The Madhatter’s Ball

For the past few months, I have been completely immersed in the planning for a big fundraiser for my children’s school. This year’s theme was Alice in Wonderland. As the Party Chair, I was responsible for making this theme come to life. Which, I was more than happy to do…I take my party planning responsibilities very seriously.

I gathered a crack team of volunteers as my committee and we got to work. We wanted guests to feel transported to Wonderland, through sound, sight and taste. We wanted them to feel like Alice, a little off-center. I think we did a pretty bang up job.

The party was held at The Old Mill in Rose Valley. This historic building was the perfect setting for our plans. As guests arrived, they entered through a ‘card vortex.’ Hundreds of playing cards, in varying sizes were affixed to a bracing structure to create the sense of chaos. Kristin, our resident problem-solver / engineer (not to mention, very creative and talented woman), devised and built the structure.

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Once guests entered the building, they were greeted with an ‘Eat me, Drink me’ table, where we had little vials of potion, Cosmopolitans and Sazaracs, and miniature cupcakes. We worked tirelessly to craft the perfect cocktail, it was really hard work. Kiersten, an integral member of the committee, without whom much of this vision would not be possible, made both the cocktails and the cupcakes. 

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Here’s a close-up of the cupcakes:

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And the bottles of ‘potion’:

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I got these fabulous 2-ounce bottles from ebottles.com – they had a nice selection, if you want to buy a lot.

To enter the ballroom, guests had to peel back the velvet curtain to reveal Wonderland! Once inside, they immediately felt “10 feet tall” as they walked through the giant flower garden:

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One of my uber-creative committee members, Sue, did the lion’s share of constructing 39 of these giant flowers!! The impact was incredible.

Folks were also greeted by this guy:

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To honor the many generous sponsors, who made the event possible, we created this art installation, which we called, “Through the Looking Glass”:

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You’ll see in some of the frames we featured photos of students, past and present. We gathered old frames from Goodwill, auctions and donations from families, spray-painted everything gold and created this collage of frames. Tara, another one of our incredibly talented committee members, her husband and our beloved woodshop teacher did an outstanding job constructing this beautiful piece.

We also scoured auctions and thrift shops to curate a vast collection of tea pots, tea cups, old books and other accessories to use as our tablescapes:

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This was my favorite – do you see something out-of-place in the flowers?:

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Every table was unique, and wonderful!

Above the central table, we created a suspended base, from which teapots and teacups toppled from:

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This was quite an engineering feat – constructed and executed by Kristin. Super kudos to her.

Up on stage, Tara created our ‘Hookah Lounge.’ She constructed a giant mushroom which was surrounded by moss-covered sections of tree trunks. Seating was provided by pallets, layered with textiles and pillows:

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What you can’t see in the picture above is how she even created the ‘gills’ underneath the mushroom’s cap. The detail on this piece was amazing.

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No detail was overlooked – she even made tiny mushrooms, nestled into the moss growing on the tree.

Here’s what it looked like, with the cool mood-lighting – can you see how the mushroom is lit from underneath the cap???!!!:

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Oh, and do you see that crazy cool chair to the right of the mushroom? One of the parents heard about the theme and let us borrow her two chairs – they were a perfect addition to the space.

Everyone was encouraged to wear their finest hats – and our Head of School was no exception! Tara and I created this beautiful Madhatter’s Hat for him:

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Complete with a hand-lettered, tea-stained, burnt-edge price tag – just like in the original illustrations by John Tenniel (with a little artistic interpretation, of course!).

I can honestly say that I had so much fun working on this project. I am so lucky to have had an amazing group of women to work with. Not only were they incredibly talented, inspiring and hard-working, but the were so much fun!

P.S. I now find myself with a giant collection of china and old books, which I have no use for. Stay tuned for an eBay auction!

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