The princess party, redefined

You can throw your little girly girl a party that doesn’t throw up pink—really.

  • Girls can get a makeover at Rock Candy Salon and Spa.

  • A tasty confection from Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe.

  • Mark Nichols and The Puppet Place

Girls can get a makeover at Rock Candy Salon and Spa.

Repeat after us: Pink is not the enemy.

No matter how sick you are of the hue (and no matter how much of a feminist you consider yourself), if you’ve got a princess-obsessed little girl, you have to come to terms with it. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw her a birthday party that practically pukes pink—or one that drowns in a torrent of tulle, sequins or helpless ingenues, for that matter.

Instead, try making the omnipresent glitz and cloying fairy tales part of the party’s accent marks, putting the emphasis instead on royal treatment of the birthday girl.

These castle invitations from Polka Dot Design ( feature two metallic knights in shining armor on horseback. The castle doors they guard open to reveal party details, setting a regal tone without a trace of pastel, glitter or fluff. Prices start at $44 for eight invitations.

If your little princess loves getting glam, book a party at Rock Candy Salon and Spa (4141 N Lincoln Ave, 773-883-3000,, a new kid-focused spot in North Center where she can feel like queen for a day. Packages include the Rock Candy Stylin’ Party, recommended for girls ages 2–16. For $375, ten girls get fun up ’dos, age-appropriate makeup (think a dab of lip gloss and a little sparkle on the eyelids for younger girls, and an application lesson for older ones) and polish with nail art. A digital photo album for the birthday girl comes with the package, as do paper goods and table linens. Party favors—such as small, handmade hair bows packaged with rock candy—start at $5 each.

To keep the focus on active play rather than damsels in distress, Starland (710 Robert York Ave, Deerfield, 847-914-9100, hosts a princess-and-knights party for preschoolers that includes creative movement and pretend play for both boys and girls at “Starland Palace.” Plus, the royal guests can make their own tiaras, wands and shields. Parties cost $375 for up to 25 kids; paper goods included.

Having a party at home? Instead of hiring a glittery Cinderella to come to your home to play dress-up with the kids while she pines for Prince Charming, keep your distance from Disney by opting for a different sort of princess. Mark Nichols, who runs The Puppet Place (773-525-5944,, travels to homes in the Chicago area to perform “The Magic Onion,” an interactive puppet show about a 21st-century princess who takes care of the dragon without waiting for her prince to come. Cost is $150 for an hour-long gig.

A massive “cupcake” from Bleeding Heart Bakery in West Town (1916 W Chicago Ave, 773-904-1149,; additional locations in Roscoe Village, Oak Park and Elmhurst) is fit for royalty; prices start at $150 for a cake that feeds 15. Other fanciful designs include butterflies and crowns. Another option: the bakery’s signature cake balls, which can be rolled in colorful sprinkles ($21/dozen). All items can be made vegan, and without gluten, nuts, peanuts or soy for a royal highness with allergies.

TipsyCake (1944 N Damen Ave, 773-384-4418, makes magical castle cakes enrobed in smooth fondant icing with turrets and pebbled walkways, among other designs. Custom cakes start at $150.

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