Although I did not want to do it, I reluctantly agreed to let my daughter have another birthday party. After hosting the perfect slumber party last year for her eleventh birthday, I told her we were done. It was fun to plan, but exhausting to execute. Now that I was working more hours, I just did not feel like making another big to-do. Besides, her twin brother was not interested in having a party…why couldn’t she be more like him?
But, for two months prior her birthday, my daughter was invited to a slew of birthday parties, one after another. She wanted her turn to host the fun and be the birthday girl.
Initially, it was going to be a small affair with about six girls. However, all that changed because she had made new friends in middle school, and she wanted to include them in the festivities. She also wanted her Hebrew School friends to attend as well. Who could she leave out?
Planning the Activities
The theme she wanted was candy, so I went to Pinterest like I did last year and planned the games and craft based on ideas that I found around the internet.
After creating my pinboard, my daughter and I went to each of the sites to see what would work for us. We read, watched YouTube videos, and tried to find a craft and games that were easy, yet not too babyish. Keeping the girls busy and drama free was my number one priority. Fun activities that kept them working together would pass the time and make for a memorable event for my daughter.
To make my life easier and because I do not have family nearby healthy enough to help, I hired the seventeen year old daughter of a friend to be my extra set of hands and eyes. She wanted to do it for free but I insisted on paying her.
Just Say No to Electronics
On the invitation, I was very specific about the girls not bringing any electronic devices. No one was going to cause drama Instagraming pictures to those not invited and no secret texting and “talking” behind the backs of others was going to happen on my watch. I wanted all the girls to be “in the moment” with my daughter and the other guests at the party.
Although some girls told my daughter that it was “unfair” of me to have this rule, it is my house, my rules and my way.
How to Make a Candy Tree or Topiary
I had never tried to make a candy topiary before. There were many ways to go about it, and truthfully, I was looking for the least expensive way. My daughter and I saw the following video on YouTube and decided to make it our own.
Creating Our Sample
With sixteen guests, it was going to cost a lot of money if I did not shop properly. I went to our local Dollar Store and bought eighteen glasses-one for my daughter, one for each guest, and one to make as a sample to work out any potential issues. While I was there I also bought sparkly white tissue paper to place in each glass.
I used my teacher discount at AC Moore to get the tulle to wrap the glass, the glue dots, and the Styrofoam balls. Another candy tree YouTube video had suggested that to save money, cut the ball in half. I did just that with my electric carving knife.
Lollipops were bought the day after Halloween so I paid a discounted price on each bag. I also had nine dollars in CVS Extra Care Bucks to increase my savings.
I always advise doing a craft project in advance to see where any potential glitches and pitfalls might occur. No one wants an epic fail in front of a crowd of sixth grade girls!
It was a good thing we did make one in advance, as there were issues from the start. First, the tissue paper all crumpled up only filled half the glass. I cut each one in half and now two papers would fill it up.
Once my daughter finished building her topiary, there was a problem-I did not have enough lollipops! We solved that problem by making the second row Starburst candies instead of lollipops. We then counted the how candy we needed for each girl to be able to complete her own project.
If you do not want to use glass, these plastic sundae cups from Amazon will also work. They come in a set of 12. You will not need the tissue paper, as these are not transparent.
The Table Setting for Each Girl
Each girl had her own lollipop tree kit ready to be put together.
Make a Plan
The party was going to last 2.5 hours, and I knew it would go fast. I planned on fifteen minutes for arrival, 45 minutes for games, 45 minutes for the craft, and the remainder for cake, snacks and hanging out.
Because no electronics were permitted, the girls had to speak to each other, and parents actually had to come to the door to get their daughter.
Although I have been teased all my life for being organized, it is how I work best. I do not do well under pressure, and because I was called in to work a long term sub assignment unexpectedly, any last minute daytime planning was out of the question. Every bit of the party had to be ready to go when I got home from work. The party was in the evening and I needed to relax and make sure I was good to go!
We set the table with everything else I had prepped-the tulle, the paper, the glue dots and the Styrofoam balls. I even printed out the directions for the girls to read so I did not have a gazillion questions and the girls could feel empowered doing it themselves.
The craft would be the second activity, as we were going to play the games first. One guest was coming 45 minutes late, and while she could easily miss the games, the craft was the party favor and I wanted her to have one.
The size of the styrofoam ball depends on how wide a mouth your glass is. We used 4 inch ones and I cut them in half, thereby cutting the cost in half as well.
Baking the Cake
My children have been baking since they could hold a wooden spoon. My daughter made the cake herself and added candy to the icing using our food processor to crush it.
Candy Games for the Party
In addition to planning a craft, my daughter and I had to find the perfect games for seventeen girls to play in our finished basement, where this part of the party would take place.
We found ideas at Queen of the Theme Party and at Makoodle. The games were chosen based on playability indoors and lack of mess. While my daughter really wanted to play the game where you stuck your face in whipped cream to find the hidden gummy bears, the idea of having seventeen faces and hands all gooey in my house was not happening. That is a great outdoor summer party idea!
We decided to play:
- The M&M Mouth game, but with Skittles
- Candy Corn game
- Candy toss (throw wrapped candy into buckets in teams)
- Starburst Stacking (in teams)
- Unwrap a Hershey Bar with no hands (I used half-price Kit Kat bars instead).
If you want variety for the “unwrap the candy bar” game, this full size pack of Hershey candy bars will do the trick! Find them here.
The End Result
The party was a huge success! As the girls arrived, I sent them down to the basement where my teen helper had them to play some ice breaker activities. She helped organize the games with me and aided in craft when asked. We served the cake and then she took the girls downstairs for funny pictures as I cleaned up the dining room.
This party should have been two hours-the girls finished the cake at the two hour mark. However, my daughter wanted time to hang out, so I added the extra half-hour.
I am so happy that my daughter and her friends had such a good time!