A couple months ago, I began to brainstorm with my twins about a theme for their birthday party. Initially, they wanted unicorns. Honestly? I am totally unicorned out. With three elementary school age girls, I’ve had my fill of unicorn birthday parties, unicorn costumes, unicorn dolls, unicorn headbands, unicorn slime, unicorn poop (how is this even a thing?). . . Needless to say, the idea felt played out.
So I asked the girls if there was any other theme they might like. One of them suggested Vanellope Von Schweetz and I was immediately psyched about the idea. In retrospect, I’ll went a little sugar-crazy. But what hell, we had fun with it. And that’s the point after all, right?
Do you know Vanellope Von Schweetz? She’s the video game princess in Wreck It Ralph and its sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet. She’s not your stereotypical Disney Princess. She’s not a helpless girly-girl. She’s a race car driver in a candy-themed racing game, SugarRush. She doesn’t even find out she’s a princess until the end of the original movie. She’s spunky, sassy and determined. Candy plus a strong female figure? What could be better for two eight year old girls’ birthday party?
As I said, I went a tad overboard with this party so I walk you through it in sections. If you begin to nod off at some point, feel free to just look at the pics.
The twins and I started our planning with costumes, ’cause of course you need a costume for your birthday party, right? Or so my girls insisted . . . One wanted to dress up as “ordinary” Vanellope and the other wanted to be “princess” Vanellope. Since it’s so rare they don’t fight over something like this, I happily agreed.
For ordinary Vanellope (see pic above), I ordered a cheap blue sweatshirt from Amazon and some red parachute cord to mimic the “Twizzlers” strings of Vanellope’s top.
I paired the top with some stretch pants I bought on Etsy and a cheap brown tutu. All of this plus some candy hair clips (more on that below) and this first Vanellope costume was complete.
For the princess costume, I found a similar(ish) looking princess dress, paired it with a red crown from the girls’ dress-up clothes collection and finished the look with a light-up lollipop wand.
All in all, I was pretty happy with results and, more importantly, the twins were thrilled.
The decorations for this party were easy to put together and turned out super cute.
First, I followed this tutorial and I made some over-sized lollipops using tissue paper, styrofoam rounds, wooden dowels spray painted white, cellophane and ribbons. These were easy enough that my kids even helped me put them together without incident. As long as you don’t count when a speck of white spray paint got one of the girl’s jackets and, at least judging by her reaction, it was THE END OF THE WORLD.
I put two lollipops flanking the front door and used the rest to decorate inside the house.
I also used a similar technique to create “handy decorations” using paper plates, tissue paper, cellophane, and ribbon.
Next, I bought some foam sheets from Michael’s (similar to these) in various colors. I taped them down to create Candyland game spaces leading from the front door to the party room (aka, the dining room).
I kept the dining room table setting simple with turquoise plastic tableclothes, purple paper cups, and Vanellope plates and napkins. I did jazz things up a little, though, by using candy necklaces as napkin holders. These were a big hit with the girls at the party.
I had so much fun coming up with and assembling the table centerpieces. I got a few small pink tin buckets and placed a piece of florist foam in each. I stuck various lollipops of different sizes and colors in the foam and then covered it with gumballs. Between the lollipop buckets, I lined the middle of the table with sheets of extra large candy buttons (who knew they even sold them that big?). It turned out super cute.
For the candy table (more on that later), I created what was probably my favorite decoration: a lollipop “tree.” To make this, I got a medium-sized sphere of florist foam and a bag of dum-dums. I stuck the lollipops into the foam until the sphere was completely covered. I took the ball and sat it on atop vase. It was so cute I thought I’d keep it up in the dining room after the party but my twins and their friends demolished it. Eight year olds are animals . . .
For kids’ parties my philosophy is keep the kids engaged in something at the outset. Then once the activities and cake are done, throw on a movie and call it a day. For this party, the twins decided on making candy hairclips, and Sugar Rushcandy race cars.
In Wreck it Ralph, Vanellope wears candy in her hair. Both my twins were insistent that they HAD TO HAVE candy hairclips to complete their costumes. Turns out they’re easy to make, so it made for a good project for the party guests to do as they first trickled in.
I got an assortment of candy beads, some bobbie pins and clips. The girls had a great time using hot glue guns to glue the candy bead of their choice to the clips. Easy and super cute, what could be better?
SugarRush Race Cars
In the movie, the racers in Sugar Rush compete in cars made of candy. Vanellope tries to make her own and the result isn’t exactly slick, but it looks tasty.
For the second activity, the girls made their own “Vanellope-inspired” race car. A couple days before the party I made the bodies of the race cars out of graham crackers and stiff royal icing (I used this recipe but made it a little thicker) so the girls could focus on decorating and their cars wouldn’t fall apart.
I set up a candy buffet of different candies that could be used for car wheels, headlights, racing stripes, fenders, etc. along with piping bags of icing.
Then I basically let the girls have it (or attack it as it turned out). More candy was eaten than put on cars but despite that the girls really got into it. Most of them spent half an hour or more decorating their cars, which if you know the age group is longer than their usual attention span.
Afterwards we let the cars dry and the girls took them home.
For reasons beyond my understanding (though probably because they like candy and breaking things) my girls feel very strongly that no birthday party is complete without a piñata. I found a cool one and filled it with Vanellope stickers, tattoos and, yes, more candy (I’m sure their parents loved me when I sent them home . . .). Then let the girls whack the shit out of it.
Good times were had by all. Please note, however, that my husband hung it up using a child’s jumprope. It did the job so close enough ; )
Food & Drinks
The main food was take-out pizza. Even I have my limits and why waste energy when kids are perfectly happy with pizza?
To assuage my own guilt about the party’s absurd level of sugar, I did make a couple fresh fruit trays arranged to look like candy swirls. And then I forgot to actually serve them. So there’s that . . . but they looked nice!
I couldn’t resist making sugar cookie versions of the cookie medal Vanellope gives Ralph in the original movie (I used this cookie recipe and the same icing I used for the cars but thinned). I also used royal icing to glue on a piece of sour gummy belts to make the medal look like it could be worn like a necklace.
I also made mermaid bark (white chocolate bark decorated with various colors and sprinkles) as well as white chocolate covered Oreos. Yes, total sugar overload. I have issues.
For drinks, I created my own simple version of Tappers(the root beer tavern the characters frequent in the movies). I served water and pink lemonade from a drink fountain which, as I’ve said before, is a hit at every kid party I throw.
Finally, the cake. The guidance I got from my twins was that (a) they wanted it to have the Wreck It Ralph figures on it (I used these), (b) they wanted it to be pink and purple, and (c) they wanted it to have two tiers – one with cookie dough frosting and the other strawberry.
I wasn’t totally happy with how the white chocolate drizzle came out, but otherwise I think I successfully pulled it off. I was especially happy with the top.
I’ll share the recipes for the strawberry and cookie dough frostings in a later post. The cookie dough one was dangerously yummy. Consider yourself warned.
For each item on the candy buffet, I made a food tent sign featuring the SugarRush race track and one of the sugar racers. I used free clipart/graphics I pulled from online, then designed the signs on Canva and printed them on cardstock. I did the same for the Tappers sign.
I did the same thing to create a background banner for the candy table featuring the Candy Cane Forest in SugarRush.
So, there you have it. My guide to the ultimate Vanellope Von Schweetz birthday party. Now that I’ve typed everything out. I’m slightly embarrassed about how overboard I went. Can I justify it because it was a party for two kids? Yeah, probably not.