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Planning a perfect princess party, if only the children would cooperate

By Angie Wagner
For The Associated Press

I'm a little obsessive about planning.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I stocked up on so many diapers and wipes I'm sure I didn't need to buy any for six months. I just wanted to have enough in case I couldn't get to the store.

This year I started planning my 4-year-old's birthday party three months in advance. I get serious about details and decorating.

Yes, it annoys my husband and probably anyone else who has to help me, but this is me.

Addie wanted a princess party, and it's hard to say who was more excited — my daughter or me.

Fit for a princess

I got to work on finding a red carpet for our walkway for our guests to enter the castle. Then I found wall sheets that resembled the inside of a castle. We rolled them out and taped them to the walls, then added Snow White and Cinderella cutouts on top of the sheets.

I made my husband climb on a shaky step ladder and hang dangling princesses on each vent in our kitchen and living room.

I couldn't stop myself. I kept thinking of more decorations I could add or details I forgot.

I made my mother cut pieces of pink and purple tulle fabric into squares so we could put Hershey Kisses inside and tie them up with ribbons. (Kisses from the prince!)

I ordered balloons, a cake for the adults and made chocolate cupcakes with princess cupcake liners, of course. We made pink icing and decorated the cupcakes with sprinkles.

Yes, I know 4-year-olds aren't going to notice that their cupcakes have princess liners. But I know.

Planning pays off ... at first

The day of the party, my planning has paid off and we are ready 30 minutes before the guests arrive. Soon, 14 children — 10 girls and four boys — fill my house. The girls are ushered to the dress-up area where they get to pick a princess dress, then two party planners I hired put makeup, tiaras and nail polish on them.

Addie is first and is so excited to pick her dress.

After a few more delighted little girls have their turn, the birthday girl expresses her displeasure.

"I want this dress off."

Me: "No! This is your princess party! Why do you want it off?"

"I just do."

So off comes the dress, and they have yet to take her picture with the Snow White cut-out.

Then I discover three of the boys have swords with their knight costumes, but one doesn't because there are no more swords.

Now I have one boy pouting and the birthday girl back in her regular clothes.

At least her tiara is still on.

Oh-oh.

"Mommy, I want these earrings and this thing off, too."

She rips off the dress-up earrings and the tiara. Then she wants to wipe off her lip-gloss.

I don't get it. There are days this child would have begged me to let her play dress up. She loves wearing her princess dresses and wearing my high heels.

A little too much?

Now the boys with the swords are about to kill each other. The sword fight begins and my house is losing.

My mother takes away the swords and I quickly usher the children to the tables to eat and do a craft.

The boy without a sword is still pouting (bottom lip out) and now refuses to do his craft or eat a cupcake.

OK. I didn't plan for this.

Luckily, the birthday girl perks up and starts playing with all the children, just without her princess dress or jewelry.

The pouting boy finally joins the fun, too, and starts running around with the rest of the 4-year-olds.

Two hours fly by and we are completely exhausted. So maybe I didn't need to go to all that planning. Maybe I didn't need the princess crayons and the princess coloring sheets and the princess slippers with candy necklaces. Maybe it was a little too much.

The children didn't care. And, apparently, the birthday girl just wanted to party. (She danced like crazy in some red high heels during the freeze dance game.) I could have just let them go bonkers for two hours and served a little cake and they probably would have been fine.

There's always next year.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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