Posts Tagged ‘decorations’

Evan’s Vintage Train 4th Birthday Party

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Vintage Train Party

Sometimes when you ask your almost-four year old what kind of birthday party he wants, he says “Goats!” and you panic. And sometimes when you ask again he says “Choo choo trains!” and you’re super happy about it because you can DO trains. Trains are awesome. You also happen to have a massive collection of electric trains in your basement from both your childhood and your husband’s childhood, so a theme is born. BOOM. Vintage train birthday party it is!

I will do this mostly in pictures, since that’s the best part. HUGE post, apologies, feel free to skip if you hate parties, etc etc etc. I’m going to put a truly insane number of photos on Facebook and Flikr too.


vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

I printed banners and food labels on brown cardstock and cut pennants out of scrapbook paper (some new, some leftover from previous party supplies). The vintage stuff lying around (suitcases, globes, lanterns, etc) is from my own supply of junk collectibles or borrowed from my parents. All the train and sign clip art I made using a free fonts from – Eisenbahn is the vintage train; old seals tfb and PostageStamps are on the water bottle labels; wmroadsigns, wmthe50s and wmtransport1 are the rest (for the record, the old fashiondy font on almost everything is CM Old Western Shadow, also from

My dad made the railroad crossing sign out of scrap wood in my basement and I painted the letters using a stencil I bought at A.C. Moore. Dad also built the wood table to set up the electric trains. Evan and E painted the Melissa & Doug wooden train on the food table together. The tablecloths are a collection of sheets/fabric I keep in a box just for occasions like this.

I made the Arrivals/Departures board out of just a piece of composite board painted with chalkboard paint. I made up trains and times based on family names and dates.


vintage train birthday party food

vintage train birthday party food vintage train birthday party food vintage train birthday party food vintage train birthday party food

vintage train birthday party food train party drinks fueling station chugga chugga water bottles vintage train birthday party food vintage train birthday party food vintage train birthday party food vintage train birthday party food

Choo choo train birthday-15

I made train cars with disposable aluminum trays and black cardstock to serve the food, including a coal car, veggie car, and a berry boxcar. I served lemonade in glass “milk” jars (actually Target frappuchino bottles I used for Caroline’s last two birthdays) with fancy straws, old fashioned root beer in bottles, “Chugga Chugga” water bottles and juice in Take’n’Toss cups for the kids.

Here’s my train inspired menu –

Steam Puffs – coconut macaroons
Coal – Krispie treats make with Cocoa Puffs
Train shaped cookies
Train shaped cucumber sandwiches
Rails – black licorice (courtesy of the American Licorice Company! Happy National Licorice Day!)
Railroad ties – vanilla sandwich wafers
Soft pretzels
Switch Cheese Sandwiches – grilled ham and swiss on wheat bread
Cheddar-nooga Choo Choo Sandwiches – grilled cheddar cheese on pumpernickel-rye swirl bread
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Southwest Dip – Heluva Good black bean queso dip (REALLY delicious)
Berry Boxcar – Fruit
Conductor Cubes – cheese cubes
Stoplight Kabobs – watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon
Short Line Shortcake – mini cups of pound cake, strawberries and whipped topping
Golden Spike(d) Lemonade – I left the spiking up to my guests so no one accidentally got their kid drunk

And the cake is a good old-fashioned super sweet grocery store cake from Big Y. It was a Thomas cake until I took Thomas and Percy off and put a little Amtrak train on it. Boom! Custom vintage train cake.


vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

I made the child-sized trains out of cardboard boxes I’ve been collecting for a few weeks. I covered the boxes in plain paper (the kind you buy at Ikea to go on their art easel) and cut out construction paper shapes to make them look sort of like trains. The tracks all over my house are electrical tape purchased at Home Depot. We used approximated 8 60-foot rolls (they come in packs of 10) and E free-handed all the tracks.

As a craft, I bought cheap paint, brushes and wooden cars at the craft store and let the kids decorate their own wooden trains.

My dad worked really hard to set up both model train sets so the kids could run them. That was all stuff we/he already owned but the Tyco HO gauge electric trains are really inexpensive on Ebay. The kids also played with the Thomas/Ikea/Brio wooden tracks and trains.

The kids took home their painted trains, conductor hats and train whistles as favors.

vintage train birthday party

vintage train birthday party

Sources & Supplies (if I missed something you’re looking for just ask!)

Vintage travel posters (plus a calendar I dismantled) –
Train whistles – Oriental Trading Co.
Conductor hats – Oriental Trading Co.
Wood trains for painting – A.C. Moore
Train lollipops – Oriental Trading Co.
Train car serving dishes – ShopRite
Train shaped cookie cutter – A.C. Moore
Train shaped sandwich cutter – gift, available on Amazon
Sisal twine – Home Depot
Tiny clothes pins –
Photo book & prints –
Brown burlap – Home Depot
Orange burlap & fabric – Joann’s

Whew! That was exhausting but super fun. Now please come over and eat all this leftover cake before I do.

So so many thanks to my parents for their help and to Kim for letting me borrow some of her photos!

Caroline’s Sparkle Snowflake First Birthday

Monday, December 19th, 2011

The Theme: Winter sparkle snowflake party, with glitter, pale pink and blue accents
The Location: The entire first floor of my house

This post is going to be HUGE, so if you have no interest at all in Caroline’s party please come back in a few days when it’s been bumped off the front page. I don’t want to put in a page break and have people think I’m trying to trick them into more page views. I get my page views the honest way – exploiting my children and friends!

The Decorations:

winter snowflake sparkle first birthday party

Dining room

Tree branch sprayed with snow-in-a-can

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party crepe paper christmas trees

Ruffled crepe paper trees from this tutorial found on Pinterest

winter snowflake sparkle first birthday party

Living Room

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party paper snowflakes

Snowflakes cut from printer paper (Google “snowflake templates” for ideas)

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party photo dislplay

My clothes pin photo display re-purposed as Caroline’s year in photos display!

winter sparkle glitter snowflake first birthday party candles in mason jars

Epsom salt in mason jars to look like snow

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party

Glitter play dough party favors (more details in this post), yarn wreath, mirror frosted with snow-in-a-can

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party yarn wreath jingle bells

Yarn wreath, $1 picture frame ornament from Target

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party chandelier

Chandelier decorated with dollar store garland & ornaments

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party doily garland

Doily garland

high chair tutu winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party

The orange high chair didn’t match my theme, but a paper table cloth and a little tulle fixed it!

 winter wonderland sparkle snowflake first birthday party

Fake snow everywhere!

The Food:

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party hot cocoa bar

Hot cocoa and cocktail bar – the Keurig made it SO EASY!

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party hot cocoa bar

I bought every single Christmas mug at Goodwill

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party hot cocoa bar

Mini marshmallows, egg nog, powdered sugar, crushed candy canes, vanilla syrup, pink sprinkles, whipped cream, coconut flakes. Also on the bar: dark and milk hot cocoa, cider, Bailey’s, vanilla vodka, coconut rum, peppermint schnapps, mini candy canes.

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party hot cocoa bar

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

Cucumber sandwiches, candy cane blossoms, red peppers & dip

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

Smoked salmon, dill & cream cheese on herb bread

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

Cupcakes (from a box!), my favorite frosting, edible sugar paper snowflakes bought at Stop & Shop

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

Sparkling cranberry brie bites. You know how sometimes you seen an idea on Pinterest and think “yeah, there’s no way that idea is going to be as awesome in real life”? This one was JUST AS AWESOME.

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

Thumbprint cookies, gooey vanilla sparkle cookies, fruit & dip, sugar cookies, ginger cookies, mini pastas on sticks with vodka, marinara, and alfredo sauce.

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party coconut snowballs

Coconut snowballs

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

Cream cheese mints, lemon meringues

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party food

The pasta on sticks was a great idea… for grown ups. Next time I’ll get less pointy things.

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party snow men milk bottles

Milk bottle snow men. Not quiet as cute as on the interwebs, but still cute.

Lemon cake (more boxed mix!) tinted 3 shades of pink

1st Birthday winter snowflake sparkle party smash cake

Tiny cake baked in a tomato can, covered in sprinkles & topped with “Caroline” written in chocolate

1st Birthday winter snowflake sparkle party smash cake

1st Birthday winter snowflake sparkle party smash cake

Don’t even THINK about taking her cake away

The Fun:

Glitter play dough & cookie cutters on a kid-sized table

All the planned activities in the world can’t stop the kids from getting every toy out of the toy box

DIY pull string pinata (more here) was a hit, even though it didn’t work exactly as planned. I had to shake most of the candy out after the ribbon holding it up broke, but the kids didn’t care one little bit.

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party DIY snowglobes

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party DIY snowglobes

winter sparkle snowflake first birthday party DIY snowglobes

DIY snowglobes were cuter in theory than in reality. They were kind of leaky and some of the trees dyed the water purple and the glue was messy, but everyone went home with one!

Sharing strawberries with a friend

Refusing to wear her hair bow

Dance party!

These two are TROUBLE

Playing with Grandma

Somebody got a pony for her birthday! (She’s kind of scared of it though)

Family photos with two kids – there is ALWAYS someone not looking.

Holy crap, that was ridiculously long. I think I got all the links and recipes in there but if you’re looking for something let me know. My Pinterest board for the party (with most of the ideas I did use and some really good ones I didn’t get around to) can be found here.  I’m sorry most of the photos are terrible – it gets dark REALLY early here so I had to use the flash after the first 30 minutes of the party. It was definitely a great time and I know Caroline enjoyed herself. I hear everyone’s kids slept really well on Saturday night so I think they ran off all the sugar I pumped into them before they went home. Thank you to everyone who came and especially to my mother-in-law Carol who flew all the way from Ohio just to help me make the food and watch Little Evan for a few hours!

And Happy Birthday Caroline!

Evan’s Second Birthday: Decorations

Monday, April 11th, 2011

After Evan’s big fancy over-done 1st birthday last year I swore I wouldn’t be doing a major party again until he was well into elementary school. But as this year’s birthday approached it occurred to me that throwing the party had very little to do with him and everything to do with ME. I wanted to celebrate the day I gave birth to my baby, I wanted to hang out with all my friends, I wanted to make my house pretty, I wanted to eat a disgusting amount of cake.

So I threw another party.

(Edited to remove my address & phone number so you can’t crazy stalk me. I know you were planning on it.)

I made the invitations on my computer with an old graphics program I stole borrowed from my office job. Then I ordered them as matte photo prints from Snapfish using a coupon code. Total cost: $4.05

The biggest difference between throwing a first birthday party and throwing a second birthday party is that 2 year olds need to be entertained a lot more than 1 year olds. So I went with a play time theme featuring the three things Little Evan loves most in the world: bubbles, balls and balloons. Then I categorized all those things as “round” and ran with it. I ran like I was in the Boston Marathon being chased by rabid badgers on roller skates carrying flame throwers.


Dining Room

As usual, all the “tablecloths” are just yards of fabric from Joann’s. The ones on the main table are really 3 piece of fabric just laying there. I am too lazy to sew.

Entryway - please ignore one wonky circle in the banner. It's glitter paper and my sticker didn't stick


Living Room - I made the banners with scrapbook paper, my printer and salad bowls for circle tracing

Living Room

The ball pit is actually Little Evan’s birthday present from LAST year. We left it up in the living room for a few months but I eventually wanted my house back and put it away. He was REALLY excited to see it again and I’m sort of amazed it didn’t get popped considering how much fun was had in it.

I love this picture the most because you can see decorations in both rooms, the gorgeous colors, and the children having a great time


Blurry photos of other people's kids to protect privacy

A few decorating details:

I bought the bottles of bubbles at Michael’s ($3 for 6), cut scrapbook paper into strips and then printed the circle stickers I designed on sheets of label paper. I used a big hole puncher to cut them, stuck them on the paper and hot glued the paper around the bottles. Boom, party favors!

I bought a 50 balloon helium tank at BJ’s for $21 and my dad blew them all up for us. Some of the strings were long enough for the taller kids to grab, but Little Evan kept losing his so we made sure he always had them with him:

That's the shirt I made! The same fabric is on my headband and on the entry table.

My mom had the brilliant idea to anchor some of the balloons with the adorable polka dot chalk we found at Michael’s ($1 for 5 pieces) and send them home with the kids.

Adorable, right?

There are also lots of round candies, so I filled a bunch of glass containers with them at stuck them on the mantel – jelly beans, peanut M & M’s, gum balls and DumDums. I ordered the giant rainbow lollipops from Oriental Trading Company and used more of my label paper, graphics program, and giant hole punch to make the stickers. Then I raided my milk glass collection for vases.

Other stuff I got from Oriental Trading:


Party Lanterns (And they fold up, so they're reusable!)

Beach balls and mini beach balls - perfect sized for small hands and helped fill up the pit nicely. I *think* some of the kids took them home (which was the plan) but we still have tons. They were cheap.

And to round it all out (BA DUM CHING) I picked up flowers in the colors that matched my theme: yellow, orange, blue and green. I was very excited to find blue flowers – and NATURAL blue flowers at that!

You know what DIDN’T work out great? The bubble machine. It got sort of sticky during our pre-party trial run and didn’t make the huge number of bubbles it used to. I put it on the porch to avoid slippery floors but it made the floor out there slippery so I turned it off until the kids found it. I had imagined gorgeous photos of children and bubbles but didn’t get any at all. But when it WAS working (for about 10 minutes) the kids really liked it!

Actually, the kids liked all of it. Especially the birthday boy.

How can I help but give this kid the best parties I can?

I had intended to just do one post for the whole party but this is getting ridiculously long, so I’ll save food for tomorrow. Or maybe later today. It really is the best part – I went a little crazy on the theme. I also ended up making the cake, frosting and filling from scratch (recipes and links coming soon!) so I need to give it the attention it deserves. And if you come to my house I have some left over for you to try. Please, please come eat this cake.

I linked up at Tip Junkie – she’s got some amazing parties on her site!

Tip Junkie handmade projects

August Showers

Friday, August 6th, 2010

OK, so this isn’t technically a BABY shower or in any way baby related – at least I don’t think it is, unless the bride Has Something to Tell Us – but I’m still SUPER excited about all the cute stuff I found in planning the decorations and favors for my friend Erin’s bridal shower. If I was at all capable of sticking to a budget I would seriously consider going to event planner school (is that a thing?) or just printing up a bunch of business cards and begging people to let me plan their parties. But, alas, I am incapable of not going WILDLY OVERBOARD with adorable things I find on Etsy and would get fired immediately when I spent twice what I was allowed.

Man, I love Etsy. Hardcore love. I think I’ll marry it and get it pregnant.

P.S. Erin, if you want to be surprised on Saturday, LOOK AWAY! Although if you secretly hate the color pink and think butterflies are tacky and break out in hives when in the same room as tiny soap, it would probably be best to check out the post below and prepare yourself.

Clockwise from top left:
1. Shower invites from Tiny Prints
2. Two yards of fabric from JoAnn’s that I’m going to hem for a tablecloth (although this still isn’t done as of 11 pm on Thursday)
3. LESS THAN HALF of my milkglass collection I’m going to fill with pink/blue flowers as a centerpiece
4. Thank you notes (that match my colors!) from Target

Clockwise from top left:
1. ABSOFREAKINLUTELY ADORABLE print from Hugs & Kisses Designs (done by my friend Becca). She usually makes those with baby info but I forced convinced her to make a wedding one! Part decor, part gift. Uh, that WAS supposed to be a surprise. Oh well.
2. Prizes for the guests who win the shower games (which will NOT include wrapping anyone in toilet paper) – wrapping paper from Target, actual gifts are from Bath & Body Works
3. Mini soaps to be given out as favors from BLCBodyShop. She custom wrapped them in my colors and printed “A sunny future starts with a shower” without even once laughing at my corniness. They are coconut lime scented. I did not eat any. Yet.
4. Tiny paper butterflies to perch on the edges of all the guests’ glasses from byemma. I saw these and spent at least 30 minutes looking for a tutorial on how to make my own before I realized they were so inexpensive I couldn’t even buy the paper cheaply enough to make it worthwhile to do-it-myself. I LURVE THEM.

P.S. Do YOU have an Etsy shop? Please let me know. Unless you are Emily, because I have already called dibs on everything in her shop, so don’t even THINK about buying any of those clippies or dresses.

Evan’s First Birthday: Decorations

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Although my plan was to save money by making all the decorations for Evan’s circus birthday party, it didn’t take long for things to get out of hand with my budget. (Or at least that’s what WOULD have happened if I’d had a budget to begin with. I’ve never been good with numbers.) I would have been better off ordering a couple banners off Etsy, picking up paper plates and cups at the dollar store, plopping a hat on everyone’s head and calling it good. So don’t come around here looking for cheap party tips because I don’t have any. If you want inspiration, cute ideas or hints on where to find circus themed stuff, then by all means keep reading.

circus birthday party wreath

I decided I needed a wreath for the door at 9 pm Friday night. It’s tissue paper on cardboard.

circus birthday party banner

Banner on the front porch. Craft paper from JoAnn Fabric.

circus birthday party banner

Playbill font on craft store paper.

circus birthday party banner

I pushed our buffet in front of the fireplace to keep the kids out and used it as a cake table. The photos on the mantle were done by Nina Benjamin, a local photographer. Tablecloth is just a couple yards of fabric from Joann’s. Circus tray is vintage from my grandmother, crown is from Michael’s crafts with a little felt badge I made glued on.

circus birthday party banner

I used “Coffee Tin”, a free font I downloaded, and printed on paper rectangles I bought at the craft store. No cutting involved!

circus birthday party decorations

Popcorn boxes from the $1 section of Target, wind up clowns, gumball machines and pin wheels from the dollar store.

circus birthday party decorations

Prizes for the older kids, although the games were so disorganized I just handed them out to whoever I could find.

circus birthday party decorations

Origami circus animals from Michael’s.

circus birthday party decorations

I bought a 50-balloon helium tank from BJ’s for $22 and used ALL of it. Balloons outside, balloons inside, balloons on the ceiling, balloons on the staircase.

circus birthday party decorations


circus birthday party decorations

My proudest and most frustrating decoration – I cut every single one of these tiny triangles out by hand and sewed them together one at a time in a looooooooog streamer.

circus birthday party clown noses

Clown noses ordered from Oriental Trading Co, free circus font downloaded from internet, tablecloth is fabric from Joann’s

circus birthday party napkins

Napkins from Celebrate Express (seriously, they had some good stuff)

circus birthday party games

Games: clothespin drop, pin the nose on the clown, coloring pages of (non-scary) clow faces

circus birthday party decorations

ALL those little circus graphics are actually from favor boxes I bought at Christmas Tree Shops. I cut them up and used them as my theme and color scheme. The silverware holders are actually pencil holders from the $1 section at Target. Tickets from iParty.

circus birthday party guest book

I ordered a photo book from Snapfish with a 30% off coupon code and left a few pages blank in the back to use as a guest book. The photos are a recap of Baby Evan’s first year.

circus birthday party games

Bean bag toss – the cloth was purchased at Target on clearance, E built the backing. Extra bean bags bought at Christmas Tree Shop.

circus birthday party photo booth

More fabric from Joann’s, top hat and mustache from local party store, baby suspenders from Belt Outlet online.