A Mad Hatter-inspired garden party
Of all the Disney Dinners, I spent the most time planning Alice in Wonderland. It’s funny that I was so excited about it since I am really not a huge fan of the film or book but I’ve always loved the idea of Wonderland. I hosted Disney Dinners: Alice in Wonderland in my backyard, the only Disney Dinner to be hosted somewhere other than my dining room. Here’s how I did it, recipes and all!
“You can learn a lot from the flowers.” – Alice
The Rose Table is in no way affiliated with The Walt Disney Company.
Photography by Darling Photography TX.
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Instead of eating on my courtyard, I set up a 6′ collapsable outdoor dining table under my tree in on the far side of my backyard. It’s nice and breezy and shady back there with a view of the fire pit, vegetable garden, and back patio.
I hung a glamorous chandelier (thank you to my equally glamorous horse trainers at Black Star Sport Horses for letting me borrow it!) from a tree branch above the center of the table. A teacup served as a sort of “Hidden Mickey” for this party, perched from the bark of a tree. I stuffed red rose petals in my Sonnenglas solar powdered mason jars and hung them over the croquet court as an homage to the Queen of Hearts.
The Flower Wall
The real show stopper here was the rose wall that my dad built. I originally wanted a solid rose wall but one thing happened after another and I had to resort to plan B, something I never do. I have to tell you, I like plan B better than plan A! This rose wall is by far cuter than any of the rose walls I’d earmarked as inspiration. I thought the green really popped in the garden and photographed beautifully.
All we did (I use the term “we” loosely here as I didn’t do a thing except come up with the design) was build a back for plywood so it would stand up perpendicular to the ground and attach super thing astroturf to it. Then I picked out some lovely pink, white, and champagne colored rose garlands to hang from nails on the board. The result was an epic 8′ tall rose wall that cost less than $150 to build.
Learn how to build it here.
For years I’ve wanted to throw a Queen of Hearts party so if you had told me a year ago that I would throw an Alice party and not have a black and red color scheme, I would have thought you were crazy. I got the idea to do 12 Months of Disney Dinners in November and weeks later saw this jaw-dropping tablecloth somewhere online. I sent it to my mom (we often forward each other cute emails) and much to my delight, I unwrapped it Christmas morning! That tablecloth set the color scheme for Disney Dinners: Alice in Wonderland and it just about killed me not to use it and photography it earlier this spring. The tablecloth is bright with mixed florals down the center.
I decorated the table with various teapots and teacups I had around my house. Matching be damned. This is Wonderland, after all! I wanted the teapots and teacups to be reminiscent of the Mad Hatter Tea Party ride at Disneyland.
I went totally rogue with the flowers. Please know when you’re entertaining that it’s great to have a plan but it’s alright totally okay to stray from that plan. I went to the store with an entirely different flower plan in mind but then I locked eyes with these hydrangeas from across the fruit stand and just had to have them. I nearly fell over when I saw that the entire bouquet was on sale for just $10.
The colors went perfectly with my table cloth and hydrangeas just scream spring garden party! I arranged them in a large white pitcher for a show-stopping centerpiece. I love how the arrangement looked different from each side, perfect for the whimsy of Wonderland!
“Curiouser and curiouser.”
The Place Settings
I used my white china plates and white china teacups for the first course. This is actually not the first time I’ve served soup in a teacup! I’ve always loved serving things in unexpected ways.
I found these gorgeous, oversized floral napkin rings at Pier 1 and “folded” the napkins in the easiest way possible. Just hold the center of the napkin square, letting all sides and corners flop around, then slide the napkin ring through the center where you’re holding the napkin. It takes two seconds!
Also at each place setting was a tiny succulent arrangement, a take home gift for each of my guests.
I’m sure everyone expected me to play classical music or something traditional for a garden party but instead I put together a cheerful pop playlist, inspired by Pink’s Just Like Fire from the live action Alice in Wonderland. Listen to it here while you read the rest of this article:
My friends were so into the fashion for Wonderland! Many opted for fabulous hats. Jason Disneybounded as the Mad Hatter, even popping a 10/6 sign into his top hat.
For my Disneybounding, I chose a structured white dress and blue cardigan with black espadrilles to mimic Alice’s classic blue and white number that she wore with black Mary Jane heels. I fixed my hair in old fashioned curls and wore a diamond heart necklace for the Queen of the Hearts and pearl earrings as a nod to the oyster scene in the film. The real kicker was the butterfly fascinator by Fab Hatters that really made it a golden afternoon.
This is one of my best cocktails to date! The Jabberwocky is so gorgeous and delightfully refreshing on a warm spring or summer day. All it is is cognac and lemonade served with orange slices, strawberries, cucumbers, and lavender for a lovely infusion. This one is a winner!
This proved to be the trickiest Disney Dinner for which to menu plan. There are a plethora of Mad Hatter tea parties already on the internet and I firmly wanted to be different. After wall, this is not Disney Tea Parties. So I took classic tea party sandwiches (cucumber and chicken salad) and turned them into dinner party dishes.
Chilled Cucumber Soup
I came up with this recipe many years ago and even included the recipe in season one of my video series last year, so my regular readers will recognize it right away. The twist here is serving it in adorable teacups! I served this bright and healthy appetizer tableside with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a drizzle of olive oiled balsamic vinaigrette, crumbled bacon, avocado, a sprig of dill, and a parmesan crisp for dipping.
Get the recipe here.
Deconstructed Chicken Salad
This looks fancy but is so simple and fun to make. Marinated chicken one hour before you want to cook dinner. Grill until internal temperature reaches 165 and serve over a bed of couscous, Marcona almonds, and Feta cheese. Toss marinated grapes on the grill until starting to burst open and throw on top of the chicken. Serve with grilled bread slathered with ricotta. The idea is that if you ate all of the components together, it would be reminiscent of a chicken salad sandwich.
Get the recipe here.
Painting the Roses Red Cupcakes
You could use this decorating idea on any cupcake but my new strawberry almond recipe is a winner! Carefully pipe roses (don’t worry, I shot a quick tutorial) on top of cupcakes and use edible food spray to “paint” the roses red. Leave some white and many partially “painted” for the full affect.
Get the recipe here.
I don’t know about you but I sure enjoyed my trip down the rabbit hole! Watch the video here:
Get excited because next month’s Disney Dinner celebrates my favorite movie of all time, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl!
Make your own magic,