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Simple Train Birthday Party

The internet is full of AMAZING and extravagant birthday parties for children of all ages.  I am in awe of these parties that are completely coordinated, from the color of the food to the ribbons on the favors and everything in between.  They look incredibly beautiful in pictures and laid out in a blog post. 

But, do the kids REALLY have more fun?

I would have to say no.  Now, I have 5 kids, and the oldest is 16.  I have given each of my kids a birthday party nearly every year.  So, in all, I have thrown somewhere between 30 and 35 birthday parties.  Some have been more extravagant than others.  But I really think the kids have just as much fun at a simple birthday party as they do at one that is completely decked out.

I know many of us who surf blogs see these parties and wish that we had the time, energy, money, or talent to be able to throw one like that for our kids.  But, many of us are lacking in one or more of those areas.  And guess what.  That is ok! 

I thought it would be fun to show you the last party I threw for my 4 year old.  I REALLY tried to keep it simple, because I just didn’t want to spend the time or money to make it over the top amazing.   It was a train themed party because he LOVES his GeoTrax train set.  (As a side note, the GeoTrax trains are the absolute BEST…our whole family plays with them together.  Ok, maybe not my teenagerJ)

Here is the invitation I made on my computer.  I could have just as easily used a handwritten store-bought invite, but I find it easier to print something up myself.  On this one I was trying to learn a little about making invitations on my computer.

Here is the train cake I made for him.  I know it LOOKS extravagant and over the top, but it was actually quite easy.  I wanted it to be very exciting for the kids.  I have thrown several other train parties and made the train cake where each car was a small cake all decorated with frosting and candy.  This one was MUCH easier.  I just found some little ├ęclair trays and baked cupcakes in them.  I piped some blue frosting on each one and covered with bright candies I got at the dollar store.  I cut out the wheels on my silhouette and attached them with hot glue.  No Silhouette?  Just cut them free hand or with a craft punch.  I didn’t even go to the trouble to decorate a special engine, but used the motif from the invitation to flank a double decker cupcake.  The track was super easy.  I covered a board I had in the garage with white paper.  Then, I piped chocolate frosting for the track and used fudge dipped wafers for the railroad ties.  SUPER easy.  The dollar store has LOTS of different kinds of cookies for, well, a dollar!

For the food I picked up these plastic bins at the dollar store, cut out some wheels and attached them with brass brads, and tied the bins together with some ribbon.  I made an engine by placing one bin with another smaller bin I had on top.  I bought a white plastic tablecloth at the dollar store and used one of those super fat markers to draw tracks down the middle of it. 

We played simple games like “Car, Car, Engine” (Duck, Duck, Goose), London Bridge, “The Conductor Says” (Simon Says), and Red Light, Green Light.  The kids LOVED these games.  They also got to play with our huge GeoTrax train, which they loved.  When they first got here while we were waiting for everyone to get here they put together some of those super long alphabet and number train puzzles.

They each got an Engineer’s hat to wear and then take home.  I don’t do favor bags.  Honestly, I think most parents hate favor bags.  They are full of candy they don’t want their kids to have a little toys that get left all over the houseJ  Plus, they are super expensive to put together when you have a party with more than 4 or 5 guests.  So, I gave up on favor bags.  I figure the kids get to come to a party so why do they need to take the party home???

So, that is our simple train party.  I have to tell you the kids had a blast and several of the moms have told me things their kids said about the party days later.

Tomorrow I will be posting my top 10 tips for a great kids birthday party!


  1. Beautiful. Simplicity can be the most important element we overlook in celebrating. I love it!

  2. Those trains are fantastic!!!!

  3. You plan some great parties! They are so fun and my little guy is turning one in a month! Thanks for sharing!


  4. Did you buy the conductor hats or make them? I love this! I agree with you about not doing favor bags...I don't do them either. I love the idea of the conductor hats but not sure what the cost would be. just wondering what you did!

  5. I love the train cake and snack tray. Definitely want to do them for my son's birthday party. I'm having trouble finding eclair trays. Where did you get yours? Any tips you can give me on the cake would be much appreciated.

  6. I got the eclair trays at either Walmart or Michael's. I'm not sure they are actually called eclair trays. They look like cupcake liners that are more rectangular with rounded corners and the sides are straight, not accordian. They are only about 1/2" high.

  7. Did you put the eclair trays in anything to bake them, or just on a pan? I am definitely going to attempt this cake, but don't want to screw it up by not doing it the right way! :)

    Thank you for your fabulous ideas!!!!

  8. So, So, So True! Thanks for validating what I think about birthday parties too! So nice to hear someone else say what I was thinking. My soon to be 5 year old son asked for a train party. I'll be using tons of your ideas! Thanks for sharing, I've pinned you. :)

  9. Found the oblong eclair wrappers at Michaels today. I ended up buying a 9 count mini loaf pan that I think will work great to make train cars there too. Just thought I would help guide others following this blog entry! :)

  10. Where did you get the conductor hats?

  11. Love it! I was actually struggling to come up with a sensory bin idea for our "Train" theme, but now I'm thinking the way you made the snack table, little bins (cars) that carry different sensory items will work better than one big bin. Thanks for sharing this! It's going to workout great :)

  12. I love this idea! It's so creative and fun! Thanks so much for sharing it. My son will love this for his 4th bday!

  13. Wilton petite loaf cups at walmart...


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