March Hare: “She doesn’t know what an unbirthday is.” Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland
You don’t need to wait for someone’s birthday to organize an unbirthday party. That’s the whole point actually. You can decide to throw your unbirthday party whenever the mood strikes and I’d recommend a crisp and cool day just because drinking hot tea under a sweltering sun isn’t much fun. Hence I declare unbirthday parties a most perfect activity in places where nice seasons offer green grass to spread a blanket.
Inspired by the book Adventure Walks for Families in and around London, I organized an unbirthday party during the course of an Alice in Wonderland hike in Oxford with my girls and my husband. Now my girls want an unbirthday party for their birthday! The fun part was, I prepare and packed everything in secret so my girls would discover the feast on the spot. They loved it! And my husband thought it was a fun tie-in with a famous book in the world of children’s literature.
Here is what you’ll need for your own unbirthday party.
Supplies for the tea party
- Mismatched tea cups and saucers, even if they are chipped – it’s time to dust off that china inherited from Grand Ma
- A thermos full of your favorite hot tea – my girls like Earl Grey and mint tea
- Cookies, small cakes and chocolates, treats your kids like – go extravagant on the decorations, use jelly beans, gum drops and colored sugar!
- A blanket or small table cloth to lay the tea party on – rose and flower prints will make it look Victorian, checkerboard patterns will give it a hint of Red Queen, clocks will bring up the White Rabbit
- Mad hats for everybody
- Deck of cards
- Sugar cubes – you can make funny-shaped sugar cubes yourself or buy fancy sugar cubes
- Flower petals, berries or grasses picked along the way
- A big backpack or basket to carry everything
Supplies for the activities
- A printout of the Jabberwocky
- A sharp knife
- Black ink
- A few yards of ribbon
- Long bird feathers collected around your tea party spot
- A small drawing paper notepad
- A looking glass
- A bag of M&Ms or other round sweets
- Small sticks
- Chess game (optional)
Who to Invite
Anybody who enjoys a quirky tea party where nonsense is the name of the game. Boys like tea parties too by the way, especially if they get to wear a Mad Hatter’s hat and make up silly words. Tell them not to be late for a very important date!
Pick a flat area, meadow or clearing, and make sure it’s as level as possible. Unless you’re bringing a table – that you could do if you were brave but then you’d need chairs as well – you’ll need the spot to be evenly flat so the cups and tea pots don’t tumble and spill when you start pouring tea. As far as the surroundings, bonus points for rabbit holes, tall trees or caterpillars – they’ll be a nice Alice in Wonderland touch.
Activities of the Unbirthday Party
- Play with words: On your way to the unbirthday party spot, recite the Jabberwocky poem out loud and ask children and adults to make up funny words by colliding two words.
- Make quill pens: Ask the children to each find a nice long feather and sharpen the tip with a good blade.
- Have fun with writing games: once your quill pens ready, open the drawing notebook and the ink bottle. Have the kids dip the end of their feather in the bottle of ink and practice writing like they did in Victorian times. Nice long handwriting will look absolutely fantastic. Encourage whimsy and nonsense.
- Label cups, drinks and food: Write some Alice phrases (Eat me, Drink me, Hold me) on small pieces of paper, punch holes in the pieces of paper (you can use a sharp stick for that) and tie the labels with ribbons to the teapots, cups and food plates. You can also simply display the labels with ribbons in plates.
- Play cards: if you were a soldier at the Red Queen’s palace, you would painting roses red. Since you’re now, you can just play battle or any other card game you like.
- Drink tea and be very merry: stash the cups haphazardly in the center of your blanket or tablecloth and pepper the other items around it. Have your guests pour tea, eat sweets and have a very merry time celebrating nothing more than an unbirthday party.
- Play a Victorian game with candy: though you could try kicking around a blown-up pig’s bladder or play croquet with plush hedgehog toys for extreme Victorian fun, it might be easier to play “Nought and Crosses” (tic tac toe) with round candy or M&Ms for “nought” and small sticks or grass blades for “crosses”. Use a page of the drawing notepad and draw a 3 by 3 grid (9 squares). Each player takes turns placing either noughts or crosses. The first who lines up 3 noughts or 3 crosses in a row wins. Of course, a chess game is the ultimate Alice game and if you didn’t bring one but you have 32 guests, you could always try human chess on the meadow. Now don’t be like the Harry Potter chess and be nice to each other!
These are just a few ideas on how to throw an unbirthday party but you should feel free to customize the party to what you like to do in life. Now remember – there are 364 days a year to throw an unbirthday party. Have a blast!