If you remember, last year, I decided on a joint camping themed birthday party for my kiddos. The theme was great, and so fitting for them both, but there were certain things I styled differently to keep the theme gender neutral and perfect for my 2 year old boy and 5 year old girl. The party was a smashing success and I am so glad I decided on a joint party, but I knew for Landon's 3rd Birthday it would be 100% about him. All boy, all the way for this construction loving little guy.
I promise my husband every year that I will try really hard not to build something new for each party we throw, but I just can't help myself. I had the idea to build a giant sandbox that our little construction workers could dig in during the party, and I couldn't let the idea go. I am very, very frugal and always try to stay on budget for party decorations, so we did some re-purposing to construct this great sandbox by using an old piece of fencing for the base of the sandbox. Under $10 in additional lumber and a handy husband, $5 of play sand that was on sale from the hardware store and we had the adorable construction site for our party goers.
Another budget saving idea comes from my girlfriend Allison Carter Celebrates: use their party favor as a decoration or activity too, which I accomplished both hanging these hardhats near the digging table. Then I created the Hard Hat Zone vinyl banner for the perfect finishing touch to this area. I love tying a theme together with coordinating decorations throughout. I have tons of vinyl banners in my Etsy Shop for dozens of birthday party themes!
When it comes to hosting parties, my priorities are:
My favorite thing about my small house, is our big backyard. So generally I tend to provide 1 or 2 open ended activities that don't require any adult supervision or organization of sugared up little people. As the host, I want to spend time enjoying the company of my friends, not herding kittens, so I usually don't plan any sort of structured activity and it always works out. The kids had the digging station, various chunks of wood for building anything their imaginations could create, and caution tape streamer banners that they could run up and down the yard with. Full disclosure, the streamer banners lasted about 10 minutes (but thankfully my amazing friend and photographer captured these great shots first) then the kids ended up running around with 1,000 extra feet of caution tape (literally, that was $8.00 well spent.) Total success in my book. While they burned off some energy, the adults took care of #1 and #2 on my checklist, good food and good drinks.
For a construction themed birthday party, a refueling station is a must. I know not everyone is a fan of alcohol at kids birthdays, but my entire mission at parties is to create an environment where the kids can let loose, and the adults can celebrate keeping our tiny humans alive another year, for me, that means sipping cocktails in my backyard and enjoying the sunshine. To each their own, right!?
Every single thing to make this bar was borrowed or re-purposed from my house, the only purchase I made was the refueling station vinyl banner. I made the table using black storage totes from our garage and stacked them on top of each other, the handled mason jar mugs are from the Dollar Store and I use them for pretty much every party I throw, and the black and gold straws were left over from a 50th birthday party I hosted for my Dad's wife. I used my cricut to make a quick vinyl sticker for the tequila and easily jazzed up a cheap carafe from anko. This was such a fast and perfect setup.
For the cocktails, I tried something new at this party and it was a total success. Instead of premixing a large batch of cocktails like I normally would, I used frozen limeade concentrate (way cheaper option) and left the tequila out so people could mix their own drinks with the amount of alcohol they like. It also made the drink option kid friendly which saved me from doing two drinks or making another kid drink. This also was a great way to avoid wasting an entire batch of premade cocktails if people didn't end up drinking much!
Next on my agenda to creating the perfect party atmosphere is good food!
One of the very first ideas I had when I decided on a construction themed birthday for Landon was a massive chips and salsa table, literally. My brother owns a food truck, The Vet Chef and makes some of the best salsas around. Everyone is obsessed with his food, myself included so I knew I wanted to serve it to my guest. The first thing they saw when they came to our backyard was a 6 foot long chips and salsa table. Win!
And because I think it's important to not only show the beautiful details, but the realistic ones too, the food was served on a folding table and we ate off of plain ol' Costco paper plates. You can't do it all mamas, so focus on the things that bring you joy, and outsource or lower the expectations on the other things. The food was outstanding and I am still drooling thinking about it!
Modern Dessert Table
Now onto everyone's favorite part of a party, the dessert table! This dessert table was so fun to set up, and it came together exactly like I had envisioned it in my head. I love kids parties, but my style tends to not be very kiddie! I wanted to give this table a modern, sleek and clean feel, while still keeping it fun and inviting for the birthday boy.
I believe the first step to creating a show stopping dessert table, is to ditch the table. If you can use *anything* from around your house that isn't a folding table with a linen over it, I think that automatically elevates any table from boring to wow in seconds. Get creative, I have used my office desk, printer stand, our stainless steel prep table, an old dresser and more. Heck, we even used an old deck to create a 14 foot charcuterie table for my 31st birthday. For this construction themed party, sawhorses, and a half sheet of plywood painted black made a super simple table that fit the theme perfectly.
To create the modern, clean feel I wanted a white wall and since this party is outdoors and my house isn't white, I had to get creative. I simply tacked a white linen tablecloth to the wall, and wa-la! Instant modern feel. Next, we hung the balloon garland (which by the way is SO easy to make). For this party I had balloons leftover from previous occasions and added the solid yellow balloons in, but my favorite stop for garlands is Lauren from Oh How Charming. The final touch was adding the custom vinyl construction banner I designed as the centerpiece and the scene was set to add the deserts.
If you saw me on Instagram live, the day of the party, I shared the behind the scenes of setting this table up with my girlfriend Allison's help. We are both truly inspired to make party planning approachable for the average mom, and we want people to look at this photo and say "I could do that". I think when you break the steps down, it becomes more manageable!
My first stop was scrounging through our garage and stealing everything of my husbands that was black and yellow. These made great risers to add height to the table, and were perfectly on theme. Next, was collecting tractors from every nook and cranny in our house then taking the hexagon shelves right off Landon's wall. Then I laid everything out on a staging table first, and started placing items one-by-one on the dessert table, starting with the cake as the centerpiece and working my way out varying heights and colors.
This was actually the easiest dessert table I have ever put together. I love to bake, and usually make all of the desserts for our parties. Yes, I know I'm totally nuts, but it's always been fun for me. However, this year, I am hosting so many parties I just wasn't feeling it, so I decided to stick to baking the cake because it's my absolute favorite, and that was it! I outsourced the beautiful and delicious cookies that matched the invitations perfectly from a local baker mama Amy, and grabbed the rest of the desserts from our local grocery store! I didn't even get fancy with bakers! I snagged a carton of donuts and some lemon cupcakes, that I knew I could dress up with DIY cricut cupcake toppers, and got lemon bars to keep the yellow theme and that was it. It was so simple, and I think we can all agree it came together so sweet, pun intended.
The last step for any successful party is a family photo. It's a must every year to stop, breathe, and take it all in. I can't tell you how many people say they got so busy they didn't take a picture. TAKE THE PICTURE, and you'd better get yourself in that pic too, mama!
I'll end this party with a sincere shout out of gratitude and worlds of appreciation for these two mom bosses below that work behind the scenes to make this all possible. I 100% would not be where I am today without Aleks and Allison and their constant encouragement and support in both business and life. Aleks picked up a camera 5 years ago and taught herself photography and constantly blows me away capturing beautiful moments for our family, and Allison created a business from the ground up to fill the void in the party world helping busy moms throw pinterest parties without the overwhelm and stress. Cheers to you both and see you in August for our annual Favorite Things Party.
Invitations and Banners: Palm to Pine Design
Photography: Aleks Lopez
Party Consultation: Allison Carter Celebrates
Cookies: Amy Nichole Milne