Train Party -4yr - Hobo Lunch
Su in Edgewood, WA USA
My son is not a very social being. He is happy to stay in the background when people are around and let his sister do all the social interactions. So, when he excitedly announced that for his 4th birthday he wanted a train party, I was intent on doing the best train birthday party I could (to encourage him to be a little more social). He told me he wanted a train party with some Thomas (the Train), but not all Thomas he LOVES ALL trains!
We started with the invitations. I used an old ticket and came up with a mock ticket for each person being invited. On top it had the date and time of the party. Then it read Hobo lunch provided, Leaving form Cozart Town Station. Then the Sec (05 for May), Row (29 for the date) and Seat number (which ranged from 1-35). In the middle of the ticket there was a picture of my son next to a train he had ridden in a few weeks prior. There was a band of orange to match the train in the picture, above and below the picture with his name and Fourth Birthday. At the bottom it read All Aboard! 1st Stop: Ryan's 4th Birthday Celebration Then our address. Lastly in another band of orange was ADMIT ONE. I printed them in color on photo paper, to make it feel like a real ticket. Then I went to our local train station and got some ticket holders for free. So I put the tickets for each family, we sat all family members together, in the holders (with their last name and seat numbers written on the top like real tickets) and sent them off. Many people called me and told me to give their ticket to someone who could go, so I had to explain it was not a real ticket, it was just a party invitation.
Décor: I had borrowed a real railroad train sign from a friend, attached it to a steel stake and put it at the end of our driveway. I also made, in chalk, big white Xs with Rs on the right and left of the Xs with a band of white on the top and bottom to look like the real painted signs put on streets prior to a railroad crossing. I put some at the beginning of our street and at our house. On the windows (we have a big front window that faces our driveway), I had taken some die cut trains and used the church opaque projector to blow them up, copied them onto colored poster board and cut them out. I had an engine, caboose, oil car and boxcar. On them, I wrote one letter of his name to spell out Ryan. So, from the outside and inside you could read it. Then from the engine smoke stack, I made little puffs of smoke out of white cardstock which spelled out Happy Birthday on the front and back of each puff, again to be seen from inside and outside. We did another one on the back window as well. We had train posters on the walls, a Thomas the Train Happy Birthday Banner on the wall and steamers in primary colors to match, hanging from the ceiling. We had cups, plates, table cloths and bandanas (on top of the table cloths) in primary colors as well as a battery operated Thomas Train circling the cake. We were all set for our party.
Party: When the kids arrived, there was a Thomas the Train and another train book on tape that we had, running in the background. Everyone, even the adults, were handed a big train car puzzle (purchased from Oriental Trading Co) piece to color. We had pens, stickers etc. available for them to use. Now, when he puts the puzzle together, he can remember all the people who came to celebrate his birthday with him. We also had a coloring station for the kids if they wanted to color some train pictures that I got off the internet.
Since the party was at lunch time, when everyone arrived and did their puzzle piece, we ate our hobo lunch. We had hot dogs, BBQ pork burgers, chips, pop, jerky, potato salad and canned beans. Mmmm, good!
Games: After we ate, we gave the kids their train passport. It had a picture of my son on the front next to a real train. It said Ryan Railroad Passport on it as well. They got one train stamp for making the puzzle piece and one for each game we were to play. After their passport was filled up, they were told they would get a special treat. The first game was the Thomas Coal game. I had blown up two big pictures of Thomas the Train on foam poster board. One of the whole front of the train and one of just his face. I cut out his smiling mouth on both posters. I then cut pieces of black licorice; this was the coal. The object was to throw the coal into Thomas' mouth. The poster with just Thomas' face was for the younger kids because it was easier to get the coal in. In the other poster, Thomas' mouth was much smaller, so it was a challenge for the older kids.
Next we played Hot Thomas. We had the kids in a circle and had them pass around a Thomas the Tank Engine. We had train music (from the library) going, and when the music stopped, whoever had the train would be out and the game would go again. It was down to two girls and they were so quick that we declared two winners.
Lastly we had a train obstacle course. First we had the kids put on train hats (that I got free from the local train company). The object of the game was to get the bags tagged and onto the train. First they had to tag 2 bags, with real bag tags (from the train station). Then they had to load the bags onto a cart (a wagon), and take them to the train baggage car (a box, bungeed to a little jeep they could drive). Then they had to drive the jeep along the tracks (drawn on the driveway with chalk) and make train noises along the way. When they had driven the whole length of the tracks they had to take the bags out of the train. The kids loved driving the train.
Cake: The cake had been on the main table the whole time. I had gotten little mini loaf pans and baked chocolate and white cake mixes and frosted them with white frosting. I had cut the middle out and filled them with different loads. These were the cars. One had Coco Puff cereal in it to look like it was carrying coal. One had crushed up Butterfingers to look like grains. One car had mini Kit Kats in it to look like logs. And another car had Nerd candy to look like rocks. The engine I made out of a regular loaf pan, cutting it to look a little longer than the other cars and then stacking some more cake up in the back to look like the cab. Then another little piece to make it look like the smoke stack.
After I frosted it, and before I loaded up the cars, I had taken the food coloring you can spray on and made a blue train engine and green cars. It turned out really nice. In the smoke stack I put in four colorful swirly candles. Even when it was not lit, the train looked like smoke was really coming out of the smoke stack. I had covered a board with tin foil and placed the engine and each car on it. We used mini Oreos for the wheels as well. When my son saw it he wanted to know where the buffers were. Not, to miss any details, we used raisins to make the buffers. After placing it on the table, my son, daughter and husband made a track around the train cake, sidings and all! Then we had the battery operated Thomas going around it the whole party. The kids and adults LOVED the cake and had fun choosing which car they wanted a piece of. Since we had a lot of people, we also made additional cupcakes for the adults.
Party Favors: After singing and eating we opened gifts. Then the kids handed us their stamped passports. We gave them a gift box (purchased at Oriental Trading) filled with candy. On the folded gift boxes was a sticker we had made with a picture of Ryan next to a real train and wording that said Thank you for riding with us Please come again! The children also got a hobo bag. We had gotten pink (for the girls) and black (for the boys) bandanas ($1 each at Wal-Mart), filled with freebees from train companies (I had read that some companies will send freebees. So I e-mailed many places and got a few companies to send free stuff!) and tied them to sticks. The kids were so excited! We had extra train memorabilia and goodies from the train companies, so we asked the adults questions like Who has driven a real train? Who had ridden on a bullet train? Etc. and gave the remaining goodies away. Everyone had such a great time. And now my son is excited to plan for next year!
Thank You Notes: For thank you notes, we cut a postcard sized rectangle out of blue card stock. We used the real tags and wrote each family's info on the tag (name, address and phone). Then we made another tag, matching the size of the real tags, with a picture of my son blowing out his candles on his cake. We also put Ryan Railroad Birthday Express below the picture on the tag. We criss-crossed the tags on the card. Then below we had printed THANK YOU! in the biggest font that would fit onto the card. Over the O in you we made little yellow railroad signs and cut them with a rotary cutter and used a raised sticker to attach it to the O. Then we wrote the Thank yous on the other side. They turned out very nice. And it was a good way to remember what a nice time we all had together.
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