For my son’s 3rd birthday, I picked a construction theme. Why? Because I am so incredibly fed up with Lightning McQueen, Dusty Crophopper and Thomas the Train (the absolute worst; let’s be honest- Thomas is a whiny, selfish little kid who has some pretty lame friends). I wanted a theme where everything wasn’t pre-made (oh, look! Lightning McQueen plates, cups, napkins AND pinata!). Call me crazy or a glutton for punishment, but I love keeping it real and making my own stuff. (And don’t get defensive, go all character-theme you want- I am just a boho artist trapped in a mom’s body and probably should have been a Burning Man sculptor, so I need a creative outlet).
Here is what I did, feel free to copy every single damn thing if you want. Heck, I even provide the pdf printables for you- no copyright, no “download for free only if you give us your e-mail passwords, complete control of your computer via a robot virus and your first born.”
As for the invite? I am horrible and whipped up an almost exact replica of one I found on Etsy, so needless to say I can’t show it to you because I feel bad (and it has all my personal info on it). Lucky for me, I have some Illustrator skillz that I acquired by reading an awesome training book instead of paying a grand for classes. Lucky for you, there are some pretty cool invites on Etsy- this one only costs $12.50 for the design and you can print it out. Get the link here!
We usually grill out. My husband gets overheated at the grill and stuck in solitary confinement while he cranks out burgers like a Hot N’ Now line cook (remember that restaurant?? Best fries EVER. Maybe it was the munchies talking, but….I digress). This year, I decided to do a “Build a Taco” bar. We pre-cooked pounds and pounds of seasoned ground beef, threw it in a crock pot, added dishes of toppings and forgot about it. (Although one of the kids at the party asked me why we were having tacos at a construction party…I smiled sweetly and said “Taco” starts with a “T” as does the word “Truck,” like it was the most natural explanation in the world).
We have a kegerator at our house- best investment if you are a frequent party-thrower. I also put out ingredients for White Wine Spritzers (read my post for recipes here). Great drink for a party that begins before noon so we can all have a cocktail without feeling like total alcoholics.
I had Iced Tea and Lemonade for those on the wagon.
I had Sand pudding- vanilla pudding with crushed Golden Oreos on top (there was a recipe online for some layered dessert using Cool Whip, but I almost tossed my cookies after reading the ingredients in that stuff).
As for the Birthday Cake- This is literally the easiest cake ever. It cost me a whopping $5 and took no time at all to make and didn’t matter if it was screwed up.
Step 1– Grab a boxed chocolate cake, Oreos and some frosting.
Step 2– Bake the cake.
Step 3– Put the cake in a dump truck (after disinfecting it….).
Step 4– Frost the cake and top with crushed Oreos.
I asked my son what the best part of his party was, and he said eating the cake out of the truck with a fork after everyone left.
I think you need a little entertainment for the kids- both to make it fun and to let the adults have cocktail time while their kids are busy.
My mom made a Wrecking Ball piñata by buying a basketball pinata and covering with black crepe paper. We tried to find a blow up doll to put on it to channel a little Miley, but no such luck. I then took Amazon boxes, which I have a surplus of because I am obsessed with getting things in two days in the mail, and covered the front with kraft paper. I then drew black rectangles on them to represent windows and doors (obviously I did this while pre-partying the night before as you can tell by the slightly wonky rectangles). The kids had an absolute BLAST using the piñata to knock down the boxes all day! Breaking the piñata was secondary entertainment.
My dad made a life-size Jenga game- he is pretty much the most handy person ever. Read all about his greatness in my Father’s Day post here. The adults hung out for more cocktails after the kids went down for naps and played this for hours.
I also had a photo prop for the kids to pose behind.
I found Caution Birthday tape on Amazon in addition to plastic hard hats. I used a paint pen to write all of the kids names on the hats, which they used to collect their winnings from the pinata bash. We also spray painted “Happy Birthday Bryson” in the lawn- cheapest sign ever.
I put up signs for everything to incorporate the theme. Here are all the food and supplies labels- download pdf files via Google docs link here.
All in all, it a pretty easy party to plan and execute! My main pointers for any party with over 10 guests:
- Crockpots, crockpots, crockpots- make everything in advance and keep it warm. Don’t cook when people are there if you can avoid it. It can be overwhelming and almost rude if you totally ignore your guests. Take it from me, I’ve done it.
- Beverage dispensers- use these to pre-mix a signature drink so you aren’t mixing cocktails all day and night.
- Trash cans- you can never have enough. Always use plastic ware, plastic cups and paper plates (yes, you can make them cute, I’ll show you how eventually).
- Signs- label everything so people aren’t confused. Make the labels match the invite to keep the theme.
- Find a way to label the cups- if you are using glass, use a wet erase marker. If using plastic, print out labels with a cute jpeg and have people write their name and attach to their cup.
- Get other people to take photos and send them to you. Immediately.
- If you can get away with it, have your kid open gifts after everyone has gone home. Otherwise, pieces get lost, people cry, and you can’t remember who gave your kid what. Old schoolers think this is rude, so make sure to take a photo of your kid enjoying their gift and send as a thank you (use Postagram- easiest Thank You notes ever).
- Have fun, and if you aren’t having fun, have a cocktail. Or 5. Just don’t swing at the piñata after.
Enjoy and please share your party faves with me as well!