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Party Perfect

If 18th-century French Queen Marie Antoinette actually uttered, “Let them eat cake,” she certainly wasn’t thinking in terms of her royal offsprings’ birthday celebrations.

Though cake can certainly be a part of the commemoration, why stop there? Even though you’ve secured the perfect locale and theme, your little guests (and their mommies) will be most impressed with the finer details that take a party from fun to fabulous.

To get us started on the quest for the best, we tapped Tara Wilson, party-planner to the mini-glitterati set of the Metroplex. The queen of merrymaking offered the equation to happy party campers: let them make a mess without getting messy. And, she shared some of the charming and refreshing facets that make a soiree sing: cake walk, confectionary activity station (replete with personalized embroidered aprons), mini gourmand treats, popcorn bar (we bet you didn’t think of that!), and even a faux lemonade stand (using de rigueur Gatorade and gummy bear encased cubes to keep busy revelers hydrated).

To hone your little one’s much-anticipated celebration with unique touches, all it takes is child-like imagination and type-A planning. From sensational confections and engaging games to oh-my-gosh favors and I-wish-I-had-thought-of-that invitations, we’ve got just the ideas to get you started (and if you think you can trump these tips, send us your secrets to post on dallaschild.com)!

the goodies . . .

Let Them Eat … Cupcakes!
Well, these aren’t exactly out-of-the-box treats. We’re talking sophisticated mini cakes in flavors like chocolate marshmallow, pumpkin, ginger lemon and peanut butter chip with piled-to-the-sky frosting and a trademark dot on top. You’re not limited in the way you display these tasty numbers: Try a tantalizing tower, a chic tray with beeswax candles or cute favor boxes – perfect for sending extras home (trust us, you’ll want extras). Don’t forget to emblazon them with a personalized pop (we like the tender teddy bears or numbers that scream your cherub’s special year). $3.25 per cupcake or $36 per dozen.

4020 Villanova St., Dallas

Sweet, Sour, or Better Yet — Tart
If you can find a way to walk out of this pink-and-olive-green boutique without buying something for your upcoming bash, we applaud you. Really, this place is more sweet than tart (though it’s that too). Dazzle your princesses (and princes) with fairytale cakes (think Sacher torte or red velvet), double chocolate chip cookies and glazed shortbread, adorable tartlets, apricot almond or lemon meringue pies (tarts) and, of course, cupcakes (pick your poison, from peppermint to KitKat). The designs are pure fantasy — from whimsical zoo animals to a leaning, colorfully spotted tower of taste. Cake prices start at $29 for 6-inch, $39 for 9-inch and up depending on size and decoration.

5219 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas

Design Their Own Dessert
DIY Get creative and set out bowls of crushed hard candies, butterscotch chips, sour bears, organic dried fruits – and even broken pieces of Cheetos (cultivate the salty/sweet craving early); then let the kids decorate their own cakes. Have a contest – most artsy wins a week at a local kids’ cooking class (try Kids Cooking Co. in Dallas). Of course you don’t want orange stains on their pristine party attire, so provide pint-sized chef’s aprons (available at Williams-Sonoma for customizing with each child’s name, starting at $22). It’s a parting gift, to boot!

the games . . .

Let’s Get This Party Popping
DIY We know, you associate this buttery indiscretion to the dark-and-freezing-cold confines of the Cineplex. Well, it’s time to let this crunchy crowd-pleaser out into the light. But, don’t fall back on an uninspired popcorn maker. Turn it into a gourmet bar where kids can get crazy with flavors (think watermelon and chipotle caramel; try Whole Foods for selections). And, let bags or boxes steal the scene – future Jackson Pollocks can go wild with paint, crayons or stickers to make theirs stand out from the rest (and mom will get an original piece of art to take home).

It’s a Cakewalk
DIY You’re not still playing pin-the-tail-on-the-longhorn, are you? Try to engage their sugar-primed bodies with a fresh twist on an old fave (musical chairs) – one that will earn them their dinner, er, cake. With chalk, draw a circle of numbered squares around the drive or patio. Crank up the kid-friendly tunes as the partygoers trot around the circle. When the music stops, the birthday child pulls a number and whoever is standing on the lucky spot, walks away with the cake!

Paint Your Own Polo
We’re pretty sure Ralph Lauren knows how to throw a killer party (and he’s probably an entertaining guest, too). You can invite him – or at least the essence of him – to your next shindig. Snag the fashion phenom’s Paint Your Own Polo kit and let the kids go all “Project Runway.” They can try out their couture skills with paint, sponges and stamps on their own take-home Polo shirt. And, it’s got feel-good vibes: 100 percent of net proceeds from kit sales will be donated to the Pink Pony Fund for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Pediatric Art Therapy Program. $45 per kit.

Girls 7-16; Boys 8-20
Ralph Lauren
NorthPark Center, Dallas

the gratitude . . .

Put It In Writing
Your child is one-of-a-kind; so why settle for a cookie-cutter invitation to celebrate his life? Go old school with gorgeous cardstock and calligraphy printing. Let the stationary masters at Write Selection design two-dimensional invitations with die-cuts and materials that jump off the page (googly eyes for him; glitter for her). Or, take Junior’s best artwork and have it made into a truly unique invite that will make your child a famous “published” illustrator (in your circle, anyway). Custom invitations range from $2-$5.

Write Selection
314 Preston Royal Village, Dallas

A Thanks to Remember
Once they can write, teach little hostesses to send their own notes of gratitude — and let them create these oh-so-important expressions themselves with lavish custom cards. And, if your little darling already has a matching set of Louis Vuitton luggage, she’ll probably want to design a line of stationary, gift wrap, tags and decorations — all coordinated to match her intrinsic style. Prices start at $9.50 for 10 card/envelope invitation sets.

Paper Source
NorthPark Center, Dallas