How to make a licensed character party look homemade.

Have you ever noticed that the parties featured on all those professional party planner blogs all have generic themes, like bubbles, cars, or even just colors? But your kids aren’t going to request a “pink damask” party theme; they’re going to request Hello Kitty, Superman, Elmo, or, say, Mickey. So how can you give them what they want while still adding a personal, homemade touch like the professionals do? Do it yourself!

The Munchkin and SIX — yes, six — of her playgroup friends all have birthdays within a few weeks, if you can believe it. So the moms all got together & decided that, rather than spend the whole month of June going to each other’s birthday parties, why not do a joint party? We just had to figure out the one thing all seven could agree on: “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”!

I quickly volunteered to be in charge of the decorations, & I did everything with a personal, homemade touch with just over $30! You can too!

Here’s what I used:

  • a few feet of grosgrain ribbon (you can see it in the banner in the photo above)
  • 3 sheets of posterboard (34 cents each at Target)
  • 3 rolls of streamers: red, yellow, Caribbean blue
  • 3 cheap vinyl tablecloths in the same colors
  • The Munchkin’s coloring books
  • a few minutes at Kinko’s
  • The Munchkin’s crayons
  • my friend’s Cricut & her Mickey cartridge
  • free Disney fonts I downloaded from online

That’s it!

I started by going to my friend Maile’s house, where she very graciously helped me cut out dozens of Mickey shapes. That shape is forever seared in my brain. It reminded me of when we learned about children’s book author Bill Peet, who got his start as an inbetweener in Disney’s animation department, but quit when he had a nervous breakdown while animating a Donald Duck cartoon & ran out of the building screaming, “No more ducks! No more ducks!” As I was gluing (& gluing. & gluing.) I thought several times, “No more Mickeys! No more Mickeys!”

But seeing it all put together was totally worth it. The Mickeys ended up all over the place, like on these treat bags. It was a great way to reinforce the theme in a less cartoony way. (I attached a Sharpie on a ribbon to the sign to let the parents write their kids’ names on their bags.)

I used more Mickeys & some brightly-colored cardstock I already had to make placecards for the dessert table. Please forgive the really horrible rubbing out of names… I haven’t spent the $24.95 for the good version of Picnik to do name-blurring the right way. But under the horribleness is each name in free Mickey font. The other 6 kids got Wal-Mart cakes in the Disney character of his or her choice, but we’re cake snobs in this house, & besides, I’d been envisioning this Toodles cake for months. So that’s what The Munchkin got. I’ll post the tutorial Friday!

The signs were photocopies I enlarged from The Munchkin’s coloring books at Kinko’s (for a whole $2.06 total) & glued onto pieces of posterboard. Then My Husband The Artiste & I spent an evening coloring them in while watching Newsies. (Could our family get any more Disney? Maybe I should look into sponsorship or something for all this product placement…) Here are some of them; the “Birthday Clubhouse” logo was designed by the aunt of one of the birthday boys, who’s a professional photographer & graphic designer. She used it for the awesome invitation she made, which I for some reason can’t edit my ghetto way & still save. I’ll try to get it from her so you can see all its awesomeness.

We put each of the characters on a pillar of the Clubhouse, which was the gazebo outside our apartment complex. Perfect, right?

Even more perfect was the fact that Mickey Park was right next door! The kids entertained themselves by playing on the adjacent playground, drawing with sidewalk chalk like Daisy, & fishing for more treats for their treat bags with a “handy fishing rod” my friend Wendy made from a paint stirrer, some yarn, & 2 felt hands glued on either side of a clothespin. Total cost: $2.

Finally, here’s the food table. We had two kinds of chips & homemade salsa from my friend Halley (one was a fruit salsa I am definitely making & hopefully posting in the near future), Mickey-shaped cheese (find them at Wal-Mart) & crackers, chocolate covered raisins, Swedish fish (I mean, “Gooey Fish”), fresh fruit, & Hot Diggity Dogs (find them at Costco).

I made the banner & table tents from more of that scrapbook paper & free Mickey font.

So there you have it! All you need is some paper, coloring books, & creativity, & you can have a beautiful birthday party & a very happy birthday Munchkin…

…or seven!

Don’t forget to come back Friday to see the Toodles Cake tutorial! Here’s a sneak peek:

works for me wednesday at we are that family36th Avenue

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7 Comments

Filed under Activities, Crafts

7 responses to “How to make a licensed character party look homemade.

  1. What a fabulous party! You are so creative! And you are right that it just takes a little imagination and work to create your own themed party. Look at what all you did for $30! I’m hiring you to do Sophie’s party in November. By the way, I did spend the $24.95 to get the premium Picnik and let me tell you, it’s the best money I’ve ever spent!

    • I’m happy to brainstorm ideas with you for Sophie’s party! Wish I could be there in person! Email me (it’s on the “About” page) & we’ll talk. :)

  2. I love this! My daughter loves “Hot Dog” as she calls it and her birthday is coming up in September. I will definitely have to bookmark this to come back and look at as we start planning in another couple of months. Thanks for sharing and the cake looks awesome!

  3. Maile

    Wow!! It all turned out so well. I’m really sad I had to miss it. You are amazing to spend so much time thinking out all the decorations! It really looked great.

  4. This is so great! My daughter wants a Phineas and Ferb birthday party this year and I’ve done everything I can NOT to actually buy the commercial guck. Once I have it all posted, I’d love for you to take a look (we’ve got awhile to go August!).

  5. This is soo cute! You did an amazing job with the decorations! I bet the kids just LOVED it!

  6. I am planning a Minnie Mouse Masquerade party for my daughter next month. I am trying to do it all handmade, as well, to save money. I’ve even started a dedicated blog for just the party!! minniemousebirthday.blogspot.com

    I love all your party ideas. I especially love the cake! I have had various Mickey parties featured on my site over the past few weeks, and I’d love to feature your party!! bearrabbitbear.blogspot.com

    Thanks for sharing!

    I am also having my first blog hop on my regular blog. It begins this Thursday. It is a blog dedicated to kids and teens crafts and other ideas, so your party would be a perfect fit! Hope you’ll stop by and link up!

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