I decided to do a mushroom tartlet by sautéing portabella mushrooms with a little garlic and fresh thyme and adding goat cheese at the end to melt down for a creamy feel to the filling. Super simple, but really delicious flavor!
Although it was a tea party theme, I needed to have some substantial food since we were eating it for dinner instead of just an afternoon tea. The menu consisted of a cheese tray and tea finger sandwiches. I did a variety of sandwiches: turkey with dilled mayonnaise and Havarti, Southern pimento cheese tea fingers, and open-faced cucumber sandwiches. We also had two kinds of scones, blueberry and cream and white chocolate apricot, served with lemon curd, raspberry jam, and Devonshire cream. For a little bit of texture with all of our sweets, we also had shortbread cookies with Nutella, and iced Eat Me cookies. I’m still working on my royal icing skills, but all in all I think they turned out pretty well. Marissa tried to help pipe, but she decided that cookie decorating was not her strong suit. That’s ok; she’s still my favorite sous chef. In fact, we have dubbed ourselves “Potz and Panz, aproned crusaders.” I think it fits well, don’t you? 😉
With all of the character options, you would think that Disneybound-ing would have been easy for Alice in Wonderland, but it was much harder for the girls than we thought. Jacs didn’t have the right blue for Alice, so we decided we would both wear our best floral and be the talking flowers. Nana came in her best floral too, so we had a whole garden. Aunt Courtnei was the title character in Peter Pan Player’s stage show of Alice in Wonderland when she was in elementary school, so it worked perfectly for her to come as Alice. Uncle Chris was Tweedle Dee, Papaw was the Caterpillar, Marissa was a Playing Card, and my insane wonderful husband found Marissa’s Queen of Hearts tutu and my tea hat and decided he was the Queen of Hearts. You can’t make this stuff up. Must have taste tested a few too many cocktails. 😉
While we were drinking said cocktails, Jacs got to do her craft. I found some Alice in Wonderland themed stencils at the dollar store. It wasn’t the Disney Alice, but it was close enough for a 3.5 year old. However, she really could not have cared less about the craft because she had her own very special treat. While at Dollar Tree, I found those liquid filled wax bottles on the candy aisle. She thought they were the coolest thing and liked chewing on the wax like her daddy did when he was little. Between that and the Nutella, she had plenty of stamina to stay up and watch the movie. We all enjoyed watching something from our childhood and it was even more fun to dissect the movie as an adult, although we still haven’t figured out “why is a raven like a writing desk.” Maybe next time around.
Join us next month for DMN: Ratatouille where we see that “Anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.”
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