Construciton Party -2yr- Brown Bag Lunches
Shannon in Telford, PA USA
Construction Party 2 year old
The Invite: Invitations went out. (Store-bought construction ones.) Then, I had to reschedule so I resent invitations with a note on the outside envelope that read, Construction Delay. I also wrote on the bottom of the invitation that Kids should come dressed to work the dirt so the parents knew to put old clothes on them.
Ages: We had children ranging from under 1 to 12 years old, so we needed to have activities everyone could enjoy.
The Food: Ideally, brown-bag lunches with PB&Js, or chicken nuggets with fries would have been the best, but we had a lot of children with allergies (peanut butter, potatoes, etc.) to work around and a lot of adult guests so we had a wide variety of things. For the kids, I had nuggets, pasta, fruit salad, pickles, chips and pretzels and gelatin. I also made grilled honey-dijon chicken breasts and meatballs that we made ahead of time and kept warm in roasters. (This was a real time-saver and kept us with our guests rather than at the grill!)
Plus, we had a deli and cheese platter, potato and macaroni salads. Since the food wasn't truly construction-oriented, we tied the theme in by serving the food in supplies from our home store: paint pans made great trays; putty knives for serving and also spreading condiments; and new empty paint cans and buckets were great containers for chips and fruit. (You can return these if they aren't messed up.) Some of the other construction parties mentioned having Nuts and Bolts pretzels, but I couldn't find them locally. I also cut the gelatin in the shape of vehicles and construction signs.
The Cake: I had two. One was a cake from our local bakery decorated with my son's construction vehicles. We used this to put the candles in. The other was Dirt Cake which is a construction party must! I got the recipe from allrecipes.com -- here is the one I used http://cake.allrecipes.com/az/DirtCake.asp . I served it in a toy wheel barrow, threw in some gummy worms and construction vehicles and served it with a kids play shovel.
The Decorations: It was rainy out so I couldn't put too much outside. But, I did put some orange construction cones along the driveway and a construction birthday balloon on the front porch. I had purchased the yellow and black construction zone(Party Zone)tape from the party store and put it all over. We taped two strips next to each other (sort of making a sideways long X) and had that on the front door, fireplace and patio doors. Plus, we put cut-outs of construction vehicles (from the party store) and mylar balloons (some construction, and some solid colors matching the decorations) in the corners of the rooms. With these decorations and everything we used to serve the food, it really worked great together.
The Staging Room: I wanted to hold the main activities in a room that was separate from everything for two reasons. First, it was going to be messy. Secondly, I wanted to see the looks on their faces when they saw all of things we had planned. So when the guests arrived, we brought them into the living room and handed them a construction hat and a painters/tool belt. I wrote their names on the hats ahead of time. I put stickers and safety goggles (sunglasses from the party store for the younger kids, real goggles from the dollar store for the older ones) in their belts. The kids had a blast using their stickers to decorate their hats while we were waiting for everyone to come. Once everyone had arrived and finished their hats, we moved on to the party room. (I'd suggest getting a group picture before switching rooms.)
The Party Room: This is also known as our garage.
Part I: When the kids walked in they saw two giant cardboard houses that were painted white. (We picked up two refrigerator boxes from our local appliance store, bent the tops a third of the way down and cut and folded them to make an angled roof. Then, we painted them white with interior latex paint. This worked out great, because the kids could really see their work and washed off so it could be painted again and again.) I explained that we were working on some playhouses for my son, but we needed everyone's help to paint them and make them colorful and fun on the inside and out. We used washable paint and each child picked their color of choice and we filled their paint tray (plastic bowl). Use brushes that are all the same size to avoid arguments.
You also might want to try using plastic or Styrofoam egg cartons and pre-fill them with all the different colors so that each child has all of them to use. I also got a handful of paint chips from our home store and had the taller kids and some adults glue them to the roof to make shingles. (Have them start from the bottom of the roof and work their way up.) Take lots of pictures. The kids are so cute in their construction hats, safety goggles, and work beltsà and they are very serious about their job. Have two or three buckets of water and rags available for the kids to wash up when they are finished. I know this sounds odd, but if I would do this again I would have the kids remove their shoes before painting, their feet would have been easier to clean up than the shoes. Even though the paint was washable, who wants it on their shoes?
Part II: When the painting was finished I lined the kids from youngest to oldest with the birthday boy in front and set to the next activity the wrecking ball. I uncovered a stack of cardboard bricks that I borrowed from my sister. (You can get these through Lillian Vernon, but stacks of shoe/other boxes would work just as well.) I made a tower out of the bricks and pulled down the wrecking ball I had tied up to the ceiling. (The ball was a beach ball attached by a rope.) The kids took turns pulling the ball back and crashing it into the pile. The older kids loved helping to restack.
Part III: My son's gift was a sand box so we incorporated this into the party. We had this covered under a tarp during the other activities. We let my son open it up and had shovels and more construction vehicles in the sand. At this point, there were some children doing each activity.
Part IV: Eating.
Part V: The favors. We handed these out before the gift opening and kept the kids entertained. I lucked out and found plastic tool boxes at the dollar store. I personalized these for each child and put age-appropriate items in each. Everyone got a pencil and paint stick (free from the Home Depot), Bob the Builder fruit snacks, mini flashlights and construction stickers. The younger kids also received plastic tool sets, the girls got lip gloss in mini paint cans, and the older kids got construction workers with mini tools (like Rescue Heroes) all from the dollar store. Add this to their constuction hats, goggles and belts and they each went home smiling.
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