Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Callie's Camping Party

Here it is! The long overdue post on Callie's camping themed birthday party. It was a ton of work (partially because I put far too much of it off too late) but it came together nicely and it was a blast!

The things that took the longest to deal with were the decorations and the gift bags. Luckily this theme lends itself to pretty easy food options but more on all that later. 

Decorations first, since it really sets the mood, as with any party, I suppose. Because we had just returned from a quasi-camping trip to Yosemite it was pretty easy for us to stay in the outdoorsy mood. I say quasi since we stayed in a lodge near the entrance. No tent required:)

So here is what we did. 
We set up our tent in the backyard and put our air mattress in it. It quickly became the poor man's bouncy house. It was awesome! The kids all had a blast in it! 

We also set up a sunshade and a kids tent we found on woot a few weeks before the party, but you can also find it here. We connected a play tunnel to it as well. One of the funniest things was watching Lucia manoever her way through that thing.

 I also planned to fill the kids tent with balloons with glow in the dark stars attached to some and some with led lights inside when it got dark but it didn't happen. First because I just ran out of time to buy the balloons. Of course I bought the stars and the led lights so I guess I'll have to do this theme again! And second, because pretty much everyone left before it got dark. I always take it for granted that not all kids stay up as late as Callie!

We also set up plastic campfires (toddler friendly!)

and probably, the ultimate kid  favorite, the fishing hole.

We borrowed this magnetic fishing pole and fish set from my mom but you can also find them here. We set it up in a kiddie pool filled with water.

Also put up these trail/camping signs from oriental trading. They are nice and big and look like the real thing.

I also bought some hanging mason jars with tea lights to hang in the trees but we ended up just putting them on the table. Added bonus? I found citronella tea lights! This bug food girl was very excited:)

An idea I had last minute was to put Callie and Lucia's bears out with a sign that said "Don't feed the bears: They're already stuffed." It was a hit:)  A lot of people mentioned it. On a side note, it made me realize that the girls don't have that many bears! Lots of other weird stuffed animals: meerkats, jaguars, chickens, peacocks, rabbits...everything but bears!

The great thing about this theme is if you have any hiking/camping gear just put it out in your backyard and call it decorations! We put out camp lanterns, camp chairs and bedrolls. I was hoping to find a tackle box to put the "live bait" and "catch of day" in but I couldn't find one that was cheap enough to rationalize buying it for a three year old's party:)
So I did this instead

My favorite decoration was the trail maps.

I found trail maps of where we have gone hiking and camping and pasted my favorite pictures of Callie from the last three years on them. Everyone loved it. It was quite amazing to see how much she has changed over the past three years! And it was quite a conversation starter:) That was one of the coolest things about this theme, it really became a conversation starter about camping with kids, where to go, what to do, how to go about doing it. I realized that there are a lot of families that want to go camping and be outdoorsy but it feels too overwhelming so they don't do it. But I really recommend doing it! It has been a great experience for our family.
Anyway...where was I?

I got some great paper decorations from etsy. I bought this package from a phenomenal seller (nelliev2)!! She was so incredibly helpful, fast and accomodating!  I even emailed her the day of the party and she got me some signs made within an hour! We used the camping banner that said Camp Callie, napkin rings, square signs to label some of the food, favor tags and canteen labels. She doesn't seem to have the package up there now for sale but I bet if you email her and ask real nice she will help you out:) I would use her again in a heart beat!! The tough thing about finding decorations like this for this particular theme is everything is either super boyish or crazy girlie. Apparently there is a thing called "glamping". Go ahead and look it up. It certainly wasn't for my girl.

Other things that I planned to do but didn't get around to it was to have personalized bug jars for the kids and hide glow in the dark bugs around the yard and have them collect them.  I was also going to use glow in the dark paint and splatter it inside mason jars for night time but again for the reasons mentioned above, it didn't happen. The biggest thing that we were going to do but didn't was to have an outdoor movie. We were going to project it on the side of the garage. We will definitely have to do this again when the kids are older and can stay awake!

The Food
This was the best part of this theme! The food is super easy. Grill up some hot dogs and corn. Slice up some watermelon. Make some pasta salad the night before. Cheese and chili for the dogs if you wanna get crazy. That's pretty much it! We also did a make your own trail mix bar.

I kept trying to find little bowls or bags that people could use for that but I struck out on that one. That was probably the thing that I spent the most time on food wise, trying to figure out what to put out for the trail mix bar. There are a lot of options! We did m and ms, dried cranberries, homemade granola, dried apricots, nuts, banana chips, cheerios, white chocolate chips, sunflower seeds.

Another thing that didn't happen because of time was s'mores. I found this idea to make personal s'mores makers that we will have to try another time. You take a small terra cotta flower pot, line it with foil and put charcoal briquettes inside and voila! Your own mini s'mores maker!

The Treat Bags
The goodie bags took a decent amount of work/time. The biggest item was the s'mores to go bags. It was a small cellophane bag with two marshmallows, two graham crackers and a mini hershey bar. We tied them with silver twist ties then attached the labels with multi colored yarn. I love the labels that I found on etsy. There was a little drama with that particular seller, but it seems that she just doesn't answer email very quickly. And like I said earlier, I waited too long to get some of these things done...But anyway...My father in law was a huge help to me! We put these suckers together pretty fast since a certain birthday girl really wanted to eat all the marshmallows (even if she kept calling them mushrooms!).

We put the s'mores kits and the other goodies in plain brown bags that I found at Michael's and attached the labels we got from etsy. The other items in the bags were mini flashlights, mini binoculars, camping rubber ducks, bandanas and mini canteens that said "I survived camp callie" (again from that amazing seller on etsy!) 

The bags were a big hit. The different colored bandanas made it fun for the kids to choose their favorite as they were leaving. It helped to alleviate some "I don't wanna go home!" tantrums:)

So that's about it! I'm very glad to be done with kids' parties for another year! Next year we will probably do the girls' parties together cuz this mama is wiped out! And no, I have no desire to be a party planner, even though I was asked many, many times over the course of these last two parties. But thank you for the compliment!


  1. Hi Maria! My name is Heather and I was hoping you would be willing to answer a quick question I have about your blog! If you could please email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail.com that would be great!

  2. Hi. Could you give me the name of the seller on etsy who made those mini canteens for you? I can't find them on etsy.