gift wrap party hats mouse

Before I get consumed by all things Christmassy, I promised a quick post about Harry’s birthday and our paper crowns and castle cake… so here goes!

We decided on a low-key celebratory lunch as we’ll have a big birthday party for Harry’s friends in January once the chaos and thrills of the festive period have abated and the days are long and more bleak; a party to look forward to during the darkest days of the New Year seemed a good way of spreading out the fun (and managing our own energy!).

Even a lunch party needs party hats though, so I had a rummage in my old plan chest for some sheets of gift wrap, and spent a happy hour snipping and stapling to make some fun hats to wear…

Party crowns montage

These are so simple to make, and you can add all sorts of embellishments and layers of sophistication if you want a hat which will last longer than a few hours.  For the simplest hats, simply…

  • Choose a fun sheet of heavy-weight gift wrap (the paper kind vs a roll wrap)
  • Use a length of string to measure around your head, then use to work out how wide you need your hat to be
  • Cut the paper in a decorative shape; you’ll see I cut around the marching mice and crocodiles, and sliced down the book spines of the ‘Book-lover’s Hat’ to make it interesting
  • Staple together at the sides and wear.  Use a strip of colourful paper tape to cover the staple and line the rim.
  • Be greatly admired by everyone!
  • Approx: 10 mins.

That’s all I did with this one..

Marching Mouse Hat

for the Book-Lover’s Hat, I used a sheet of this lovely Penguin Books paper, and used spray-glue to mount it on a thin backing of gold cardstock before trimming to size and cutting to separate and fan out the book spines.

Book hat

My favourite one to make was the crocodile hat, which I did using the same steps as above, but also added little flags made of toothpicks, paper and dipped in gold glitter, which the crocodiles wave festively.  You have to make sure any embellishments are very lightweight so that they don’t distort the shape of the hat (a droopy hat is no fun…), but these were just the thing..

Step 1: Choose the gift wrap and cut a rough-sized length..

Step 1 Crocodile Hat

Step 2: Mount it on stiffer card and cut around the motifs to make a fun outline, making sure you have a solid piece around the rim to keep it in shape.  Add decorative tape to add a bit more sparkle..

Step 2 Crocodile Hat

Step 3: Staple together and wear!

gift wrap party hats crocodile and flags

The hats were a success and added a bit of fun to our weekend :-)

The other crucial ingredient was a birthday cake; Harry’s request was for a ‘dragon and castle’ cake, given his dual loves of How to Train Your Dragon and Lego Castle.  I bought a ready-made, undecorated chocolate cake and then used a mountain of fondant and food colouring to make walls, doors, trailing ivy and log piles.  I like to think that the sagging, bulbous walls add an air of medieval authenticity to my castle, as well as revealing my decidedly amateur fondant-rolling skills…

Castle and dragon cake

I used inexpensive fondant embossing templates (try Amazon or Hobbycraft) for the brick and wood patterns, and an ivy stamp to punch out the leaf shapes.  For the main blocks of colour I kneaded food colouring into the fondant and rolled out, but I also brushed colour straight on with a soft paintbrush for the leaves and door accents, and brushed edible silver colouring over the walls to catch the light and add some variation.  I borrowed some Lego knights and a Playmobil dragon from Harry’s toy box to complete the scene, and ta-da; a rather wobbly but very fun cake…

Castle Cake

( 10 days on, we’re still eating it…)


Since then, we’ve tipped seamlessly into a festive frenzy of decking the halls and making preparations; the fir lady is back this year with an even more abundant dress, and the hallway seems to have become a branch of the North Pole mail sorting office… more details (and pics!) soon.

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