For my daughter's fourth birthday, we chose a Neverland premise, which would appeal to all the guests – male or female… young or old!
The Peter Pan story provided many ideas and I drew inspiration from one of my favorite movies: ‘Finding Neverland‘. The movie follows Peter Pan’s author, J.M. Barrie, as events in his life in the Victorian era motivate him to write the enchanting play.
From there, I concentrated on the overall Victorian feel with ornate, black décor in the Darling children’s nursery, contrasted with nature and trees at the party’s location to represent their journey to Neverland. I also utilized numerous silhouettes, corresponding to this time period, and also representing Peter Pan’s search for his shadow. I wanted the children to feel as if they were being transported to this magical land and encourage them to believe… From table "beds" to toys and frames, I tried to capture the Darling nursery in an outside setting.
To aid the children in imagining and navigating through Neverland, I hired Ms. Louisa from Fairytales & Tutus ballet studio my daughter attends to read Peter Pan and transport the kids from the nursery into Neverland. I had fairy wings and tutus available for the girls, as well as pirate gear (scarves, eye patches, hooks and inflatable swords) in treasure chests. Ms. Louisa also brought additional costumes, such as mermaids, Indians, and the lost boys, just to name a few! The children were free to choose their outfits, which was so fun and added to the imagination-play, as my daughter had three costume changes throughout the party!
I filled little jars with pixie dust and made little wooden compasses for all the children. After hearing the story, they learned to fly by sprinkling the magical dust and jumping on a trampoline! Ms. Louisa then led them through activities from sinking pirate ships with cannonballs at Skull Rock, jumping over the crocodile, swimming through the Mermaid Lagoon with bubbles and a pow wow at the Indian Camp. Ms. Louisa’s presence at the party was invaluable, as it allowed the kids to play all together and utilize their imagination, while the parents watched and enjoyed without worry.
Another hit with the kids was a table I set up at the Mermaid Lagoon with plastic bubble bottles they could fill up with colored sand.
The photo booth props were stored in a mini toy box and painted, along with another frame and a sign to be held up reading ‘believe’.
Lastly, the favors were stored in oversized wooden blocks and the guests were sent home with shadow puppets, cut and glued on wooden sticks, along with a flashlight and a Peter Pan book to read the story over and over again. And, since it was such an inspiration and a movie that makes me cry every single time I watch it, each family received a ‘Finding Neverland’ DVD with the final quote from the movie: ‘Just Believe‘.
Peter Pan storybook and "Finding Neverland" movie
I was able to make a lot of the party decor myself at a lower cost by shopping at craft stores, such as Michaels (frames & canvases), Joann's (fabric) and Hobby Lobby (wood projects and paper products). I was also able to find items, such as the black frame and vases used as cups at Ikea. I followed tutorials on-line, such as the wooden blocks (from Martha Stewart) and the tee pees (Sew Mama Sew). Lastly, I was able to cut most of the silhouettes from my Cricut machine.
I loved the tee pees, bed tables and photo booth!
Try to pick a theme and color scheme and carry it throughout all aspects of the party. Such a theme as Neverland can provide many possibilities, but sometimes too many where it can become overwhelming! The most important part is to ensure to provide activities for the children and encourage imaginative play!