Last year we threw a huge carnival birthday bash for the big number one, but we decided to do something a little smaller this year since our fall has been pretty busy around here, and I wasn’t sure I could tackle another big party lately. So we had family and a couple of close friends over on Saturday to celebrate Jude’s second birthday boxcar style, and it was so fun!
It all started with Jude’s obsession over Virginia Lee Burton’s Choo Choo children’s book, and it kind of grew from there. I wanted to go more classic train / hobo boxcar riding sort of feel rather than Thomas the Train which meant that I couldn’t depend on any pre-made party stuff because Thomas is EVERYWHERE. (Not that I have a problem with Thomas. Jude has a couple of little Thomas the Train books and toys people have given him, and he loves them. I’m just not a fan of branding in the sense of wearing shirts to advertise or throwing parties devoted to one certain character. Plus he never watches the show, and the idea was to do something the birthday boy would love!)
It came together really well, and it was so simple and easy to do. Most of these ideas are borrowed from Pinterest or internet stumbles, so borrow away if you have a train-obsessed little like I do and you want to use this theme. (By the way, I never watermark my photos even though I know I should, but my previous birthday party posts are by far the most read entries on this blog, so I marked these pictures for people who stumble on it.)
For decorations, I ordered some cheap red and blue bandanas from Oriental Trading Company, and I used those everywhere. It was affordable and cute, and now I have a million bandanas in my party bin, so maybe one day I’ll know someone having a western party or something, and they’ll get some more use. I saw this great collage on Pinterest, and I decided to do one for our party as well. It was easy to put together, and guests really liked seeing the progression of the past year, I think. Kids change so much between one and two; it’s crazy to look back!
I used the bandanas on the drinks table by typing them on some twine and then combining them with a simple railroad sign from yellow posterboard. This photo was taken after the party when guests had already consumed most of it, but you get the idea. I layered brown craft paper with newspaper, and we served drinks in classic mason jars to keep things looking homemade and old. Jude was really pumped to have juice boxes in the house because he normally gets water with a splash of juice. I guess it’s the little things.
I also set up a table outside and used the bandanas there, too. I layered them over the brown paper and then used some simple mums for fall decor.
The food spread was simple, and I assembled most of it the day before so that I only had to throw things in the oven the morning of the party. Jude loves breakfast food, so we had a brunch at 10:30am with some of his favorite eats. The breakfast casserole I used is the one we eat every Christmas morning. You assemble it the night before, store it in the fridge, and then just place it in the oven. It’s a passed-down recipe and really delicious! I’ll share the recipe sometime when it won’t get lost in a long party post.
In my internet perusing of train parties, I saw the terms “chugga chugga” and “chew chew,” and I thought they were so clever that I had to steal them.
With a birthday in October, it’s hard to say no to some kind of fall treat. Last year it was Martha’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, and this year is was Pumpkin Spice Latte in the crockpot. Perfect for a fall brunch!
For packaging favors, I really wanted to do hobo sticks for the kids like this Pinterest find. But then I remembered that there would be toddler boys present, and long sticks were maybe a bad idea, so I ended up bundling the favors in a bandana and just placing them on the gifts table. It is sort of like a hobo bindle without a stick, I guess.
Inside each bundle was a train conductor hat for each kid, and I loved that they were inexpensive, fun, and not candy. One party-goer wore it especially well.
And each family also got a CD of train songs hand-picked by my husband. That was totally his project, and he did it well. I forgot to get a photo of the CDs all together, but we had an awesome list of songs. There’s a lot of good train music out there!
Lastly, I didn’t make my own cake or cupcakes this year, so we used a local bakery whom we love and who did our wedding cakes years ago. I wanted them to go opposite of cartoon colors and trains, so they made a simple and classic looking cake that was pretty delicious, too.
All in all, it was such a fun party, and I loved putting it together. Jude really sort of “got it” more this year than before, and it makes me excited for the holidays around the corner as well! There are a million other great train party ideas that I’d love to tackle, but one can only do so much, I guess. Check out my Pinterest board for lots of other cute ideas I ran across.