Name: Ethan, 2
Location: Alexandria, VA
When I get an idea in my head, it’s very hard for me to let it go. So when, after waiting all year to figure out what theme would please Ethan the most for his second birthday party, I decided school buses fit the bill (the kid FREAKS whenever one drives by), I got this crazy idea all mapped out in my brain.
I started with an invitation featuring Ethan at the "wheel" of a retro school bus, putting my limited Illustrator skills to the test. I added some bus-y details. "Grab a seat on the bus!" was my call to action...getting our guests ready for the big bash.
After the invitation was in the mail, I started working on other bus-shaped and colored decorations. I tried not to go too “black and gold” crazy (as a Nebraska Husker, I’m naturally put off by these colors) so adding in some rich orange and teal-ish blue helped bring some color into the theme. For all the decorations I tried to use materials already laying around, like twine and some clothes pins. A few streamers, balloons, and some curling ribbon topped things off. I wrapped leftover chevron-striped contact paper around cook books to add height to the table. Bus shaped labels graced the food table. And a bus stop-like sign welcomed everyone at the door.
The food followed a “school lunch” theme: ham and cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, veggies, juice boxes, “lunchables” cheese and meat tray, and hot dogs in the form of pigs in a blanket. Easy-peasy but oh so yum.
Cupcakes require plates and tables and forks and a big mess. So with a quick search online, I found the perfect solution: school bus cake pops. Easy to eat, no utensils required. And how cute would the kids look walking around with school buses on a stick? An easy tutorial from Catch My Party helped me make these little yellow treats a reality. I finished them three days in advance and my tip? Add a little Crisco to your melted chocolate…I don’t believe these are even possible without it.
The cake pops were a HUGE HIT. The kids zeroed in on them and started asking for them as soon as they arrived. I’m pretty sure each kid had three. And no mess!
I spent two months calling bus rental companies to find one that would send a school bus to my house for a reasonable price. Like 50 of them. I can’t tell you how many people treated me like I was C-R-A-Z-Y for requesting a school bus to drive my two year old and his buddies around town. But finally someone took my idea seriously…and helped me make it happen.
When I called out "The bus is here! Get your tickets for the bus!!" I got some looks of total surprise—I had been able to keep the secret from a few of the guests. I was the last one on the bus and I won’t lie - when I climbed aboard (and of course handed my ticket to the driver) I looked up and saw our friends and family seated, row after row, kids with wide eyes and smiling faces - it was amazing. I took my seat with the birthday boy and we were off!
The 30+ minutes with the bus was worth every second of time I spent finding it. The kids were in heaven. And hey, it was a warm, indoor activity that cost much less than any party venue I could find…plus it was something different. Just our style.
Back at the house it was time for cake. More sugar!!
And for the favors? I had a fleet of mini buses.
Overall it was exactly what I had hoped for and, more importantly, Ethan seemed to be completely satisfied too!
(Images: Preparing for Peanut)