Storming the Castle: Ideas for Fun and Empowering Princess Parties

As parents of young daughters already know, little girls go starry-eyed at the mere thought of Disney-type princesses. If your daughter is enchanted by all things princess, celebrating her birthday with a princess party of her very own gives you the opportunity to stage a thrilling occasion that she will remember for a lifetime.

Despite its popularity among pre-teen girls, the "princess phenomenon" has been met with recent negative feedback, with some critics claiming that it creates unrealistic life expectations.

However, Anea Bogue, M.A., a renowned authority in the field of self esteem and empowerment for girls, doesn't recommend that you deny your daughter the fun of engaging in the princess craze. Bogue says that stressing the image of an "active warrior princess," while pointing out to your daughter the pluck, resourcefulness and skills of Disney movie heroines, helps send the message that a princess is more than just a pretty face.

So, break out the tulle, the pink streamers, and the princess dresses. You can throw a princess party for your daughter that is both entertaining and empowering.

Issue a Royal Decree

Part of the fun of giving a princess party is playing with images of royalty and fantasy. Don't skimp on the regal lingo; the party invitations– emblazoned with images of princesses, of course - can include phrases such as "You are invited to a Royal Birthday event at the castle of Alexis."

To avoid awkward arrivals, experienced princess party-givers stress the importance of being specific as to how the guests should dress.If you want them to attend in their princess dresses, say so on the invitation. However, if dressing up as princesses is planned as a party activity, specify that girls need not come in their party best. Indicate that "royal garments will be provided," or, "a majestic transformation awaits you."

Offer Royal Arts and Crafts

As princesses arrive at your castle, get them involved in making their own sparkly tiaras or wands. With inexpensive plastic tiaras or batons - and plenty of glitter, beads, sparkly glue, faux jewels and ribbons — each princess can craft her own glitzy masterpiece.Not only is this activity a good icebreaker, but it gives princesses the chance to show off their creations throughout the party.

If desired, you could award a small prize or treat for the most beautiful tiara or wand, along with consolation categories such as "best use of glitter" and "most colorful."

Kindness and tact are worthy royal virtues — explain to your little princess beforehand just how wonderful it would be to recognize the creation of a shy or withdrawn party guest with the title "most creative" or "most unusual."

Break Out the Princess Dresses

To hold a dress-up princess activity, you will need a supply of fancy secondhand dresses and gowns in varying sizes and in princess-worthy fabrics such as satin, silk, lace and tulle. Scarves and sashes in the official princess colors of pink, purple, blue and silver can add royal flair; elbow-length gloves, bangle bracelets and sparkly necklaces add glamour,as well.

A team of official"Fairy Godmothers" or "Ladies in Waiting" – older sisters, aunts or trusted neighbors with a knack for princess fashion — can be stationed in the room to pin dresses, fasten scarves and belts, create hairstyles, apply sparkly nail polish and generally expedite a princess look.

Princess Party Pursuits

Younger princesses can be entertained with simple competitions and "royal games. " Hold an archery contest - using suction-cup arrows, of course - or organize a "Pass the Wand" relay race. The old party standby"Freeze Tag"can be given a royal spin; for instance, runners must tryavoid a "wicked queen" or "villainous dragon."

School-age princesses might enjoy testing their self-control with a few rounds of "Court Jester."

In this simple but often uproarious game, princesses compete in pairs.One princess assumes a stone faced expression while the other, as "court jester," has 60 seconds to do anything she can think of — short of touching or tickling — to make the other break into a smile or laugh. Outrageous faces, silly dances and jokes,are all fair game. A princess who lasts the entire 60 seconds without smiling or laughing wins her round; if she cracks a smile or dissolves into giggles, the "jester" wins the round.

Encourage Royal Works of Art

For members of the court in medieval England, poetry was a favored entertainment, with lords vying with each other to compose and recite sonnets for the ladies. Princesses 8 years old and up may enjoy a modern spin on this pastime, in which you encourage each guest to compose a simple poem about the joys of being a princess.

To get budding poets started, suggest that each guest use a stock beginning with her name and dress color: "I am Princess Alexis, in my royal yellow dress, this is why I think that princesses are best…"

To spur inspiration, display 3 by 5 cards printed with pairs of rhyming words –for example, rule/school/cool/jewels, crown/gown/town, royal/loyal, pearls/girls, ever after/laughter, pink/think, blue/do.

Supplying drawing paper,watercolors, Princess-themed coloring books and crayons gives younger princesses - as well as those with writer's block - a chance to create,as well.

Encourage each princess to sign her original poem or drawing. After they have been displayed, read and admired, an older sibling or adult can whisk them away, scan or type them, and print them on pretty pink paper, using royal blue ink and a majestic-looking font. These creations can then be slipped into inexpensive, sparkly frames and put into each child's goody bag at party's end as a keepsake.

Fit For a Princess: Dainties and Sweetmeats

For the royal repast, you can cover a table with yards of pink tulle and deck it out with pink and purple streamers, balloons and fresh or silk roses. Typical princess fare includes pink and purple foods such as cotton candy, raspberries, watermelon and grapes. Serve strawberry sherbet, yogurt or ice cream in decorative plastic bowls, or "royal grails."Of course, no princess party is complete without pink princess cupcakes or a beautiful princess cake for the birthday girl and her court.

With a little care and planning, you can throw a princess party your daughter will long remember. And she won't have to go to bed "wishing on a star" for a great princess-themed birthday party - she'll have had one.

Claudia Rivas, the owner of Fiesta4kids and one of Toronto's premier party planners, has been delighting children for over two decades with high-quality, family-friendly entertainment. An alumnus of the prestigious Toronto Film School, Claudia has performed her popular "Claudia's Show" at such high-profile venues as "Canada's Wonderland" and "The Hispanic Fiesta" in Toronto.

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