Months and months ago, the boys and I were sitting at a movie (Flushed Away, I think it was) enjoying all the previews before the main feature began. The trailer for Ratatouille rolled, and Bookworm just lit up - he laughed and laughed and as the final screen flashed, Premiering Summer 2007, he turned to me and said, "Mum, THAT is what I want to do for my birthday next year - take everyone to see Ratatouille!"
And so, months and months later, that is just what we did! :)
I have some pictures to post from our day, but I also want to share some of the party planning details with you. I know I love reading about how other mums pull off birthday parties (in fact that was how I got some of my ideas for our day, reading and gleaning inspiration online). So here goes.
Well, we began with a general idea - a matinee show, followed by cake and punch back at home. As a major Disney/Pixar production, Ratatouille has practically a whole aisle devoted to it at the party store. I picked up a few items there, but tried to brainstorm a bit on my own.
Now the logistics for a movie party can be tricky as far as informing your guests of the actual movie time. I couldn't get the show time till two days before the party, so I noted on the invitations that we would be seeing the "1:00-ish" show and that I would email the precise time as soon as I could pin it down. Our party was Friday, I had the movie start time (1:15) by Wednesday night and sent an email early Thursday morning. I asked our guests to meet at the theater at 12:45 in order to have plenty of time to organize and order snacks. To save even more time, I used an online ticket purchasing service. I tallied how many adults and children we would have, ordered the tickets and printed out one "ticket" for the whole party. I kept that piece of paper in my wallet.
As his friends arrived at the theater, Bookworm said hello and, armed with a pen and index card, tallied drink orders. By the time the group was assembled, we were ready to pick up our kid packs (I had warned the concession stand we were coming) and head in to get good seats. (By the way, the way the print-your-own-tickets thing works is you hand the piece of paper to the ticket checker, he scans the bar code in at a machine and hands you back all the little stubs for your guests.)
If you've read any of the Ratatouille reviews, it will not surprise you to hear that we all LOVED this movie. First of all, it was rated G and it is so hard these days to find a G movie. When we go to the movies, we go as families, bringing kids of all ages, so we want it to be something everyone can enjoy. Ratatouille appealed to all of us young and not so young - great story, plenty of laughs, visually amazing, and really very sweet.
Look at these faces, can't you tell they had fun?
OK, so now we all headed back home caravan style for the rest of the party. It was an exciting ride home, actually, because as we drove west, the skies began to darken and streaks of lightening flashed off in the distance. Literally, just moments after we all got safely inside, it began to storm like crazy. We even had hail!
So, as Bookworm set about opening presents, Bill put out the snacks while I mixed up the punch and worked on remedying a cake catastrophe that occured while we were at the movie (more on that later). But for now, let me backtrack a bit to describe the food, favors and decorations.
As usual we set up the two dining room tables for serving food buffet style - one for snacks and one for punch and cake. I purchased bright yellow plastic tablecloths for the tables, which, fyi, can be reused or recycled. I bought a couple of packages of Ratatouille themed cups, plates and napkins but supplemented with inexpensive plain yellow paper goods. For good measure, we bought some plastic rats to place about the tables (they ended up in the goody bags, lol).
We also strung some lights along the windows, to emulate the "City of Lights" (Ratatouille takes place in Paris). I took these pictures earlier in the day so the lights don't show up too well, but it worked out nicely in the end because the day turned so dark and stormy. The lights really stood out during the party:
I also set up small tray tables and chairs to look like cafe seating.
Later on, the above table was filled with cheese-themed snacks: cheddar mini crackers, cheese puffs, cheddar jack chips, and a cheese board with crackers alongside. We also had a veggie-and-dip tray and fruit salad served in yellow cups.
The soup pot centerpiece idea came from this wonderful birthday party idea site: Amazing Moms. We used our copper stock pot and filled it with colorful summer flowers - but to keep things in theme, I perched a plastic rat peeking out of the flowers!
To keep the flowers in place, I placed several glass jam jars inside the pot:
And here's a look at the punch bowl:
This was a blend of orange-pineapple juice cocktail, topped with scoops of vanilla-orange sherbet and a can of ginger ale to make it all frothy. Refreshing!
All right, now about that cake situation.
Bookworm's request was his favorite orange cake (Duncan Hines Orange Supreme). I had it in mind to bake it as a double layer cake and frost it to look like a cheese wheel. I made homemade buttercream frosting, tinted it yellow, frosted the assembled cooled cake and then we added circles of orange fruit leather. The hope was that it would call to mind Swiss cheese.
The plan was I would cut a large wedge out and place a small cupcake decorated like a rat inside the wedge. The rat cupcake has pink candy-coated chocolates for eyes and a gumdrop nose, black licorice whiskers and pink paper ears. Cute, right?
Well, as they say, the best laid plans ...
When we returned home from the movie, Bill, who had stayed home with Earlybird (who cannot tolerate cinema movies - too much noise and commotion) pulled me aside for a quick de-briefing. Apparently, when he was busy cutting up vegetables, EB had a little fun pulling at the tablecloth - a bit too much fun, because he brought the whole cake plate (domed glass, mind you) over the side and on top of himself, crashing the plate and wrecking the cake, but thankfully not harming himself in the process.
The sum of it all was: we were without a birthday cake.
BUT! I remembered the extra cupcakes I had made, and fortunately the rat escaped much harm. (He lost a few whiskers but that was all.) As it turned out I had exactly 12 cupcakes for 12 kids!
I didn't have enough confectioner's sugar to whip up a new batch of frosting, so we used whipped cream instead. Bookworm was really a good sport about it. With a shrug of his shoulders he said, "Oh well. Can we bake an orange cake again later this weekend?"
He really is such a sweet kid. :)
So, for the final touch, the favors:
We bought plain yellow bags and orange tissue paper and prepared one bag per family. Inside the bags we tucked some Ratatouille candy, organic lollipops, Ratatouille stickers, a plastic "pet" rat, and an issue of a Kids Cooking magazine. On the outside we wrote Merci! (French for thank you) and attached a recipe card template on which Bookworm wrote his thanks. I had meant to also include a copy of a Ratatouille Activity Guide for each child but it slipped my mind.
SO, there is our Ratatouille party - from soup to nuts! :) I hope you enjoyed a look at our party plans, and as always, thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!