A "Charlotte's Web"-Inspired Birthday Party That Celebrates Spring
E.B. White's Charlotte's Web
is a story of friendship between two unlikely characters—a pig and a spider—and yet, it's so much more. Turn the pages, and read along: It evokes pastoral imagery of rolling fields, red barns, animals grazing countryside, and apples by the bushel. There's a host of charming personalities from Charlotte the spider to the geese and the gander to the flock of sheep, and little Fern Arable, a girl who rescued Wilbur the pig's when he was born the runt of his litter. Over the years, this 1952 novel is as entertaining for children as it is nostalgic for adults, hence the inspiration for this family-friendly party set in springtime.
"The inspiration for this Charlotte's Web birthday party started with the new farm forward collection from Daydream Society, specifically those super cute barn plates," says Royale Ziegler of But First, Party! "And since I had so much fun designing the Peter Rabbit-themed baby shower last year, tying this barn theme to a classic and beloved children's book like Charlotte's Web seemed like the perfect fit."
Hosted in the great outdoors, Royale invited children and their moms for a day in the sunshine. There were hardcover books as party favors, whimsical illustrations, and child-friendly activities like coloring and playing dress-up in denim overalls, straw hats, and paper props in front of a backyard barn. At the table: a platter of vegetables fresh from the farm, small berry pies, and pretty-in-pink pig macarons. As the sweet ending: a cake decorated to look just like Charlotte's web. The gathering itself emulated a famously penned quote of Charlotte's: "You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing."
"Some Pig. Humble. Radiant." These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. The invitation suite by Proper Letter includes cheerful illustrations reminiscent of the originals by Garth Williams: Wilbur the pig leaping for joy and Charlotte's spindly web in the page's corner with her quote, "Salutations are greetings; it's my fancy way of saying hello."
From Paper Elation, each guest received a library card—printed vintage typewriter-style—with a different quote from the book. They paired perfectly with the "book lover" cards and calligraphed place cards. The pink gingham pattern was hand painted.
No party would be complete without a gift of the story that inspired it all: a gilded hardcover copy of Charlotte's Web. As a nod to E.B. White's New England roots, guests also received chewy goat milk caramels from Vermont's Big Picture Farm.
Characters Come to Life
Inspiration on a Platter
Daydream Society provided the tabletop essentials, including these charming barn plates. "Our 'On the Farm' collection was inspired by everyday farm life and classic Americana, we wanted the designs to feel fresh and modern," founder Mary-Kevin Stuart explains. "The collection was designed in collaboration with Lindsey Balbierz, a talented illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York. Working with independent artists to create unique and differentiated products is what we love most about what we do!"
Welcome to the Barn
The Zuckerman farm is the backdrop of Charlotte's Web, and also this party. Here, the barn was made to be larger than life: "The barn backdrop was printed onto fabric using the artwork from the collection," Royale explains. On on side, a bright red tractor; on the left, a beaming sun—both were hand-painted, cardboard renditions of the plate's illustrations.
For the kids' table, Royale asked for the help of a florist friend Barrett Prendergast of Valleybrink Road. "Her floral aesthetic is so right for this concept: very organic and in the bundle style," Royale says. "She used a variety of blooms that most can find at their local farmers market and recreate at home." This centerpiece is filled with blooming ranunculus, chamomile, and other leafy greens.
For the outdoor décor, Royale sourced farmer's tools and supplies. On the lefthand side, stainless steel milking buckets and pails make eye-catching vessels for sunflowers, sweet pea, lavender, and paper-bundled bouquets.
On the right, she stacked wooden crates with more milking pails (billy balls, dahlias, wheat spikelets, lisianthus, acacia, and geranium), bails of hay, bright red apples, and added a stuffed toy piglet.
Who could resist a shiny red apple—particularly, one coated in this bright candied glaze? Each child found their own handheld treat at their seat, and each apple was tied with a bow of gingham ribbon.
The Place Settings
For each child, the wooden table was set with colorfully illustrated plates from Daydream Society, cups, and birchwood cutlery ideal for little ones.
A generous platter of vegetable crudités was laid out for snacking: baby carrots, radish, romanesco, cherry tomatoes, baby sweet bell peppers, baby zucchini, snap peas, asparagus, and a dill yogurt dip for garnish. Barrett selected small vegetables that looked like they were just gathered, leaving on the green tops on carrots and radish, "to give it an organic, just picked feel."
Lauren Lowstan of A Sweet Savory baked all of the sweet treats and desserts, including these French macarons made to look like Wilbur the pig. With their pretty pink hue and squiggly features (look closely at one, and you'll see the teeny-tiny snout and flopped ears), could help but smile back? Hogging them, encouraged.
Small treats for small hands. Baked with cutouts in the crust, these miniature cherry pies betokened the heartfelt sentiments of Charlotte and Wilbur's story.
Friends Gather 'Round
For such a beautiful spring day at the park, Royale hosted her four-year-old son Stellan, Barrett Prendergast and her son Costa (also four), and little friends Saffron (five), and Ever (four). The wooden kids' table with bench-style seating was a rental from Teak and Lace.
Coloring at the Table
The dinnerware illustrations inspired the kids' activity: Illustrations of farm animals, the barn, and tractor were printed onto coloring pages for the kids to keep themselves entertained at the table. Kids could pick from their choice of eco-friendly twig colored pencils.
Even with candy apples and macarons for nibbling, the kids couldn't wait to earn their slice of this decadent dessert.
Whether kids have agricultural aspirations or want a big red barn to call their own, the outdoor props made for hours of pretend play. Pictured here, duo Stellan and Costa take the wheel of the bright red tractor.
The farm was a special place for an authentic, one-of-a-kind party that the kids would never forget. The Zuckerman barn backdrop plus a few of the outdoor decorations provided the set for kids to star in one-of-a-kind snapshots. Here, Saffron strikes a pose with a bundle of flowers in one hand and petting Wilbur with the other.
In keeping with the theme, kids and adults alike were all encouraged to attend dressed in their farmer best. Many of the children wore clothes from The Hey Gang while the grownup hosts chose their outfits from Midland and The Great. Here, Ever wears a pink dress, lace-up shoes, a wide-brim sunhat, and a big smile. The "Salutations!" doormat was made courtesy of Proper Letter.
The biggest surprise? A small piglet, just like Wilbur! Kids were excited to meet the little character of Wilbur come to life.
Event planning, Royale Ziegler of But First, Party!
Photography, Billye Donya Photography
Partyware, Daydream Society
Flowers and crudite, Barrett Prendergast of Valleybrink Road
Desserts: Lauren Lowstan of A Sweet Savory
Rental, Teak and Lace
Stationery and doormat, Proper Letter
Cake stands and boards, AHeirloom
Folded book artwork, Happy Little Gifts
Book quote cards, Paper Elation
Children's wear, The Hey Gang
Womenswear, Midland and The Great