Paris France Party -9yr- Make Perfume
Jan in Walla Walla, WA, United States
My son asked for a Paris party for his 9th birthday. I hesitated, thinking it might be too girly but we had houseguests for the weekend and this seemed easier.
DECORATIONS> I set up a little welcome desk in the hall right outside the party room. As the kids arrived I gave them their "French visas"--a nametag to hang around their necks stamped with an Eiffel Tower and travel images. Also in the hall was a miniature art museum the "Musee de Paris" with small printouts of several famous works of art not all French but all found in Paris--the Mona Lisa of course and works by Monet Picasso Renoir Kandinsky etc. I found these online at museum websites and added printed frames. Also out front were a couple of French flags we made with felt and hot glue. One-third yard each of blue white and red felt made two big flags. We could have bought dowels to make flagpoles but we found a tool handle and a closet rod in the garage that worked fine. Also helping to create the atmosphere were a three-foot-high 3-D Eiffel tower puzzle we'd assembled (an early birthday gift from my aunt) several little Paris figurines blue-white-red streamers and the Arc de Triomphe (more about that later).
ACTIVITY> We first directed the kids to the "Parfumerie"--a table with 9 gold bottles (travel-size plastic bottles spray-painted) filled with various scents. Some were nice: vanilla peppermint and spearmint; some not so nice: garlic eucalyptus. Each "master parfumierie" (don't even know if that's a word but it sounded good!) put their guesses on little forms we made and dropped them in a box. We were surprised how much fun they had with this and delighted by their guesses ("disgusting carsickness medicine hot spice water"). We "scored" the forms while the kids did another activity. Strongly recommend spraypainting the bottles well in advance or they will smell like nothing but paint. Essential oils work best (I only had a couple) but household scents worked well enough to be fun.
DECORATIONS> After the perfume game we went straight to food because the party was late (6 -8 p.m.). We put white cloths and votives on card tables for an upscale "café" feel and arranged the tables under a camping gazebo strung with Christmas lights. Special touches were stamping an Eiffel Tower on plain paper napkins and I also made a little template out of contact paper and used glass etching cream to etch Eiffel Towers on thrift-store wine glasses (40-50 cents each) that the kids could take home. We printed menus for each table with all the foods listed in French. Some of the kids really got into matching up the French words to the foods on their plates.
PARTY FOOD> Food was buffet-style. The highlight was crepes and for topping we provided three flavors of French jam (Bonne Maman easy to find) Nutella powdered sugar in shakers and spray whipped cream. We bought long baguettes and sliced them in baskets (leaving one unsliced for atmosphere) and provided a couple of soft French cheeses (brie Laughing Cow) as well as cubed cheddar and colby which were much more popular with the kids. We cut croissants into thirds and stuck toothpicks with French flags in them. (The flags were a free Internet download.) To balance out the meal a little we had fruit and veggie trays with dip. The drink was sparkling cider (we watched for a sale!).
ACTIVITY> As we could see the kids were almost done eating I announced that our first activity would be an art lesson and sent the birthday boy out in the hall to fetch the Mona Lisa for a demonstration. He returned a little confused to tell me that all the paintings were gone. A rather savvy guest caught on to the game and announced dramatically that they must have been STOLEN! We told the kids that they'd better go look for clues! During dinner my husband had hid the paintings in a courtyard outside the party room and left a note from "Madame Renard" with a drawing of a fox--"I laugh at your security she wrote. Where where are your treasures now?" Fortunately Madame Renard's assistant had been sloppy and had torn up her instructions about where to hide the paintings but not well enough to keep the children from piecing them together and finding the treasures. Tons of fun and really effective!
ACTIVITY> Next we sent them to French school. (My goddaughter is 10 and has been studying French so she took charge of this.) The children worked together to put the French numbers we had printed in order from 0 to 9 (they guessed right--"z'roquatre, and "six" were easy and the rest fell into place too) and then reviewed the pronunciation and counted to 9 together.
CAKE> Also in French school they learned to sing "Joyeux Anniversaire" after which we headed back to the café for "gateau chocolat" and "crème glace." (As if we needed cake after crepes.) We purchased a tall round cake with chocolate curls on top from the grocery store (quite chic-looking--only $12.99 and such a relief not to bake it) and added black and white candles and an Eiffel Tower figurine--one of many I own--on top.
GAME> After cake it was time for a couple of relay games. We divided into two teams for the Tour de France--on tricycles! Before riding each child had to put on their team's "yellow jersey"--a bright yellow t-shirt for each team that we were unbelievably lucky to find at a dollar store. This was fun but got a little too competitive with the losing team feeling a bit crushed. This game gave us the excuse for some great décor though--I made an Arc de Triomphe and lined up some plastic trees for the finish line. The arch was a large rectangular furniture box. We painted it with some leftover tan latex paint from the basement and I used a darker brown oil pastel to sketch on a little detail. We had to prop up a table behind one side of it and it certainly wasn't stable enough to ride the trikes through but it looked really fantastic.
GAME> The next was a fashion relay. We filled some large gift bags (even found a couple of very chic French-looking bags at the $1 store) with odds and ends from our closets and our dressing-up box. Each child had to put on at least three items then go to the far end of the room to have their photo taken. The pictures were great and the kids had a blast with the hula skirt oversized suit jacket sunglasses Hawaiian-print bikini top bright yellow tie various scarves etc. We didn't even know when a team had "won" because they kept wanting to try new outfits. A big success.
ACTIVITY> The finale was a trip to the art studio. I had purchased 9 x 12 canvas boards (about $1.50 each at OTC or W-Mart) and dug up a bunch of little bottles of acrylic paint and brushes. We used styrofoam egg cartons for paint palettes. The kids had the "fine art" from the museum for inspiration and we also printed a few modern art pieces with abstract shapes and colors and scattered them on the table. The kids went crazy with it and made great paintings of Eiffel Towers landscapes abstract swirls--cool stuff. The only hitch was that it was a little tricky sending them home with wet canvases. For a few kids who'd really layered on the paint I promised to deliver their paintings later.
FAVORS> If I had it to do over I'd skip this! The painting would really have been a nice favor on its own and especially since we requested "no gifts" this was an unnecessary expense. But I did have fun assembling them…little airplane and Eiffel Tower charms on the nametag homemade Tower lollipops chocolate Euros from the import store chocolate airplanes Dover French ABC books packs of tissues with the Eiffel Tower on them (a contribution from Grandma!) French notebooks for the girls and magic airplane sponges for the boys. We found nice gift bags at Target with elegant stripes and used our Eiffel Tower stamp (yet again) to add a bit of gold.
The best favor was chocolate Eiffel Towers from our local gourmet chocolate shop. I found the candy mold for this and the lollipops on eBay (about $10 for both molds with shipping) and the shop made the towers and bagged them in cellophane tied with lovely gold ribbon for about $1.50 each. Without the expense of party bags I could have invited more children making all this effort more worthwhile and keeping my son from having to leave out some of his friends. (We planned for 12 and had a total of nine children at the party. I wish the three no-shows had let us know in advance and we could have invited three others. But it's hard to get people to RSVP.) Have a great time in FRANCE and remember Paris isn't just for little girls in pink with poodles! (Though that would be fun too!) "