Fancy Nancy birthday parties - they're a budget-buster waiting to happen.
Yes, you can do your Fancy Nancy party all swagged out. And believe me, it's tempting. If you've read her stories, they're replete with boas, bows, sparkly things, tutus and accessories gallore. Truthfully, a call to excess.
But we kicked up the creativity and with a little help from the second-hand shop, had a Fancy Nancy tea party where the guests were crying about leaving three hours later. Here's how we did it:
Invest in fine china. Or not so fine. It doesn't matter whether your dishes match or not. We went to Goodwill and bought tea cups, china plates, cordial glasses for mini parfait glasses, and linens, all at a price likely cheaper than disposable plates with curly-headed girls on them. Tres fancy. (The best part? No worries about it being broken, and they've been "returned" to Goodwill as freshly washed donations.)
Design it for dress-ups. Let's be honest. Every little girl's fancy dress gets worn once or twice and handed down to someone else. And we had more Sunday dresses than we knew what to do with (even with donating quite a few of them already). So we purposely hung on to a half-dozen or so, laid them out in my daughter's room, and let the girls who didn't come tea-party ready dress up if they desired.
Have a "fancy" feast. Our "tea sandwiches" were nothing more than flower-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The girls also enjoyed mini fruit kebabs on toothpicks, jelly roll sandwiches and cut vegetables and dip. Dessert was cupcakes and a make-your-parfait bar. A simple menu tweaked to be fancy enough for five year olds.
Tap into those creative juices. Let your guests design something fancy, as opposed to just giving them a bag of lip glosses and plastic clip-on earrings. Preschool and early school-age girls are into doing their hair already, and so we bought plain headbands and jewel stickers for them to make their own fancy headbands. It kept them busy for a few minutes, and it gave them something fun and mildly useful to take home.
Watch the waste. Yes, I sprung for boas at the craft store, but realized that those 6-foot boas really could be cut in half for each girl. (Cheaper, and safer too.) And we opted to cut a craft I'd considered, simply because I forgot to prep it. (But really, did we need paper butterfly placemats? It wasn't missed.)
Let the good times roll. Sometimes, the best things are unplanned. I really regret the fact I didn't get photos of the girls, in their fancy dresses, when they ran outside for an impromptu game of soccer.
Was the party a success? I think so. My daughter thinks so. Worse, she's already put in a request for next year: a "Mamma Mia" party.