Two years ago, I threw my son Elías a Thomas the Train themed birthday party.
I've shared images from some of my kid's birthday parties in the past, but I've never done a full breakdown of all of the pieces involved in making the event happen. So for the first time, I'm giving this a try.
Let me know what you think and if there are other areas you'd like me to cover in future posts.
Pick a theme that matters.
For me, the party theme is key, as it is an indicator of the overall event experience. So, I never want to get stuck with a theme that I can't stand behind (like a kid's theme with characters that involve guns or swords). Additionally, I always try to choose themes that are more timeless. That way, components can be reused again,
Luckily, Thomas the Train was an easy theme to get behind. Thomas is definitely a classic. I have very fond memories of growing up watching Ringo Star on Shining Time Station and both of my kids and their friends are huge Thomas fans.
Take some me time.
Like most working moms, my time is very limited, and every moment is precious. Whenever I'm going to put all of this effort into one of these parties, not only do I need it to be a theme that I can stand behind, but I always use it as an opportunity to learn a new skill or a new set of skills. Really party planning is my secret me-time.
Learn a new skill that you can replicate in the future.
In my case, I wanted to learn how to make professional looking cakes for kid's parties. I used fondant for the first time to make a soccer ball shaped cake for Adán's 3rd Messi birthday. And this time around I wanted to learn how to make fondant cake toppers.
Tips, and tricks for making your own Thomas the Train party.
I make the majority of items (decorations and baked goods), order a few things (that usually can be repurposed either for future parties or as toys for the kids), and reuse things from past parties.
Here are the items I made:
Thomas the Train birthday banner, Thomas the Train and friends cut outs, and rail signs - I made these out of cardstock on my Cricut Explore die cutter. (I have since upgraded to the Cricut Maker, but still recommend the Explore, as it is has a lot of capabilities and is about $100 cheaper.)
Paper fans and clouds - hand cut these out of cardstock as a last min addition. (Bottom left image in the gridded image)
Thomas the Train photo backdrop - made this out of cardboard and painted it with acrylic paints.
Railroad cake and train tunnel cakes - chocolate and vanilla cakes with buttercream icing, topped in Satin Ice fondant.
Chocolate covered pretzels - These pretzels are 100% my go-to for all parties. Super easy to make, people love them, and they are a great addition to any tablescape.
Thomas the Train royal icing cookies - I bought a cookie cutter on Etsy and frosted the cookies with royal icing, which I make with meringue powder. (Learned a MAJOR lesson with this batch of royal icing, I usually use Americolor food gels to die my icing, and this time I mixed it with a Chefmates food gel, and boy was that a mistake. I had to throw out the majority of the cookies... I'll write about that in a future post.)
Thomas the Train chocolate covered double stuffed Oreos - dipped Oreos in melting chocolate then while still wet added Thomas the Train candy toppers that I picked up at Party City.
Here are the items I bought:
3 Thomas the Train felt masks - bought these super cute masks on Etsy. We still use these as dress-up items.
Thomas the Train chocolate lollipops - I was planning on making these, as I've made Elmo and soccer ball lollipops for past bday parties, but I was getting down to the last minute and I ended up finding these on Etsy while looking for the felt masks (listing is no longer live).
Conductor outfit for the birthday boy - bought this on Amazon. We also still use this today as a dress-up item.
Sunflowers - picked these up at the Farmer's Market right before the party. Whenever possible, I love having living plants as part of the tablescape.
Thomas the Train plastic toys- got these used on the local parent swap resale FB page.
Vintage Thomas the Trains- bought a lot of trains on eBay (listing no longer active) and this was essentially Elías's bday gift, but also served as the activity for the kids to play with during the party on top of our train table. I actually ended up selling the train table on that same FB group after the party.
Thomas the train popup tent- we have really long Chicago hallways, so I put this train in the hallway during the party and the kids took turns being the train. Note that when I purchased this on Amazon it was $21 but the price at that same listing went up like crazy, so I linked to another one I found for $30.
Here are the things I reused from other parties:
The blue, red, and yellow cake stands and wooden letters that I made for Elías's Elmo birthday.
Red Converse Allstars from Adan's Daniel Tiger party bday.
Final pieces of advice.
If you have a good friend that is a photographer, or can afford to pay a photographer, it's worth the investment. If you are anything like me, you're running around the whole time, making sure everything is in place, everyone is happy, safe and has been fed, which leaves you with zero time to take a single photo. That was the case with this party, I didn't stop for a moment or get any single photo.
Don't beat yourself up. Being the perfectionist that I am, I was hesitant to share this party because I didn't have good enough photos. But I finally decided I that needed to get over myself and share. Not everything needs to be perfect (this is something I need to remind myself of every day.)
So while the documentation isn't perfect, you see enough to get a sense of the experience, and how happy the birthday boy was, which is ultimately the most important part.
If any of you go on to make a similar party, I'd love to hear how it turns out. And if you can't get a photographer DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, enjoy the moment and the memories.
I'll be back soon with documentation of:
Adán's 4th Paw Patrol birthday, Elías's 3rd Babar birthday, Adán's 5th Lego birthday, Adán's 6th Keith Haring birthday, and Elías's upcoming 4th Lion King birthday.