Fire Truck -2yr- Elmo Visits the Firehouse
Bethany in Altanta, Georgia, USA
Who doesn't struggle with ideas for a 2nd birthday party? Let's face it--this is really the first birthday where the child has an interest in things like fire trucks! The parameters of the party were this: must include outside activities, an indoor area with air conditioning for the adults, room for 60 people, and must be not at my home (tiny). So, we had the party at the local fire station!
INVITATIONS I made the invitations using PowerPoint. They were printed on white cardstock and placed into quarter-fold envelopes purchased from Office Depot. The front of the card said Calling all Fire Fighters! Sound the alarm and RUSH over to help David celebrate his 2nd birthday!" The inside of the card had the details (time RSVP etc). The back of the card had a little logo that I "Made especially for you." I made the map in PowerPoint by copying & pasting the city and local map from Google Maps. Included on the map were the start time address and a reminder that the fire men might get called out on an emergency.
PARTY FAVORS Surprisingly it was VERY difficult to find decent party favors with a fire truck theme. I had two separate favor bags: one for each adult and one for each kid. Since I was giving out 38 adult bags and 18 kid bags it was important to keep the cost low. I made a memory card game for each child (see link above for photo of cards) using PowerPoint and clip art. I stayed with the same "look" as the invitation. These were printed on 8.5" x 11" cardstock and then each packet was wrapped with a rubber band. I bought white bags and red and yellow tissue paper. I found red flat wooden trucks at Michaels Craft Store. I drew a ladder "Fire Dept No. 3" a siren and wrote the person's name on the side of the truck. I stuck this nametag to the bag with double-stick tape.
In the children's bags were: the homemade memory game Fire Engine Fun Sipper from Party City Fire Engine Fun Rescue Vehicle from Party City plastic fire truck whistles from Party City glitter fire fighting stickers from Wal-Mart and two 2-oz containers of Play Doh (red and yellow or red and black) from Costco. In the adults' bags were: a flashlight (from Wal-Mart and Target--I bought out the stores because they only had 20 in stock at each store) Dentyne "Fire" gum Starbursts (I chose this candy because I think that they have the add where they say "a burst of fruit flavor" and then water dumps on the person chewing it) a chocolate bar (a fire fighter has to keep up their energy) and a 9V battery (to replace the battery in their smoke alarm). I made two extra adult bags and two extra kid bags--and was glad since there were guests that "came along" with the invited guest. More the merrier I say so it was nice having something to give them.
THE ROOM SET-UP The fire station was large which was great! There was plenty of room for seating but the problem was that toddlers would not be able to sit at the adult tables. So I went to Home Depot and bought "oops" wood--$0.51 per piece! I had one square table and 2 chairs at home but needed seating for 18 kids. I made two more tables and two benches using 2x4 wood cut to 20" for the table legs and hammered them on using long nails into a piece of plywood for the top. One piece of "oops" wood was this really nice wood used for bookshelves and had kind-of a plastic coating on it. It was great and no one got splinters! My friend is a school teacher and brought 6 children's chairs from her school.
The fire station had 20 extra folding chairs and had three 6-foot long tables. I covered all tables (including the children's tables) with yellow plastic tablecloths and taped the children's table clothes to their tables. To simulate the color of flames the colors of the party were red and yellow. I purchased red plastic bowls clear platters and black serving ware from Party City. I used red plates and napkins from Party City and red cups from Costco. Two dozen balloons (red with yellow ribbon and yellow with red ribbon) were scattered throughout the room and the kids got to take a balloon home with them. I forgot to purchase a "Happy Birthday" banner but the fire station had a white board so I wrote "Happy Birthday David" on it and that was fine. The fire station had a huge maybe 15-foot stainless steel table for the adults.
FOOD Each food had a matching name plate: fire hoses (baked ziti with meatballs baked ziti without meat) fire foam (applesauce) Dalmatian food (sweet baby peas) smoke and fire (cherry and lemon-layered Jello) Fire House Salad (Caesar salad) fruit cup (watermelon cantaloupe and blueberries) and Ladder Rungs (garlic bread cut into strips). I had appetizers (spinach-artichoke dip Scoops cheese platter crackers mango salsa and pretzel sticks--all from Costco) but they weren't fire-related. For drinks I served soda in cans bottled water juice boxes and there was milk if anyone wanted it (my son was the only one who drank it though). Target had a sale on the drink bins so I put the juice boxes in one bin ice and an ice scoop in another and put the soda water and milk in a large cooler.
CAKE I made three 2-layer cakes based on the "Five Alarm Celebration" cake by Wilton. Smallest Cake-Made out of red velvet cake with cream cheese icing (dyed red). I piped yellow stars on top so they looked like flames and piped flames around the base of the cake. On top of this cake were candles that said "BIRTHDAY" and a little candle with a fire hat that said "BOY". Large Cake-Made out of chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I placed a toy fire truck on it (with lights and sounds) along with a fire hydrant candle. Medium-sized Cake- Lemon cake with vanilla icing. I made two fire men out of fondant. I to bought pre-dyed fondant and used it like modeling clay to form a yellow body and arms and red fire helmets. I added some black food coloring to make black boots.
White icing was rolled into a ball to make the heads. I piped faces on it using blue dots for eyes a red line for the lips and then I piped the red strips and edge details onto the fire helmet. I placed a 4" lollipop stick in each figure and punched holes into the empty cake mix boxes. I then put the sticks into the holes to let them dry overnight. The boots dried on their own and were placed under the firemen when I assembled the cake. I made a fire hose but forgot to bring it to the fire station so that didn't make it on the cake. I piped blue icing to flower wire and then put the wires into the cake by the firemen so it looked the the water was being sprayed onto the candles on the small cake.
The three cakes were arranged in three different levels so that the fire truck was on the low level the firefighters on the medium level and the flames (candles) on the top level. Each cake had one word written on it to spell out the message "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVID." Everyone LOVED the cakes. By far this was the most time-consuming part of the planning (besides shopping!). It didn't help that the day before the party I had to take my son to the doctor to get a cast put on for an accident he had (I'm a single mom so that was even more difficult because I had to do all of the prep work after he went to bed. I did have to take off of work the day before the party.)
ACTIVITIES For the first 20 minutes of the party the children watched a movie rented from the local library "Elmo Visits the Fire House." It was a popular movie so I actually had to reserve it two-weeks in advance via inter-library transfer. I read the reviews on Amazon.com and found out that the first part of the movie shows Elmo in a burning building which could be scary for some kids. I fast-forwarded the movie to start after this part was over. I also put a guest dad in charge of fast-forwarding the DVD when it was time to replay the video (it played throughout the party but there was only "special" time reserved for watching at the beginning of the party.
I also bought three of these movies to use as Thank You gifts for the people who helped me set-up the party. Also during this time the kids colored pages I printed out from Preschool Coloring Book (http://www.preschoolcoloringbook.com/color/cpfire.shtml). One page was set at each child's place on the toddler tables and crayons were placed on each table in plastic bowls so the crayons would stay on the table and not roll onto the floor.
After the movie ended the dads helped to turn the chairs around to be theaters-style. I then asked "Do you all want to meet a REAL fire fighter???" The parents helped the kids say "YEAH!!!" Two of the firemen came out and re-enforced the "rules" that Elmo had in the movie:
1. "Stay low and go" and
2. "Fire fighters are your friend. Don't be scared of them. In a fire go TOWARD the fireman--not away from him/her."
They gave a very short talk then one fireman put on ALL of his fire gear including his face mask (which makes his voice sound funny so it was good for the kids to get familiar with it). He then bent down and each child came up to him and could talk to him and give him high-fives or hugs or just get close and look. To me this was the highlight of the party because it helped the kids see that the fireman in his bunker gear is a friendly guy--and a safe man. After "Meet the Fireman" the kids all got in line (with their parents) and went in a single-file line to see the fire truck. As each child passed through the door into the bay (garage) where the truck was kept they were given a fire helmet and a fire badge sticker.
Each family came to the driver's side of the truck (where the hose connecters are) and I took a picture of each family (I set my tripod up so that I could just point and shoot). Each family's photo was taken in front of the truck with the fireman who was dressed in his complete bunker gear.
As each family got their photo taken with the fireman by the truck they filed around to the other side of the truck (passenger side). The people on that side could not be seen while I continued to take photos on the driver's side. The other firemen were there and let them get inside of the truck and sit in the front and back seats. Once I got all of the individual photos taken I went to the other side and took a group photo of everyone who was at the party. It worked out perfectly since they were all there exploring the inside of the truck!
The other activity was geared towards making sure the kids really did go up to each firefighter to become more familiar with them. I made each child a "My Autograph Book" using PowerPoint. Each page had a fireman's name and a blank line for his signature (I had found out the names of the firefighters that were on duty that day ahead of time). Each child got a book and once they got all 5 fire fighter signatures they could turn their book in for a prize.
The prize was fire safety materials given to us by the fire marshal: a fire truck magnet fire truck pencil fire safety activity book and fire safety door hanger. We had some children at the party who were under 1 year so they had a blow-up pool (on sale at Big Lots) with balls in it (like a big ball pit). For the older toddlers and kids I purchased an inflatable water slide (also on discount from Big Lots). Some kids went in with their bathing suits on but the parents ended up turning off the water spray and making it just an inflatable slide and the kids felt like they were sliding down a slide out of a burning building.
THANK YOU The thank you notes were made using PowerPoint using the same formatting as the invitations. This time though the cards were made to be folded in half so that the photo would not get bent. In each thank-you note I included the photo that was taken in front of the fire truck. The party was just today but I hope that everyone loves their souvenir!
This party was so much fun for several reasons: the firemen were so nice and mingled with the guests the kids learned about fire safety and not to be scared of firemen the fireman who dressed up was almost like renting a Disney character the layout of the fire station was perfect. I have to also give credit to the twin babysitters that I hired for the day (8a-8p). They kept my son entertained and fed and helped keep an eye on the other kids at the party. I was able to relax and enjoy the party. What a great party it was!! "
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