Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Train Themed Birthday

My two year old loves his "choo choos", so when thinking about a theme to celebrate his birthday, trains were an easy sell. I started planning about a month in advance. Well, I started organizing ideas in my head. Fast forward four weeks, and you would see me frantically throwing things together, hoping for the best. This was (by far) not my most thought out party, nor was it the best organized, but I think it turned out pretty well. If I do say so myself. Here are my my long-planned, yet hastily executed results.

As guests arrived at the party, they were greeted with a railroad crossing sign, compete with neon, reflective "flashers". I love to welcome party goers in a festive, fun way. It may seem like a silly touch, but I think it helps to get everyone into party mode. It transforms my normal, everyday home into "Train World".

Next I worked on one of my favorite party-planning tricks, the picture frame sign. To go along with the train theme, gifts were left in the "Luggage Drop-Off" area and the party favors were located at the "Baggage Claim". As usual, this was one of the easiest things to do, but got tons of compliments. Everyone loved the simplistic idea and that it carried on the theme.

My next order of business was food. You can't have a good party, without good snacks. I love to bake, but I find it too stressful to try to organize food, bake it, wrap up all other party prep, and then socialize freely. Birthday parties are where I tend to take a foodie backseat. I still want to provide yummy treats for my guests, so I think long and hard about what to serve, but most likely, it won't be homemade.

The easiest place to begin was drinks. Simple. Water and coffee for adults, juice for kids. Everyone was happy. To add locomotive flair, I added tags that said "Chugga Chugga" to the drinks, then tags that said "Chew Chew" to the cookies (our treat of choice).

Speaking of cookies, we have a long-running tradition of having cookies instead of cake. We love that they are so versatile. No matter what the theme, cookies work. We also enjoy that they require no prep (before or during the party). I don't have to take time out of my visits to cut the cake, serve it, and clean up after it. I can pass around the basket full of cookies, guests can choose their favorite variation.

We have found a fantastic, local bakery that is creative, fun, and delicious. Year after year, they knock our socks off! This year was no exception. We talked into their bakery, less than two weeks ago, told them the theme would be trains and that the color scheme would be red and blue, and this is what they came up with. Amazing!

On to the snacks! I started with an idea. A snack train, where each "car" carries a snack representing something that would actually be transported on a train. Obviously, I also wanted the snacks to be tasty for kiddos and adults too. I also needed a way to store these snacks that could serve as train cars. Lastly, I wanted to find a fun way to share the food names with our guests. Here is the end result:

Rectangle-shaped containers stacked with animal crackers (livestock car), Veggie Straws (lumber car), chocolate covered peanuts (coal car), pretzel sticks (log car), and fruit snacks (produce car). The train was led by a toy engine and ran on tracks made with electrical tape stuck to the counter top.

The last task at hand, was to create the parting gifts of my Teddy Bear's buddies. I wanted to stick with the train theme, through and through, so I scoured the internet to find fun train-themed gifts. Luckily I did this part early on! I found and ordered conductor whistles, added a flashlight and a cute tag reading, "Thanks for making my Birthday Party a STOP on your trip!" and tied it all up with a bow.

It was a frantic, busy, amazing day and I wouldn't change a thing! My little man had the time of his life, we spent the day surrounded by those who love our Teddy Bear, we received a ton of compliments, and it really was quite easy to throw together, even if it was VERY last minute. I love throwing parties, planning for them, decorating, and hosting, but the very best part of hosting a birthday party, is the smiles I see on the little man pictured below. It's all for you Nolan!

My little conductor