Isabel’s Velveteen Rabbit Birthday: A Story Unfolds

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ISABEL’S 1ST BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: A STORY ABOUT A RABBIT

I believe that whatever your occupation in life, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a marketer, a musician, or even an accountant, stories matter. Through Party Magic’s birthday parties, I always try to convey a story. This type of storytelling is done not through words, but through the visual sense.

Welcome to the story of Isabel:

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Isabel’s Birthday. Pictures by the amazing Den Llanos Dee of Delightful Little Darlings

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Isabel and Mommy Diana playing on the stage

But before I can tell you more about Isabel’s party, I need to tell you the story of a little rabbit:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.

“It’s a thing that happens to you.

When a child loves you for a long, long time,

not just to play with, but REALLY loves you,

then you become Real.”

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The Velveteen Rabbit grapples with its own existence in a conversation with the Skin Horse

BEFORE WOODY AND BUZZ, THERE WAS THE VELVETEEN RABBIT

In a world inundated with Spotify, Apple TV, Youtube, and anything that promotes instant consumption of media, I believe it becomes more and more important for us parents to teach our kids the value of “deep knowledge”, or the type of knowledge that can only come to you with deliberate, “slow” learning. Which brings me to my most favorite medium of all: books.

One of the books that I am about to share with you occupies a special place in my client’s heart: The Velveteen Rabbit. During our meeting, the client, Diana, and I were choosing between a number of themes, one of which was this book.

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The Velveteen Rabbit talks about this stuffed toy rabbit who yearns to become “real”. He meets this wizened toy, the Skin Horse, who tells him that being real is a process borne out of being loved by your child over many, many years. I think the book became the huge success that it is because it tackles the most important questions of life: who am I? What is my purpose?

It also reminded me of another story: about a goodhearted cowboy toy named Woody who had a special bond with a little boy named Andy. (sounds familiar?)

THE STAGE: A GIRL’S BEDROOM

Since most of the book’s setting took place in the Boy’s bedroom, it seemed natural to make that as the main scene for the party. I placed the “bedroom proper” in the center of the stage, located in a little recess or nook and containing windows, a chandelier, Isabel’s bed, a dresser table, and a furry little rocking horse. Of course, since the celebrant Isabel is not really a boy but a girl, I had to re-imagine the scene into a girl’s bedroom. 

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The cake looked absolutely splendid on top of Isabel’s dresser. Amazing work as always by Cottontail Cake Studio. More on this amazing baking studio below!

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Isabel’s bedroom interior: a little girl’s playroom

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An Original Edition copy of The Velveteen Rabbit is part of the stage decor

COTTONTAIL CAKE STUDIO: TRUE ARTISANSHIP IN PASTRY MAKING

I have had the pleasure of working with many cake makers for the past few years I’ve been a stylist, and I can confidently say that Cottontail Cake Studio is up there right at the top among the very best.

Even until today, there is always a misconceived notion that bigger = better. I respectfully beg to differ. Just because a cake is 10-feet tall doesn’t automatically make it a beautiful cake.

Size is not the determining factor. It is all about 3 things: details, details, details.

For me, Cottontail’s cakes embody a return to what truly matters in a world that emphasizes too much of the superficial: bright attention towards romantic colors, and details that make the eyes alive with wonder and excitement.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself:

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Isabel: Cottontail Cake Studio’s latest work of art

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Isabel lost in wonder with her birthday delicacy

LEMON THREE: CAPTURING EVERY CHILD’S STORY

Lemon Three Films did it again.  Here’s a look at the video capture of Isabel birthday party. For more on this amazing videographer, check out my other blog post: The No. 1 Videographer On My Reco List!

{NDE} – Isabel turns 1 from Lemon Three Films on Vimeo.

THE CEILING: A CASCADE OF WONDER

The ceiling work is one of the more important elements of a styled party, as it practically occupies the largest space area in the venue: almost all the top portion. To keep in line with the theme, I wanted to evoke a dreamy cascade of ribbons, lanterns, stars, umbrellas, books, flowers, and lights, creating waves upon waves of a “cascade” effect:

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The books were specially printed with vintage Velveteen Rabbit graphics:

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Here is another shot of the ceiling, with the centerpiece highlighted:

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THE OTHER ELEMENTS

Upon entering, guests were greeted with this sort of “living room” scene that I created as a photo-op area, filled with pictures of Isabel. Think of it as a sort of “anteroom”, before you enter Isabel’s bedroom:

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Isabel and Daddy in the living room

Off to the right side, flowers, greenery, and a white bench with a large storybook at the back round up the rest of the entrance decor.

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For the dessert, I thought it would be a great way to depict a sort of “English” courtyard scene where a table of treats is spread out. This sort of makes sense to me, given the fact that The Velveteen Rabbit’s author, Margery Williams, is English and grew up in London.

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ISABEL’S STORY UNFOLDS

The more I think about it, the more I believe that the reason why I love Isabel’s party so much is that it’s not just about throwing a birthday party. For those who know how to look, this party carried a subtler, deeper meaning with it, and the lessons learned from the story of a little rabbit as he finds his true purpose in life.

Just as in the end of the story where the Velveteen Rabbit becomes real and begins his life in the forest, Isabel’s journey in life is just beginning. Oh what the future holds!

Happy birthday, little one!

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Michelle

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Michelle Lao

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By Michelle Lao

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