Why Barbie Is Inspiring D.I.Y. Events

Toy maker Mattel didn't invite young fans to its pair of high-design Barbie parties—but instead shared tools and ideas their parents would need to recreate the events at home.

By Alesandra Dubin April 2, 2014, 7:56 AM EDT

Mattel partnered with the TomKat Studio to create a birthday party for Barbie that would inspire parents to host similar events at home.

Photo: Courtesy of Mattel

To celebrate the 55th anniversary of Barbie—her birthday, you might say—as well as the release of the doll’s 28th DVD, Barbie: The Pearl Princess, Mattel created an event series filled with plenty of girly design details and other fun touches appropriate for the famous doll's young fans. But rather than inviting consumers to the parties, the toy maker partnered with the popular blogger and stylist behind Arizona-based TomKat Studio to build templates that would provide families with the inspiration they need to host their own Barbie bash at home.

To give parents visual examples, TomKat planner Kim Stoegbauer staged two vibrant Barbie-theme parties for her own daughter and friends. Both included printable items like cupcake toppers and invites, suggested activities, and decor ideas—details that parents could reasonably recreate themselves or buy from a specific retail partner.

The first, dubbed the Barbie Glam Birthday Party, was an indoor event hosted with partner Walmart, complete with a fashion show, balloons tied with satin ribbons, and a cake in the shape of a skirt. The second, a Barbie: The Pearl Princess-inspired party with Toys “R” Us, was a mermaid-theme pool party (the movie takes place entirely under water), meant to give parents ideas for outdoor events in the spring season. There were kid-friendly desserts like starfish-shaped cookies, headband- and bracelet-making stations, and party favor suggestions.

Mattel offered TomKat’s party images and assets to fans and parents through Barbie's social channels, editorial media, and retailer promotions, and the materials remain on the TomKat blog as well—with all of those avenues proliferating the marketing message.

In a statement, Mattel said “it's no secret that girls love bringing Barbie into their world,” and that it entered into the partnership as a way to bring more content, resources, and tips for moms inspired by the brand.

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