Once upon a time…

Fairytale, spa parties are dreamy for kids, parents

Princess Kiley Jo poses for a picture with her Royal Court.

Princess Kiley Jo poses for a picture with her Royal Court.

If a birthday party is the time to make little girls’ fairytale dreams come true, then Kerry Crye holds the magic wand.

The event planning Fairy Godmother is the owner and operator of Once Upon a Time Parties for Your Princess, based in what she describes in her brochure as the “country vale of Greenback.”

Crye is known for transforming a mundane pumpkin of a room into a fairytale castle where the birthday girl can hold court with her closest friends.

“All parents have to do is provide a venue and I bring it all,” Crye said.

Holly Young hired Crye to organize her 5-year-old daughter’s princess party in April. “It was wonderful for me because it was completely stress-free,” said Young.

Young said her daughter, Kiley Jo, enjoyed everything from the planning process to the party. “It was tailored to her and all of her favorite things.”

Kiley Jo’s little brother was not left out either. Crye made a prince outfit, set a blue place setting, offered him boy-friendly crafts and created a personalized gift bag for him. Young said, “He had a blast.”

Even with the special attention and customizations, Young said the party was half the cost of another birthday party she booked at a popular venue. “In my opinion, for everything you get, it is a great deal.”

Crye’s base price includes a long list of products and services, from custom invitations and matching “Thank you” cards to dainty finger foods to a collection of gowns fit for every princess at the party.

Before guests arrive, the birthday girl is dressed in her favorite gown and sits at a special vanity for make-up.

The party begins with playing dress up. Crye always ensures beforehand that every size is well-represented so there are plenty of options. She has created a multitude of gowns ranging in sizes from toddler to adult sizes.

As an experienced seamstress, if Crye does not have the dress or costume in stock, she can make it. In fact, Crye’s vision for the business began with the idea of sewing quality princess party gowns.

“I was sitting in a dance studio with my daughter where she clogs. There were people there who had rented a room for the day, and they were having this princess party. They had a bunch of costumes that were leftover from Halloween. I kept looking at everything and saying, ‘Well, I could do that better.”’

Crye has been an educator for 25 years and is currently a system-wide homebound teacher for Blount County Schools. As an experienced teacher, Crye knew the importance of planning and attention to details. Before booking her first party, she researched ideas for three years.

“Then last summer, I started sewing and gathering things.” She admitted that her 28-year-old son’s bedroom has been transformed into a princess storage closet.

She said everything she makes or has collected must be high-quality. In fact, Crye’s dresses are certainly not your standard see-through polyester blend superstore Halloween costumes.

“These are real dresses with full lining. I always line them in silk so they’re not itchy.”

Once the girls are dressed, “We introduce them as they come in, like a mini-pageant and read a bio sheet about them,” Crye explained.

The “princess walk” leads into the “coronation ceremony” where the birthday princess receives her special rhinestone tiara, crown pin and sash.

To make the party run smoothly, Crye’s staff includes her daughter, Callie, 20, who hosts the party as a princess. She guides the girls through the party that includes multiple activities.

“They always do a craft, usually decorating a princess bag with little jewels on them,” Crye said.

Parties always include a tea party with specialty foods provided by Crye and her team. The treats are pre-selected by the birthday princess. According to Young, the food is not only delicious and plentiful but the atmosphere is a special treat as well.

Young said, “The details are amazing. She even had the girls’ names on little place cards.” The elaborate table also features linens, a satin runner and formal place settings.

Crye said during the tea party, “We teach them manners, how to sit and how to put the napkin on their lap. The princess does that with them at the table.”

Young says Princess Callie was not only helpful but made the event more special. “They just followed her around and did everything she did. She even taught them a dance. They practiced it and performed it for the parents.”

Even though the clock always strikes midnight after the two-hour party is complete, the royal guests do not leave empty handed. “We give baskets with all sorts of little gifts that a princess would want,” Crye said.

She said gift baskets are always tailored for age of the guests, with attention to little brothers who might need different items or younger siblings or cousins who cannot have certain items because of chocking hazards.

“We want everyone to go home with something special.”

Crye’s magic wand is not limited to princess parties. She also creates spa parties, which have been popular among her pre-teen clientele.

Mary Beth Blevins booked Crye for her 11-year-old daughter’s spa party. Blevins said, the birthday girl “went back to school and all the girls from the party were talking about how great it was. One of the girls said it was the best party she had been to.”

Blevins said it was also a great experience for her. “I’m often a little frazzled putting it together, but I didn’t have to do a thing.”

She said Crye was organized throughout the entire process. Crye arrives early to set everything up so when the girls arrive, the atmosphere is ready, complete with Zen music.

“She finds out what you need, and she takes what she does and makes it fit.” The spa party was an overnight event so Crye made it work in Blevins’ home.

Like the princess party, the event begins with dress-up to set the tone. Crye has made plush, pink robes with matching headbands and slippers for the girls to wear.

“We set up stations for everything, so for this party, we used different rooms.”

The guests learn how to apply facial masks and do manicures and pedicures.

“We always make sure each girl has her own comfortable chair so she lays there while the mask dries and then they do the foot soak.”

While the girls soak their feet, Crye’s staff provides age-appropriate magazines and ice water. Healthy snacks are also included.

Their craft is making homemade lotion or lip gloss. They also take home a gift basket filled with nail files, a foot scrubber and other samples that they used at the party.

Crye is an Avon agent so most of the products are from her line.

Blevins said the girls loved everything about the party, and the gift baskets provided hours of entertainment at the post-spa slumber party.

For Blevins, the only downside is “I don’t know if we can ever top it.”

If a glass or fuzzy pink slipper fits the needs of your princess, contact Crye at 865-548-2372 or visit her website at www.onceuponatimepartiesforyourprincess.com.

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