Thursday, September 18, 2014

construction site birthday party

Apparently I took the summer off from blogging. Not necessarily intentionally, just other things taking up my time! So I'll try to get caught up a bit - starting off today with some fun birthday party ideas, then I'll try to catch up on all my preschool posts!

My little man turned four this summer, and for many months leading up to his birthday he kept telling me all about the construction party he wanted to have. I of course turned to Pinterest for some ideas, but so many of them were so over-the-top (who has the time/money for this? He's turning four! Ok, I'll save that rant for another day...) that I ignored most of them, borrowed from a few, and came up with some of my own. So here's my take on a budget-friendly, relatively low-key, lots of fun construction party.

Let's start off with the invitations:

I just printed them from our computer, and glued them onto yellow paper which I'd colored black stripes on. Jack helped me put construction stickers on each invitation. (Note: we didn't invite a ton of people, so doing the stripes by hand wasn't a big deal. You could also do them on the computer and just print it that way. Or just do plain yellow or black paper)

Decorations were pretty simple: some black tablecloths from the dollar store, a couple of construction truck paper stand-up cutouts, some yellow crepe paper, orange construction cones (which my husband already had for work) and construction signs (free printable here).

Since we had the party in our backyard, we put a "detour" sign by the front door, and this construction cone and sign in the driveway by the gate to our yard.

For activities for the kids, we got plastic hard hats (super cheap on amazon!) and put each kids'  name on a hat, and let them decorate them with construction stickers.
The birthday boy (who wore his hard hat for the entire day of course) waiting for his friends to come!

We set up a "construction zone" in some dirt in our yard and in our sandbox.

We also set up a little obstacle course game with construction cones, wheelbarrows, trucks, etc. But of course I forgot to get any pictures of that. But the kids loved just running back and forth and around all the different things. (I just set them up and let the kids run however they wanted. They were happy!)

And my (and the kids!) favorite activity was the wrecking ball. I made a "building" out of cardboard boxes, and they got to wreck it with a balloon tied to a rope hanging from a tree. 

I cannot tell you how many times those boxes got stacked up and knocked down again! (Note: I filled the balloon partially with water to give it a little more weight. Yes, we went through a few because they eventually popped. But the kids didn't mind getting wet. You could use something else to weight it of course, but that was easy and worked for us!)

And last but not least: the cake! This is what Jack kept telling me he wanted for his birthday for months prior, so I knew I had to figure out a way to make it. And it really wasn't that hard!

There's a dump truck dumping whopper "rocks", and oreo crumb and toffee bit "dirt", with an excavator digging out the side of the cake, and a bulldozer driving up a ramp on the side.

(If you're thinking this one looks lighter, you're right. I made this cake twice since we had a family party and friend party, one with milk chocolate and one with dark chocolate frosting. But it really was pretty simple so I didn't mind!)

I used 12" and an 8" spring-form pans for the two layers. Since cakes always come out a little rounded on top, I cut part of the bottom one so the top layer would sit flat, and used what I cut off to make a ramp from the lower layer to the top layer. That's where the bulldozer was. Then I just used a fork to dig out part of the side of the cake where the excavator would go. You can use this as "dirt" later if you want. Another tip: if you're using canned frosting, warm it up a little before you frost the cake. It spreads so much easier!!

One of the nice things about this cake, is that it's ok if parts of it get a little crumbly - it's just more dirt! Since I was using Oreo crumbs for dirt, I scraped out the filling and used that as "glue" to help the trucks stick to the cake, and to stick the "rocks" into the dump truck. Between that and the frosting, they were actually stuck on pretty well!

Ta-da! Awesome construction site cake :)

So there's my take on a low-budget, low-fuss construction party. We did the whole thing for probably $30 (including food), and the kids had lots of fun mostly just running around the yard and playing in the dirt. A few tips: use things you already have, shop at the dollar store (especially for paper goods!), and keep it simple and let the kids play!