I have made it 7 years without ever throwing a licensed Disney character birthday party. And I’ve prided myself on avoiding it. But then the youngest of my tribe, the one who seems to get away with so much, the one who is paving his own way – for him I succumbed. I tried to deny his wish – but after unsuccessfully suggesting Hairy Maclary and other cute themes, Miss 7 one day told me “You have to have the party he wants Mummy, it’s his birthday!”. Ok, point taken.
Compromise – he can have a Thomas party, but it’ll be as monochrome as possible. Not too much garish colour.
After being totally inspired by the Beauman party Hiedee from @Beansproutstore threw for her son Beau, I got some ideas flowing. I wanted to satisfy my Beau’s Thomas wishes, but still be true to myself (ha).
I ordered invitations from Etsy and requsted that they minimise the amount of colour on each invitation – helping us to stick to our mainly monochrome palette. When I’m organised I get my invitations printed at Warehouse Stationery and then hand address envelopes and post them to our guests. Because I started this party plan about 10 days out, I just emailed the electronic copy to our friends and family.
I figured if there was something visual to aid in the whole ‘monochrome’ Thomas/not Thomas vibe, it would help pull things together better. So again, inspired by Hiedee, I commissioned a hand cut stamp from Sandra Waine and this was what really set the scene for our theme. Having a simple but bold image that ties everything together made our theme feel personal and not too commercial.
As you will see from our invitation, we originally planned to host the party over lunchtime so I based my menu on this timeframe – I was going to do Pearl Barley Salad and Soba Noodle salad in noodle boxes for the adults and mini hot dogs for the kids. Then Shane found out he had a game earlier than expected so we had to postpone the party until the afternoon. Because of this, the menu became bitsy and afternoon tea-ish which seemed to equal more fussing. Anyway, it wasn’t what I had in mind, but you have to roll with the punches and in the end it turned out fine.
I printed a large B onto paper on my home printer and framed it in a black frame I had sitting around and strung the garland to complement the theme. I had a giant 2 balloon but the husband was getting it filled on his way home from his game and there wasn’t really time to spend rigging it up perfectly once he got home as the party was already in full swing when he arrived. Oh well.
- Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Dip with assorted crackers
- I Love Pies Lamb & Rosemary Sausage Rolls and Feta & Spinach Veggie Rolls
- Pineapple & Watermelon pieces
- Choo Choo Train Sugar Cookies
- Lolly Cake
- Kettle Corn Cones
- Salted Chips in boxes
- Caramel Slice
- Birthday Cake
Next up I purchased all my supplies from Pop Roc Parties & Look Sharp Store. I got the Kettle Corn cones and cone stand, the brown Kraft boxes, noodle boxes and the straws from Pop Roc Parties. And I got the garland for behind the table, the napkins, cups, foil containers for the fruit, and white paper goody bags from Look Sharp Store.
We invited a real mix of ages of children, mostly because my third child doesn’t have many friends of his own. Most of our friends had two children similar ages to ours, so Beau is the baby of the lot. He’s made a wee friend of his own recently and a couple of friends have younger children so we had an age range from 2-8. Because of this mix of ages, I thought traditional party games might be a little hectic so decided instead to hire a face painter as a fun activity. I found the incomparable Sarah Robinson at the General Collective Market and she comes highly recommended. Her rate was amazing and she was so wonderful with the children. She was fast and every design was spectacular. I really can’t say enough about her – all the parents commented on how great she was with the kids too which is always a bonus when you have someone joining in your birthday fanfare. My birthday boy got a storm trooper on one cheek and C3-PO on the other (StarWars is alive and well in our house!)
I haven’t iced with fondant since my eldest’s 1st birthday party and though I wanted to avoid it again, I knew that I couldn’t do a Thomas cake justice with buttercream. I looked at outsourcing the cake, but couldn’t justify cost. A few YouTube tutorials later and I was on a mission to create a cake that would make my 2 year old happy. The beauty of icing with fontant is that you can make your cake in advance as the seal fondant creates keeps the cake fresh. This gave me the advantage of doing the cake in stages and not rushing to the very last minute like I always seem to be doing with every other party. Cake was iced a day in advance and that freed up time for other party prep. I purchased pre-coloured fondant because I thought that would make my job easier and faster, but it turns out that the pre-coloured stuff is really highly pigmented, to the point where I needed about three extra bags of plain white fondant to achieve the colours I was after. I would recommend working with white and colouring up to your desired shade, instead of the other way. It worked out super expensive doing it how I did. And rookie mistake: because I had the cake finished well ahead of time, I left the cake on the bench, too close to where I was cooking dinner and got some splatters of oil on it before I realised how far the oil was flying as I made dinner. I was gutted, but no one noticed (until now!) and we didn’t eat that part anyway so I figured it was ok. Rookie mistake for sure – I will be moving my cakes far away next time – although hoping for a much larger kitchen to be my reality by the time the next birthday party rolls around!
When it came time to eat, each of the kids took a little kraft box and filled it with their choice of goodies and headed outdoors to sit and enjoy their food in the sunshine. We had a gorgeous day and our guests spent all afternoon out in the sun. The adults enjoyed cider or wine and just spent the afternoon chatting and mingling. The kids played on the trampoline, in the tree swing and playhouse and keeping each other entertained – that’s certainly one advantage of a good age range like we had.
Then it was time to cut the cake. Beau had been practising this moment for weeks leading up to his party. He had a little monologue down pat (that he had come up with all by himself) “Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you Beau, Hip Ray, Hip Ray, Blow candles pffffffffff (blowing candles!) Of course when it came time for the real deal, he got all shy, I think he was in shock that his build up was finally over!
I asked my sister to take some family photos as we cut his cake but unfortunately she didn’t get one good one. Thanks sissy!
I am usually not much good at goody bags, but this year I wanted to use my little stamp again and so included a Train Cookie and a slice of Lolly Cake in a little white paper bag with the stamp of Thomas on the front and handed them out at the front door as our guests left.
My total monochrome theme didn’t turn out quite as I planned but the funny thing is that I didn’t even mind. I think the longer I spend doing birthday parties for the kids, the less I care about the tiny details being right. They don’t know or care about those little things and all they care about is that their family and friends are at their house, playing, celebrating, eating and singing Happy Birthday. Bringing a present is also appreciated. Beau was delighted with his party and loved opening his gifts.
Happy 2nd birthday my Thomas-loving little man. We love you to the moon and beyond and all the way back home again.