DIY Friday: Fancy That! Throwing a Splendiferous Birthday Party

This is the third post in my three-part weekly series for living gladly and gluten free: News n’ Nibbles Monday, Mid-week Menus on Wednesdays, and today…DIY Friday! Today’s project focuses on DIY birthday parties. Sure you can go to Chuckie Cheese’s, Monkey Jones, or some jumpy place and call it a day. But with so many great ideas available on the Internet for party themes and decor, why not arm yourself with some toile and a glue gun and add some creative flair to your little lady’s special day?

My daughter loves to read books, accents any outfit in her closet with something hot pink, and includes words like “fashionable” and “thrilling” in her standard vocabulary. When she turned 5 a few weeks ago, we didn’t have to think too hard about what her birthday party theme would be – Fancy Nancy. I enjoy reading Jane O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy book series with my daughter at bedtime, not only for their colorful and creative illustrations, but also for the new vocabulary words she learns with each story….”spectacular”, “observant”, and “brilliant” to name a few.

I scoured the Internet a few weeks beforehand, putting together a collection of favorite ideas from others’ parties, as well as my own ideas and personal touches. This was a soiree (that’s fancy for party) on a relatively low budget being hosted in a small space. All foods and beverages served were gluten free too. All in all, it was a smashing success, with 10 little girls entertained and my daughter thrilled. Ooh La La!


  • Welcome Sign
  • Number 5
  • Bonjour Banner
  • Fancy Table

I started with a fancy welcome sign on the door, simply using a variety of decorative scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby.  After the party, I slid that sign right into my daughter’s scrapbook along with some of the snapshots from the party. I re-used these papers for guests’ nametags and decorative signs labeling the various snacks and beverages being served.

The little lady and I crafted a tissue paper “5” to hang for decoration together – so simple. We cut out a poster board 5, then twisted and glued little pink tissue paper scraps on top.  A “Bonjour” banner using poster board, ribbon remnants, and my decorative scrapbook paper added to the French flair.

As for the tables, the fancier the better. I purchased glass parfait dishes at Walmart for 99 cents each as the place setting for every guest. We added beads, boas to each chair (warning: you will be vacuuming feathers for a week), toile, and pink tissue paper flowers to complete the table scape.


  • Get Fancy! Dress-up time
  • Miss Devine reads a Fancy Nancy story
  • Decorate purses with fancy decorations
  • Fashion Show

With 10 little girls over for two hours, dress-up can only get you so far. We had an agenda (that’s fancy for a list of things to do) to keep the girls busy and having a fabulous time. We started with a big dress-up bin, allowing each girl to put together her own ensemble. Tip: Go to garage sales or thrift stores for old dresses and purses. Look for a used coat rack to hang all extra dresses and accessories. My mom was a great sport, acting like “Miss Devine” and reading the girls a Fancy Nancy story. Being the retired educator that she is, she took the opportunity to teach the girls about some of the fancy words. They really enjoyed it! We moved the party into our garage for our craft project, decorating purses. Walmart and Hobby Lobby carry inexpensive packs of purses perfect for little 5 year-olds. Buy some puffy pants, stick-on letters, and sparkles to use as adornments, emptying them into easy to reach bowls on the decorating table. My mom, sister, and I supervised and manned the glue guns for the girls as they decorated away.

Food & Beverages

  • Make own parfaits
  • Flower petal cupcakes
  • Beverage bar with sparkling cider, water, and flavored milks

Following the purse decoration, we moved on to the piece de resistance: parfaits. Starting with vanilla ice cream, girls decorated their own parfaits with chocolate syrup, sprinkles, bits of candy, cherries and whipped cream. For the gluten free and dairy free guests (and host), we had So Delicious vanilla ice cream, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, ghirardelli chocolate chips, K-toos cookie crumbles, Cakemate sprinkles, and Soyatoo Rice Whip whipped cream. If that weren’t enough sugar overload, we had mini-cupcakes (gluten free and dairy free) in adorable flower petal cupcake cups (Walmart again – $1.49). I printed up little “5”s that I glued to toothpicks and inserted into each cupcake for a little extra flair.

For drinks, we set up a “beverage bar” along with fancy plastic cups and paper umbrellas. Each girl enjoyed their beverage, pinkies up, with their parfait and cupcake.


  • Gift opening
  • Fashion Show
  • Fancy Nancy homemade gift bags

After all the food and fun, it was time for presents. My daughter sat in our over-sized living room chair, and each guest sat with her as she opened her present. When gifts were all opened, we proceeded back to the garage to retrieve our decorated purses (now dry) and have a fashion show. Each girl walked the imaginary catwalk to RuPaul’s “Supermodel”, posing for a photo with their new purse. Before we knew it, time was up. Guests left with a Merci Beaucoup favor bag (Uline white paper bags with a printed Fancy Nancy “thank you” glued on), filled with their feathery boa, candy, and their fancy purse.

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