Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo



Once Upon a Time party ideas

by: Jo

Once Upon a Time party ideas
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ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” is Little Jo’s favorite television show, so it came as no surprise to me that she wanted a “Once Upon a Time” themed 10th birthday party. This sounded fun and a nice switch from the Disney princess themes that typically invade our home. Let me walk you through the decorations and games that we had!

The cake table was the centerpiece of the party, as usual. Watchers of the show will recognize the birch tree wallpaper from Mayor Regina’s office. That design made a graphic background for everything else on the table. I tried to stick to a color palette of deep blue, black, red, and white. The cake itself was hand-painted to resemble the woods in the shows’s opening sequence, and I purchased the cake topper from a delightful shop on Etsy where they are available in multiple colors.

Once Upon A Time Party

I picked up the curly branches and the lacy white metal canisters at IKEA, and I found the red velvet heart ornaments at a local store right after Valentine’s Day. The popcorn boxes are filled with our kettle corn that I tinted red by adding food coloring to the oil. The boxes themselves are part of a Once Upon A Time Party Printables set that’s available on Etsy.

Once Upon A Time Party

You might recognize the bowl full of apples from Regina’s office as well. I think it is the exact version they use on the show, and you can get one at Wayfair.

Once Upon A Time Party

The “Regina’s Apple Treats” sign next to the bowl of apples is from the Once Upon A Time Party Printables set, which eight different labels, all honoring our favorite characters from the show. We put each one next to a plate of goodies that matched.

Once Upon A Time party

The Once Upon A Time Party Printables set also includes printable favor boxes made to look like Regina’s heart boxes from the show! I filled them with heart-shaped chocolates for the kids.

Once Upon A Time party

Many of the printables come with two different backgrounds, so we mixed and matched for the party. For example, for the cutlery wraps we used both the white birch tree background (from the Mayor’s office) and the blue forest background (from the show’s title sequence).

Once Upon A Time party

I couldn’t believe my luck finding birch tree paper straws that look super cute with the storybook-inspired “Once Upon a Time” printable straw flags attached.

Once Upon A Time party

Even Granny’s Diner, the favorite hangout spot of the Storybrooke characters, is represented in the printables. We applied the round labels to coffee cups for the adults.

Once Upon A Time party

The 2″ round circles, featuring the characters’ faces, were designed to be used as cupcake picks, but I think they worked great on my punch cups, too!

Once Upon A Time party

I love the “Wishing Well Water Company” labels in the printables set so much! The instructions came with a great tip for keeping condensation from ruining the paper when the bottles are on ice — just laminate them on both sides with regular packing tape!

Once Upon A Time party

Hook’s pirate chest is filled with chocolate coins that we used for a game I will explain later. I also bought some pirate compasses to use as decorations and to give out as party favors.


A few toy yellow VW Beetles were a must as part of the decorations.


The favor boxes look pretty frightening in front of the Evil Queen poster, don’t you think?


Or perhaps a cinnamon candied apple treat would be more your style? So delicious you will want to take a chance on whether it is poisonous or not!

Once Upon a Time Candied Apples

The Once Upon A Time Party Printables set also includes letters, numbers and character faces to create a custom party banner, which made for a really dramatic wall decoration.

Once Upon A Time party

I altered Snow White’s “Wanted” poster in Photoshop to include a picture of Little Jo instead, and hung plenty of them around the party space.

Once Upon A Time party

I set up another table outside for displaying the food. I used an Enchanted Forest Scene Setter for the background, and pieced together some fluffy, green throw rugs from IKEA to create the grass tabletop.

Once Upon A Time party

I purchased some bright red fake apples at Michaels and tied them onto this branchy tree that I usually use for Christmas decorating.

Once Upon A Time party

Once Upon A Time party

Another yellow VW Beetles added the perfect touch.

Once Upon A Time party

All the kids dressed as their favorite fairy tale characters. Little Jo had so much fun putting together her Emma Swan costume!


We played a few simple games at the party as well, all in keeping with the theme of the show.

GAME: Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop — The first game involved a trip to Mr. Gold’s pawn shop. Guests were greeted at the front door with this sign, also from the printables set.

Once Upon A Time party

Inside the door, guests saw tons of weird things that I collected from around the house, and which one might find in a magical pawn shop such as Mr. Gold’s.

Once Upon A Time party

Part way through the party, I told the kids that we were going to visit the shop again to take a look around at things they might want to buy later. After giving them a few minutes to look around, I then took them into a separate room and had them write down as many things as they could remember from the shop. The one who remembered the most items won. The kids loved the “trick” and lamented not having paid more attention!

Once Upon A Time party

GAME: Character Scavenger Hunt — I purchased inexpensive 4×6 photo albums from the Dollar Store and used them to make a storybook for each kid.

Once Upon A Time party

The books had sections for each character, made up of a story card and a few black-and-white photos showing scenes from the show. Each of these scenes had an important element blocked out, and the kids had to figure out what it was.

Once Upon A Time party

The kids had to find coordinating full-color versions of those pictures, which were hidden throughout the party space. The first one to find all the matching photos and turn the book in won. This was a great way for the kids who don’t watch the show to get to know the characters better, and they all liked having a photo album to add their own party photos to after the party.

All of these black-and-white and full-color images, as well as the book cover, are available free for you in our downloadable Once Upon a Time printable party game.

Once Upon a Time Party Game

GAME: All Magic Comes with a Price — As prizes for the other games, I handed out bonus golden chocolate coins that were then used for this fun auction-style game. I filled about 15 gold satin drawstring pouches with items. Some of the prizes were good, like Play-Doh, a Slinky, or a ball. Some of the prizes were not so good, like rocks, cotton swabs, and a tiny bottle of baby powder. The kids had no idea what was in each bag, and had to use their chocolate coins to buy the pouches at auction based on their instincts. The kids enjoyed this game the most and even found it fun to get the bad prizes.

Once Upon A Time party

This was such a fun party, and I loved it as much as Little Jo did. I hope you find these OUAT party tips and decorating ideas inspirational.

Once Upon a Time party ideas
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32 comments so far:

  • 1
    Susan F. 04/21/2015 at 4:58 pm

    This is an absolutely amazing job! It is a wonderful party setup. Wow!!

  • 2
    Liz 05/30/2015 at 10:31 am

    This is awesome. Where did you get the mirror? I have been looking for a party like this for my daughter for inspiration. She loves the show. We watch it religiously. Thinking about doing a mystery dinner. Any ideas for that?

  • 3
    Jo 06/05/2015 at 1:59 pm

    I purchased the mirror at IKEA. I love the idea of it being a murder mystery party. I would get a basic murder mystery box kit and alter the characters and clues to fit the characters for OUAT. That would be the easiest thing to do!

  • 4
    Deanna 06/29/2015 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Where did you get the popcorn buckets ?

  • 5
    Chica 06/30/2015 at 7:16 pm

    Deanna, the popcorn boxes are part of our printables set, available for purchase through the links above.

  • 6
    Lacey 08/08/2015 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your party. My daughter wants to have a Once Upon a Time party for her 11th birthday in October and after spending hours trying to find some inspiration I came across your blog. What you have created is the feel that I want for hers. I am thinking of purchasing your printable set and we plan on having a scavenger hunt as well. I also have a blog at and will definitely give you kudos when I post about her party. Thank you again – you are amazing!


  • 7
    Jo 08/11/2015 at 12:58 pm

    Lacey, we are so happy to have inspired you. We can’t wait to see your blog post so make sure you tag us!

  • 8
    Julie 09/23/2015 at 3:03 pm

    What an awesome elaborate job you did at creating this OUAT party! We love it! We hope to do this for our 13 year old….or at least try to do a small part of this great thing you put together! Perhaps you can tell us where you got the backdrop of the blue with trees in the pictures with the tree branches with the apples on them and on the one in the background with your daughter in her Emma outfit. I figured it might be some sort of plastic table cloth or something. Thanks so much for this wonderful page you put together and all the explanations! It is one of the best things we have seen!

  • 9
    Chica 09/24/2015 at 9:15 am

    Thanks, Julie! The backdrop is an Enchanted Forest Scene Setter from OTC.

  • 10
    Lj 12/14/2015 at 11:54 am

    This is absolutely amazing! I bet your daughter had a blast! Wow I am so impressed. So creative!

  • 11
    Alea 01/10/2016 at 2:10 am

    I’m going to borrow a lot of your ideas for my daughter’s 14th birthday party with a OUAT theme. Thank you so much for sharing! My blog is Disney Planning and Parties

  • 12
    Jo 01/12/2016 at 4:13 pm

    Alea, we can’t wait to see how your party turns out!

  • 13
    Alea 01/17/2016 at 10:40 pm

    Thanks! Its not until the end of May, but I like to be prepared!

  • 14
    Sasha 01/31/2016 at 6:26 pm

    This is amazing! I have 13 years, in two years 15 and i really wish one party like this, but i don’t think my mother i like the idea.
    Great work!

  • 15
    nicolas 02/23/2016 at 9:49 am

    im haveing a ouat party for my 11th birthday!

  • 16
    Emma 03/30/2016 at 7:25 pm

    What kind of paper did you use to the popcorn boxes? they seem very sturdy- and i’m guessing it isn’t regular printer paper…..Also where did you buy the black and white tree background? it’s very cool!

  • 17
    Chica 04/04/2016 at 12:51 pm

    Emma, the popcorn boxes are printed on cardstock. The black and white tree background is wallpaper that we found here on Amazon.

  • 18
    julia 07/23/2016 at 4:05 pm

    Where did you get the Heart boxes?? They’re awesome!!

  • 19
    Jo 07/24/2016 at 6:02 pm

    Julia, they are part of our printables set, which you can purchase through the links above.

  • 20
    Nichole J. 08/23/2016 at 11:41 am

    Hello!!! I love, love, love this post and all the links to purchase the props. Fantastic. I ordered the printables yesterday. So happy to also finally find the apple bowl. I have been searching for what seems like forever for it. The mirror looks great.. I saw you purchased it at Ikea, but how did you do the blue tint/ Sidney background?

  • 21
    Jo 08/24/2016 at 1:09 pm

    Nichole, we’re so glad we could help! That’s actually a print out of Sydney taped to the mirror and then some blue cellophane cut to fit over top!

  • 22
    Raven 10/22/2016 at 1:37 am

    Where did you get the bowl like Regina’s that you have the apples in? I really want it for my kitchen table as my apple holder.

  • 23
    Chica 10/28/2016 at 8:51 am

    Raven, you can find the bowl at Wayfair.

  • 24
    Amanda 01/27/2017 at 3:06 pm

    How did you do the mirror? It looks amazing!

  • 25
    Jo 01/29/2017 at 3:52 pm

    Amanda, I bought the mirror at IKEA and then I printed out the face and used double-stick tape to mount it to the middle. I then cut a piece of blue transparent paper (the kind you wrap gift baskets with) and placed that on top.

  • 26
    Vanessa 02/17/2017 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I’m planning my daughter sweet sixteen and the theme is this wonderful show. So exciting.

  • 27
    Cheryl 05/06/2017 at 2:29 pm

    I am looking to make my own once upon a time storybook I can’t find with your link or online any printable book covers. Any suggestions? Looking for the font and style from show.

  • 28
    Jo 05/06/2017 at 3:06 pm

    If you would like to make your own like we did using the photo albums for the scavenger hunt game, we have a free download for you that includes the book cover. The larger book you see in the image was a hand-painted i-pad cover purchased on Easy as a gift for Little Jo.

  • 29
    Kira 05/31/2017 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Jo,
    My daughter is also choosing this theme for her 10th birthday, (June 10th) what are the odds?! But I can’t seem to find the Enchanted Forest Scene setter anywhere. Is there anyway I can buy yours from you?? It would be much appreciated. I would even send th e money in advance if needed. Everywhere is sold out!

    I’m looking forward to your response. My daughter is so excited we found your blog.


  • 30
    Chica 06/01/2017 at 9:09 am

    Kira, Jo is going to check when she gets home, and if she still has it, will email you. In the meantime, I found one on ebay and one on Amazon.

  • 31
    Sam 10/02/2017 at 4:45 pm

    Hi! This is absolutely AMAZING! I cant wait to throw my party for my friend who absolutely loves this show! Do you have printables for Regina’s Heart Boxes?

  • 32
    Chica 10/02/2017 at 4:47 pm

    Sam, so glad you like our ideas! The OUAT printables set we got on Etsy does contain small favor boxes that look like Regina’s heart boxes.

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