First, decide which style you want to apply to these Alice in Wonderland party ideas. You could take inspiration from the original Lewis Carroll book, which has some wonderful illustrations by John Tenniel (right), the classic Walt Disney cartoon which uses lots of bright colors, or the recent Tim Burton film which has a more fantastical and surreal style with slightly more muted pastel tones. Whichever you choose, there are lots of Alice in Wonderland party ideas and decorations below to compliment your theme.
Personally, I think a combination of the Tim Burton film (see the Alice in Wonderland tea party scene below) and the original book illustrations (right) work really well.
Kids will love the magical Tim Burton styling but a few references to the original book will add some credibility to your decorations and stop your tea party looking too commercial. And you really want to encourage kids to read the book anyway.
alice in wonderland Invitations
Below are some suggestions for invitations to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas:
For an Alice in Wonderland party, which is already a surreal theme, I think it's entirely appropriate to be less traditional with the invitations. So you might want to reference the key that Alice finds when she falls down the rabbit hole that lets her into Wonderland.
Below is a similar key invitation which I used for a Secret Garden theme party. You can easily use something similar for these Alice in Wonderland party ideas.
Either hand write the details onto a decorative shipping tag, or you can have these printed quite cheaply incorporating your own photograph - see printed mini cards in the Photo Invitations section below.
Then send these out in these cute box mailers (below right, USA only).
You can make your own personalized invitations to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas by using these printed mini cards (below) - they're just $19.95 / £12 for 100 cards.
All you have to do is upload your own image to print on one side (for example, you child dressed in Alice, The Mad Hatter or The Queen of Hearts costumes) then print whatever text you want on the reverse. Then print some text based invitations onto cardstock using your own home printer and stick the mini photo cards on (see example above right). As the cards are quite small, you can attach several per invitation showing your child in different poses, like in the example above right.
See the Costumes section for more Alice in Wonderland party costumes like the ones below.
'Drink Me' Invitations
Another great 3D invitation to use with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas is to send out small bottles of the famous 'Drink Me' potion (right).
Simply use a small glass bottle with a cork stopper and fill with some colored water (alternatively use glitter glue for a more 'set' finish if you're worried about it spilling in the mail).
Finish by attaching a small tag tied with ribbon with 'Drink Me' on and all the party details on the reverse. Either hand write these onto a decorative shipping tag, or for a more professional look you can have these printed quite cheaply using the printed mini cards mentioned in the Photo Invitations section above.
Mail the bottles out in these small boxes (USA only) to ensure they aren't damaged in transit.
Pocket Watch Invitations
Another variation on the 3D invitation, is to use one of these toy pocket watches (right) as your Alice in Wonderland invitations. Note that these are oversized (8" diameter) so they'll fit in nicely with the Wonderland theme while making a big first impression. Literally.
(Update Summer 2012:The price of this item has now increased which might mean it's no longer cost effective to use as an invitation. The cheapest price available now is $4.95, so it just depends on your budget / number of guests).
Just hand write the party details onto a decorative shipping tag and tie on with ribbon, or for a more professional look use the printed mini cards mentioned in the Photo Invitations section above. Alternatively, just print the tea party details onto cardstock using your home printer then stick onto the reverse of the watch.
Mail these out in these small boxes (USA only) to ensure they aren't damaged in transit.
If you're hand writing the party information, a nice detail would be to draw a paw print on the corner of your invitations —the pocket watch belonged to the white rabbit.
If the Alice in Wonderland party is for an older child, another option is to actually send out a copy of the book as the invitation. You can pick up a paperback versions for a couple of dollars each. Plus, if you're buying several they can qualify for free shipping.
You could print a simple text invitation with your home printer and mount this on the first page inside the book.
If you wanted to embellish it even further you could also attach the key (see above) by looping some ribbon down the spine of the book.
Whichever option you choose, don't forget to incorporate familiar phrases from the book into your invitation wording such as:
'Don't be late for very important date'
'By order of the Queen of Hearts....'
'A very merry unbirthday'
Also, consider whether you want to ask the guests to come to your Mad Hatter's tea party dressed in a weird and wonderful hat. You could even offer a prize for whoever comes in the most wacky hat.
Alice in Wonderland Stamps
If you want to add some extra embellishment to your Alice in Wonderland invitations to make them even more special, use themed postage stamps such as the ones below (more designs available).
Note: These are only available in the USA
The most famous scene in the book and film is of course the Mad Hatter's Tea Party—so take this as inspiration when designing the food and drink to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas.
Kids may not want to actually drink traditional tea, although you could try serving them fruit flavoured ice teas like Snapple, which make flavors such as raspberry or peach tea. Just bear in mind, most of these contain caffeine, although they do make a pomegranate raspberry red tea, which is caffeine-free.
Alternatively, serve things like pink lemonade or other juice drinks but serve them in little teacups with saucers so that it feels like a tea party. Ideally you want to use old fashioned granny style teacups with saucers like these (below left and center) which you can pick up for around $20 for a set of 6 - which works out just over $3 each. Alternatively, use plastic kid's tea sets, or for younger kids there are these plastic tea cup sippers
(below right, USA only). You can always take the screw top and big bendy straw off and replace with a regular straw to make them look more delicate if you wish.
Drink Me Potions
Another option is to serve some of the drinks at your Alice in Wonderland party in little glass potion bottles with 'Drink Me' labels on (below left).
Serve pink drinks, such as this recipe for Pink Lemonade (below left, from Vegetarian Living) or this Berry-Banana Smoothie (below center, from Betty Crocker). Add these pink flamingo straws (below right) and call it Pink Flamingo Punch / Milkshake in reference to the croquet game in Alice in Wonderland.
For food to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas, think 'English Afternoon Tea'—girls in particular will love this as everything is so delicate and lady-like.
Traditionally, Afternoon Tea is brewed in tea pots and served in teacups on saucers—with the option of milk and sugar in from a separate jug and bowls. It's served with dainty sandwiches cut into small bite-sized triangles (you should be able to get eight triangles from each sandwich) with the crusts cut off. Customary fillings are cucumber (you could add cream cheese to make them more appealing to kids), egg and cress (swap for egg mayo if you prefer), ham, or smoked salmon.
These are accompanied by a selection of tiny cakes or little scones with Devonshire (clotted) cream and jam (see video below, from Joy of Baking for how to make the scones) and everything is presented on a tiered cake stand.
In recent years, traditional English Afternoon Tea has become very fashionable again and a lot of the top London hotels and restaurants offer it. The Berkeley Hotel in London has gone one step further and created Prêt-à-Portea, which is a modern afternoon tea with cakes and biscuits inspired by dresses, handbags and shoes from the current season's catwalk collections (below). It's then all served on china designed by British designer Paul Smith. So you don't have to just think of traditional afternoon tea to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas.
You could also create a chequerboard effect with brown and white bread squares to represent the famous game of chess. For inspiration, have a look at this image I came across from Miss Destination Bride's on It's a Bride's Life. I particularly liked the way she finished the squares off with alternating cherry tomatoes and black olives and playing card suit party picks (below right).
Alternatively, you could use these tea party cookie cutters (below left) or playing card suit cookie cutters (below right) to shape sandwiches, pizzas, cheese or fruit slices. See here for both cookie cutters.
These Edible Teacups (below left, from Disney Family) are perfect for the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, or try these Tea Cup Biscuits (below right, from Planning with Kids) which children can make themselves.
Use a selection of cookie cutters to create cakes and cookies in the shape of top hats (for the Mad Hatter), pocket watches, the Cheshire cat, or playing card suits. Or see this recipe for cute Cheshire Cat Cupcakes (below, from Disney Family). Another option is to serve squares of (White Rabbit) Carrot Cake (below right, by Betty Crocker).
There are lots of recipes around for caterpillar cakes, but there are already so many sweet recipes here so instead trying making these Caterpillar Sandwiches (below left, by Funky Lunch). Or this fruit plate arranged in the shape of a caterpillar (below right, by Vanessa at I Never Grew Up)
These Alice in Wonderland party ideas wouldn't be complete without some surreal themed items too—such as these Fairy-Tale Mushrooms (below left, by Sue Cravatta on Taste of Home), Faux Escargot (below center, by Sharon 123 on food.com), and these April Fool's Berry Sodas (from Tate of Home) which are actually set Jell-O. Or you could also make a butterscotch mousse and serve it in a tea cup with a spoon on the saucer so it looks like a milky cup of tea.
Turn cake pops into flowers (and add faces like those in Wonderland) by using these ruffle cake pop wraps (below left, USA only). Cake pops can be a bit of a hassle to make. You have to bake the cake, crumble it, then mix frosting into the crumbs, roll into balls, then freeze a little to harden...and all thats before you start to decorate them. For a quicker option, use a Cake Pop Maker (below left) for simple cake balls in around 5 mins, then all you have to do is cover them in frosting. At around $18 / £20 they're really good value. Or, use one of these Cake Pop Baking Pans (below right).
Alternatively, use these cute tea cup molds (below) to bake and serve your cupcakes in. Perfect for a Mad Hatter's tea party.
For visitors from the UK, Sugar Mice (below left) will bring back memories of childhood where they were a traditional Christmas treat for kids. Include some white sugar mice in these Alice in Wonderland party ideas to represent the doormouse—but remember they are basically just sugar, so one per person maximum! For US visitors who might not be familiar with these, try this cute recipe for Meringue Mice (below right, from Better Homes and Gardens).
I stumbled accross this photo of 'Cheshire Cat Tails' (below, via Cutestfood.com). I don't know where they are from or what they're made of but I think you could easily make something similar by treading pink marshmallows onto sticks, then wrapping strips of blue / purple fruit leather around them. Here's a recipe for blueberry fruit leather if you can't find it in stores.
I love these Flower Pot Desserts (below, by Ree from Pioneer Woman). Just add some eyes and a mouth to the flowers to make them perfect for a surreal themed Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
Alternatively, try these Edible Topiary's (below, by Lisa at The Enchanted Oven).
edible cake images (below left, USA only) are a really easy way to create a themed cake to compliment your Alice in Wonderland party ideas - plus they can be personalized to add the birthday boy or girl's name and/or age.
The above design uses two seperate scene setters, one for the sky and one for the meadow, plus the cloud and tree ad ons. If you're on a tight budget you can create something similar using just one scene setter with either the one shown below left or below right. Neither of these are a 100% perfect fit for a Wonderland themed backdrop, but they are fairly close so if you're happy to compromise a little on the appearance you can save a bit of money.
To give these Alice in Wonderland party ideas a surreal feel, hang a number of these over-sized (8 inch diameter) pocket watches (below left) down from the ceiling in a cluster at varying heights. Then hang strips of giant playing cards (below center) down from the ceiling either side of the table and add this tea party banner (below right) accross the front of the table. Both of which you can get here.
Use a brown tablecover then cover the tabletop with these tissue grass mats (below left). Alternatively you could just use this grass print tablecover (below center), although you dont get the nice texture as with the tissue grass. Then use a mixture of square and rectangular clear plates and bowls to present food on (clear plates will allow the 'grass' to show through). I recommend these disposable Premium Plastic Plates (below right), they're great value and look so much nicer than regular paper party plates.
For a dramatic centerpiece, use a life size Alice in Wonderland stand up such as this one of the Mad Hatter (below left) and position it on top of the table (or just behind if you don't have enough height). If you're budget doesn't stretch to include a stand up, you could use the Mad Hatter's top hat (below center) raised up on a box as the centerpiece or a Cheshire Cat plush toy (below right).
Complete the scene by printing this image of the Cheshire Cat onto card and standing it up to the side of the table. If you want to add extra decorations you can use these smiley face flower pinwheels (below center) or these pink tissue topiary decorations (below right), both of which fit well with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas. You can pick these up here.
For the food / dessert table, use Mad Hatter top hats as trays and present food on them to give some height to the display, or turn the hats upside down to use them as serving bowls for snacks. You can just buy cheap top hats and spruce them up by adding a bit of ribbon and the 10/6 card (below right).
Present cakes, sandwiches, and scones on tiered cardboard stands (below, UK and Australia only), in true Afternoon Tea style. Note: the designs below are only available in the UK and Australia. The Australian supplier will ship to USA if you budget allows for this, but it's not cheap. Otherwise, see alternatives below.
For US visitors, there are lots of other cardboard cupcake stands available (below) including this white rabbit themed one (below center). Alternatively use these cute pedestals to display cupcakes (below right). You can pick these up here.
Use the edible teacups in the food section above to serve candy in.
Use flamingo drinking straws (below left) in reference to Alice's game of croquet, or these cute flower straws (below right, USA only). Both are available here.
Label little cakes with EAT ME tags, and of course serve some drinks in little potion bottles with DRINK ME on them. UK and Australian visitors can buy these ready-made tea party theme canape flags (below, UK and Australia only).
You can also print off some of John Tenniel's original illustrations from the book (which are now out of copyright and can be found on the web) to make into little labels for each dish.
A fruit bouquet is suitably surreal too and would make a great centrepiece for an Alice in Wonderland party dessert table (include some chocolate dips too). Watch the video below for a demonstation of how to make one.
Alternatively, try these simplified Fruit Flower Pops (below by Lindsay Ann at Dollhouse Bake Shoppe). Again, you could add some eyes and a mouth to make a face out of fruit strips and candy to make them even more surreal and in keeping with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas.
Below are some suggestions for how to style and decorate the dining table in keeping with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas:
I love this picture of the Mad Hatter's tea party scene from the Tim Burton movie and it should be quite easy to recreate something like this at home. The fact that it's a series of tables joined together with different styles of chairs and stools, and mismatched plates and tea cups works to your advantage so you can pretty much use anything. The more eccentric and random the better. Just choose a selection of different colored party plates and disposable tablecovers and mix them all up in a haphazard fashion .
For UK and Australian visitors, I highly recommend this vintage tea party style partyware (below left) with matching tablecover (below right). Unfortunately the vintage style partyware is not available in the USA.
For US visitors, you can create a similar vintage look by using this plastic lace tablecover (below left) over a solid color tablecloth, and combining with these scalloped paper plates (below center, various colors available), and floral napkins (below right). See here for all these items.
Alternatively, you could use floral print paper plates such as these (below left and center, USA only) for a soft, vintage tea party look. Or these cute teacup design plates and napkins (below right, USA only). All these designs and others are available here.
Set the table with little teacups with saucers so that it feels like a real tea party. Depending on the age of the children you might to use a kid's tea set like the one below left (be carefull to check the size of these as often they are very small and intended more for playing at tea parties, rather than the real thing). Alternatively, for a few dollars more you can pick up a set of old fashioned granny style teacups with saucers like these (below right) which are around $20 for a set of 6.
A giant tea cup planter (below left, UK visitors see here) filled with flowers (red roses of course) would make the perfect centerpiece—don't forget to add eyes and mouths to the flowers to make them into faces. Or UK and Australian visitors could use this cardboard teapot vase (below center) which matches the vintage partware. Alternatively, use the Mad Hatter's top hat (below right) raised up on a box or cake stand as a centerpiece for these Alice in Wonderland party ideas.
To add to the tea party styling, use these mini tea pot favors (below left) as vases and scatter around the table top with a single flower head or candy in each one. Alternatively, use these teapot caddies (below center) as candy dishes or for older children these mini teacup candle holders (below right). All these are available here (USA only).
These tea cup place cards (below left, USA only) are a really cute way to identify each place at the table. Alternatively make these playing card men (left from Disney Family Fun) and use them as place cards or general table decorations.
Don't forget to include a little door mouse—perhaps poking out of one of the teapots.
These teapot shaped fans (below, USA only) are a cute little accessory / favor to put out on the table.
I always think it's important to hang something above the table too, it really helps to define and enclose the space. So use a cluster of paper lanterns (below left, from Martha Strewart). You can also pick up cheap battery LED bulbs to make the lanterns glow without having to worry about power cords. Alternatively, for a more feminine look use tissue pom-poms (below right, Martha Stewart). If you want to get really creative, try hanging the lanterns in a single curvy line to make the body of the caterpillar - then add some eyes and legs out of cardstock.
Below are tips and recommendations for general decorations to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas:
You can also get some really cool life-size Alice in Wonderlandstand ups, like these below, which can really help to bring a party theme to life.
Alternatively, you can have a life-size cut out (below left) of your child dressed as their favorite Alice in Wonderland character to put at the end of your drive or outside your front door. These particulary fun when paired with a motion-activated voice recorder (USA only) for under $10. Simply pre-record your own 10 second welcome message and it automatically plays as guests walk past the cut out of your child. See here for more info on both these items.
For a wow factor entrance, pick up a tree stand-up (below left and center, USA only) and position a kids' play tunnel alongside to create a rabbit hole for them to crawl through to get to Wonderland. Dress around the entrance to the tunnel with some plants, branches and leaves. See here for these items.
Have an older sibling or friend dressed in a white rabbit costume (below left) at the entrance to the rabbit hole. Then give everyone a small 'Drink Me' potion or bite-size 'Eat Me' cake when they emerge at the other end of the tunnel. If your budget wont stretch to a full white rabbit costume pick up some rabbit ears (below center) instead, or tie one of these huge 62" rabbit balloons (below right, USA only) to your front door / the entrance to the rabbit hole.
If you’re prepared to do a bit of DIY you could really go to town and create the miniature door that Alice had to go through. First, take all furniture and pictures out of the hallway immediately inside your front door to create an empty space (it’s really important to remove everything that’s normal size).
Hang a simple curtain or piece of fabric at the back of your hallway to create a false wall. Then pick up a small self-assembly cupboard or storage unit with a door (no more than 18in / 2ft tall) from somewhere cheap like Ikea but make sure it’s one that you can leave the back off (so you’re just left with a hollow frame with a door hinged on the front).
Position the door frame against the curtain 'back wall', flush with the fabric, and arrange the curtain around the frame so that when viewed from the front it just looks like a tiny door in the middle of the (curtain) wall. Then decorate the empty hallway with some miniature kids sized furniture (including a three legged table if you want to be really accurate) and some tiny pictures on the wall.
When guest enter into the hallway from the front door it will create the illusion that they have grown really tall—just like Alice did—because everything else will be in miniature. Don’t forget to give them a ‘Drink Me’ potion or ‘Eat Me’ cake before they enter the front door so they make the connection.
If you're on a tight budget, create a more simple entrance to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas by creating a trail up to your front door using these rabbit paw prints and an inflatable white rabbit holding one of the over-sized pocket watches (below right, see invitations section above).
These giant tulip decorations will help create a Wonderland feel as at 68" tall they'll tower over younger children. Alternatively, hang these tissue flower decorations from the ceiling. See here for more info on these items.
If your party is in the garden make homemade fairy mushrooms by staking red umbrellas into the ground and adding large white paper cardstock circles to them.
Use print outs of the Cheshire Cat in unexpected places, such as trees / bushes or peeking out from under chairs.
Create lots of confusing signs saying 'This Way', 'That Way', 'The Other Way' and have them pointing in all different directions.
There are some great stand ups available that would look great with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas (below, USA only), some of which are only about $20. Given their size, these can make a big impression as a centerpiece, decoration or photo opportunity.
If your budget allows, the same supplier (above) also has these amazing playing card men (below left, USA only) and chess piece stand ups (below right, USA only), both of which are 5ft tall.
If you can't afford the playing card men stand ups, you could make something similar using the playing card men tutorial (in the table styling section above) but scale them up by using the giant over-sized playing cards (see dessert table section above) instead of regular ones.
Alternatively, use thesewall decals (below, USA only) to decorate in keeping with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas. These are reusable and can be re-applied to the walls of your child's bedroom after the party.
Use plastic flamingos (below left), playing card danglers (below center) or playing card cut outs (below right) to complete your Alice in Wonderland party decorations. You can get all of these here.
Getting dressed up is a great way to add 'human theming' to your tea party.
There are lots of great Alice in Wonderland costumes available, for both children and adults, that will eally help to bring your tea party to life.
So, get dad to dress up as the Mad Hatter and sit at the head of the table, a sibling can be the White Rabbit great people as they arrive, and mum can be the Queen of Hearts. The birthday girl gets to be Alice of course.
There are also some cute pet costumes too, incase you can't persaude anyone else to dress up!
Alice in wonderland Party Games
Below are some games and activities for all ages to go with these Alice in Wonderland party ideas.
Print this image of the Cheshire Cat (see link in dessert table section above) onto card and hide lots of around the garden and see who can find the most.
The Queen of Hearts Says....
Play a variation of 'Simon Says...' called 'The Queen of Hearts Says...". You can make this more distinctive by having the person playing the queen wear the wig from the film (below left, see costumes section above), or a Queen of Hearts tiara and royal scepter (below center and right, USA only).
Play musical chairs, but replace the chairs with a selection of cheap mad hats. Every time the music stops they have to race to put on a hat. The one without a hat is out.
Buy some white paper roses and have each guest paint one red to hang on a tree or bush, like in the book.
Pink Flamingo Croquet
These Alice in Wonderland party ideas wouldn't be complete without a surreal game of croquet. Drill through plastic flamingo lawn ornaments to accomodate a traditional mallet (below left, from instructables.com - see here for step by step instructions) or for a less formal 'knockaround' just use these pink flamingo pinchers (below center, USA only) as the mallets. Then pick up some cheap hedgehogs (below right, USA only) to use as balls.
At the end of the party, calm the kids down by reading them the Mad Hatter's tea party scene from the Lewis Carroll book. You can pick up paperback versions for a couple of dollars each. Plus, if you're buying several they can qualify for free shipping so you could also send each guest home with one as a party favor.
alice in wonderland Party Favors
These tea cup (below left, USA only) and tea pot (below center, USA only) favor boxes are so cute and perfect for these Alice in Wonderland party ideas. You can fill them with these tea party themed favors
tea party themed favors (below right).
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Matt James is a professional party planner and owner of event agency DNA Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall. Since 2004, DNA has won 24 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year.