Throw a Princess Party

 My three-year-old daughter loved everything princess.   She loved princess dolls, princess movies and she adored dressing up in princess costumes. Thus, when she had her first birthday party to celebrate her fourth birthday, the theme was a no-brainer.  We threw in a little twist by making it a princess party with a quest.

The Invitations, Plates and Cups

 We headed to our nearest party store and found a cute pink and purple princess themed invitations, plates and cups.

Costumes

 On the invitations we specified that all little girls should wear a princess costume, and little boys could wear the costume of their choice.  We didn't want to leave them out.  That meant we had princesses hanging out with superheroes and ninjas, but it was all good.  We knew that all the girls invited had princess costumes, since princess dressup was a favorite activity at playdates in my daughters circle, but you might want to specify on the invitation that you'll have extra costumes on hand in case any little girl doesn't have one.

The Cake

 I went to my local hobby store and picked up a princess cake kit, the kind with the bowl shaped dress and the doll torso that sticks out the top, and made the cake myself.  I think it's better to get the kit, or borrow one.  I had a friend who used to make a princess cake on her own with a bowl and a barbie doll, but the barbie doll never really fit in the cake - it was too long. You could also make a sheet cake and decorate it with a crown or buy princess themed cake decorations at the grocery or party store.  If you're not into cake decorating, order a princess cake at a bakery or your favorite grocery store bakery.

Party Favors

For party favors we gave out plastic swords for the boys and toy tiaras that we found at the dollar store for the girls.  We gave out princess themed fruit snacks, as well as various other knick knacks that we found at the party store.

Games - The Quest

For the games, we did a quest. This was a lot of fun and for months later the kids who had been at the party would tell me how much they'd enjoyed the quest. Here's what we did:

I kind of stole the story line from the book "The Paperbag Princess," a personal favorite. My daughter's birthday is in summer, so we did this outside, but it would work just as well indoors.

For the quest, we used my daughter's favorite stuffed animal, named Hoppy Bunny, and a crocodile puppet we have, who was the dragon. Another adult or child could be the dragon, though.

We sat in a circle, with Hoppy Bunny sitting on my daughter's lap. I said, "Long ago there was a beautiful princess who had a pet bunny that she loved dearly. Every day the princess would play with her bunny, take her bunny for long walks and share ice cream sundaes with her. But one day, an evil dragon came to the castle and snatched the bunny away."

Here, the dragon grabs the bunny toy and takes it to another part of the yard or house.

"The princess wept for two days and two nights, and on the third day a fairy appeared to her. The fairy told her that the dragon was keeping Hoppy Bunny in his cave, and that she should gather all the princesses and princes in the land and go on a quest together to rescue her bunny. The fairy told her that first she would need to travel into the dark forest."

Here's where the games come in. You could really use any game here, and when all the kids have completed each game, the fairy tells them where to go next.

So I led the kids to the "dark forest," a tree with a pinata on it, the kind that you pull the strings on until it opens. I passed out paper bags labeled with their names. Each child took a turn, and when it opened they each got some of the candy, pencils and rubber balls inside.

I then said,"After the princesses and princes had arrived safely on the other side of the dark forest the fairy appeared once again. She told them they would have to cross the bridge guarded by a mean old troll."

I led them to an area of the yard where we had a bag full of blown up ballons. The night before I had written the name of an animal on a small slip of paper and put it into the ballon before blowing it up and tying it.

"The troll was grouchy about having been awakened from his sleep. 'The only way I will let you cross this bridge is if I turn you into an animal first!" He declared. The princesses and princes realized this was the only way, and agreed."

Then I have each child pop a ballon by stepping on it or poking it with a stick. If they were afraid, we did it for them. They then had to make the sound of the animal on the slip of paper inside while running across the "bridge." So we had little chickens, puppies and cats running around the yard, very cute.

After everyone was done, I said, " On the other side of the bridge, they all turned back into princesses and princes again. The fairy appeared once more and said, 'Now you must collect the treasure that the evil dragon has stolen.'" I led them to an area where I had strewn some of those chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, and had them collect all they could and put it in their paper bag. The older kids had an advantage in this game, but I held onto a few coins to give to the little ones who only found one or two.

"The fairy appeared to the princes and princesses one last time. "You have completed all the tasks of your quest and shown yourselves to be able to defeat the dragon. Now I will show you the dragon's lair, so you can rescue Hoppy Bunny."

Then we ran to the deck, where I had stashed the puppet and Hoppy Bunny.

"The princesses and princes approached the dragon's lair. The princess who loved Hoppy Bunny stepped forward and said 'Give us back the bunny!' The dragon laughed and said, 'Now why should I do that? I'm bigger than you, stronger than you, and much, much faster than you.'

The princess had an idea. "Oh no, I don't believe you're fast. You're too big and clumsy to be fast.'

"I am SO fast," said the dragon. "I'm so fast, I can fly around the whole world in 5 minutes."

"I don't believe that. You're going to have to show me."

'Fine,' said the dragon, and disappeared. He flew around the world, and five minutes later he appeared back at the cave, breathing heavily. "You see?"

"Oh, yes I saw," said the princess. But I bet you can't do it again."

The dragon was so tired he wasn't sure if he could do it again, but he didn't want to admit that and decided to try. As soon as he left, the princess and princes entered the cave and rescued hoppy bunny.

When the dragon was half way around the world he became too exhausted too fly any farther and found a place to land and sleep. He slept for two weeks, and when he awoke, he saw a beautiful lady dragon nearby and fell in love. He decided to stay in the far off land with his love. He forgot completely about the princess and hoppy bunny and never bothered them again. And the princess and her bunny lived happily ever after.

And that was the end of the quest. Actually my daughter wanted to have a ball - music and dancing - at the end, and we had a cd all ready to go but forgot.

Blowing out the Candles & Gifts

 After the quest we sang happy birthday, served the cake and ice cream, then opened presents.  My daughter was delighted with her princess party, and it got raves from her guests as well.

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