My baby boy turned three on Memorial Day and to keep all the *feelings* at bay, I went overboard for the birthday party.
*Cough* Again *Cough*
I just can’t help myself. The more I crafted, the less time I had to think about how fast time is flying by. So I could keep the sentimentality and mushiness at bay. Kind of.
I was so happy with how it all came together. And Henry got the two things he wanted – trains and cake. Win-win.
If you know Henry at all, you know he’s a train lover. While he’s beginning to explore other interests, choo choos were definitely his favorite thing for the past year.
So, a train party was a no brainer to celebrate three. Since his birthday is on Memorial Day again this year, we went with vintage trains and red, white and blue. Very Americana. Perfect for an old/new barn as the venue, don’t you think?
I’m going to share a gaggle of pictures today, and try to include most/all of the sources at the bottom of the post – that way it’s all in one place. That means this is going to be a long post …
You don’t mind, I hope.
We are so lucky that we have such a great space inside the barn for so many guests – we think we ended up with about 60 people. Which was insanity – in a good way. And there was plenty of room.
When guests arrived, the door set the tone with a simple station sign and a photo of Henry.
Inside, I used a lot of what we already had and added in some festive touches – like the lanterns, the balloons and the flashing Railroad Crossing sign (made by my super talented father-in-law).
I couldn’t get enough of those giant “3” balloons.
I also snuck in a few Thomas touches – which pleased my little train man immensely. He also loved blowing up all the balloons with mom. (Having my own helium tank was the bomb dot com. I can’t believe how simple it was to blow up all the balloons and I didn’t have to fight to get them all in my car and home in one piece.)
And my aunt gave Henry a cool train that runs on tracks. Talk about a winner!
Food and drink
I took few photos of the food area – guests started arriving and I just forgot. (Darn it.)
But we this arrivals and departures sign was a big part of the space. I made the top parts with white vinyl and filled in the trains with meaningful names and places.
We served party deli sandwiches (dining car sammies), veggies (veggie car), fruit (freight train fruit) chips and dip (chugga chips), cake (station sweets) and sugar cookies (coal car cookies).
Because what kind of crazy woman would I be without cutesie names and fun labels?
And there were obviously plates with Henry’s photo on them …
The sandwiches were pulled by Chuggington’s Wilson.
Last year, we had cups for all the kids and adults to take home (instead of paper cups that got thrown away). Everyone loved that, so we did it again.
The kiddos all went home with actual train car cups (which were insanely popular). Several parents told me their kids won’t drink out of any other cups now. You’re welcome for that, parents.
Adults got to take home some great stadium cups with a customized vinyl train.
For drinks, we served water (water tower), iced tea (diesel fuel) and apple juice (choo juice). (To keep the paper from getting wet from condensation, I used a laminating sheet on the labels.)
The cookies have always been a hit at Henry’s parties – and these were no exception. We went with train track #3s and actual trains.
Henry spied a train cake like this one on my phone a few weeks ago and hasn’t stopped talking about his “Thomas Cake” since then.
Our local bakery recreated it and Henry was obsessed. He helped me pick out the three “best” trains to go on the cake. Birthday Thomas was first in line, for obvious reasons. (You can tell these trains have been well-loved. And I promise I did actually clean them before putting them on the cake.)
Of course, Henry was far too busy to actually eat cake. But he loved checking it out and blowing out the candles. (Aren’t the kiddos so cute in their engineer hats?)
The photo booth was another favorite part of the party. I found this great 10×10 fabric photo backdrop on Amazon for a steal, and we used it to cover up a (cluttered) floor-to-ceiling storage area in the barn garage. It was perfect for disguise and Henry loved using the remote to take his own photo.
Here’s the photographer in action.
And a few of the other favorite snapshots.
Because I knew there would be plenty of toddlers around, I thought it would be fun to put together some simple activities for the train engineers in training. I should have planned it a little better, but the kiddos didn’t seem to mind. I was inspired by the ideas at Celebrate Everyday with Me.
The kids all started with their own trainee badges. I explained that engineers needed lots of training and that there would be four training exercises.
The first station was Signal Training. I made a stop and go sign and the kids had to practice stopping and going with me – recognizing that red is stop and green is go.
The second station was Toss the Coal in the Hopper. The kids had to practice throwing coal in the coal car (also known as a beanbag into the beanbag toss).
The third station was Blowing off Steam. In this station, each child got bubbles to practice blowing off steam.
The final station was Shifting Gears. The kids each picked a train from the train table for this one. Then they got to slide it down the large slide.
After each station, the kids got their badge punched. At the end of the training exercises, they were official engineers. (And they got to take home their badge and train hat to show for it.)
I’ve said before that I really enjoy all the party planning – and it’s true. I do what I can and try to have fun with it. I love seeing it all come together. And while Henry would have been happy with a train hat and a cake, he seemed to enjoy all the details, too. A 3-year-old after my own heart.
Birthday Express Invites – Tiny Prints
#3 blue foil balloons – Birthday Express
Engineer hats (for kids) – Birthday Express
10×10 vintage train photo backdrop – GladsBuy (Amazon)
Thomas the Train happy birthday balloon bouquet – Birthday Express
Blue train balloons – Birthday Express
Disposable helium tank – Birthday Express
Personalized dinner plates – Birthday Express
Bandana napkins – Birthday Express
Train car kids’ tumblers – Birthday Express
Thomas the Train 3d piñata – Birthday Express
Red and blue tumblers – Amazon, personalized with white vinyl (tutorial here)
Photo booth props – KROWNKREATIONS (Etsy)
Printable photo booth props – PaperBuiltShop (Etsy)
Printable train signs, food labels, banners – Harken Studios (Etsy)
Badge lanyards – Staples
Engineering prints – Staples
Lanterns – borrowed and Kohls
Galvanized water/tea canisters – BH&G for WalMart (these also come in red and aqua – swoon)
Red, white and blue tassel garland – Target
3 birthday cake – Olde Towne Bakery
Sugar cookies – 2 Mamas Baking
Special thanks to my friends at Birthday Express and Tiny Prints for providing supplies to make this party extra special! And thank you for supporting NewlyWoodwards’ sponsors to help make posts like this possible. (And pssst: both of these folks are running specials right now – 20 and 25 percent off orders at Birthday Express with code and 30 percent off at Tiny Prints with code – see details on their sites.)