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in the press:

molliemakes 13

mollie makes home

ikea family live

so, we had a party… it was pretty epic. feel free to skim over and admire the photos, or continue reading and find out how you can have an epic party too – i’m even sharing party printables!


each year, around june i ask my son what he wants for his september birthday party. i love parties, so i get excited early and i’m eager to start planning! the rest of the year we’re busy and we have to say “no” to a lot of stuff, but birthday time is SACRED! so far we’ve had “alice in wonderland”, “space” and this year he asked me for a “willy wonka/charlie and the chocolate factory” themed party. i thought that was pretty neat considering he share’s his birthday with roald dahl and we’ve read the book multiple times and watched both movies many multiples of times.

this theme is a blessing and a curse, though. you have so much inspiring material to begin with that its not like you need to brainstorm too hard, but then both the book and the movies provide such awe inspiring descriptions of the factory that that’s a BIG job to try and live up to!



i started off “small” with the invitations. the obvious choice was to send out bars of chocolate with golden tickets! and who am i to question the obvious choice?! however i’m neither made of postage money or chocolate so i opted for 2D double-sided paper wonka bars that were cheaper and simpler to post.

i made you a special printable version to use for your own wonka party! and don’t forget to ask your print shop to print them double sided –  just hand write in the party host, the location, time and date, your phone number and “RSVP by” date.

Buy Now

please note: i do not offer tech support, or customization on printables.

angel food truffles, plate candy decorations, chocolate+candy spoons

party buffet,

cake batter rice krispies, banana splits, rainbow jello

pinterest came through big time with decor ideas, and the rest was just some creative thinking. above are some of the inspiring bits and pieces that pinterest delivered. i didn’t use them all, but maybe you’ll find them useful.

the big issues i had to solve with making this party all that it could be were:

a) making a big impact, on a small budget and scale

b) not wasting too much stuff (food, money, materials)

a tight color palette is the answer to all of life’s problems, but it helps parties look well put together with minimal effort and expense. turns out there’s not much chocolate brown party supply out there so i happily used the groovy pink/orange/yellow color scheme of the wonka bar packaging.

you can make a big impact with a knock-out buffet display – let the food display be part of the decor: decorative AND delicious! i really lucked out finding a groovy striped plastic table cloth in those colors which served as the backdrop to the table AND the table cloth (it was long).

we had pink and orange plates and cups from our birthday shindig, so i mixed in some new yellow ones, and some orange striped napkins. some of the plates even made their way into the decor as cellophane wrapped candies (see down a little further).

in my intensive, focused, scientific, party research phase i loved the jars of candy i was seeing at other people’s parties – but we will never eat three full jars of candy in 1000 years so that was just wasteful in our situation. my solution was to whip up some graphic faux candy! i printed out paper inserts for the jars and some paper lollipops too. these would be fun to do with your kiddo – get them involved in the preparation by stamping, drawing or painting some candy jar fillings!


we made up some plastic plate candies to stick around, some $2 paper lantern lollipops for the garden and helium baloons en masse in the party colors filled out ceiling space and were easy to do on the morning of the party.

~ Menu ~

fizzy lifting lemonade

everlasting bubblegum cordial

(if you’re in australia, cottee’s make “gubble bum” flavor cordial)

ice water


chocolate crackles

birthday cake flavor rice krispie treats

chocolate+candy spoons

coconut strawberries

jelly slice

pretzels, chips, popcorn

mini candy bars

lots and lots of candies!

and i was instructed to make a “chocolate birthday cake, with chocolate frosting, and chocolate” to follow. i made just that! and i decorated it with smarties (candy covered chocolates like flatter m&ms) in the shape of a 5. this cake is kind of an homage to my own 5th birthday cake which my clever mama and grandmama made in the SHAPE of a FIVE, covered in smarties. it blew my tiny mind and i’ve never quite recovered.

i had every intention of also making a rainbow platter of fruits with honey yoghurt to dip, and vegetable crudité with hummus but a) i’m a chronic over-caterer and always feel wasteful after parties and b) what kid is going to eat veggies when there is a table full of candy?! we all know candy is a sometimes food, but parties are only sometimes events so i saved the fruit and veg for us to enjoy during the week. and i skipped the fairy bread too. i know, i’ll just give up my australian citizenship right now, huh? shame on me.


so there was candy for all, and sugar highs on the horizon. the only solution was to burn off some energy and distract the kids from grazing on the sugar by playing lots of fun games! here’s what we did, how we did it and what you need to do it yourself!

mike teevee’s tv quiz

think up 5-10 tv related questions your kid’s will be able to answer. give chocolate money prizes.

for example, we asked the 5 year olds:

“what color is oscar the grouch?”

“on the wiggles, what color shirt does jeff wear?”

“what type of animal is pingu?”

“on yo gabba gabba, who said they had a party in their tummy?”

“who can tell me the name of the island that thomas the tank engine lives on?”


charlie bucket’s bucket basketball



a large bucket or tub

a lot of breath or a balloon pump


put the bucket up high; participants take turns shooting balloons into the bucket. whoever can dunk the most balloons wins.

veruca salt’s bad egg and spoon race



eggs; real, plastic or chocolate depending on the age of participants

silver spoons or dumpling spoons (easier for little kids)


each participant gets a spoon balanced on an egg and they must make it around a race course without dropping their egg. no holding the eggs with your hands, though!

augusts gloop’s donut race


mini donuts for each guest

a long stick, or broom handle

kitchen twine/string


using the kitchen twine, tie the mini donuts to the string, then tie the length of string attatched to the donut to the long stick. make sure they’re equally spaced leaving enough room for everyone to stand/eat comfortably.

to play, hold up the stick with the donuts hanging down and have the children put their hands behind their back. the first to eat all of the donut without using their hands wins!

violet beauregarde’s blueberry baloon bonanza


blueberry colored balloons

small prizes you’ll be able to fit into un-inflated balloons eg: mini candy bars, small puzzles, whistles

fill blueberry colored balloons with small prizes then inflate them. get the kids to pop (squeeze, sit on) the blueberry bubbles to win their prize. have a push pin on standby for you to use in case your kiddos are too light to pop the balloons on their own.

to finish up with, i REALLY like party favor bags. its like having a little extra party after the party, so i tend to make a bit of extra effort to send home some fun treats. this year i got organized early and it paid off! i found handmade soaps (by sailormouth soaps on etsy) in the shape of frog candies, and i redeemed myself with the guest’s parents by finding a bunch of cute animal toothbrushes. packed up in gold bags with some bubble mix, and a couple of extra candies the favors made leaving the party a little less upsetting.

sure there are people who will say i’m probably spoiling my kid, but we ALL had fun – both father and son asked for the same party next year) and there’s only a few years you can be spoiled for. my mum threw fun parties for me so i like passing on those special memories to my son as its a way of keeping her fun spirit alive, but i think whatever effort you make for your children will be happily received and treasured.

maybe its the sugar talking, but i think i’d quite like to make parties happen for a living, so y’know… call me! who knows maybe we can have a pilgrim party blog.

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59 Responses to “how we threw a willy wonka birthday party”

  • This is awesome. Thanks for sharing…. I only wish my son was a year younger. Now Star Wars has gone and usurped all the fun!

  • Best mum and party ever!

  • Leta:

    Fantastic! Love all of your ideas. Well done!! I love planning the kids birthday parties as well. We’ve had Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Beach, Ice Cream, Mermaids, and more I’m sure I’m forgetting. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kelly:

    Pilgrim, this is uber amazing!

  • What a lucky little boy! You did an amazing job!!! My 2 year old has just discovered Willy Wonka. She is constantly bugging us to watch “Ticket”!!

  • So very cool! Such great (and doable) ideas. It looks like lots of fun (and kiddie heaven). I am especially taken with those chocolate and candy spoons, pretty and tasty. And your cake looks AMAZING!

  • Pilgrim party blog…Now you’re talking!! (Or maybe it’s just the sugar) :)

    What an amazing job. Top effort, Mum!
    I’m sure your little man will remember it for years to come. x

  • Pilgrim, you did an AMAZING job! And coming up to my 6th birthday party for our monkey, I know how stressful it can be planning and prepping for a b’day party that’s memorable and doesn’t add any further grey’s. Well done lady. Well done.

  • What a gorgeous, colourful, fun party!…can I come to the next one?:)

  • Leah:

    What an amazing party idea! My daughter loves Willy Wonka (the original version with Gene Wilder). She would die for one of these parties! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • you slay me, pilgrim!! this is beautiful and genius.
    we too ADORE all things willy wonka and i have been pondering it as a party theme for months. thanks for all the info treats!


  • Tara:

    Amazing! I just threw my daughter’s first birthday and had the same fruit/veggie dilemma. You did a great job!

  • Kate Edwina Hook Nancarrow:

    I love you!

  • love your Willy Wonka party, I love party planning too

  • this is fantastic! i have always loved willy wonka. i actually went as veruca salt for halloween 2 years ago! well done!

  • Pilgrim Lee! THIS IS AMAZING!!

    Such a lucky gorgeous birthday boy! I bet he had a great time!

  • AWESOME party! have pinned a few ideas, cause it just so cool!

  • You are by far the best mom there ever was. Super awesome party! Wish I was invited! ;)

  • this is BRILLIANT!! i love it so much.

  • aww happy birthday little guy! you did an amazing job creating a willy wonka wonderland! wish i was there. great creating! :)
    peace & love

  • wowsers! totally wonkalicious looking, the party invites are too awesome and violet’s blueberry balloon game is genius! i wish i was a little kid rocking up to this brain blasting shindig.

  • That’s one of the most creative and fun kid parties I’ve ever seen! Happy (belated) birthday to your little boy!

  • Alix:

    you are a GENIUS……i love love love it, my beautiful colorful friend!

  • [...] Pilgrim, you are a clever clogs. I’ve only shown you a bit of her madness. You must go to draw! pilgrim to see the really fun games she drummed up as well! Let’s just say there is a game called [...]

  • Brad:

    Coolest party ever! I am turning 29 this month and I want a party just like this! It’s totally badass!

  • Vic:

    A-frikkin-mazing. You are.

    (Can you be my Mummy…???)

  • Jess:

    You have the sweetest little boy with obviously very discerning taste. Mine is just about 5 and wants a “crab” themed party. Last year was “rainbow”, the year before “ladybird”. Love his originality and already lamenting him starting school next year as I’m sure we’ll lose him to Ben 10 and the like.
    Your party is an inspiration. Might just steer him down that path.

  • Jess:

    Yeah I’m already giggling picturing the parents’ faces when they open the invite – “You are invited to Torsten’s crab party”
    The Ben 10 thing is bound to happen I guess but I’m quietly introducing him to my childhood delights (Star Wars and Muppets so far) for contrast.
    Might see you on the streets of Melbourne next year (moving there from the UK in a couple of months – can’t wait!)

  • deb:

    This is wonderful!!! I am doing this next year!

  • Lori:

    I love this idea and I want to do it for my sons party!! Thanks for including the invites but I have a question, what kind of paper was used and what size was it?

    • lori – i had my invitations printed at the copy store and they used a satin finish paper. sorry i’m not sure the weight! i just cut the invites down from an A3 page :)

  • Lori:

    great!! Thanks so much for the quick response!

  • Priscilla:

    I am so excited

  • This is Awesome!!! I’m totally going to have to do this!!

  • Sarah Phillips:

    I am constantly refering to your blog for my son Georges Willie Wonka party in April. He loves Roald Dahl and has the box set. We are on Charlie and The Choc Factory now and we have both films. Your blog has been so useful for me for ideas as I havent got much time left! Its fab! Sarah x ps on the subject of Ben 10 my son refuses to watch it thankfully though all his friends love it and apparently play “Ben 10 killing games” in the playground!!

  • Jo:

    This all looks amazing! My son has just discovered Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and wants to have a Wonka party too!! I have already downloaded your invitation (which is very cute btw!!). Just wondering where you got the gold paper for the golden tickets and how you printed them?

    • jo, the golden ticket isn’t gold paper – its just a gold colored gradient effect: exactly whats on the invitation file you downloaded :) and i printed them at the copy store, 3 to a double sided A3 page

  • Mitzie Bergener:

    You threw a great party for your little pixie.Those hardboiled egg mushrooms are the best! They look like candy. Thanks for sharing your special celebration. Peace, Angela

  • Cara:

    Hi – I wanted to download the golden ticket invitation. Is the cost when it brings me to paypal just to pay $2.50 for the downloadable file? I was confused. Thanks!

  • Stephanie:

    I’m sure I’m not the first, but I purchased and am using your amazing invite in the US.. My daughter wants a Wonka party and I am using yours as my guide! I only hope mine comes out as awesome as yours did!!

    Thanks for the great blog!

    • julie:

      Hi stephanie. I want to use the golden ticket invite too, I am also in the US. I am confused though, is it 2.50 for the download? And how do you have them printed?

      • julie, yes, the download PDF invitation is $2.50AUD. you can print them as you would print anything else: at home or take them to a kinos/copy store where they will work out the double sided printing for you.

  • Flor:

    Thank you for sharing! we are using this for my daughter’s sweet 16! she loves it!!!!! and the invite is GREAT!! we had no idea how to throw a Willy Wonka Themed sweet 16!!!

  • Elizabeth:

    Hello, this looks amazing!! your invite looks really sturdy, any idea what the type of paper is?

  • Amanda Leslie:

    This is totally amazing My daughter will be 18 in 2013 and would like this theme but we will add coloured punch in a cocktail fountain and grown up games Thank you for this the ideas are wonderful You have made my job a lot easier xx

  • Kim:

    I ordered your invitations and edited slightly for my daughter’s party -she is “Lilly Wonka.” They were a huge hit. So glad you have listed game ideas as well- unexpected drop in temps will likely cancel the bounce house I had planned. Thanks so much!

  • Nancy:

    I love your ideas and admire your creativity. I’m actually going to play these games with 11-13 year olds. I think they’ll have a blast!

  • Amanda:

    A wizard of oz party is fun too… I threw one for my cousin… I built a yellow brick road using cut yellow table cloth through the house!!! It started with a basket outside the front door with toto in it and a scroll that said something to the effect of you wake up in a strange land with nothing but your dog toto. In order to get home you must travel the yellow brick road but bewareany troubles await you on your adventure!!! It was in the shape of a tornado! When she walked through the door her son 3 year old son was dressed as a munchkin holding one of several huge lollipops with a wizard of oz picture that chronologicaly told the story of wizard of oz. Inside each card was a wizard of oz trivia question!!! She had to answer each question and collect the lollipops. The cards said things such as along your travels you meet a curious friend called scarecrow. He says he’d like to join you on your travels but first you must answer a question… So on and so forth until you reach the end of the road which leads to the party room!!! Where I had the room decorated in lollipops and rainbows!!! Each food had a name such as ruby red cake balls…a vegetable tray stolen from scarecrows garden, poppy field punch, animal crackers called cowardly lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!! And so on!!! It was the funniest and best birthday party ever!!! She is 35 and loved it!!! She especially got a kick out of the baby dressed as a munchkin!!! She couldn’t stop laughing!!!!

  • Taz:

    Some amazing ideas….food for thought! Thank you.

  • DesireeS:

    Just curious as to where you wrote address and placed stamp on envelope??
    I see only room for the “Wonka Bar” logo

  • andrea:

    i love your webpage, how can I get this background?…it`s so cool.

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