For Bryn's 3rd birthday I decided to create a life-size Candyland game since she LOVES candy! This actually ended up being the most difficult party yet to put together simply because we had to create not just one mythical land but nine different mythical lands. Much harder than a simple jungle! I used invitations and tableware from Oriental Trading's Candytown theme, which is more for Christmas but it worked great. With each invitation I included a gingerbread man lollipop as well.

Candy Castle on the right is made of cardboard boxes and paint, complete with working drawbridge. Originally I'd hoped to make a cool free-standing castle, but couldn't gather enough refrigerator boxes. In the foreground is the Goodie Tree where we hung their loot bags containing a snowflake notepad, peppermint stick pencil, candy sliding puzzle, gingerbread boy-girl bubbles, flavored chapstick, and snowflake stickers. All were from Oriental Trading, but I can't find any of them on there now to provide links (maybe closer to Christmas). On the lawn were giant candies make from wrapped tennis balls or mini inflatable beach balls.

Guests were met with several activities to keep them busy until everyone arrived...
Each child got to decorate a bucket with markers and stickers to carry all their treats in. I'd saved up lots of baby formula cans, painted them, sprayed them with glitter and made a ribbon handle by stringing it through slits on the sides and glueing the ends. The only problem with these is that there is a sharp edge along the inside where you open the can so I had to line that with hot glue.

King Kandy, Princess Frostine, the birthday girl and a few other characters were there to greet everyone.

They could lounge in the sitting area beneath the Gingerbread Tree (...the tree looked much better in my brain, but it was one of several things too hastily thrown together the morning of the party...) It's made by bundling together several carpet rolls and surrounding them with butcher paper, which we ended up not having enough of to bunch it up and look better. The leaves are green poster board which was supposed to just stand up on top to look more like the gameboard tree, but it wasn't working out so we opted for branches.

Each gingerbread kid is sight-drawn from the gameboard, cut from cardboard, and given puffy paint trimmings.
I always like to create a fun photo background.

Guests could try their luck at winning candy from the Claw Machine.

Always important... a well labeled lavatory! I downloaded this Candyland font from the internet and drew in the gingerbread people.

When everyone had arrived, King Kandy gathered everyone in front of the Castle for a welcoming speech. He taught them an appropriate chant, "We love candy! Candy is our friend!", to repeat while marching in a circle.

Suddenly, the evil Lord Licorice shows up and snatches King Kandy's gumball sceptre!

He holes up inside the Candy Castle demanding all the candy in Candyland in exchange for the sceptre.

King Kandy, Princess Frostine and the King's Jester (Mike needed a simple character) ask the kids to help gather all the candy in Candyland and to enlist the help of other characters. The journey begins at the Gingerbread Tree. From there we had to divide the large group into two groups, one followed King Kandy and the Jester along the path backwards, the other followed me, Princess Frostine, the right way. The colored path is felt squares. The pink ones have pictures on them for each site, as on the game board, made by downloading images online, printing them on transfer paper and ironing them onto the felt.

Everyone is given a bean bag gingerbread man since Lord Licorice, turns out, is allergic to gingerbread. They'll be useful at the end to vanquish him! My mom and I spent hours sewing these together, filling them with popcorn kernels, and trimming them with puffy paint.

From there, the path leads to Peppermint Forest, home of Mr. Mint. The banner is hand drawn on butcher paper and our porch columns wrapped with plastic table clothes from Dollar Tree.

Each sign is cut from cardboard, painted, and mounted on paint stirring sticks.

We draped the furniture in white sheets and table clothes and covered the floor with cotton batting (Christmas tree skirts found at Deseret Industries for cheap). The giant peppermint sticks are carpet rolls. I painted them white then used painter's tape to create the red swirl. Smaller candy canes were bought from Oriental Trading and mounted on cardboard, cut and painted like snow drift mounds. Giant peppermints are paper lanterns, also from Oriental Trading.

Kids get to help Mr. Mint 'weed' his garden to gather candy sticks for their buckets. These candy sticks were purchased at the Peppermint Place, in Alpine, Utah.

On to the Gumdrop Mountains. Gumdrops along the walls are cut from poster board and sprinkled with crystal glitter to look like sugar. Gumdrops on the ground are made with three layers of paper mache on half of a balloon. The bottom edge had to be reinforced with even more paper strips to keep the gumdrop from curling in on itself once the balloon was popped. When fully dry, they were painted and sprinkled with 'sugar' glitter.

Along the way kids pick up a box of DOTS gumdrops that are strewn around the path.

Then down into the creepy Licorice Woods, where the kids must jump over tangled licorice roots and dodge licorice branches that are trying to thwart their path.

Back in the sunshine at last, kids are greeted by Gramma Nut in Peanut Acres.

We explained the situation with Lord Licorice to Gramma Nut. She agreed to help by making her special peanut butter cookies that Lord Licorice loves. The kids helped her to pick a bunch of real peanuts, then she put them on a pan and stuck them in an oven where they magically changed to Nutter Butter cookies.

Next, they headed to Lollipop Woods to visit Lolly. Most of the lollipops were made by glueing two plastic plates together then wrapping them with colored cellophane (bought on sale after Christmas and Easter) and mounted on the end of the empty cellophane rolls.

But some of the lollipops were pinatas. The kids took turn to break open pinatas until they found one with mini swirl pops in it for their buckets.

For Snowflake Lake I cut and painted cardboard to look like the ice cream swirl mountains in the background on the gameboard, then draped a blue cloth over a kiddie pool. My original plan was to have an ice cream sundae bar at this site, but it was way too hot so it was going to be moved into the Candy Castle garage. But then I decided to bag it since we already had TONS of sweets!

For the Chocolate Swamp, I laid out brown plastic table clothes for chocolate ponds and some brown painted boxes to look like chocolate chunks. I made giant kissies by taping a small paper cone to the top of a balloon and covering it with a few layers of paper mache and painting it brown. Then we spread real Hershey's kisses on top of the table clothes.

The path squares for this area were replaced with brown felt squares cut to look like small chocolate puddles. The kids had to jump over them to avoid getting 'stuck', then they could grab some kisses for their bucket (which got pretty melted, but they kids still liked them, including the million neighborhood kids who showed up uninvited to make sure we weren't left with too many extras! My waistline is grateful to them.)

Finally, we came full circle back to the Candy Castle. We told the kids to set their buckets on the ground to lure Lord Licorice out of the Castle. As soon as he lowered the drawbridge and came out, the kids (as per our instruction) pelted him with their bean bag gingerbread men! While he was writhing on the ground, one of the kids grabbed the sceptre and returned it to King Kandy. King Kandy made Lord Licorice apologize to everyone for being naughty, then, when he was sufficiently humbled, he was allowed to join the party.
To celebrate victory, everyone was invited into the Castle for a grand candy feast. I got this idea from Hostess with the Mostess and others who have done candy buffets at weddings and such. I bought jars and vases at Deseret Industries, tied them with colorful ribbons, and filled them with candy. We also had cookies, mini cupcakes with tiny gingerbread men cake decorations, punch, and various other sweets. The kids got to fill up the remaining space in their buckets and we provided cellophane bags and small colorful paper sacks for the adults to fill. Plates and cups were from Oriental Trading's Candytown theme supplies.
Everyone had a fabulous time and left with a hoard of goodies!
**Professional photographs by Wendhy Jeffers**
* For this party there was just so much to set up and too much of it got put off until the day of, creating rush and chaos. Several things were thrown together in a panic and didn't turn out as well as they could have. Set up as much as possible BEFORE party day!! It's difficult to do when there are a lot of outdoor decorations, but things could have been prepared and set in the garage beforehand to be simply placed outside on party day.

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