Earlier this week, my little guy turned five and this past weekend, we threw him a party to celebrate. Big surprise, right? We all know how much I love a good party, but Luke requested a train theme months ago and if you follow me on Facebook, you know I totally was struggling the days leading up to his shin dig. I’m here to show you today how I broke out of my train party mental block *plus* I’m sharing the biggest cake fail I’ve made to date.
You won’t want to miss this!
When I start to plan a party, budget is what always comes into play first. Without a doubt, the amount of money I’m going to spend on a party is a huge factor on what I can/can’t do in terms of food, decor, and activities. Luke’s Train Party budget started off around the same as all of our parties do. Typically, I DIY and craft my little heart out weeks before a party to create a lot of the items I need. Making my own decor and activities can really save a good amount on my budget so we can purchase nicer food or invite more people to our celebration.
Taped Train Tracks Idea and Balloons on Stairs via MomEndeavors
This is where I got stuck this time. For the life of me, I could not come up with anything new or exciting to create that hadn’t already been done before and that literally drove me crazy. Literally. You can ask The Husband and he will totally verify.
I created prints using clipart from street sign websites. The party favors consisted of train whistles from Amazon and engineer hats I found on clearance at Target.
After getting a much-needed reality check from some amazing Facebook fans, I got over myself and realized what the party was really about: Luke and his birthday. It was at that point, three days before the scheduled party that I said the following: Screw the budget. Let’s get shopping and make this great for him. Now, please understand that I did not completely throw the budget to the wind and spend like crazy. Not in the least. What I did do though was let go of all of my constraints and limitations and crazy that was floating around in my head.
Of course, I created a few printables like these Thank You Tags.
So I shopped. Reagan and I visited the local dollar store, Walmart, Target, and any other discount party place I could think of within a 10 mile radius. And we had fun. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t stress a little, but it was nothing compared to what I had been feeling previously. By giving up the ideal image in my mind, I was able to create a much more enjoyable experience for myself and my family.
Printable Pennant Banner I designed
I still designed some printables, but not nearly as many as usual. I created a few banners, some thank you tags, and his invites. That’s it. I even purchased his thank you notes that I’ll be sending out shortly on clearance. Gasp. Many of the decorations were actually meant for other purposes. Take the tickets, for instance. I found these at our local Dollar Store and for 250 tickets in a continuous line, I couldn’t pass them up. They made for some great, inexpensive, and easy centerpieces when rolled up inside glass vases and footed bowls.
My trusty Silhouette was also incredibly helpful. I had started to notice that although Luke had requested a train theme, I hadn’t really incorporated actual trains into the design. By downloading an inexpensive shape ($0.99!) and cutting them out with card stock, I quickly remedied that situation.
You’ll notice that not a whole lot on the dessert table screams trains. I stuck with the same color scheme and the stripes to unify it with the rest of his party and used simple party decorations I found at Hobby Lobby. That striped runner on the table? That was the jumping off point for the whole party color story and I found it on clearance at Target months ago. I love that it made clean-up a snap and I didn’t have to worry about ruining new linens or something that I spent hours creating.
I do have to admit one thing: I have a party supply hoarding problem. I purchased these blue baking cups for Reagan’s party in January from The TomKat Studio and although they didn’t match as well as I had hoped back then, they were perfect for Luke’s party. I have accumulated quite the selection of colored paper straws too. You can find them every so often on the daily deal sites or at awesome party shops like Petite Party Studio.
Box mix cupcakes? Yep. I would have love LOVED to order a cake from Inspired Sugar or another awesome bakery, but I just wasn’t on the ball enough for that. Kids love cupcakes and Luke was thrilled with the result. I have to keep reminding myself that this party is for him, not for me. He doesn’t even know the difference.
To create the cute cupcake toppers, I simply cut the paper straws in half and used a little washi tape to create little flags. Easy and do-able.
Smaller foods were placed in Dollar Store bins for a pop of color.
I struggled with what to serve for food and dessert, but when I came across the big marshmallows while shopping, I knew I could come up with something. I ended up dipping them in white melted chocolate and then dipping them into clear sanding sugars. I nicknamed them “White Steam Clouds” to make myself feel better about them coordinating with the theme.
These cookies? They have absolutely nothing to do with trains or any part of the theme. In fact, I used left over Easter M&M’s to make them, so they come off a bit girly, but seriously — this recipe from Picky Palate is awesome. Try it.
When in doubt, I always fall back on my Party Oreos. They’re always a hit and I’ve never come across a person that doesn’t like them.
And now for the most embarassing moment I may have ever had when it comes to party planning and my sweet little ole blog: the train cake FAIL.
Really — I’m hanging my head in shame and I can’t believe that I’m even sharing this awfulness with you. I worked dang hard on this cake and had a much different picture of how it was going to turn out. What mattered most though is that Luke loved it. It had trains. It had his special number five. He was able to blow out his candle.
And while he may think that this cake was some great thing, I know that it wasn’t. And I’m okay with that.
I love my little man more than life itself and I’m thrilled he was able to have a party that he was so excited for, that didn’t bust my budget, and also didn’t drive to a padded cell somewhere. All in all (with the exception of the cursed cake fail), it was a good day.Pin It