I get EXTREMELY excited about throwing parties. Ok maybe I don’t love the actual throwing the party part of it, but I absolutely LOVE the planning and decorating part. Like totally obsessed. It really doesn’t matter what kind of party it is, but I especially love throwing parties for children because the decor and food can be so whimsical, colorful, and FUN! I knew what my first son’s 1st birthday theme would be even before he was born (baseball themed), and when we had a second son only 12 months later, I knew the theme of their 1st and 2nd birthday bash would be Thing 1 & Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss when my second son was only a couple of months old! I’m sure it would come as no surprise that I started planning my boys’ 2nd and 3rd birthday party only about a month after the previous party ended!! Here are all the details…
This year, I picked a venue for the party that is one of my MOST FAVORITE places to take my boys to play. It’s called Play Street Museum. Basically, it’s a place to take your child that has a themed “town” inside with a ton of child-size buildings, rooms, and objects that children can use to play pretend, as well as a ton of wooden toys (think everything Melissa & Doug), blocks, trucks, areas for coloring and crafting, a sensory wall of some sort…Play Street Museum has it all!! Every location is a different theme (there are currently 5 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with new locations being opened fairly often). For example, the Play Street Museum in Allen, TX is “On the Go”, so it has massive train tables and a “life-sized” (for a child) airplane so the child can pretend to be the pilot, passenger, or flight attendant. It also has a travel agency, and even a TSA checkpoint where children can pretend to check and scan their luggage as if they were traveling! (That’s only naming a few of the “attractions” at that particular location). The Play Street Museum in Frisco, TX is “Town Square”, so it has a fire station and Fire Truck (that children can get inside), grocery store, doctor’s office…all of the things that every town has. The Play Street Museum closest to us is the Plano, TX location, which is themed “The Great Outdoors”. It’s ADORABLE, complete with a child-sized dock that sits on a pretend river with a canoe (life jackets, fishing poles, and a cooler can be found in the canoe, haha!), a child-sized airstream, a log cabin, a pretend camp fire, bunk houses, a grill and picnic tables…the whole nine yards! For parents, Play Street Museum is a breath of fresh air because they only allow a certain number of children during their “open play” hours on week-days (so you don’t have to battle crowds), and when you book your party at Play Street Museum, you get the whole place to yourself! It’s also nice because everything is in one secure room with no possibility of escape for a child, so the parents can sit back and relax while their child plays (as opposed to places where you have to chase them around to make sure they don’t get kidnapped or lost).
Long story short: I highly recommend Play Street Museum for birthday parties…and the “Great Outdoors” theme of the Plano, TX location inspired the theme for our party!
THE THEME & DECOR
“Camping” was an easy theme choice since the venue I selected was all decked out in “Great Outdoors” play elements! So headed straight to Amazon to narrow down my selection of party decor. I found the following items on Amazon (click to shop):
I found this table runner (which is also available on Amazon for $20) for $3.99 on efavormart.com!! It was perfect for the long picnic tables at Play Street Museum– they looked great! And $3.99 is WAY better than $20. Click on the pic below to go to the website where you can buy it.
Then I ventured over to Oriental Trading and found the following items to add to my party decor. The adorable bear cups were used during the party and were a take-home item for each child; the tree boxes were the favor boxes for our guests and the stickers, flashlight, and shooting discs were the party favors that went inside the favor boxes (click on the pic below to shop):
The last stop to round out our theme was, of course, Etsy. I love ordering custom digital invitations on Etsy and printing them on card-stock at home. It’s SO inexpensive and looks amazing, as long as you have a good color printer and quality paper. My hunt for the perfect “Happy Camper” invitation was short and easy– I fell in love with an invitation design within minutes. (Lucky for me, I’m a very decisive person– I know exactly what I like want when I see it.) Just LOOK at this adorable invitation designed by OhBeJoyfulShop…
In addition to the invitation, I asked if the shop owner would create a sign for me that matched the invite. I wanted a digital file that I could have printed in 30″x20″ poster size. She created the perfect design, which was super important to me because this would be the cornerstone that would tie all of the decorative elements together and would be the focal point of the food and beverage table! I think the design turned out perfect…
Once I had the perfect design for the sign, I headed over to CVS Photo (because I had a coupon for 50% off one item) and uploaded the digital file to a 30″x20″ canvas. I must say, I was blown away with the quality of the canvas! It turned out amazing! And with my coupon, it ended up being around $30, which I think is a great value for the quality of the product.
I bothered the shop owner ONE LAST TIME once I started planning out how my food and beverage table would look, because I decided I wanted matching “Bug Juice” and “Lake Water” 6″x4″ digital files that I could print and use as labels for the juice that we would serve. THIS ended up being WAY more adorable than I even expected! And I was reminded that a really beautiful party is always defined by the details.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
After I found all of my fun decorative elements through Amazon and Oriental Trading, it was time to think about food. When I’m planning a kids party, I want food that is easy for kids, sort of healthy (I mean…it’s a birthday party so let’s be real…cake or cupcakes are non-negotiable!), things kids generally like to eat, and not horribly messy. Other than functionality, the food and beverage assortment is always so important to me because I like to use the food table/area as a focal point for the party. Therefore, everything I choose needs to tie into the theme and utilize display elements that add to the overall aesthetic of the party.
Long story short, I landed on the following food items for our party:
- Decorative Cookies
You would not believe the story behind these cookies. I’ll try to make it quick…Back in the day (high school and college) I competed in pageants. I met a fierce competitor, Skyler “Bailey” Gallagher, who was also so incredibly sweet (but truth be told, also intimidated the heck out of me)! She lives states away from me, but we have stayed in touch on Facebook through the years. I noticed that she started her own cookie company making custom, designer cookies and I was BLOWN AWAY. Her designs are SO CUTE (I can’t even handle it!! And I cannot believe this is the same girl who can also slay the runway in a pageant?!)…crazy talented– that’s what she is!Anyway, I reached out to her and asked if she could ship cookies to me if I asked her to make some for my boys’ party and SHE SAID YES!! HOORAY!! I was so excited and for GOOD REASON. Just LOOK at them!!! And they displayed SO nicely on my bamboo serving tray, which was a gift from my mom for Christmas.
Long story short– you absolutely MUST contact Skylar for any of your future cookie orders because #1, she’s the bomb, #2, they taste as good as they look, #3, she’s reasonably priced, #4, she can ship anywhere in the US! Here’s her info:
Cookie Cutter Cookies
Skyler Bailey Gallagher, Owner
Click HERE to visit Cookie Cutter Cookies on Facebook
- Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets
I displayed the nuggets in galvanized tins that I already had at home, but at one time had purchased from Hobby Lobby.
I ordered 2 dozen from our local grocery store, Kroger, for only $14.99! I chose 12 chocolate and 12 vanilla for variety. I displayed them on white cake stands, which I already had at home, but previously purchased from Hobby Lobby.
PRO-TIP: I went with all-white icing because ain’t nobody got time to clean colored frosting off tiny hands, faces, and clothes! Amirite or amirite?
My husband cut two logs for me from our firewood, and then sawed off the bottom so they would sit flat on a table. From there, I marked 12 holes in each log and he drilled holes so the kabob skewers would stand-up in the holes. This was totally free and added the COOLEST look to our food table.
PRO-TIP: I wanted the fruit kabobs to add a pop of color to my food table, so I followed the “ROY-G-BIV” trick (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet– the order of colors to make a perfect rainbow) to layer the fruit.
I wanted something salty since I had so many sweet options, and I wanted something that kids could hold and eat easily– so I decided to serve Chex-Mix in small plastic cups! (I ordered the plastic cups on Amazon, linked above…and I already had the blue tiered serving tower at home, which was originally purchased from Hobby Lobby.)
I used Mio, which is a juice concentrate that squirts directly into water. It’s super low on sugar and many flavors have some good vitamins such as B6, B6, and B12. I chose two flavors– a lemon/lime flavor that would look green for the “Bug Juice” and a very berry that would look blue for the “Lake Water”. Then I used the bugs and fish that I ordered from Amazon to put in the juice dispensers for decoration!! So cute, right? I was #obsessed.
- Gummy Worm Fishing Poles
I’m not going to take credit for this idea…I totally found it on Pinterest. But HOW CUTE ARE THOSE?! I mean, come on. So easy and the kids ADORED them. I just used the wooden dowel rods from Amazon (linked above), tied the twine to them (also ordered from Amazon, linked above), and then tied the gummy worms (you guessed it…also from Amazon, linked above). I tied them at different lengths so they wouldn’t all clump together when they hang, and then I put 6 in each mason jar, which I already had at home. As you can imagine, the kids went nuts over these! There wasn’t a single one left!
PRO TIP: I assembled all of the fishing poles with worms a week before the party, and put them in their respective mason jars. I put only the gummy worm part (still attached to the poles with string) in snack sized ziplock baggies so they would stay nice and fresh.
The kicker of the whole thing? I had 30 minutes to set everything up! I was IN THE ZONE and everyone just stayed out of my way. I probably owe my Grandma Dottie and Grandpa Joe an apology because I was ANTI-SOCIAL and BOSSY when they arrived until everything was totally set-up and guests started arriving. #PerfectionistProblems
…And guess what? I think that covers everything! If you made it to the end of this post, thank you for sticking with me! I love sharing my thoughts and planning process with you! I hope you enjoyed it also. Please feel free to pin these ideas on Pinterest– there’s a “Pin” button that appears when you hover over the image to make it super easy for you.
Also, if you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and you ever want me to plan and decorate a party for you, I’m totally down. Just let me know!