Beatrice had her sights set on a special sixth birthday celebration. She wanted to ‘Paint the Town Red’, and have a A London Art Adventure. The party started by taking the red number 6 bus (for our 6-year-old) with a few friends to Trafalgar Square then going to one of her favourite museums, The National Gallery.
It was carefully coordinated — with nine six-year-olds commuting thru London — and the highlight of the party was our bespoke art tour with the lovely Isabel from The Little Grand Tour. She made the art adventure into a phenomenal adventure through history and time that the girls found fascinating. Isabel made my life so much easier — at seven months pregnant — and she is an expert navigating children thru London museums. The party ended with drawings, sandwiches, and cupcake painting. And the whole day was such a success.
However, this isn’t only a party idea for those living in London. It is easy to see how you can translate this idea to your favourite museum for your children’s friends. We just had art on the mind for this party!
And art on the mind went into all the behind-the-scenes prep: we made simple but effective invites, with pen and watercolour. I drew the palette outline, and Beatrice did the colouring in. All the details had been photocopied.
Then in true London style, we headed to the museum, we piled into the top of the red double-decker bus, and drove past many of London’s most famous sites. Everyone wore something red, which was thematic, of course. We had a picture Scavenger Hunt on the way to keep us entertained, which they loved! We sang ‘wheels on the bus,’ told jokes, and nibbled on snacks from their personalised bags.
Each canvas bag was both a way to carry things, and also a party favour. We had a hand-painted red initial on each girls’ bag. The bag was a simple drawstring canvas backpack, and much better than a throwaway paper item! We made the initial letters by hand, using some sticky backed paper, a sponge brush, and my favourite fabric paint. In total, 10 bags cost about £30 to make and can be used for sports, ballet, or travel bags!
Inside the bags, we had some fun snacks — homemade popcorn in stripey red bags, red raisin boxes, a clementine, a mini water bottle (it was so unusually hot that day!), a marker, and a little brown paper journal with a fun Djeco sticker on each. It was fun to have bags at the beginning, not the end of the party, but also it meant I didn’t have to schlep things around. And since I was pregnant, I needed to travel light. Phew!
We made some simple party hats with red paper we had at home, some stretchy red elastic cord, and a sweet silver sticker to hold the paper seam together. And a decorative gold letter so each girl had their own hat! The letter stickers similar to these, were from Meri Meri.
By the time we arrived at The National Gallery, we were ready for Isabel. Thankfully, she was organised as ever and was aware of Beatrice’s specific interests beforehand. There were four paintings, which the girls got to see to learn interesting facts and ask questions about. Afterwards, in the comfort of the cafe, they did some drawings of their favourite painting. The day was so considered and inspiring! And some parents even had an hour free to enjoy some child-free art. Bliss!
I mean, look at these kids, they simply hung off every word Isabel spoke. Simply fascinated. Isabel is truly amazing at explaining art to children.
After the tour and the colouring session, we had sandwiches and homemade cupcakes. But not just any cupcakes, ones you had to paint the icing on! I created easy cardboard ‘painter’s palettes’ using the theme from the invites, and then we all squeezed the tubes of icing, like true artists do, onto the palettes.
Everything was pre-made by me, the cupcakes recipe was Courtney’s delicious, and simple birthday cake recipe. We made only a one batch recipe but divided it up so half became chocolate and half were vanilla. The girls ended up wanting one of each (of course!). We used this amazing buttercream icing (I used less sugar than advised), and we mixed in 8 food colour dyes, then put the icing into parchment paper piping bags and brought them with us.
The kids loved participating in the squeezing and of course the painting of their cupcakes!
Special thanks to Dariusz, the manager of The National Dining Room for allowing an icing party to happen! It was such wild fun, but thankfully he was a willing host. So perhaps check beforehand if you want to have an icing painting finale! 🙂
In the end, Beatrice was the happiest girl in London. It was a special day, a full-on party, and an inspiring one!
And when they left to go home, we gave each girl a London Routemaster Bus to construct at home as a favour. A great memento.
I hope you try this fun art inspired party! It is a combination of culture, history, creativity and educational fun (shhh the kids didn’t hear that). I can’t even imagine what we are up against for our seventh birthday plan! And if you decide to have an art party in London, you know who to call… the fabulous Isabel.
ps Read more from Isabel of The Little Grand Tour from her days when she lived in Rome!