Mary Poppins Party

Mary Poppins 2yr - Fly Kites & Chalk Drawings




Lois in San Jose, CA  USA


July 2002


July 2002 Winner

Just before my daughter turned two, she became obsessed with Mary Poppins.  She had not seen television until she was 18 months old.  Then I was put on bedrest and she saw videos for the first time.  Soon she was begging to watch Mary Poppins every day.  Of course, Mary was the obvious theme for her second birthday, but there is NOTHING Mary Poppins out there.  Even the biggest Disney store in the world (right outside Disneyland) has only one Mary item, a glass figurine for $11. I had to make everything from scratch.  I had not found this website at that time, so I came up with all my own ideas.

INVITATIONS  I happen to have an old 1964 Big Golden Book of Walt Disney's Mary Poppins. I've seen them on Ebay. Really, you could use any Mary Poppins book or even movie stills to make this invitation. I color Xeroxed the front and back cover twice and used pieces of one to glue over the "Walt Disney's" and "A Big Golden Book" on the front. Then only a picture of Mary Poppins flying, the city below and the words "Mary Poppins" appeared. I reduced the size of the front and back covers down to 1/2 of and 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper so I could make two per sheet.  Then I color Xeroxed enough to make all the invitations. 

For the inside of each invitation, I printed (same size, 2 per 8 1/2 x 11 sheet) the text on blue laser printer paper covered with clouds. The text read "Chim chim ch-ree! Come to a party!" followed by all the usual info and then "We'll have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious good time". I glued the cloudy blue inside into the Mary Poppins cover. For the outside layer, I used clear vellum and printed "It's Alexandra's (left a space and then) Birthday Party".  I also cut an oval hole for Mary's face. 

So when both parts of the invitation (the vellum and the color Xeroxed/cloudy blue) were folded together in half and trimmed, the outside read, "It's Alexandra's Mary Poppins Birthday Party" with Mary's face peeking through the oval and "the words Mary Poppins" showing from the color Xeroxed layer. I stapled them with a single staple in the middle using the copy store's saddle stapler and covered the staple by tying a blue ribbon around the whole invitation along the fold and putting the bow on top of the staple outside. I made envelopes from the blue cloud laser paper.  Making envelopes is simple: just take a usual invitation-sized envelope, 4 3/8 x 5 3/4, steam it apart and use it for a pattern.

DECORATIONS  I used the Mary Poppins Big Golden Book to color Xerox some illustrations for decorations.  I made a frame from gold mat board, put in a picture of Jane and Michael's street and labeled it "Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane".  This was hung on the front door so guests would know where they were when they arrived!  My daughter's birthday is in February when all the wild plum trees are blooming in our area.  On the morning of the party my husband went down by a river near our house (public property) and cut big sprays of pink blossoms which we put in huge vases for Cherry Tree Lane.  For the living room d├ęcor I made five big kites out of bamboo strips and colored butcher paper with wide crepe paper for the long tails.  The yellow kite had two huge paper cherries on it.  I hung all five kites from the living room ceiling with the tails artistically looped along the ceiling.  They moved a little when anyone opened the front door and looked very colorful and pretty. 

ACTIVITIES  Weather being unpredictable in February, all our activities were indoors.  I like the idea of activity stations for a two-year-old birthday, since that age is not much good at organized games.  I absolutely refuse to hire entertainment (and you probably couldn't find anything Mary Poppins to hire anyway), so I tried to think of activities that fit the characters or that fit things I had around the house or that two-year-olds love and that I could make fit the theme.

Here's what we did:
1) Mrs. Brill's Baking Day: a table of homemade soft play dough with rolling pins, cookie cutters, and other kitchen gadgets (Mrs. Brill is the Banks' cook). The treat bags had some of this nice, cooked salt dough in baggies along with cookie cutters and other play dough toys--and the recipe. I know two moms who got the recipe at that party and never bought play dough again.

2) Bert's Chalk Drawings: My husband had an old roll of tar paper about 12" wide.  We cut a long piece and let the kids go at it with sidewalk chalk.  They loved it.  We should have had two pieces ready so they could fill another one. 

3) Bert's Band: We had the soundtrack from the movie playing during the party (Ebay, again, if you can't find it anywhere else). When "A Spoonful of Sugar" or "Step in Time" came on, we'd turn it up, gather any available children to play our rhythm instrument collection (in the living room in a basket)and march.

4) Uncle Albert's Tea Party: My daughter's plastic tea set on a table with a tub of dry oatmeal. It was a mess, but the children adored it.

5) Penguin Bowling: I had an old children's bowling set with the pins partially filled with sand to make them harder to knock over (fill from top and seal with shipping tape).  I spray painted them shiny black, glued on orange felt beaks, google eyes, a white felt front and black ribbon bow tie.  This game was set up in our long hall that has a wooden floor.  My 10-year-old goddaughter loved it so much that she and her brother still play it every time they come over, even at the baby's baptism!

6) Mr. Banks' Kite Making:  I happen to know how to make a little Japanese kite from bamboo strips, rice paper and crepe paper for the tail.  I cut out and glued together almost everything, so all the children had to do was color a flat piece of rice paper with washable markers and glue it onto the pre-made backing with the tail of their choice.  I then sewed and tied each child's bridle or halter or whatever it's called on the finished kite. My husband made nice big dowel wooden handles with rounded ends and 50 feet of kite string wrapped around each one so little hands could actually fly the kites. These were in the treat bags.  For an outdoor birthday at a park, kite flying would be a great activity during the party.  At each activity station I had a picture I'd color Xeroxed from the book and framed with gold mat board.  Each one had a backing and little stands so they would stand up.  Each picture was labeled with the name of the activity ("Uncle Albert's Tea Party" with the picture of Uncle Albert's party from the book, for example).  This way people who aren't so familiar with the movie (and I'm sad to say that is many) could see the connection between the theme and the activity.

7) Mary Poppins, the movie, was playing softly on the television.  The only people who watched it were my husband's family, but they appreciated having the T.V. on.

CAKE   The cake was beautiful.  It was the carousel from the Jolly Holiday.  The cake itself was very simple--just a round cake frosted solid pink with white shell borders top and bottom.  You could even have a bakery or grocery make it for you.  I was afraid this would not be enough cake, so I made pink-frosted cupcakes for all the children. Both parents and children appreciated the cupcake option at a two-year-old party. The elaborate part of the cake was the carousel.  I looked at the movie over and over to see what I could do that would look close to the "real" carousel.  I used tag board (a thin cardboard) to make the center (a tall hexagon) and the top (a big, shallow cone with scalloped edges).  I used tempra paint, red and white, to paint the center section light pink with white trim and dark pink hearts. The top was alternating stripes of pink and white; each stripe included oneallop and narrowed to a point at the tip of the cone.  I drew the stripes with pencil and ruler before painting.  If you have a steady hand you could paint a dark pink stripe between the sections (I didn't). To hold up the top's outer edge, we cut to the correct height (measured against cake, baked the night before) and spray painted gold eight thin dowel rod pieces.  Now here's the crazy part: I used one of the horses in the Big Golden Book as a pattern.  Then I handpainted four horses on mat board to exactly match the horses in the movie.  I did not cut them out yet. 

From the book, I got appropriate-sized Mary, Bert, Jane and Michael figures and glued them onto the horses.  I had to cut off most of their legs or feet and reposition to make them look like they were sitting on a horse, but the glue seams were really invisible. Only Mary and Bert were in their Jolly Holiday clothes, but most people would never know the difference.  You have to be really familiar with the movie, which believe me I was by then!  After the characters were all glued onto the horses (and mat board), my husband cut around the horses and characters with an Exacto knife.  It turned out I should have done that job myself, but at that point I was cooking for the party, so too bad.  We then hot glued the horses/figures onto four of the dowels and put together the cake: hexagon center, four plain dowels alternating with the four horse dowels around the edge and the shallow cone top just resting on the dowels.  It looked so gorgeous after all that work that I almost cried.  Be sure to put the cake together at the last minute (after you are sure everything fits) so that the fat in your frosting doesn't leach up into your paint in the center section and make it look greasy at the bottom.  You might have to place your candles on a cupcake or in separate little holders (I happen to have some tiny Swedish ones for birthday candles) because you don't want your carousel top to catch fire.  I had the picture of the carousel from the book framed in the gold mat board again and set up on the table by the cake.  For tableware, I used plain pink plates, cups, and flatware (to match the cherry blossoms, again).

PARTY HATS  We were lucky to have all girls, as I did not know how I would make any of the hats for male characters in the movie.  Maybe those St. Patrick's Day plastic bowlers painted black with a nice grosgrain ribbon band glued on, like Mr. Banks.  For the girls, I got little (6" across) straw hats in the doll section at Michael's crafts store.  My husband painted them shiny black with spray paint.  They took three coats inside and out, so don't wait until the last minute to paint.  I got little white flowers on paper-covered stems from the wedding favor section at Michael's. (You could do silk daisies, but these were cheaper.) For the cherries I used beautiful big red wooden beads, hot glued in brown pipe cleaners for stems and wired on little velvet leaves from the wedding favor section, again. Some I made single and some double with three leaves, as cherries grow.  I hot glued the flowers and cherries to the hats and also two red ribbons inside to tie the hats on.  Just look at the movie to see how to arrange the flowers and cherries.  The hats were absolutely adorable.  I took a close-up picture of each girl in her cherry hat and had them printed wallet size to mail home with the thank you notes.  I know at least one dad of a guest who still carries that photo of his daughter in his wallet today.  My daughter wore her hat, by the way, to the Practically Perfect Tea with Mary Poppins at the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland this summer, and the waitress thought asked if she could take Alexandra's picture with Mary Poppins, both in their cherry hats.  They'd never had a girl come to the tea wearing anything Mary Poppins.   

GIFT  As I said, you will probably have to go to Ebay to purchase a Mary Poppins gift.  My daughter has enjoyed her Mary Poppins spoon, Colorforms Mary Poppins dress up set, and Mary Poppins cassette tapes, all from Ebay.  My friend also made Mary Poppins transfers on her computer (stills from the movie) and made a pillow for Alexandra that Alexandra still uses every night (over 2 years later) and insists on taking with her when we travel. My friend also ironed a transfer onto a sweet little button-up shirt that Alexandra wore all that summer.  Please do remember to have Mary Poppins send a gift since she can't attend the party--an umbrella, maybe.  Jane can also give knee-highs to a girl, if you can find knee-highs; Michael can give a kite, etc. I saved all the decorations from this sweet little party in the hope that my second daughter will want a Mary Poppins birthday, eventually. My older daughter led the way to my loving Mary, and even my husband has a soft spot in his heart for her; we hope little sister will join our family's Mary Poppins fan club too, someday.

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