Monday, February 6, 2012

The Party 6 Years in the Making

My daughter was born on the Chinese New Year.

I would never have known this, but while I was pregnant my husband was the only non-Hmong person in his department at work. When I went into labor early, EVERY lady made sure to tell him I should do everything in my power to hold out on giving birth until after midnight - because being born during the year of the dragon was VERY very lucky. And yes, somehow she WAS born - two hours into the year of the dragon; my little Chinese New Year baby.

When she was old enough, we told her the story of her birth. On her 6th birthday we surprised her with a pink cheongsam, (Chinese brocade dress) and a pink Asian birthday party. And since that day she has insisted that on her TWELFTH birthday - when it is once again the year of the dragon, she wanted another Chinese tea party birthday.

Since she is a girly-girl, a traditional Chinese New Year party in red & black with dragons everywhere just didn't seem appropriate. So instead, we went with a Cherry Blossom theme where everything was pale pink & dark brown.

For the invitations, we used a cherry-blossom rubber stamp & chalked the image to give it a soft "watercolored" look. Inside, we created a birthday haiku rather than using the traditional "You Are Invited" wording.

For decorations, we strung pink & brown paper lanterns across the ceiling, and scattered pink cherry blossoms across a brown "tablecloth." (it was actually a thrifted bedsheet cut down to size!)

We set each girls place with a silk fan, and chopsticks for each girl to take home.

Being a tea party, the treats were easy to decide on as well. We had chocolate-dipped fortune cookies, almond cookies, and tiny tangerines with jasmine green tea. Rather than a large cake, we made vanilla cupcakes with tangerine frosting & decorated them with the prettiest sugar cherry blossoms I could find.

Everything was set out on the old sewing machine, which doubles as a display-sideboard in the dining room.

While I had originally envisioned framing a piece of Chinese brocade to use as a backdrop, I found the most beautiful painted scroll for $4 that looked absolutely perfect just above the table, and seemed to complete the display perfectly.

At the party, the girls spent hours playing "how many pieces of rice / buttons / tangerine-slices / and flower petals can you pick up with a pair of chopsticks in 30 seconds" before running off to the bedroom to practice a play - to which I was the sole audience.

I'm sworn to secrecy on the details of the play, but it ended with a sweet interpretation of a Japanese fan-dance with flower petals raining down throughout the living room. Then they painted blooming cherry tree branches using straws to blow the paint into the shape of the branches before settling down to watch The Amazing Panda Adventure for bed.

In the morning the girls woke to mandarin-orange rice pudding & tea, before getting ready for church. And to go home, the princess & I had picked up some pretty Bed Bath & Beyond body washes & glittery body-spray in Cherry Blossom, (they were on SALE for 1/3 of their regular cost!) and some pretty soaps. We also tucked in a tiny felt fortune cookie with a handmade fortune that read "Thanks for coming to my party!" This party may have been "six years in the making" but it was both the most laid-back party we've ever had. The girls loved every second of the party, and I loved how everything seemed to come together perfectly for one beautiful celebration for my pretty pretty princess.


Bonnie said...

Looks like it was a lovely party!

Gwen said...

It does look like a lovely party! Glad they had such a great time!

Shannon said...

Love it! You are so creative!

Catherine said...

Happy birthday Kat!! What a beautiful party you put together :D

Anonymous said...

I can say that my daughter had a wonderful time at the party. But I love hearing the history of all the planning. Great job Marcy.

Lawanda said...

What an awesome party! LOVE the decorations and you are so creative it isnt funny! What a lucky girlie to have such a mama! :)

Julia said...

What beautiful memories Kat (and her friends) will have of this birthday party! Well done Mama!