Before I begin, let me apologize for the photo overload. The cuteness level was off the charts at Sarah's Build-a-Bear Princess Party and we took well over 100 pictures. It took going through the pictures 5 times before I narrowed it down to the ones I'm sharing here. I wish you could see them all. Each picture is sweet and precious in its own way. The girls were so delighted at every nuance of the party. The excitement and wonder on their faces just warms my heart. I would say this birthday party is pretty high up on my list of best parenting moments.
A quick back story on how this party came to be. Sarah is my first and so I'm still trying to get the hang of what kind of birthday party mom I want to be. With her birthday in December it's really hard not only to separate it from Christmas celebrations (a big stress for me) but also how to accommodate everyone. For her first birthday we did just family in town. Now that may sound small except that equals 6 grown adult Schwartzes and at this point 7 Schwartz kids ranging from 9 years to 2 months. That's 13 people in my tiny living room and kitchen before I even start inviting Sarah's friends. So for her second birthday I just did our family (me, Chris, Sarah, and Cody) and her 3 aunties (my best friends). It was nice and cozy and stress free but made me feel a little guilty and I think it made the in town grandparents feel a little left out (as evidenced when this year my MIL and SIL took the Schwartz family celebration of Sarah's birthday into their own hands and planned it without me). So when Cody's first birthday came around I thought I'd try the over the top approach that so many moms enjoy. It's in the early fall so we rented a park pavilion, hand made every decoration, cooked a bunch of food, did all the cutesy coordinated paper products and food labels, and invited over 50 people. It was ridiculous. It was stressful. And it made me realize, I'm not that mom. I'm just not. I love looking at pictures from those mom's parties and envy them but I don't enjoy doing it myself. I spent way too much time, energy, and money and by the time the party came I was too stressed out and exhausted to enjoy it.
There has to be a better way to do a birthday party for a kid. One that is fun for the kids and the adults and that won't stress me out. So when I heard that Build-a-Bear was releasing a Disney Princess bear, I thought bingo! This is it! I told Sarah, "Guess where we are going for your birthday? Build-a-Bear!" And she immediately said, "Oh I'm so excited! I'm going to make a princess bear!" Little did she know how true that was. Ha!
I loved everything leading up to this party. A Build-a-Bear party is the easiest thing in the world to plan, book, and have. They start as low as $60 and you can do all the planning in your pjs online if you want. First you can play around with their fun Party Calculator . Then, once you realize what a great idea this is, to book a party all you have to do is click on the link here. They've even made your invitations and thank you cards. All you have to do is print them out. I'm telling you, this party was so easy for me to set up I actually felt like I wasn't doing enough. And I loved it! But in my own type-A fashion it started to bug me that I hadn't had to do a thing to prep for this party so I stopped by the store 2 days before just to get a run down of how things would go. It wasn't necessary but it made me feel like I had done at least some party prep work. =) Oh yeah, the store manager also called me on the Monday before the party to confirm everything and double check the budget for the party. Those Build-a-Bear people are awesome! I seriously can't think of a better way/place to have a birthday party. I was super excited about this party. Sarah was thrilled about this party. She couldn't stop talking about it and kept asking when her party was. All my mommy friends were excited about it as well as their kids. And this was all before we ever stepped foot in the door for the actual party!
Since Build-A-Bear released a Disney Princess bear and Sarah is all about the Disney Princesses I thought we'd go all out for the party. The invitations told the girls they were royally invited to Princess Sarah's birthday party and asked that they come dressed as their favorite princess. I think that was the best decision ever! It would have been cute to see this gaggle of 3 year olds make their Princess bear but seeing them in their princess dresses doing it blew the cuteness level off the roof!
Before the party started the Build-a-Bear host Carolyn got all of Princess Sarah's presents and packed them nicely behind the counter so that all the girls and mommy's were free to enjoy the party without having to keep an eye on them. Love it! I was also able to put my big bag with the refreshments back there for safe keeping. Then she gathered the girls and gave them name tags. Sarah got a special tag that said her age, except she's obsessed with the number 5 right now so instead of saying Sarah is 3, she told the party hostess that she was turing 5 and the girl believed her. Ha!
Getting our name tags
In honor of the new Disney Princess Bear the store has some really cute pink bear crowns that come with the purchase of the princess bear. Since we were doing a Princess Bear Party the girls immediately set to work decorating their crowns with the jewel stickers.
I was helping Cody fill his heart up. He giggled and smiled the whole time. Even at 15 months they get how awesome and fun this is.
Squeezing the heart tight and making a wish the final step before it goes into a bear.
Each girl got 2 hearts because one goes in their bear, but the first heart goes into Sarah's bear. So here all the girls were filling their hearts with love and good wishes and then got to put it into Sarah's bear so that her bear would always be full of their love for her. How sweet is that! It's especially cute with one little 3 year old who kept sneaking over to the heart dispenser and getting another one to put in because she "really, really loves Sarah a bunch".
Putting the hearts in Sarah's bear
Next they had to do the whole process over again for their own bear's heart. And the cuteness once again abounds.
After the bear's hearts were full of love it was time to stuff the bear. Each girl got to push the pedal to control the stuffing machine as Carolyn filled the bears up.
Filling them up.
Stitching them shut.
Giving her new bear some love.
A sea of pink and a penguin. We let the 2 princes pick from the wall. =)
Then after the bears were clean it was time to dress them. Now this is not a mandatory part of the party process. Since we were doing a Princess party and the girls came in their princess dresses I really wanted them to have the opportunity to dress up their bears. But you don't have to (remember parties start as low as $10/guest). However, I think dressing up the bears is a ton of fun, so I'd still recommend budgeting for them to get to pick a shirt out (shirts are about $6).
Once again since I was doing a full on princess party they had already pulled all the princess dresses for the girls to choose from. The selection was huge! They had Princess Aurora, Cinderella, Tiana, Tinkerbell, Rapunzel, Merida, and Esmerelda (from The Hunchback). Some of them came with really cute touches, like Tinkerbell has wings and a wand, Cinderella comes with a necklace and gloves, and Merida even comes with a wig! The girls could try on as many as they wanted while they decided which one they wanted to keep.
Princess Avery dressed her bear up like Tinkerbell. (My favorite of the costumes.)
Princess Madison dressed her bear up to match her in a Merida costume. See the wig? How cute! Merdia also comes with a bow and arrow of course.
Getting the bears dressed.
My little Rapunzel with her little Rapunzel.
Of course Prince Cody didn't have to dress his up like a princess. He went with Woody instead. It was a close tie between that and the Pirate costume but once he saw the hat he was sold.
Then it was time to bunny hop back to the front of the store to take a group picture, get their birth certificates, and pack the bears into their homes
Our best attempt at a group picture
When you have your birthday party, Build-a-Bear gives the guest of honor a special present. Sarah received an autograph bear for each of her party guests to sign so she can always remember who came to her very special build a bear party.
Then Carolyn let Sarah ring the store bell to call everyone's attention and the whole store stopped and sang a special happy birthday song to her. It was so cute!
Full Disclosure: Build-A-Bear provided me with a gift card to help offset the cost of the party in return for this review. However, the opinions expressed are 100% the truth and completely mine.