Six months ago I got an email from a Mum whose son was about to turn 2. She asked if I would create a custom invitation design for her. Her son was train mad all thanks to one little blue engine who graces our TV screens so often.
She wanted an invitation with a little blue engine that would please both her son and herself without having to jump on the merchandising bandwagon.
About a month ago I found myself in exactly the same position and I was very grateful I had already designed the invitation. There was no question about the theme for his birthday party this year. A year ago when he turned one I had all the creative license in the world. He wasn’t particularly fixated on any one thing. Ok he was fixated on ceiling fans and chewing on my keys but that would have made for a strange party so I chose a fox theme instead.
This year choo choo’s are all consuming. We went to visit steam engines, we read books about steam engines, we play with train toys and any long line on the ground gets turned into an imaginary train track.
I’d seen a few cardboard trains on blogs that parents had put together for their kids and thought it would make a fun addition to his party. I emailed some photo’s to my husband and he put his engineering skills to good use constructing a good looking choo choo for the party.
Somewhere in the process I decided the whole thing would be even more fun if we could get the train to blow bubbles from the funnel. “A bubble train, what would be more fun than a bubble train!” I exclaimed. The suggestion was met with some eye rolling but kudos to the man – he found a funnel to fit my bubble machine and the idea was all go.
If you have a little train obsessed boy (or girl) and would like to make one of these yourself, here’s how we did it.
For a train with one carriage you will need:
2 large boxes – ours measured roughly 70cm x 48cm x 40cm
1 smaller box – roughly 50cm x 45cm x 26cm
Piece of flat cardboard for the grille
Circular tube for the funnel – note this needs to be large enough to fit the bubble machine inside it
A vertical bubble machine – I purchased this one.
8 black plastic plates for wheels
Black paint or spray paint
Here’s what it looks like underneath that shiny red coat of paint.
Building a bubble train.
1. Basically you need to tape up all the sides of your large boxes. For the carriage simply cut a hole in the top. For the front engine you need to cut a hole out of the back. Place your smaller box on top and cut windows in the front and sides. We found having two smaller windows at the front gave more structure and strength than simply cutting out one large window.
2. As you can see in the top photo we also cut out the bottom of the smaller box and part of the large box so you could step right into the train and peep out of the windows. This was pretty popular with the kids and my son had a great time standing in there and “driving” the train. You can hold the two pieces together either with heavy duty tape or some large bulldog clips but it’s easier to do that after you have painted everything.
3. Find a good spot for your funnel and trace around it then cut it out with a stanley knife.
4. To build the grille for the train you need a flat piece of cardboard. Cut out a shape similar to the one below. You need to fold down two flaps in the top corners because you will use these to attach the grille to the train.
5. It’s time to paint! We used black spray paint for the funnel and grille. The train body and carriage was painted in red. We bought a sample pot of paint and this was enough to do two coats on the whole train.
6. Once everything is painted and dry you can begin to assemble the train. We didn’t attach the back carriage to the front engine in any way as it allowed the kids to get in and out a bit more freely. Use heavy duty tape or bulldog clips to attach the small box to the large one for the front engine. Heavy duty tape or superglue will also do the trick for securing the grille to the front engine. Slide the funnel in place – it doesn’t need to be secured in any way if it is long enough to touch the floor.
7. Use some super glue to stick your black plastic plates in place for the wheels.
8. Lastly you’ll need to fit the funnel with a type of sling to hold the bubble blower. Get some heavy duty tape and create a cross in the funnel at the right height as shown below. When your ready to go, fill up your bubble machine and turn it on and then slide it into the funnel.
It seemed to provide some entertainment for kids of all ages and it lasted through the whole party so now my son gets to play with it whenever he wants.
Thomas has a lot to answer for. I dare say the happy little steam engine has inspired a love affair with trains for more than one little boy.
If your toddler has requested a party of the choo choo variety and you would rather it was more train, less Thomas then look no further. I’ve put together a Vintage train/travel birthday party that honours the humble steam engine.
The decor focuses on travel as well as trains so you can mix these cute suitcases with a string of bunting made from maps.
I love the train track washi tape which could be used for sealing your invitation envelopes or decorating party favour bags.
Speaking of which these wooden train whistles would make great favours or prizes. There are many about but this particular one has a chart that explains exactly what each sound combination means which is sure to fascinate older children.
Kids Mini Suitcase Set from Thats 2 Cute // Printable Choo Choo Train Invitation from Bonjour Berry // Map Bunting from Not On the High Street // Wooden Train Whistle with Blast Chart from Amazon // Train Track Washi Tape from CraftyJapan // Vintage train candy by VintageConfections // Platform Sign from Vintage Junky // Railway Cake Pan from Williams Sonoma // Boys Vintage Style Knickers Outfit from Amazon // Train Cookies from Stephanie J’s Creations
As boys grow up there is a standard list of party requests that parents have to field – dinosaurs, construction, lego, pirates and transport. If you are a parent to a boy you will end up throwing at least one of these parties (if not all of them) at some stage.
It’s for this reason that I’m such a fan of sweetly themed parties for the pre-kindy crew. Cue this adorably cute Teddy Bears Picnic party put together by Nicole & Mardi of Simply Sweet Soirees. Which 3 year old wouldn’t love a party where they get to take their best friend along with them?
The decor is a mix of rustic and picnic, perfect for little bears and little people.
Look out for:
My little man celebrated his first birthday recently and I’m excited to be able to share with you all the details from his fox themed party. I got a little party crazy and started planning when he was 9 months old.
It’s a big celebration when your child turns one, not only for them but also for the parents. There’s a lot to contend with in the first year so I think its a time for the whole family to celebrate and say “yay, we made it!”.
I love the woodland theme for kids parties that has been so popular. I decided to make the focus of the theme a fox and incorporate a few forest elements like leaves and acorns into the mix. I created a double sided invitation which I had printed at Vistaprint on linen stock. A single sided printable version of this invitation is available in my Etsy shop.
WOODLAND THEMED PARTY FOOD
The children that came to the party ranged in age from 2 months to 8 years old so I kept the menu simple to cater for all the little ones. I made a selection of finger sandwiches for the adults and I made the kids sandwiches a little more interesting by using an acorn and a leaf cookie cutter to cut them into different shapes.
The acorn shaped sandwiches were a hit with the kids as they were just the right size for little hands. I filled them with avocado and cheese, ham and cheese or egg.
Of course I couldn’t buy cookie cutters and not bake cookies. I followed this sugar cookie recipe from Glorious Treats and they worked out perfectly. I used an acorn cutter and a number 1 shaped cutter to make the biscuits. I had intended to make the icing using the Glorious Treats recipe as well but time got away from me so I was able to purchase royal icing at the shops and I went with that.
You can make your biscuits a few days ahead and I thoroughly recommend you do. Its easy to underestimate how long it will take you to mix, roll, bake and ice and I had to call in a helper to get my production line of biscuits going. I didn’t ice all the biscuits leaving them plain for the smaller crew.
As well as the sandwiches and cookies other items on the menu included:
Is that the cutest little fox you have ever seen? My cake topper came from Ruta Felt where there is an assortment of tiny felted animals including a mouse playing piano and a fire breathing dragon. I’m keeping my little fox friend as a momento of the party. The cake bunting came from A Fete Beckons.
FOXY PARTY DECORATIONS
I had a navy, orange & grey theme for my decorations. The birthday boy wore his super cute fox t-shirt from b. childrenswear on Etsy. A word of warning there are some gorgeous clothes for kids in this store. Only look if you feel like shopping!
I’m lucky enough to have a Mum that sews so she helped me make the fabric bunting. The navy spot fabric was from Spotlight and the grey fox and orange patterned fabric are from Spoonflower. The kids wore felt party crowns with little fox ears attached.
I revamped an old mirror frame and replaced the mirror with chicken wire. I used mini pegs to display pictures of the birthday boy from birth to one year old.
FOX PARTY FAVOURS
I had two different packages made up depending on the age of the child. The older kids got a Fantastic Mr Fox sticker & activity book and some iced biscuits. The younger crew got a crayon roll made from woodland themed fabric and some plain biscuits. And of course they got to take home their fox crowns which would make a handy addition to the dress up box.
I wrapped all the favours in brown paper and tied them with twine. I had scraps of fabric left over from the bunting so I made little tags to attach to the package.
LIST OF SUPPLIERS
Fox Birthday Invitation – Bonjour Berry
Fox Food Supplies
Acorn, Oak Leaf & Number 1 cookie cutters – Emerald Spring Gifts (on eBay)
Felted Fox Cake Topper – Ruta Felt
Cake Bunting – A Fete Beckons
Mini Milk Bottles – I got mine from Bed Bath n’ Table but I haven’t seen them there in a while. You can get them online at Pink Frosting.
Paper Straws – Pink Frosting