Posted by: dodgrblu | September 12, 2014

Do You Want to Build an Ice Palace?

So, let me see if I have this right, how you came to be here on my long-neglected blog reading this post.

You’ve been to approximately eight Frozen-themed birthday parties so far this year. You’ve munched adorable string-cheese Olafs; you’ve wanted to build a snowman with marshmallows, pretzels, and a candy corn (but you probably couldn’t); and you’ve guzzled bottles of Melted Snowman and cups of Elsa’s Glacier Punch (at the parties of those lucky folks who found that elusive blue Hawaiian Punch).

And all those things are wonderful. Whimsical. Fun! The Internet is full of awesome ideas to apply the Frozen theme to your child’s birthday party.

But you want something more for your child’s party. Something different. Something EXTRAORDINARY. You have a vision of blowing your daughter’s mind by building her very own ice castle. And once you have this idea, you just can’t “Let It Go.”

How am I doing? Am I close?

When I came up with this idea, to build an ice castle for my daughter’s 7th birthday, I was certain somebody, somewhere must have attempted this crazy project. After all, everything has always been done before, usually by someone who clearly has far more time on their hands than I do. I was sure I would find incredibly detailed instructions on how to make an ice palace some way that didn’t involve a large block of ice and a chainsaw.

But you know what I found? NOTHING!

What I did find on the Internet was a reference to using water bottles to make ice sculptures. The principle was simple: freeze water in a water bottle, use a Blade of X-ActZero to slice open the bottles, dip the frozen bottles in water, and stick them together. Easy, right?

Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it for their parties.

It wasn’t easy, but I did it for mine. The results were pretty good. So, my nutty kindred spirits, I shall do my best to help you make this happen for your little princess’ special day.

Let me reiterate: it’s not as easy as it sounds, this “sticking ice to more ice.” Giant heavy bottle-shaped slabs of ice do not stick together easily. They slide all over the place. They’re slippery, and when they fall from your hands, they shatter on your floor, sending shards of ice everywhere. It’s not pretty. Based on my experience, I’ll tell you what did work for me, and you can take it from there.

Ready? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Empty plastic bottles or other disposable plastic containers of various sizes WITH LIDS (my finished product used four larger bottles, a short bottle, and a small plastic deli cup)
  • A round glass cake pan or shallow flat-bottomed bowl
  • An X-Acto knife
  • Water bottle ice cube tray
  • Food coloring (to color your water)
  • A thick strong rubber band
  • A freezer with a flat surface and enough vertical space to account for the largest bottle you intend to use, plus a couple of inches

Recommended:

  • A friend or spouse who tolerates your crazy ideas and is willing to abet your zaniness (strongly recommended)
  • Warm gloves (for handling the ice)
  • A display stand (I used a plastic cake pedestal–glass would be nicer if you have that) and a drip tray (I used a large plastic deli plate cover from the party store)
  • Frozen character figures

Here’s what you do:

  1. Fill your empty plastic water bottles (and other containers) with water. You can fill them to varying heights, but try to make sure you leave room at the bottom. You can use food coloring to color your water. I used blue and a bit of purple. (If you’re really ambitious, and you want to make this as challenging as possible, you can do this in two stages. Fill the bottle part way, color the water, freeze it, then add more water in a different color, and freeze again.)
  2. Place your filled bottles in the freezer. You can try positioning the bottles upside down, but note that this WILL NOT ensure that the bottom of your ice is flat. Probably because water expands as it freezes. Surface tension, physics, blah-blah-blah.
  3. Let your bottles of water freeze. This will take several hours depending on the size of the bottle.
  4. When the bottles are securely frozen, remove them from the freezer. One at a time, hold the bottle under running water until the ice moves freely inside the bottle. Very carefully, slice around the circumference at the bottom of the bottles with your X-acto. If the bottle is contoured, you may have to slice up the side and carefully peel back the plastic to get the ice to release. Be very careful not to cut yourself with either the knife or the plastic. This is not hockey, and we do not want blood on the ice. When your ice bottle is free, set it carefully to the side. You may use your glass cake pan to hold it when you’re doing step 5.
  5. Repeat step 4 with each bottle.

When you have all of your “ice bottles,” the real fun can begin. At this point, they’re probably rapidly melting. This is where a second pair of hands comes in, umm, handy.

  1. Arrange your ice bottles in the glass cake pan (or bowl). This is not as easy as it sounds—remember I mentioned that ice is slippery and hard to handle. It helps to have someone to hold them together. Once you have them how you want them, slide a rubber band around them to hold them in place.
  2. At this point, there is probably a puddle of water gathering in your pan. This is a good thing. (“Go away, Martha!” “Okay, ‘byyye.”) Place your cake pan and bottles carefully in your freezer. If you are such a quick worker that there is not a sizeable puddle of water in your cake pan, once you get it in the freezer, pour some water around your bottles. Don’t fill it all the way to the top—it needs room to expand. Remember—physics. Also, you’ll want to leave room if you plan to add any decorative figures to your castle. Close the freezer, and let it go: freeze it for several hours or overnight.
  3. The next day, your bottles should be frozen together in a slab of ice. You can add some more water (colored, if you want), and let that freeze. I recommend having as thick a base as possible for stability. You can also add your decorative figures (I used PVC Queen Elsa and Olaf figures) at this time. Dip the bottom of each figure in cold water and stick them where you want them. Let freeze.
  4. Once the water you’ve added is frozen and the figures are where you want them, you can start adding more decorations to make it look more castle-like. This is where those skinny little ice cubes meant for water bottles come in. Freeze a tray of those, then release them from the tray. They don’t have to be uniform: broken ones are awesome. (You could probably use ice cubes for this too, if you don’t have a water bottle ice tray.) Dip your cubes/ice rods in cool water, then stick them here and there—around the ice palace, inside, on the tops of the bottles. Be creative. Then let your creation freeze again.

Party time: remove your creation from the freezer. We had our party at a local bouncy-palace venue, so we had to transport our ice palace by car. We placed it in a Styrofoam cooler, with a couple of ice packs. Then to keep it from sliding around the cooler, I put some of those poofy plastic pouches that are used for shipping. (Bubble wrap would probably also work.)

Will wonders never cease? Our ice palace made it to the party venue intact! We set it up on a plastic cake pedestal inside a drip tray (I used a large plastic lid such as the ones that cover deli platters). Then (and only then) I cut the rubber band that we put around the ice bottles (see step 6). Then I decorated the castle further with some Super Snow (an element of our party favor giveaways), which really made it look neat.

Here’s the finished product:

IMG_8459

Elsa’s Ice Palace, fresh from the freezer

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Elsa’s ice palace, about 45 minutes out of the freezer.

img_8450IMG_7033-L

It made it through the party, and everybody admired it. It was really cool, if I do say so myself. The staff at the party place all marveled about it. The kids loved it—even the boys, which is saying something!

Best part: my daughter thought her very own ice palace was the “most awesomest” thing ever.

And isn’t that what really matters—that your daughter thinks her ice palace is the best thing ever?

Yes, that IS what it’s all about.

Good luck. I hope this helps you make your child’s Frozen party extra special!

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