Once the theme had been chosen the next thing to do was make the invitations, the first taste our guests would have of the atmosphere I hoped to create. I found a program that makes photos look like cartoons. Then I played around a bit more and came up with this:
Kai Lan is known for wearing red flowers in her hair. I didn't think they could be too difficult to make and they would make great favors for our guests. At the craft store I picked up a sprig of the right flowers and a low temp hot glue gun. The barrettes were from the drug store. I set to work pulling the flowers apart and in one afternoons while the girls napped, I had made more than a dozen pairs. I felt like Martha Stewart! Unfortunately low temp hot glue does not work on metal barrettes and silk flowers and those little buggers popped off if you looked at them wrong. So, I headed back to the craft store. This time I bought jewelry and metal glue. With my first barrette, I glued my fingers onto the metal and nearly had a panic attack until I got myself unstuck 20 minutes later. Yet, the end result was worth it.
The party colors were bold; red, black, yellow, blue, and gold and the Chinese theme made decorating so much fun. This is the Year of the Dragon and the party stores still had plenty of Chinese New Year decorations on hand, and often for sale. The dollar store had brightly colored paper lanterns, which would later be hung in the kids' bedrooms. For the party favors, I chose quart sized red Chinese food take out boxes. Inside were (inexpensive, but fun) goodies like Chinese paper folding fans, Chinese paper yo-yos, Chinese finger traps, firecrackers, Chinese gum, chop sticks, and chocolate fortune cookies. The boxes served as weights for the balloons, which doubled as decorations until it was time to send them home with our friends.
The party supply stores don't keep Ni Hao, Kai Lan plates and napkins in stock, but I found them on sale here. The trick to keeping the cost down, yet stay with the theme is to pad with plates, napkins, table cloths, etc. in the color theme. I stacked the dinner plates with a Kai Lan plate, then a red plate, then a yellow plate. I only bought one Kai Lan table cloth and the rest were solid black, red, and yellow. You get the idea.
We were having the party a la Midwestern style, as in outside in the garage and back yard. In the corner was a tv and Wii console because we had a Ni Hao, Kai Lan game complete with dragon boat races. We set up an activity table with coloring pages printed from here. Another table had supplies to make necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. We used wooden Chinese Lucky beads and we even had Chinese coins mixed in. My Aunt Sandy did a great job helping the kids make their jewelry. The littlest kids who could not manage this project had large play beads so that they would not be left out.
We had red velvet cupcakes with yellow frosting and chocolate cupcakes with red frosting. Each were topped with chocolate sprinkles, a Kai Lan flag (which I made by printing out an image, reversing that image and wrapping around a craft wooden stick) and a Chinese flag toothpick. The cupcake wrappers were gold foil, of course.
What party is complete without a pinata? As lady bugs feature prominently in the Kai Lan cartoons, we chose a lady bug (which didn't get completely destroyed and now hangs in the girl's bedroom). This pinata has ribbons hanging from the bottom. Only one is attached to a trap door. This way, the littlest guests could participate even if they were not ready to swing a bat by pulling a ribbon one at a time.