Wednesday, June 20, 2012

{Free Printables} Modern DIY Train-Themed Birthday Party

It's only been...oh...three months since I threw this party for my son's second birthday, but I am so happy to finally be sharing it in a super long post via a billion photos (and lots of cool free printables at the end).  I think this is my favorite party I've thrown to date.

My toddler loves trains.  Like loves them to the point that I've sometimes wondered when hearing "My special special is ready to go" approximately 9,753 times each day would drive me insane.  So, when it came time to decide what the theme for his second birthday would be, it was a no-brainer.

I started browsing train parties online, but nearly every party I found either featured Thomas the Tank Engine or was done in red, white, and blue.  But I have an aversion to covering children's things in pictures of cartoons, and I wasn't really digging the "traditional" train colors. So, I googled trains and railroads and steam engines and all other train-y words I could think of.

In one of my searches, I came upon a railroad crossing sign.  You know, the bright yellow one with the black X and Rs on each side?  Voila! I had my color-scheme: yellow and black; then I decided to throw in gray.  I have been obsessed with gray for the past year or so.  It's so versatile.  So neutral.  So sophisticated. When I get around to showing you some of our new house projects, you can expect a lot more gray.  I love gray.  Seriously.

And so the train birthday party was born.  I love going all out for parties.  Despite my crazy moving, long-distance, stressful life, I didn't hold anything back on this party.  It was the perfect last celebration in our first home.

The Invitation:
The invitation was the only thing that didn't match the color scheme because I just found the old-fashioned train tickets too cute to pass up. (Free customizable printable below.)

The Decor:

DIY train tracks made out of black Duck Tape led guests up the walk (and held up surprising well even though it rained on and off all day).

I made another balloon wreath (get the tutorial here), though I just went with the multicolored balloons instead of theme-specific colors.  I also added some pipe cleaners this year, which I loved.  I just wrapped them around a pencil to make them into spirals, then stuck them directly into the straw wreath in between the balloon clusters.

Here's the birthday boy just waking up from his nap, wearing the shirt I made him.  It said, "Choo Choo. I am two!" and had a train (duh) in the middle of it. 

I had decorated during his nap, so he woke up to the house transformed into his personal train station.  He quickly got over his sleepy quietness and started running around, laughing, and looking at everything in awe.  It was so cool.

No party's complete without streamers.

My DIY no-sew fabric bunting banner said, "Choo Choo Hugh is Two."  I'll post the tutorial soon.

Party favors for the kids: train conductor hats, yellow bandanas, and wooden train whistles.
I decided I didn't want to get left out of the dress-up fun, so I made myself a yellow bandana necklace and bangle.  I still wear both of these accessories on a regular basis, and I love how fun they make me feel!

The Food Car:
 "Chew chew" napkin wrappers.  Free printable below.

First, what everyone comes for...the cake! Or cupcakes as was the case at our party (free printable cupcake wrappers below).  Chocolate with buttercream frosting.  Arranged like a little train that I built out of vanilla sugar wafers, graham crackers, and Oreos.  Mmmm....

 Someone likes them.

The menu included the "food train" of finger snacks and several (homemade) gourmet Station House Sandwiches.  Free printable signs are at the end of this post.  In retrospect, I would have put something in the big blank spot of the table on the left behind the food train.  See that there?  Flowers or something.  Hindsight's 20-20, right?

We had Thai Chicken Peanut Wraps (grilled chicken, peanut curry sauce, mandarin oranges, romaine lettuce, chopped peanuts, and chopped red onion), Roast Beef and Onions (roast beef, provolone cheese, caramelized shallots, red leaf lettuce, and a basic garlic aioli), Harvest Turkey (sliced turkey breast, sharp cheddar, romaine lettuce, sliced red onions, granny smith apple slices, and a basil aioli), and PBJs for the kids.

My food train, I used loaf pans from the dollar store for the cars, which included a coal car (black olives), a hopper car (ranch dip), a produce car (celery and caroot sticks), a log car (long, old-fashioned pretzel sticks), a dairy car (cheese cubes), a grain car (chips and crackers), and caboose kebabs (pineapples, blueberries, and strawberries).  Free printable signs below.

The drinks: Diesel Fuel (iced tea) and the Water Tower. Scroll to the bottom for free printable signs.

Grand Central Station (the games):
Conductor's Corner: DIY floor play mat that matched the color theme of the party. I sorted out all the yellow blocks I could find in our house for the kids to build tunnels and buildings out of.  Then I added some wooden trains for the kiddos to drive around.  Get the tutorial and printable here!

 
Tricky Tunnel: My handy husband made the tunnel for us out of some leftover scraps from other projects - plywood and 2x4s.  Maybe I can piece together a tutorial one of these days.  I painted the whole thing gray, then cut faux bricks out of sheets of black foam.  I attached them with double sided tape, and the tunnel was pretty cool! I borrowed the tunnel from Hugh's discovery tent, and tied it into the tunnel frame for the kids to crawl through. 

Coal car bean bag toss: I made a couple of fabric covered boxes, put them up on 2x4s cut to the length of the box, and cut wheels out of a black foam sheet.  For the "coal" I just used black fleece to sew little squares and filled them with some ancient beans I had in the cabinet.

The Grand Finale!

I had one big surprise left for my little man.  His very own train ride!  Get the tutorial here.
 
What started as a boring old garden cart turned into a magical train for a very happy two-year-old.

My plan was to give the kids rides outside, but the rain squelched that idea.  So, the garage it was. They loved it anyway.

 
 Little man didn't want his buddies to leave at the end...

...though my hubby was clearly ready for the party to be over.

And now for the printables!



Update: In addition to the yellow and gray printables (all below), these are now available in pink and gray!  Click here to get the pink versions.





And they're available in blue and red.  I got this request a lot. I guess it makes sense...they're classic train colors.  And now they're here!  Click here to get the red and blue versions.





Invitations
 (click on the picture for full size, or download the customizable .DOC version here).
To assemble: Edit to include the details of your party (or you can print blank ones and hand write them in).  Cut out the ticket around the black line, then use a hole punch to punch the month and date to make them even more train ticket-y.  ***Note that some of the text on this invitation runs vertically instead of horizontally.  I was able to "turn" the text boxes on my computer, but you may not have the same success.  Also, remember that sometimes fonts and formats do funky things in Word from computer to computer, so if it doesn't look right, you'll have to change the font type, size, etc.***

Cupcake Wrappers
(click on the picture for full size)
To assemble: Print (I used cardstock).  Cut out each wrapper.  Line up the two short straight ends, overlapping them a little to create a "cup" for your cupcake to go in.  Glue or tape the ends together.

Napkin Wrappers

(click on each picture for full size)
To assemble: print (I used regular printer paper) and cut out each wrapper.  Place your utensils diagonally across a napkin, and wrap the napkin into a cone around the utensils.  Wrap one wrapper around the utensil packet and secure the ends with glue (if you're super patient enough to hold them while they dry or tape).

Food Table and Game Signs


 (click on each picture for full size or download the .PDF or .DOC version)
To assemble: Customize and print (I used cardstock).  Cut out leaving extra white space above each sign so you can fold the sign to make a tent card.
Background Papers

(click on each picture for full size)
Use these however you want. Print on cardstock and mount pictures to them to show off the last year.  Use them as the basis for cupcake toppers.  Print them out and punch or cut out circles for people to write their names on and tie to the handles of their drink cups so they wouldn't lose them.  Be creative!
A few things to keep in mind:

-These printables are made by yours truly!  And I appreciate it if you use them for personal use only.  If you really, really want them for something else - just ask me.

-You can customize these files however you want. As long as you're moderately handy with a computer; you can use photo editing software, Word, or even Paint.  If you can't figure it out, I'm happy to help - just let me know (spaghettiwesterner@gmail.com).

-You can download the .jpeg files or the .doc files (if applicable).  The .doc files are already set up with text boxes for easy customization, but remember that sometimes fonts and formats do funky things in Word from computer to computer, so if it doesn't look right, you'll have to change the font type, size, etc.

I've had some people ask where they could find the train image that's found on the food labels and napkin wrappers.  Here is a link to the original file, free to download.

64 comments:

  1. How fun! Where were you (and the Internet) when my guy was a little one?

    I will definitely be hunting you down the next time we have a celebration.

    And Happy (belated) Birthday to your little guy!

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  2. What a fun setting for a party!

    You're very creative and it looks like it was a GREAT time!

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  3. Whoa! Seriously impressed. I haven't even gotten invitations out yet and my kids birthdays are fast approaching!

    Good job mom!!

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  4. I had a train-themed party for my son's second birthday, too! Wish this post had been out when I was doing all the planning. I did a post on a lot of DIY stuff I did, as well. It's half the fun! Love the train wagon ride idea, wish I had thought of that!

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  5. I am in the middle of deciding the train-themed colors for my son's first birthday next month! Once I saw this, I was sold! THANK YOU! These ideas are perfect. Looking forward to the tutorials to be posted. So precious and just perfect! KUDOS!

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  6. This is perfect! Thank you so much! I've been all over the place trying to find a cute train party invite that wasn't Thomas or cheesy. You've saved my life. My son turns two next month and now it's gonna be great! I also love the train/wagon you made. I've been wishing we could take a ride on a real train (we have a museum in our town, but it's expensive). I have an old wagon that's getting a make-over, now!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so happy to know that people out there are inspired. I'd love to see pictures of your party if you want to share them (spaghettiwesterner at gmail dot com).

      The wagon train was my favorite part! I saved the sides and put them back on every now and then just to play.

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  7. How did you make the train on the table?

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  8. How did you make the train on the table?

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  9. You are one heck of a mommy. Be proud!

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  10. Gosh! You are very brilliant! I love ALL the details!

    www.shiningmom.com

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  11. Can you explain how you made his tshirt? I've been looking around for birthday shirts, and did find one with a train, but for $15 plus shipping and such. Id really like to have a train theme for his 2nd birthday which is on valentines day!

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    1. Hey Tricia! It was really easy: I used felt because it's easy to work with and I didn't have to worry about the edges fraying, but you could probably use any material you wanted.

      I cut my train shape out of gray felt. Then, I took a plain black shirt. I cut the same train shape out of something called Heat 'N Bond that I got at Joann's (http://www.joann.com/heat-n-bond-lite-iron-on-adhesive-17-w-x-1yd/prd2981/). They probably sell it in most craft stores. It's basically just an iron-on adhesive.

      So, I ironed the Heat 'N Bond onto the train, then ironed the train onto the shirt. I did the same thing for the ribbon to decorate the train.

      For the lettering, I just used iron-on letters, also from JoAnns.

      Did that make sense?

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  12. You just made my life so much easier. Thank you! My little bug's birthday will be extra special with your help.

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  13. This is so cute and creative!!! Thank you for the print outs as well. When you edit, is there a way you can change the yellow on the border to another color? I am asking because I am doing a train party for my almost 2 year old babygirl.

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  14. Thanks! This is the best I've seen yet:)

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  15. By the way, can you tell me how you did the banner?
    Thanks!

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    1. The banner was super easy. I cut out all the triangles and then used the no-sew, iron-on seam tape to finish the edges of them. I cut the letters out of white fabric (printed them the size I wanted on regular computer paper to use as templates), and used iron-on fusible interfacing to attach the letters to the triangles. Then, I cut a ribbon to the length I wanted and used the iron-on seam tape on the back of the ribbon to attach the ribbon to the triangles.

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  16. Great train party ideas! I really like the "Diesel Fuel" and "Water Tower", and the coal car bean bag toss. Pinning this to my Fun Train Stuff board (http://pinterest.com/playtrains/fun-train-stuff/).

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  17. How do you change the wording on the invitations? I love them and want to use them for my son't birthday! Thanks

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    1. Boy, I'm late to this reply, but the wording on the invitations should be in text boxes (on the .doc version of the invitations). You should be able to click in the text boxes (or draw your own in Microsoft word), then edit the text.

      Delete
  18. Thanks for being so generous to share your printables. I'd like to use a few of them but they are not in my preferred colors. Is it possible to change? Do you need a special program to create your own printables?

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    1. These were made in photoshop, which is the easiest way I've found to do it. But it is an expensive program.

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  19. Thank you for the ideas and sharing as we will be having a train party for my two year old to be girl!!! Can you tell how you made the cute necklace? Very cute and I think big Sis and I would love to wear these

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    1. I have a tutorial for this, I've just never posted it! I will do it soon, though I'm sure it's beyond too late for your party now!

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  20. bookmarked!!, I really like your web site!

    Here is my webpage :: studiolinkedvst@gmail.com

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  21. Thank you so much for sharing the party invitation! It was so easy to personalize for my son's upcoming 3rd birthday party.

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing this great ideas! I have been searching for fun ideas for my son's upcoming 2nd bday and cae accross your site. :)
    I will definitely do the trains theme for his bday party.
    I have a question though..how did you do the T-shirt! I love that too! I would appeciate if you have instructions for that too? :) Thanks again

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    1. The t-shirt was really easy. I took a plain black t-shirt and used gray felt to cut out a train. I used heat-n-bond (available at most craft stores), which is an iron-on adhesive sheet. I attached the train to the t-shirt with the heat-n-bond. Then I cut ribbon that matched to fit on the train and attached it with heat-n-bond. The lettering was done with iron-on letters from the craft store.

      The best part is that there was no sewing involved! Although, if you want to make the shirt more durable, it's probably a good idea to stitch around the edges of the train and ribbon just for extra assurance that it won't peel up.

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  23. How do you change the wording on the invitations? I am in love with them and want to use them for my son's 2nd birthday!

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    1. There is a word document version of the train invitations. If you download that, the wording is all in individual text boxes. You should be able to click into the text boxes in MS Word and edit them however you want. Let me know if you can't get it to work, and I'll try to help.

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  24. Thank you sooooo much for sharing your printables!!! I have been searching for a train ticket for about 2 months now!! This is a beautiful party!!! Thanks again!!!

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  25. Thank you so much for offering these printables! I have a 8-year-old who wants another train party and most of what I have found in stores and online is too young for him. This is perfect! Thanks again!

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  26. Love love love all these ideas! How creative and so awesome for sharing in such detail!

    Do you have the image for the steam train on the invitations? And how did you do the background color/image if I wanted to make similar looking thank you cards? Thanks!

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    1. I was just going to ask for the same thing. I'm scouring the internet looking for the train clip art to match these printable (and having no luck)

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    2. Phew...I haven't been ignoring this question...I promise! I just had to track down the website where I found the image. It was bookmarked on an old computer that I never even turn on any more and had to dig out from storage.

      Anyway...it was a free clip art image that I edited slightly, but the original should do the trick for you guys: http://www.fun-with-pictures.com/choo-choo-train-silhouette.html#axzz1ovtga1Oz

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    3. Darn it...you were asking about the train on the invitations. The link above is for the train on the food cards and napkin wrappers. I'll have to keep searching for the invitation train. I cannot remember where I got that one!

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  27. I just love all of your ideas! I'm using most of your ideas for my sons 3rd birthday party coming up at the end of Sept. Thank you for sharing!!!

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  28. Hi! I recently emailed you about the train part of the invite, and if it could be swapped for a different train, as much as I'm not a fan of cartoony parties my son is overly in love with mtomba from chuggington, and I found a clip art picture. We're going to do a safari train party so I love how your printables work with that but was hoping to switch the black train for the safari one, just wasn't sure how to go about it! Thanks

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  29. I used your super CUTE invite!!! Thank you So Much!!!

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  30. Love, love, love your ideas for this super cute party! Thank you so much for sharing the printables too! I love that it's not Thomas! I will use the red and blue ones, and even my husband thought the invites are WAY cool! I emailed you too, but could you offer any tips on how to edit the vertical print on the invitations? I've tried different things and none have worked so far. Thanks in advance!!

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  31. Love love your IDEAS, you are Super Mommy, your children are so blessed to have you. Keep up the great work!
    my question is I can not get the invitation to work, I try to edit or even print it but it won't let me. any way you could email it to me?

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    1. I am so sorry I didn't see your comment sooner. My daughter was born just a couple weeks before you left this comment. I would be happy to send it to you if you still need it!

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  32. I'm in awe! That's so well-executed. Please tell me you don't also have a full time job. Best from Copenhagen, Denmark

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    1. Awww...thanks! And, no, I don't have a full-time job. Just part-time, which I'm very grateful for!

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  33. I'm in awe! That's so well-executed. Please tell me you don't also have a full time job. Best from Copenhagen, Denmark

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  34. Thank you! I used your train invitation to invite all of my nieces and nephews to our annual Cousin Christmas party. The theme is trains, so this was PERFECT! :)

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    1. That's awesome! I bet it was a wonderful party!

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  35. Hi there, I am planning a Thomas birthday party for my son and wondering where you got the engineer hats from? I'm having such a hard time finding any. Thanks.

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    1. Hi there! I found them at Oriental Trading. I don't know if they still carry them or not, but that's where I got mine. Good luck with your party!

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  36. This is so cute, love it. How did you make your necklace, if you don't mind my asking?

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  37. Thanks so much. I'm totally copying almost everything. My son's 4th birthday is this weekend and he's obsessed with trains. This is going to save me so much time.

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  38. Hi! Your stuff is absolutely adorable - we are using a lot of it for our daughter's 2nd birthday. Wondering if you have the cupcake wrapper in pink? From one mom to another, I cannot thank you enough for your creativity and assistance in our do-it-yourself train party!

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  39. Hi, thank you so much for your kindness to share all this Thomas' stuff, my son is turning 2 in the end of April and he's crazy about train. So, this is PERFECT!
    Thank you..

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  40. These are wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your hard work with us! So generous of you (and saving me a lot of stress). You've made my day!

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