March 6, 2013

Construction Birthday Party

One of my favorite things about this year's birthday party for my son is that he keeps talking about it.  From sharing details about the cake ("it had jellybean lights!  and cookie wheels!") to playing with our guests, to reminding me about the things we decorated together ("we put up streamers"), his over the top happiness over it made the work so worthwhile.

First up are the worms in dirt.  I kinda botched the recipe a bit, forgetting to stir milk into the pudding mix before I added my whipped cream.  Whoops.  Still edible, though!  I also like the idea of the Dig In sign which I stole from Pinterest.
 

I also had the idea to serve creamsicle punch.  I don't know why I stuck on that idea- maybe it was the thought of orange punch that made sense?- but I found a good recipe on Pinterest and it was a hit. The funny thing is, the pic and recipe I pinned are totally different from the ones the pin actually linked to.  Anyway, I'm happy with the one I used.

More Pinterest sign idea thievery- treating the drink area as a gas station.  Cute!  I like my sign more, too.

Now this one I can take total credit for.  What better way to serve lunch at a construction site than in lunch pails?!  Just a few bucks sent to Oriental Trading and I was in business. I forgot to nab a picture of it, but behind the lunch boxes I put up a picture of construction workers eating their lunches from pails on a steel beam as they built a skyscraper.  Extra bonus: with the lunches labeled, I didn't have to decode each sandwich for each guest like I did last year.

Lunch pails were packed the morning of the party, with sandwiches catered by The Corner Bakery (sooo good, and the ones with pretzel bread went the fastest), a handful of chips, and a napkin.

And the Best Supporting Actor of the party (second fiddle to our star, the birthday boy) is the dump truck cake!  Recipe here.  Like I say in that blog post, I couldn't find a cake pan worthy of this party, so I decided to get creative and craft my own.  Lots of oohs and ahhs and "what's that filling in the truck bed?" over this one.  (Answer: pieces of the cake from when I trimmed it, cut up Reese's pb cups, and crushed graham crackers.)

When I served the cake, I also doled out ice cream in no time flat.  I took this genius idea from the Pinterest gods, and scooped ice cream into cupcake liners before the party.  When it came time for cake and ice cream, I  just dished out a cupcake liner full of ice cream on the plate with the cake.  My friends were in love with this idea.  Nobody was left with mushy, last-scoop-from-the-container ice cream!


We can thank someone's bridal shower for this idea- stringing pictures from balloons.  My modifications: I used pics of my son from birth to just a month ago, put pictures on both sides so there was no white space, and as my mom and I learned during pre-party setup, those pictures weigh down the balloons.  I was prepared for that, so when my mom said "Well, it was a nice idea" I knew there was no "was" about it.  We just tied/wrapped the ribbon to my chandelier and voila- still worked.  A bit more subtle was the idea that the blue and white balloons were like a sky over our little tabletop construction site.

Here's a better view of the hanging pictures, as well as the little construction zone.  My husband is a city planner, so of course I put him to work laying out a black duct tape and masking tape road on the green table cloth.  I raided the play room for a bunch of construction toys and decorations, plunked down some construction worker duckies from Oriental Trading, and had one heck of a cute setup in place.  What was really sweet was watching my son investigate the pictures.  Some of them he remembered, like playing in the snow over Christmas, going to a park, Halloween, and visiting the train yard.  Others he didn't realize were of him, so he said things like "Look at the baby in the bathtub!  Baby in a blanket!"

Other side of the pictures.

Here we spy my traffic sign lollipops- another original idea, thank you!  I was disappointed that I couldn't find sign stickers to use, so I was left with printing out clip art signs I found online.  I cut those out and taped them to lollipops- easy peasy but very popular with the birthday boy and some guests.  :)

One of my son's favorite snacks is pretzels, and I thought they would be great stand ins as timber on our site.  I filled up some of his toys with them, and stacked them in a couple spots on the table, too.


In the week leading up to the party, I started asking my son these 20 questions I found on Pinterest.  He was a bit squirmy and funny answering some of these, but eventually my husband and I got answers to all 20.  I put out the album on the dining room table for our friends to look over.  The idea is that we'll add to the album with his answers each year and see how his answers change over time.  The moms and moms-to-be all thought this was a super sweet idea, and I definitely agree.

Ok this project makes me laugh, because I had it all planned out in my head as a very simple set up to use orange electrical tape to make a construction crane on the pillar and wall between our dining room and living room.  I told my husband he was going to make this for the party, and he must have been browsing the internet when I first told him because when I set out the supplies the night before the party, he was aghast at my evil plans.  He also critiqued the materials, because unbeknownst to me, electrical tape contracts.  Hence some of the off-kilter bits.  Still, our son spotted the construction crane right away and could tell what it was supposed to be, so in the end: mission accomplished.

The last bit of fun from our party: dump truck bean bag toss, another Pinterest idea.  How in the world did people plan kids' parties before Pinterest?  So many great and creative ideas out there, both to adapt or straight out steal, and to generate some ideas of your own.  Like I said, this was a great party that my son and our guests loved.  Some of the ideas will be keepers for years to come (like the ice cream scooping trick, and pre-portioned, labeled meals) and who knows- maybe some will be requested again by the special little guy.  Either way, I can tell that we're setting up some very fun memories for him, which just makes me grin ear to ear.  :)

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