For my oldest daughter’s 6th birthday party, we shuffled through a variety of themes before settling. We considered Bluey, Encanto, and a trampoline park, which all seemed easy enough and doable, especially as we eased ourselves back into socialization and ventured on the precipice of classmate-invited birthday parties. I perused Pinterest for ideas and scrolled through Facebook to look at friends’ parties.

And then I stumbled across an ad for a kid salon. A birthday party at a spa? How fun! But between the price and the limit in guest size (most salons allow just 5-8 children), it wasn’t working for us.

So I started considering an alternative: a DIY princess makeover party! And I decided to go for it.

It was truly a DIY effort — everything I bought for this party came from Etsy, Amazon, Target, Walmart, or Dollar Tree, and I recruited my three nieces (who are much older than my daughters) to help.

One niece was on makeup duty, another on hair, and the third on manicures.

For makeup, we used one eye shadow palette, one blush palette, and decorative rhinestones for each girl’s face.

For hair, I purchased combs and brushes for each girl to take home, rainbow-colored snap-in hair extensions, elastics, pins, and shiny butterfly clips.

For manicures, we used Insta-Dri nail polish in a handful of different colors, plus nail stickers.

For accessories, I picked up some tiaras, necklaces, bracelets, and rings. To elevate this experience, I even ordered some child-sized satin robes on Etsy. These were discounted (last season), and I wasn’t picky about color or design. They were a HUGE hit.

We set up the makeover stations in my kitchen and the crafting stations in my finished basement, and we put princess music on Alexa and set the dining room table with treats for the girls to eat. Each “thing” had its own place. For decorations, I let my daughter take the lead. She decided she wanted to be a rainbow princess, so we used rainbow balloons, tiaras, sparkly tablecloths, and colorful flowers to turn our regular, “boring” house into a princess castle.

For the party, we invited a dozen friends, which is way more than what any salon would have allowed — but the perfect number for my girl. The invitations we sent (created on Mixbook) invited the girls — and their parents if they wanted to stay — to the party for a princess makeover. They could bring their own dresses or borrow from my daughters’ collection (we have tons in a variety of sizes because I always raid the after-Halloween sales for our dress-up closet). We served fruit, veggies, chips, pizza, cookies, and cupcakes, along with juice, water, and milk. The girls arrived one by one, exchanged their jackets for a satin robe, and the party began.

One important thing we included was crafts for the girls to complete while waiting for their makeovers. I ordered princess wands and mini-castles from Amazon and provided markers, glitter glue, and rhinestones. The girls were able to occupy their time with crafting rather than waiting impatiently for their turn.

One by one, each girl participated in the makeover, put on her princess dress, and posed for a picture in front of a princess castle backdrop. Each girl complimented and gushed over her friends. The girls sat around the table, chatting like queens and munching on pizza, cupcakes, and cookies.

While I was out of the room, the other moms told me that my daughter proudly proclaimed, “This is the best birthday party ever!” which they promptly urged her to tell me repeatedly, even if she had already done so. As the party drew to a close and parents came to gather their princesses, I handed out favor bags. These included their spa robes, their brushes and combs, two individually wrapped makeup remover wipes, lip gloss, princess straws, and ring pops.

I was exhausted by the end of the day, but in the end, it was worth it. After two years of small, immediate-family-only celebrations, it was so fun to see a group of kids running around, having fun, and playing together. The only downside? The bar is now set pretty high, and she’s already planning her 7th birthday party!

Sarah grew up in Rhode Island and now lives in West Bridgewater, making brief stops in Quincy, Fall River, and East Bridgewater, along the way. She made the leap from Rhode Island to Massachusetts way back in 1999 when she decided to pursue a teaching degree at Boston University. She chose her career in 1987 and is currently teaching high school English to 10th and 12th graders, fulfilling a 6-year-old’s dream at the age of 22, a proclamation that often brings forth snickers from her students. She became a mother for the first time in 2016 to her daughter Cecilia, then doubled down in late 2018 with the birth of her second daughter, Adelaide. She currently lives with her husband, Jason, their dog, Nanook, their cat, Lanky, and six chickens. They share a home with her parents, who live above them and also provide the most amazing childcare for Ceci and Addie. Sarah couldn’t live without her family, her insulin pump (shout out to other T1D mamas), and Starbucks iced chai lattes. She could live without angry people, essay grading, and diaper changing.