Throwing a Wonka Party for Preschoolers
This past weekend was Tyler’s 4th birthday and the theme was Willy Wonka. This was Tyler’s first party where he had school friends to invite. This meant a little more planning as far as food and activities, but overall it was so fun to put together. Best of all, the kids had a blast!
Since Willy Wonka is not a very current party theme, there really wasn’t anything Wonka specific in stores. So in order to find invitations and decor, I took to Etsy. There I found the Partystarking who had a complete set of Wonka printables. She covered everything from golden tickets and candy bar wrappers to signs and cupcake toppers. Without this bundle it would have been a lot harder to pull this theme together. For family, we made a Facebook event and gave out golden tickets which I printed out on gold vellum paper. For the school invites, we bought Hershey bars and printed out the wrappers from partystarking. We wrapped the tickets around the Hershey bars and then the wrapper around that. Here is the finished product.
Much of the decor also came from the partystarking printables. We printed signs which we hung all over the walls with quotes from the movie. I made a happy birthday banner from her editable banner file. We also printed out cupcake toppers and labels for the candy bar. More on the candy bar later…
The another source of decor was Oriental Trading. We used the colors in the signs, purple and gold, for the cups, plates, tablecloths, utensils, and streamers. I also got all the candy scoops and containers for the candy bar from Oriental Trading. For that matter, the candy itself came from Oriental Trading too!
For the DIY portion of our decor, we made giant sized candy out of balloons, pool noodles, cellophane, ribbon, dowels, and tissue paper. To make the hard candies, I wrapped balloons with two sheets of tissue paper or cellophane and then tied the ends with ribbon. For the balloon lollipops, I taped a balloon to the top of a dowel and then wrapped the balloon with cellophane from a roll. Then I tied the ribbon around the base. For the spiral lollipops, we rolled pool noodles and taped them in place with packing tape. Again, I wrapped it in cellophane and taped them to a stick. I definitely think this added a lot to the feel of the party for minimal cost and effort.
The cake was created by my amazingly talented friend, Elyse. She is the owner of Flour Love: Sweets by Elyse and she has pretty much created all of Tyler’s Birthday cakes. This year we decided to go for a small Wonka bar cake and then cupcakes. With young kids, we wanted them to be able to choose chocolate or vanilla for both the frosting and the cake itself.
I am definitely a proponent of free play, especially for young kids. On the other hand, I know that when preschoolers first get together, even if they know each other, they can be very shy. So to kick off the party, I set up a table with crayons, Wonka coloring pages, gold favor bags, and stickers. Upon their arrival, the kids were able to color their pictures, and decorate favor bags that they would later fill with candy.
Once they were warmed up, we put on Sesame Street party music and the kids just ran around and had fun. They also had a chance to eat. We had chips and pretzels, fruit, salad and a make your own pasta. To drink we had juice boxes and chocolate milk boxes.
Once the kids were tuckered out from running, we did a few little activities. My talented brother in law made a Wonka bulls-eye and we used extra cake topper circles to do a pin the tail type game. The goal was to get to the center of the bulls-eye, but everyone got a chocolate egg for playing. They also got a hug from Tyler!
My brother in law also printed out a giant Oompa Loompa with the face cut out for fun photos. This was also a big hit! Also, if you ever want to do one of these, we found that it was super helpful to attach the sign to a hanger and then have someone adjust the height to fit the person. This was a ton easier than trying to hold kids up to fit their face into the hole.
Next was cake cutting and cupcake eating. We gave out the cupcakes to everyone and we saved the big cake to share today, Tyler’s actual birthday. Then we unwrapped the presents. Tyler’s friends also participated in this. They loved handing him the gifts to open and amazingly, they also loved cleaning up the wrapping paper!
Finally, we ended the party with lickable wall paper. We had taped strips of candy dots to the wall and then let the kids (and my husband) eat the candy off the wall. It was so fun to watch!!
We used the candy bar as our favors along with taking home the pages that the kids colored. The candy bar included a huge assortment of yellow and purple candies in various sized containers. We also had chocolate eggs, for Veruca Salt of course. The kids got to pick out their candy and fill their bags. The adults did too!
As a final touch, we had some of the family dress up as the various characters from the movie. Costumes were of course assigned by Tyler. This meant that at the last minute I was re-assigned to be Violet Beauregarde after having been Veruca Salt for Halloween. I put together the best costume I could on such short notice.
I hope this inspires you for your next birthday party. I have to say having my party planner definitely helped keep me organized when planning this and made sure everything got done. The result was one happy birthday boy!
Emily Bendler is a mom, wife, full-time insurance adjuster, professional dancer, dance teacher, graduate student, and founder of I Hope You Dance, Inc., a non-profit supporting youth dance. Read how Emily used her dance ambitions to become a time management maven. Feel free to send Emily a message using the email me tab above.