My little guy turned 5 on Oct. 29. FIVE! How does it go by so fast?? So, since it was what I consider a “milestone” birthday, we planned a camping themed birthday extravaganza at a local park near the river. Plans included fishing and a scavenger hunt, s’mores and cupcakes….lots of fun, outdoor, fall activities. It was going to be so adorable and fun…I couldn’t wait!
Then, the weatherman delivered the weekend forecast….not sunshine and cool temps, not
20% rain, BUT a 100% chance of rain and thunderstorms. Great. Invites were out. Activity supplies were bought and ready. Now what were we going to do??
Well, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?
Being a communication professional by day, I wanted to first and foremost make the party changes quickly and get the word out to our guests. We had to move the party to our house.
The question was, “how were we going to entertain 25 5-year-olds for two hours??” And the even bigger question was, “where are we going to put them all??”
I began researching indoor party ideas and solutions, pinning everything I could to try and salvage what was going to be an EPIC outdoor event. The solution ended up being our garage and driveway. I purchased 20 green plastic tablecloths from the Dollar Store, borrowed tables & canopies from my sister and asked all our guests to bring their camping chairs.
Please keep in mind, our garage is not one of those neat and tidy spaces you see in the uber organized households. It was a hot mess and I was in beast mode to get it spic and span before party day (it was Tuesday before the party on Sunday and I work full time…panic set in!) With the help of my hubby and our boys, we repositioned most of the clutter and I lined the walls with the green tablecloths (masking the areas we would rather not share with our guests). The space quickly transformed into a lush, green forest!
We added to the ambiance by setting up our tent and placing a piece of green turf in front of it. I also had a super cute alpine tree from our Christmas décor and added it to the scene along with our stuffed moose and black bear. Threw in a couple of sleeping bags, too! I used camping lanterns for table centerpieces and added camping touches to the food table with a checkered tablecloth (from Amazon.com), binoculars, small fishing nets and our camp coffee pot.
Keep ‘Em Busy
For activities, I went back to the days of my childhood when we would launch a foe fishing rod over a screen and miraculously catch a prize fish. This was simple to make – I purchased a tri-fold presentation board, covered it in a blue plastic tablecloth, slapped some cut out fish & the words “Go Fish” on it and BAM – fishing at Harper’s house was complete. Hubs rigged Harper’s fishing pole with a clip and my sweet niece sat behind it all afternoon tugging the line with prizes. These kiddos were pumped!
I also set up a coloring station with some free printable coloring pages with a camping theme and had them available with a rainbow of crayons. One of the most favorite things I ordered for the outdoor party were Camp Harper Scavenger Hunt cards. I attached them to brown paper bags with twine and ordered little golf pencils for the kids to mark off their treasures. Since it was raining, my intention was to use these for goodie bags, but the kids wanted to do the hunt in the drizzle and their parents were totally cool with it. Worked out!
I wanted to keep these kids busy, so I also set up a pinecone owl making station. With the help of my sister and her girls, we had felt cutouts of beaks and wings, as well as googly eyes, pom poms and pipe cleaners for embellishments. The only thing that didn’t work with these is the glue. Ideally, a glue gun works best. Glue dots worked ok, but liquid glue did nothing. (Just a tip)
For food, I went pretty simple. We had a trail mix bar with different dry cereals (Chex and Cheerios), M&Ms, Gummy Bears, Gold Fish & pretzels. I had miniature brown paper bags and the kids had a blast filling them up with their favorite treats.
We also broke out the fire pit and did s’mores. I set up wooden skewers,
mini Hershey bars, graham crackers and jumbo marshmallows. It was good ole messy yumminess!
The birthday boy wanted cupcakes, so I ordered a variety of colors to match our camping theme and topped them with marshmallows on a stick (mini marshmallows & pretzels), woodland creature rings (from Amazon.com) and green trees.
I also felt like I had to offer a semi-healthy option, so we had cut apples and my Toffee Caramel Dip.
To say thanks to our friends and family for coming, mini-flashlight party favors with simple “Happy Trails from Camp Harper” tag made their day. A couple of parents even complimented saying “that’s a party favor that keeps on giving!”
One additional tip that made life easier was to set out a stack of plain white envelopes and ask guests to put their child’s name and address on them. These are used to thank you notes so you don’t have to search for address after the fun is over!
In addition to the décor, food and activities, I had to order my guy a cute camping themed shirt to wear for his big day (image at top of post.) My cousin made this adorable shirt and has many more designs available. Check out AKWedgworth Creative for the cuteness!
All-in-all, this party was a success! No amount of rain can dampen my sweetie’s day!
Happy Birthday, Harper!