My baby boy just turned two, we had a Choo Choo Train themed party for him with our family & friends. I had gone a little overboard on the first birthday party so I put myself on a budget for this party. His first birthday was a cowboy themed party complete with western scenes that I painted with cutouts for the kids to put their faces in for pictures, a huge spread of food, a custom ordered cake and about $100 worth of decorations. This year I put myself on a $100 budget to host a Choo Choo Train themed party for about the same amount of people. I had the theme in mind already since Cade loves choo choo’s and we have toy trains that I could use to decorate with. The colors I took from the toy train colors and I really lucked out finding a lot of items on clearance which helped me stick to my budget. Here are some pictures and how I was able to plan a party for about 35 people with a $100 budget.
First I shopped around, I lucked out and found all the plates, cups and napkins at Target on clearance. This all totaled in at $8.00. Yellow plastic cups and white plates with red, orange, green and blue accents matched the theme perfectly. I had plenty of plastic utensils leftover from various parties and I put the red & orange napkins and the utensils in a blue utensil holder that I already had.
I got the Happy Birthday banner from Dollar Tree for $1.00, the colors matched the theme perfectly! I wanted everything to be colorful!
I made the cupcake cake and all of the food. 50 cupcakes cost me $4.50 to make. I got cake mix on sale for $1.00 a box, I used 3 boxes. My secret ingredient to making super moist cake & cookies is to add a box of pudding mix. 3 boxes of pudding mix cost me $0.50 each. I made homemade buttercream icing. I had all of the ingredients for this already, as well as eggs and oil for the cake mix. I shaped the cupcakes into a 2 and iced the whole thing in green to look like grass, then I made chocolate buttercream and drew train tracks over the 2 and put a toy train on top for decoration. The cupcakes that didn’t fit were iced and put on a side table.
I did all cold foods so I didn’t have to turn my oven on and I could make everything ahead of time. I buy all of my produce from Aldi’s. They have the best tasting produce, and it’s much cheaper than a large grocery store. I made fruit & veggie “trains” with toy trains and color coordinated plastic containers I got at Dollar tree for $2.00. I made dollar roll sandwiches, pasta salad and chips and dip. Simple things that everyone likes. The food was the most important part, I had a lot of people to feed. The food came in at $65.00 including the drinks. We always have bottled water so I had to buy soda, tea and juice boxes for the kids. I had coupons for almost everything I didn’t buy at Aldi’s and my local grocery store had select soda on sale for $1.00 a piece. All of the serving containers were things I already had, and luckily the colors matched!
I didn’t buy many decorations, so I made some with things I already had. I used a chalkboard to create a train ticket. I used a wreath I already had and wrapped it in burlap and ribbon and bought a train and an arrow at the craft store for $0.60 a piece and glued them to the wreath, this hung on the front door. I decorated around the house with toy trains and I did buy some brightly colored balloons for $16.00 (small splurge). I didn’t want to over decorate, but I think the theme was evident. It was raining so I wasn’t able to decorate outside like I had planned, but I would suggest using suitcases to decorate with by the front door and use tape to make a train track leading up to your front door. Also a home-made railroad crossing sign would be cute too.
The favors were a Thomas The Train coloring sheet that I personalized with “Choo Choo Cade is Two”. I printed one for free online and added the personalization and made copies of the coloring sheet. I bought a pack of 8 small crayons for $2.00. I rolled the coloring sheet and attached the crayons with ribbon.
The birthday boy had lots of fun at his party and really enjoyed everyone singing happy birthday to him. My grand total was $99.70, just under budget! I was very happy with how everything turned out and even more happy that I stuck to my budget. It took a little more planning and a lot more work, but I saved a lot of money and got the exact result I was looking for. Cade had a memorable 2nd birthday party and it didn’t break the bank! My sister made Cade his conductor hat and the overalls were a birthday gift. They said “Engineers Crew” and worked perfect! He looked adorable!
Here’s the buttercream icing recipe I used….
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1 stick of butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
- 3 tbls milk
Cream together the shortening & butter, add vanilla, gradually add the sugar. Icing will appear dry, add milk one tablespoon at a time until light and fluffy. Makes about 3 cups. Add 3/4 cup of cocoa to make chocolate buttercream.