Camping Party 6yr - Backyard Tent Town
Denise in St. Martinville, Louisiana, USA
January 2006 Winner
Camping out 6th Birthday! For my son, Collin's, 6th birthday we decided to go with a camping out theme since this is what he was really into at the time. He loves campfires, bugs, roasting marshmellows, and can't wait until he starts first grade so he can join Cub Scouts. So the decision was easy. Finding party supplies was not so easy. I quickly found out that there are no camping party supplies to be found, at least in my area. Just about everything was home made, but it was fun and gave my son the opportunity to help out with his party.
I made the invitations on card stock. I used a print software that I have. I did a background of dark blue fading into green to give the look of grass and nighttime sky. I then added a white box in the center of the card to put in party info. The information read" Join us for creeping, crawling, camping fun at Collin's 6th Birthday Party! Date, time, Camp Collin address." I let Collin help me pick out the colors and fonts for the words. We then added a tent with a little boy sleeping in it to one of the bottom corners, and a campfire to the other bottom corner. We added two fireflys to the top corners of the info box and added different sized stars and a moon to the sky. I must say the invitations came out great. We made matching address labels using the blue fading to green and added stars to the sky. On the return addresses I put the picture of the tent and boy on one side and on the
TO: labels I put the campfire. We decorated the back of the envelope with a sticker of a wooden sign that said camp. We invited around 22 children and Collin was allowed to invite 4 of his closest friends to camp out for the night. We made each of those 4 kids an additional invitation. The invitation looked the same, but the wording was "Pack your sleeping bag, PJs and a change of clothes, your invited to sleep outdoors! For Collin's Birthday Campout. Date and time, Collin's backyard. We decorated the back of the envelopes for these invitations with a tent and trees sticker and star stickers. Collin helped me pick out all of the clip art and colors and fonts. I also found my sons each a cute camping themed t-shirt at Gymboree so they wore these shirts for the party. We held the party under our carport. I went with a color scheme of blue, orange, brown and a green color (it was an inbetween olive lime color). In each corner of the carport I hung a bunch of three balloons and matching curly ribbon. In the center of the carport I hung a balloon centerpice and curly ribbon. All the balloons and curly ribbon were blue, orange, brown and green. We have a narrow breezeway that leads from the carport to the backyard with a gate at the end of it. I shut the gate and made the breeze way into a "campsite playground" for the younger children who were invited. I put up a small pop up tent that my children had in the breezeway. I made several stars in different sizes and hung them at different lengths above the tent. I also hung the moon pinata in this area. It looked like a little campsite and was a perfect place for the young guests to play camp.
I had 4 tables. The first table was the food table. I used a green (olive/lime color) plaid table cloth purchased off the dollar isle at Target. To give it some personality I hot glued little plastic ants (ant confetti) in patterns that immitate the way ants travel (long curvy lines). In the center of the table I placed a large galvanized tub with ice and squeeze bottle juice for the kids. I used a picnic caddy to hold the plates, napkins, forks and cups (all solid colors in green, blue, brown, and orange). I used two big blue round bowls for chips and dip and ritz bits smores snacks. I used an oval blue bowl for trail mix that I made. I used pretzel sticks, gold fish, peanuts, chex cereal, rasins, mini marshmellows and M&Ms. I also had several different color small tin pales. The green one had a frog on it and was filled with gummy frogs, the orange one had a bug on it and had sour gummy bugs, and one looked like a fishing bait can and had gummy worms in it. I puchased all the pales at Target on the dollar isle. I made a banner to hang on the wall right above the table. The banner looked just like the invitations. It was blue fading to green and had stars and a moon in the sky. It read "Happy Birthday COLLIN" and had a picture of the tent at one side and the campfire at the other side. My husband has a mapping company so I was able to print out the banner on a plotter (huge printer). At either end of the banner I placed a bunch of 5 helium filled ballons. To anchor them down I used a decoration for my son's room. Their bedroom is done in a camping theme as well. The achor was a wooden fishing basket (the baskets fishermen used to use to hold the fish they would catch). They were unfinished wood that I stained, one blue and one green), they also have a leather strap to carry or hang. I tied the balloons to the strap and placed a small brick in the basket to hold it down. To give it some hieght I had my husband cut me two wooden stumps off of a tree that fell in our back yard a few weeks before the party. I placed the baskets on the wooded stumps. For the adult drinks I used an ice chest placed right beside the table for can drinks and bottled water.
The next table was the goody bag, supply table. I used the same green plaid table cloth. On this table I had a CD player playing a kids camping song CD and then later a nature camping sounds CD, with fire crackling, bugs churping. I also had name tags for all the kids when they arrived. They were like the name tags given out at camp "Hello, my name is .". I typed Camp Collin on the bottom of the name tags and wrote the kids names with a marker. I put the bags for the pinata on this table. These were also made by myself. I used small brown paper bags decorated with camping themed stickers. I also had a large picnic basket on this table which held the goody bags. The goody bags were actually plastic water bottles in clear colors (blue or green for the boys, pink or purple for the girls). Using paint pens I wrote the kids names on their bottles. Inside the bottles were I love camping mini flashlight keychains (oriental trading), I love camping bottle of bubbles (oriental trading), snake or bug pencil (the kind with several points in plastic that you can change as the point wears out--target dollor isle), glow stick, Camping survival kit (made myself using small ziplock bags and bandaids, bandaid cream, antibacterial hand wipes all individually wrapped and placed in the bags and a home made label with a first aid cross and the words Camping survival kit (mini first aid kit), and a small bag of trail mix (made label of blue fading to green, with pictures of a lantern, and composs and the words trail mix.) These were the goody bags for the older kids.
For the younger kids I found the cutest sippy cups at a dollar store. They were clear with a picture of a bear and a fox camping, it had a green top that when turned one way a straw would pop out and the other way the straw would go in, it also had a green strap for carrying. I wrote the kids names on the back using a green paint pen. In these cups I put the I love camping bubbles, a plastic bug with wiggly eyes, a mini first aid kit and for the boys a plush frog and the girls a plush lady bug (target dollar isle). In front of the picnic basket I had three prizes, one for a girl, one for a boy and one for a baby. The bags were solid colors pink for the girl with bug and flower stickers, green for the baby with camping and bug stickers, and orange for the boy with camping stickers. The girl prize was a lady bug notepad with a lady bug pen, the baby prize was a bumble bee bath mit and a frog teething book, and the boy prize was a magnetic fishing pole and fish and a toy snake (all bought at dollar stores).
The next table was the cake table. I used the same green plaid table cloth with ant confetti glued to it. In the center of the table was Collin's birthday cake. I ordered a chocolate cake with green frosting undecorated from my local walmart. I decorated it myself. In the center of the cake I made a campfire using crushed graham crakers for the ashes, placed a candle deep into the cake and then used tootsie rolls and pretzel sticks to look like fire wood, I also sprinkled crushed oreo cookies around the campfire to look like dirt. When the candle in the center was lit it looked like a real campfire. I made sleeping bags out of graham crakers (3/4 of the crakcer was decorated with colored icing and colored icing gel, the top 1/4 of the craker I drew a face with icing gel.) I placed six sleeping bag crakers around the fire to represent not only Collin's age, but the number of kids who would be at the campout that night (Collin, his 4 friends and his little brother). I then made marshmellow trees using cornflakes, marshmellows and green food coloring. You make these just like rice crispy treats, instead of cutting into squares I molded them into cone or tree shapes. I placed a bunch of three trees on either side of the cake and sprinkled crushed oreos around the bottoms of the trees.
On the top part of the cake I used Happy Birthday candles, I also placed a number 6 candle in front of one set of trees and sprinkled oreo dirt around the candle, I wrote Collin at the botton of the cake with red gel icing and dotted his "I" with a red ant candy. I added a few red ant candies around the trees and candles. I used the remaining crushed oreos to sprinkle along the sides of the cake and also used a few more red ant candies around the sides of the cake. The cake came out even better than I had hoped for and is one of my cutest cakes ever. I started thinking that the kids may fight over who gets to eat the sleeping bag kids so I decided to make an extra last minute snack for all the kids. I took one graham cracker and spread marshmellow (spreadable kind that comes in a jar) on the cracker then used chocolate magic shell on top of the marshmellow and then placed another graham cracker on top. I then decorated the crackers just like the ones on the cake. I made twenty four of these. I made sure to make the right amount of girl crackers and boy crackers. I placed these on two separate green trays (12 on each) and made signs for the trays. One sign said "Don't let the bed bugs bite", and the other sign said "Happy Campers sleep in soft beds". I used the same design for these signes as I used for the invitations. These were placed on either side of the cake.
I also make a big banner to hang on the wall behind the cake table. Since this wall is brick I had to come up with a banner that I could hang from the ceiling. I used a very large blue poster board (craft store). I painted the bottom green like grass and stenciled Happy Birthday, painted with green paint pen and traced in black to stand out. I printed a moon and different sized stars, cut them out, glued them to foam poster board, cut them out, trimmed them all with a black marker and hot glued them to the poster board to give a 3D effect. I did the same thing with the tent, and the campfire from the invitations. I them printed out "COLLIN" in a wood font, colored brown, cut out, glued to foam board, cut out, trimmed in black and hot glued to banner. It came out really great and the 3D effect made it really stand out. Collin's name looked like wooden letters you might find on a campground sign. I punched several holes in the top of the poster board and hung the sign from the ceiling using fishing string. I hung it as close to the wall as possible so that it wouldn't sway too much with the wind. I anchored a bunch of 5 helium balloons on either side of the banner.
The next table was the gift table. I used the same green plaid table cloth. I didn't decorate this table. Before half the guest arrived the table was full of gifts anyway so I am glad I didn't waste time decorating this table. I also hung a few bumble bees and other flying bugs decroations around the carport. On our drive way I set up a campsite for the kids to play. I used two tents. One tent was left open for the kids to play in. I filled it with bugs, balloons, camping toys, etc. The other tent was to be used as the game for the older kids so I had the zipper shut on that tent. I filled the bottom of the tent with plastic bugs, worms, frogs, snakes, lizards, etc. I placed a wooden snake (the kind that sway and bend like a real snake when you hold it) under all the other bugs. I then coverd the tent with balloons. As the kids arrived they were given their name tags and then taken to the tent to "find the snake". Each kid was let into the tent one at a time and timed. The kid who came out of the tent with the snake in the fastest time was the winner. We awarded a girl winner and a boy winner. The reason I let them do the game as they arrived was so that as soon as all the guest were there they could then play in both tents like they were camping. I also threw in some pillows, blankets and old sleeping bags for them to play with. I set up a fake fire outside the tents using fire wood and red, orange and yellow tissue paper for the fire. There were too many kids and too many little ones to have a real fire going. I then placed wooden stumps (from our fallen tree) and camp chairs around the fire. I found a few small twigs and branches around the yard and let them use these to pretend they were roasting hotdogs and marshmellows. In the side yard right next to the drive way I placed a small plastic pool filled with water and rubber ducks to serve as the duck pond, and the baby game. I numbered the bottoms of the ducks and the baby who picked the duck with the number 6 was the winner.
Once all the guests had arrived and the tent game was complete we sang happy birthday and blew out the candles on the cake. I cut the cake and served everyone. Collin was too excited to eat so while everyone was sitting and eating I let him begin to open his gifts. Collin's big gift from us this year was a computer which was already in his room so we got him a few smaller gifts to open at the party. We gave him a new sleeping bag, a new camping chair (mushroom chair with a camping scene on it--very cute), and a smores maker. I always try to have at least one gift that goes with the theme of their parties. Once all the gifts had been opened and all Thank yous were given out it was time to announce the winners of the games. I announced the winners and gave out the prizes.
We then did the pinata. The kids gathered up all the goodies that fell from the moon pinata. The goodies included plastic, hopping, wiggly eyed bugs, trick candy (a plastic bug inside the wrapper instead of candy), and assorted candies. We then let them all take turns roasting a marshmellows with Collin's new smores maker. As the guest left they were given their goody bag (bottle). The party was a huge hit. I usually rent a fun jump to give the kids something to do, but they had more fun using their imagination and playing camp in the tents. Collin, his brother and the 4 guest he invited to camp out continued to play in the tents while we picked up. Once the carport had been cleared out I took the boys to the back yard where we had the big tent set up. It was a big three room tent with tunnels to get into each room (it is a three tent set that can be combined into one large "tent town" as my kids call it). I helped the boys set up their sleeping bags while my husband took down the tents in the front yard. Three of the dads stayed and camped out with us so it was kind of a father/son camp out. We set up a folding camping table and a childs picnic table for them to eat at. I had the mom's empty out and leave their water bottles from their goody bags so that they each had a cup with their names on it to use for the night.
I also gave each child a lantern with their name on it to use when it got dark. We lit our firepit and roasted marshmellows and hotdogs. We also cooked hamburgers on the grill and a pot of chili on an outdoor burner. We had hotdogs and hamburgers for dinner, along with chips. We made smores and had dirt cups (chocolate pudding, crumbled oreos and gummy worms) for dessert. I also had pop rocks for the boys for a treat and to take home. We had some spinning fireworks left over from New Years Eve that we popped. I hid glow in the dark bugs, worms, and snakes and let them run around finding them once it got dark. We looked for fireflys and even caught a few. I set up more wooden stumps and camp chairs around the fire and we told NOT so scary stories. The boys came in brushed their teeth and washed up, changed into their PJs and then played inside the tent until they fell asleep. I also had a small travel toothbrush and toothpaste set for each child just incase they forgot their tooth brush. They were able to take these home as well. In the morning we cooked eggs, bacon, ham and biscuits for breakfast. I had orange juice, milk and chocolate milk for drinks. We ate out doors, got the boys washed up and they played outdoors until it was time to go home. By 10AM they were all gone and we were cleaning up our campsite. This was one of our funnest parties. This was also the first sleep over party we hosted. All of the kids had a blast and can't wait till our next party (we are known of our parties). May all of your camping adventures be as fun as ours was!
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