Rainbow Tea Party! – The Junk Drawer

Rainbow Tea Party! – The Junk Drawer

Rainbow Tea Party! – The Junk Drawer

rainbow straws


Well, we spent the day recovering from Ella’s rainbow tea party. It was awesome (the recovery day AND the party itself).

When I asked Ella what kind of birthday she wanted this year and she said, “rainbow tea party,” I was not too sure what she meant. Further questioning got me nowhere, but she did stick with her decision, so I decided to just run with it. I’m sure I went overboard in just about every direction, but I have the time to do it, and after all, your favorite human only turns four once. We definitely saved a little bit of money by not renting a venue, but not a ton – the real value for me was getting to do party projects with the birthday girl and then seeing all of her friends and kid cousins enjoying themselves in our new home, which was decked out in all rainbow everything, like the world’s most wholesome pride party. Totally worth it, IMHO.

I know I promised to share some party details. I don’t have a great camera and was sort of run off my feet while the party was happening, so I don’t really have photos, but I do have a bunch of links and, of course, lists upon lists upon lists. Here goes, it’s a long one…


I looked at a few (million) tea party menu ideas on Pinterest, but most were a little fussier than we were up for – tea sandwiches are pretty high-class for the pre-K crowd, and particularly for my pre-K-er, who subsists on a rotating diet of mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. Also, we were aiming for a mid-afternoon party, so we didn’t necessarily need a full luncheon.

In the end, we settled on:

  • Rainbow Krispie Treats (basically just rice krispie treats made with Fruity Pebbles) like these ones. I doubled the recipe so I could cut good sized cubes out and make a little tower on our cake stand.
  • Rainbow sprinkle pretzel wands, which looked like these ones, although with smaller sprinkles. I didn’t actually follow any instructions for these, I just bought an insane number of white chocolate chips, melted them in the microwave, thinned the chocolate out with a little bit of canola oil, and hoped for the best. We did have some consistency issues on the first round, but once I figured out the right temperature, we did OK. Ella helped a lot with these, so it was a fun little project for us, even if it did get rainbow sprinkles all over my entire life.
  • Rainbow sprinkle white chocolate dipped strawberries, made with exactly the same technique as the pretzel wands, but, you know, with strawberries instead of pretzel wands.
  • Rainbow fruit pizzas, based on this idea. These were a surprise hit! I used a slice and bake sugar cookie (although not Pillsbury, I can’t remember what brand – maybe generic?) for the base, and honestly, once I baked the cookies, I was kicking myself for not making sugar cookies from scratch. I typically use this amazing recipe from The Kitchn, which is my favorite food blog and my go-to source for many recipes. But Ella has a lot of friends with food sensitivities, so I was reluctant to do anything that included almond extract, just in case. Plus, I had my hands full. In the end, the sugar cookies themselves were fine, but I lost A LOT of them because they stuck to the pan, even though I followed the instructions to a T. They also spread more than I anticipated for a sugar cookie, so they were a little wonky looking, shape-wise. Oh well. I also used store bought white frosting, since I had it for the cupcakes anyway – just a thin little layer on top of each cookie, which I used to adhere the rainbow of fruit (raspberry/red, canned mandarin segments/orange, canned pineapple chunks/yellow, kiwi/green, blueberry/blue, blackberry/purple) to the cookie. You guys. These looked horrible, and I hate canned fruit and don’t even like kiwis. They also took forever to assemble and the stupid cookies kept breaking. BUT we had not a single rainbow fruit pizza left over at the end of the party, and I put out at least 30 of these. So, take that as you will.
  • “Tea” was just apple juice or water – we’re not very fancy.
  • Hoodsies for ice cream, because this is New England and that’s what you do!
  • AND, the piece de resistance, layered rainbow cupcakes. These were a hilarious amount of work, despite using boxed white cake mix. I followed this general idea and used the egg white method for the cake mix itself. We doubled the recipe, which I found made a looser batter than the one in the recipe I’ve linked. For that reason, the layers weren’t really pipe-able, but I’m also not a super perfectionist, so that was OK by me. We (me, Ella, and Ella’s Nana) divided the white batter up evenly into six cups and then I used a variety of food coloring to make the rainbow hues we needed. I was using leftover food coloring from projects earlier in the year, so depending on the color and how well a particular shade came through, I had to improvise a bit. The red looked pretty pink before baking, and the purple was absolutely more of a gray, but they baked up just fine! Once each cup was as vibrant as I could get it, we just spooned a layer of each color into our muffin tins – it was neither neat nor consistent, but honestly they came out amazing. Once they were cool I did a quick and dirty frosting job with some white frosting (mostly because I was too tired for piping at that point in the night!) and then we dipped them all in a bowl of rainbow sprinkles. I was pleased as punch with how they turned out.

There was also supposed to be a rainbow veggie platter with veggie dip, but when I went to pull the veggies out of my fridge, my purple cauliflower and blue carrots had both gone off! So, instead, there wound up being a pile of baby carrots, yellow bell pepper, broccoli, and tiny tomatoes in my kitchen, which the adults kept going back to when they needed a break from all the food dye. You win some, you lose some.

OH AND BEER. We didn’t actually intend to provide much in the way of food or drink for the grown ups, since it was a short party and really focused on the kids. But our local brewery re-released cans of our Very Favorite Beer on Saturday, and Jon ran over to grab a case to have in for this weekend, Thanksgiving, and our open house next weekend.

You can guess where this is going, right? He decided to pop one open to evangelize at the party, and before I knew it, every non-pregnant parent at the party was sipping an ice cold Laser Cat IPA and looking quite satisfied. Chalk one point up on the board for Jon and his hops enthusiasm.


We planned the party to be from 2-4pm. I’ve never hosted a kids’ party at my house before, so I wasn’t really sure if I was over-programming or what. We also weren’t sure about the weather, since Massachusetts has gone from a really long summer into early winter with no stop for fall in between. Saturday’s forecast was for low 40s with potential rain and “wintry mix,” which meant we couldn’t plan on any outdoor time.

Which meant there was the potential for 15-20 kids being trapped in my house for two hours.

We figured we’d better have a plan, so we went with:

  • Decorate your own teacup: I got these 6 oz cups with a handle from Amazon. We didn’t need them to be hot cups, since we weren’t serving real tea, but these were the best I could do with handles that kids could actually decorate. Once we had enough kids arrive, we got them settled at a long table we’d set up in our dining room, which had some markers, some crayons, some of these paint dot thingies, and a variety of rainbow stickers like these, these, and these. This kept the kids busy for a bit while everyone trickled in.
  • And, since they were already at the table, we decided to dive right into cupcakes and ice cream! That took a while, too.
  • After everyone was done eating, we played a round of the classic children’s game, Pin the Rainbow on the Teacup. You know that one, right? Right? OK, fine, but I’m sure you get the gist. I spent an INSANE amount of time and energy crafting a giant teacup shape (drawn freehand, and pretty freaking impressive, considering I am terrible at drawing) and 20 rainbows out of poster board. Like, hours and hours. I have no idea why I decided this was that big a priority, but what can you do. We hung the teacup on the pocket doors between our dining room and living room and lined the kids up. I think usually you’re supposed to blind fold the kids and spin them around a few times before you set them loose, but I was still traumatized by the stitches mishap from last week, so we basically just asked the kids to close their eyes, which almost none of them did. We wound up with a 100% success rate, which didn’t seem to bother anyone and kept me from having a heart attack, so let’s call that a win all around. The whole thing took about five minutes, tops.
  • After the rainbow/teacup game, we decided it was worth it to brave the cold and get some fresh air before the rain started, so Jon brought out the gorgeous piñata we got on Etsy and hung it from the swing set. Again, we were too nervous about blindfolding and dizzy-ing any kids at this point, so we just lined them up and let everyone have a turn whacking away at the thing. And another turn… and another turn… Seriously, that piñata was made of titanium. In the end, Jon wound up cutting some mortal wounds in the cardboard so that the next hit did the trick. This was an excellent time waster, because it took the kids a really long while to figure out that they weren’t making progress.
  • Once the piñata did give up the ghost, we gave all the kids their goody bags so they could load them up with candy. These were just paper bags in rainbow colors, which we had already filled with little notebooks, crayon party packs, a few rainbow stickers, and a little thing of play dough (which was actually part of a giant set of play dough I ordered ages ago when we were trying to reward Ella for sleeping in her own bed – since she generally doesn’t, we had plenty left hanging around!).
  • Opening presents: since everyone was already outside, we brought Ella’s presents out to the picnic table and the kids who were interested watched her open them while the kids who weren’t got to play on the swing set. We’ve never opened presents at a birthday party for Ella before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go – turns out a lot of kids LOVE watching people open stuff (this is a YouTube thing, I hear), and it was great that everyone could either watch or do their own thing without dividing the party up into separate spaces. That being said, it got COLD and then it started to drizzle, so I feel like I owe some moms a glass or seven of wine to compensate for freezing them to death in my backyard.


We kept these pretty simple. I got some general rainbow stuff (a rainbow tissue paper garland, a rainbow dot door hanger) from Party City, along with a bunch of rainbow colored streamers. We also got a dozen balloons in rainbow colors and one giant rainbow balloon for Ella’s chair. And, for some reason, I decided that rainbow party hats were a priority. We ordered these ones, which were super adorable but which required assembly that made them a pain in the butt. Jon AND my mother tried to talk me out of seeing this one through to the finish line, but I persevered… which was very stupid, since who has ever seen a kid happy to wear a party hat?? We threw them all out after the party, right from the places where I’d stacked them before folks arrived.

Seriously though, if the party hats were the only real fail, I’m a happy mom. Ella was a happy girl, too. At the end of the night, she was sitting with me on the couch, and out of the blue she gave my giant belly a giant hug and said, “I feel so good, mumma.”

I cried, of course, because she’s amazing, and because that’s just what I do these days. But I felt so good, too.

Thank you, God, for the chance to celebrate our precious little human’s fourth year on earth. Thank you for Pinterest and Wilton and Amazon Prime and Laser Cat, and for the grandparents and aunts and uncles who helped keep everything running smoothly. And thank you for the amazing army of friends and family who joined us for this colorful, noisy, joyful chaos and made Ella feel so loved. We are incredibly blessed.

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