If you have followed my blog over the years, you probably know how much I love character parties.
I don’t love them.
I loathe them.
But make no mistake, I’ve done plenty. I’ve decorated Hello Kitty‘s face in buttercream, made Doc McStuffins cupcakes, a 3ft Cinderella cake, and probably the biggest challenge ever was when I was asked to do a SpongeBob party. Yep, biggest task to date. Making SpongeBob attractive.
So when it came time to decide the theme for my daughter Ally’s 9th birthday party, I pleaded with her for anything but a character as I rattled off dozens of party ideas. Except, all she wanted was My Little Pony. “Mom, I HAVE to have a My Little Pony Party. I LOVE MY LITTLE PONY!! I’ve already told all of my friends.” Well that settled that. Since the third graders had spoken, we settled on celebrating her birthday My Little Pony style. Plus, I mean, it was HER birthday.
I’d imagine so many parents can relate, which is why I’m going to share some ideas and DIY’s so you too can embrace the character party with your children!
The first step in party prep is creating an eye catching invitation. My invite mantra has been and always will be “The invitation sets the stage for the party”. I browsed HUNDREDS of My Little Pony invitations on etsy. Maybe thousands. Nothing stuck out at me. I got creative. I remembered a wedding invitation I had seen printed on a balloon. It was genius. I turned to my crazy talented web designer Harper Gray who created a FABULOUS balloon invitation that was just enough “pony” to represent the theme, without characters all over the place. We sent them out in little confetti filled Rainbow Dash blue boxes with stamps directly on the box.
The goal is for guests to open their mailbox, see the invitation and instantly be so excited about the party that they drop everything they are doing and immediately RSVP to the party. It works you guys. Every single person we invited RSVP’d within hours of receiving their invite. WIN!!
Once invites have been mailed, it’s time to plan the decor and details. I like to put together either a color palate or a few prints/patterns as my base. For My Little Pony, the colors are just about every color in the rainbow. I talk about this in my book, having a larger color base makes life easier when party planning. When you are tied to one specific shade of blue, you’re going to have a hard time finding everything you need in that shade of blue. Of course, it can be done, but why make things so hard on yourself? We went with the whole rainbow, every bright, vibrant color there is.
I LOVE gigantic balloons. I am obsessed with NorthStar Balloons‘ incredible selection of HUGE number and letter balloons in, you guessed it, every color of the rainbow. We ordered gobs and gobs of stars, hearts, letters and 9’s to deck out Ally’s party. They were inexpensive, and instantly give any room a party vibe. There isn’t anything besides maybe cake that screams party more than a balloon. Get some. They’re inexpensive and kids love them.
One of my must-have party products are Balloon Time Helium Tanks. These are genius. They alleviate the dreaded trip to the party store to pick up balloons and try to stuff them into your car without them blowing away or popping on your drive home. And let’s be honest, as a parent it’s rare to be alone so now you’re squeezing balloons into your car with kids. It’s a nightmare. Balloon Time Helium Tanks save us time (and our sanity) allowing us to inflate the balloons AT the party!
To spice up the huge balloon bundles, I added rainbow tassel garland from PaperWhite Designs to the balloon strings. They gave the balloons an extra pop of color and texture! Plus these are the CUTEST photo props! Grab your camera, the guest of honor, a bundle of balloons and you have a darling photo! (Take it a step further by turning the photo into a card and use as a Thank You!)
A birthday is the best excuse to treat yourself to a new party dress. I connected with my favorite local seamstress to sew THE most gorgeous “Rainbow Dash” inspired party dress. Look at the tail on that dress! Ally couldn’t have been happier twirling and spinning. I told Ally the morning of her party “Happy 9th Wedding Day”, because let’s be honest, this child has basically had 9 small weddings.
You might be familiar with my love for Lollipop Lights custom marquee lights. I can’t get enough of them. I think every party should have a name or saying in lights. Lollipop Lights nailed it again with this PONY POWER sign that we hung in the entrance to the party. One sign wasn’t enough though, we also did ALLY in lights, which now is lit in her bedroom!
Another decor detail I love is creating custom pillows for my parties. I connected with So Vintage Chic to create pillow covers with the My Little Pony cutie marks. They knocked it out of the park! They were absolutely perfect! (These too are in Ally’s room, ha! Never underestimate finding a permanent home IN your home for your party decor!)
One of my goals with this theme was to be resourceful and use some of Ally’s My Little Pony toys as decor and details. If your child wants a party theme after a specific toy they already own, find a way to use it! Why spend extra money on party decor when you can pull from your toy box. We used her Princess Twilight Sparkle Castle and Pinkie Pie Playsets on the coffee table as decor that also doubled as an activity table. It was perfect for our pint sized guests who were a bit too young for some of our party activities.
When you are 9, there is nothing like have a beautiful table set just for you to enjoy. I wanted Ally’s little friends to have a fabulous party table to sit where they could snack on treats, craft and have their (hilarious) little 9 year old conversations.
I set the table with rainbow party plates from Shop Sweet Lulu paired with a My Little Pony napkin, darling bottles from TomKat Studio with custom straws & flags from Oh Goodie Designs and stickers by Harper Gray. I love mixing and matching from all the fantastic party shops. Don’t limit yourself to just one, they all have something great to offer! To give the table EVEN MORE texture and color, I sprinkled The Flair Exchange‘s bright rainbow confetti. I never wished so badly I was 9.
Bash & Bloom put together lovely floral arrangements made up from simple flowers placed in milk glass vases. We decided on solid color bunches of flowers (yellows, greens, and pinks) and finished them off with a glitter spray. They were the perfect pop of life to spread around the party!
I created fun desserts around this theme without making anything that was super time consuming or difficult. Ally’s favorite pony is Rainbow Dash, so I came up with Rainbow Dash Cutie Mark Krispies, made using a basic Rice Krispie recipe but dividing the batch and using rainbow colors. I cut them into Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark shape and added mini marshmallow “clouds”. They were a hit, especially among our gluten-free guests.
Another simple treat were the Rainbow Power Pops, basic cake pops but dipped and sprinkled in every color of the rainbow. Piece of cake plus big crowd pleaser equals recipe success. (I have lots of cake pop recipes in my book if you need ideas.)
As our guests began to arrive, Ally escorted them to “Twilight Sparkle’s Beauty Bar” for rainbow manicures, cutie mark tattoos and Equestria Girl hairdo’s and extensions. If you’re not familiar with Equestria girls, they are a fashion doll version of the My Little Pony characters with colored hair, bright outfits, LOTS of personality. We placed Ally’s dolls around the table, again, using what we already owned as decor.
The fabulous girls behind Tickled Pink, a local party spa, came to make over Ally and her guests. They were unreal amazing. So incredibly sweet and kind to each girl. Ally’s guests had so much fun adding a pop of color to their hands and hair! I even took advantage of the hair extensions. A permanent pink streak may be in my future..
After the Beauty Bar, the girls headed to “Rarity’s Carousel Boutique” to create a party skirt, necklace, and pick out a party hat (custom made by Oh Goodie Designs). I ordered tulle skirts from TomKat Studio and found an embroidery genius on etsy to make cutie mark patches the girls could fabric glue onto their skirts. As luck would have it, I misplaced the cutie marks in the hustle and bustle of party set up. I was devastated. It didn’t stop the girls from picking a skirt, hat and designing necklaces though. But I was still bummed. (And of course found them the day after the party.)
We partied on a Sunday at 2pm, so I didn’t feel the need for food. We had plenty of desserts and an AMAZING “Rainbow Dash Refreshments” bar made up of rainbow colored bottled sodas I found from Homer Soda Company. You guys, they have a bazillion different kinds of soda. I was blown away. I wanted to try them all. And guess what, if you live in the Illinois area, you can!! This May they are hosting a Soda Festival where you can, for 25 CENTS, try over 250 sodas!
This is such a fun way to display beverages and also very easy to recreate using colored juice boxes, cans of soda, or even different pitchers or beverage dispensers of rainbow colored drinks.
The girls grabbed a drink and headed to the table to Design-a-Pony. Hasbro has these fantastic figurines that were perfect for our “craft”. The girls absolutely loved chatting and coloring their ponies. I couldn’t believe how serious and concentrated they were as they designed!
The dessert table is the centerpiece of any party. I wanted Ally’s table to be bright, colorful, and scream Pony Power! My friends at Shop Sweet Lulu have a darling rainbow backdrop tutorial on their site that I was able to easily replicate with my own spin. You can see theirs here along with purchase supplies to create your own! I loved the backdrop so much I literally took it home with me assembled in case I want to reuse it for St Patricks day!!
For the actual desserts, I knew it was beyond my talents and not worth my time to try and achieve a My Little Pony character in fondant or buttercream, so I reached out to some experts that could do it for me. My friend Lynlee of Lynlee’s Petite Treats made the most beautiful cutie mark cupcake toppers that made my job a whole lot easier. I just baked the cupcakes, and put her gorgeous toppers on!
Lynlee is an extremely talented fondant artist with a book to prove it! She puts together fabulous step-by-step tutorials teaching others how to re-create her fondant creations. If you are up for the challenge, Lynlee has put together a DIY tutorial on her cutie mark toppers that we’ll be sharing later here this week. Wahoo!!
I did end up ordering pony cookies from Elle Couture Cookies, an etsy shop that does gorgeous work. I couldn’t resist having the actual characters on the cookies. Her cookies were soft, buttery, and the design was stunning.
For Ally’s cake, I had initially thought of doing a cake covered in sprinkles, but once I had put the rainbow backdrop together, I realized it would have clashed and decided on a simple white ruffled buttercream with fondant ponies. Rebecca from Eye Candy Sugar does INCREDIBLE work. I am still in awe of how gorgeous her work is. Look at those details!!
After everyone was sugared up, we played a game! In my effort to incorporate Ally’s My Little Pony toys, we pulled out her My Little Pony Pops and dreamed up a game. Pony Pops are these ponies that come separated and you build them. Their bodies, wings, tails, horns etc come in pieces and the child puts them together.
I separated all the pony pops into two bowls, divided the girls into two groups and told them the object of the game was to build all of the ponies correctly, the fastest. The girls giggled and worked excitedly as a team putting their ponies together.
Try to think outside the box when it comes to a game or activity. What do you have on hand that you could turn into a game? It doesn’t have to be time consuming or super detailed, their party attention spans are really only 5-10 minutes.
Ally was spoiled by all of her friends and family with more My Little Pony toys than I’ve ever seen. Since her birthday is so close to Christmas, I like putting some of the toys/gifts away and pull them out on a rainy or sick day at home.
As always, my friend Kelly of KCB Photgraphy captured all the details and rainbow magic from Ally’s Pony Party. The girls had a blast taking photos together with inexpensive photo props I picked up at Walmart!
I love having a photo op at parties. Even if you don’t have a photographer, almost everyone has a camera on their phone that they can pull out to grab a photo. Hang a piece of fabric, string some garland or maybe add a bundle of balloons where people can pose with the birthday girl. Photo props are easy to find down almost any party aisle, or make your own! Put out a basket of hats, scarves, sunglasses, and silly accessories and watch your guests go wild! It’s fun to get photos of the guests at the event that you can print and send with thank you cards.
Big cheers to my mom, sister and all my friends who came in their My Little Pony themed outfits! How fun is that!!
As a take home favor, we had a colorful sweets station “Pinkie Pie’s Sugar Cube Corner” (that’s where Pinkie Pie lives you guys.. ) with darling take home boxes with stickers by Harper Gray. We found all of our candy from Miami Candies who are UH-MAZING. We talked on the phone about the theme and without even asking specifics, they put together the most perfectly coordinating candies for our party.
A candy bar can get expensive quick when you are using clear apothecary jars and glass vessels. No doubt they are pretty, but you’re usually left with uneaten candy that cost you a fortune. I pulled from my milk glass collection to set a small table of assorted candies. We didn’t have gobs and gobs of candies, but just enough to fill each container and set a colorful sweets station.
After Ally’s guests ate, drank, crafted, and designed, they showered her in rainbow confetti with PaperWhite Designs confetti pops. Kids LOVE these and they make for a really cute photo!
I think my spiritual gift is actually giving gifts, so when you come to a Jenny Party, you will most likely leave with more than you came with. I found these adorable drawstring bags from Sweet Lily’s Confections and asked if she could personalize them with Ally’s name and birthday. She did a beautiful job! We filled the bags with inexpensive little trinkets like crayons, bubble bath, pencils and custom hair ties by Enchanted Hair Ties.
Keep your eye out for little treats to coordinate your party theme in dollar sections. Every store has one now, as I’m sure if you have children you are familiar. My kids swarm to the dollar section every time we walk into Target. “Mom can we get this??” Tell me your kids ask you this too.
Do you have a My Little Pony fan in your house? Ally wants to send a goodie bag and a few favors from her party to you!! Enter below to win one of Ally’s goodie bags, a My Little Pony Design-a-Pony, My Little Pony Pop, and an Equestria Girls doll!