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My son is now six and we have done train party's two years in a row now. With some planning it sure went off great! Although I went all out and one doesn't want to do that every year.
We started with the invitations created to look like train tickets. We bought ticket stock at Office Depot and created our own. We sent several tickets to each household so everyone felt included. The ticket provided all the party information.
I had an artistic friend "draw" Thomas and several friends on pieces of poster board and then I colored them, cut them out and glued them to cardboard. I then drew and cutout wheels and troublesome truck faces. ( I just grabbed a book for reference) and I taped them to large plastic tubs, that had been turned them upside down. In the front yard we staked down the engines and placed the tubs behind them to look like the engines were pulling the troublesome trucks.
We also drew (in chalk) a large railroad crossing on the street and then used duct tape to run a track up the driveway where it split and one train line went into the garage and the other went to the front door.
Taped to the front of the house we had an "Island of Sodor" sign and then taped to the garage we put a "Tanner Station" sign (that is my son's name.) He thought it was really cool to have the house be his station for the day. We also drew and cutout several round RR signs and placed them strategically in front of the house, in the garage and throughout the house.
As a final outside touch we took to large cardboard boxes and wrapped them in duct tape (silver). We then painted carpet tubes red and white striped and just white. We placed those through the boxes to look like crossing arms (with a RR crossing sign at the top of course) and we placed those at the bottom of the driveway where the tracks started.
When each child arrived they were presented with a plastic train cup that had their name on it and their "passport necklace". We created those with some construction paper, the computer and some colored string. Each "station" was listed and each child was told to get the "prize" they must complete the passport.
The first year we started the party at lunch time and included a "Hobo" lunch that consisted of PB and J's, chips, juice, and train gummies all wrapped in a red bandana that the kids got to take home. It was nice enough last year (we live in Colorado and his birthday is in January) that the kids could sit outside and eat their lunches.
We had several stations where kids could do puzzles, color a train car for Tanner, (which we later hung in his playroom),decorate a train cookie or get a tattoo. Each station was named and provided a "stamp" for the passport they were given at the door. Once the passport was complete the children presented it and they were given their treat bag. The treat bags included train puzzles, train pencils, train stickers and train bubbles.
My mother and I worked to produce a "train cake" from individual loaf pans. We made probably 12 or fifteen loaf cakes and used most of them as cars. We used cookies as wheels and we carved out the center of each cake. First we frosted each cake a different color and then we filled each cake with something different...i.e. gummy fish, crushed up Butterfinger to look like sand, Oreos for coal, gumballs for rocks, licorice strips for logs etc... Then we stacked one half cake on top of a whole cake and made cuts here and there to create Thomas. Using two full loaf cakes we created a caboose. We used the candy to decorate Thomas, the cars and the caboose. It was the centerpiece at the table. The kids and the adults had a great time deciding which car they wanted a piece of, and believe it or not, it was all gone!
This year instead of lunch we decided to make it more like a big play date. We have all the Thomas track one could imagine so we set up the wood track in one room, the plastic track in another and the mini-track in yet another area and the kids just loved it. We put all the trains out in bins so everyone could play with them. They spent hours recreating stories, crashing trains and playing with the track.
The grand finale of course was the train pinata!
For any "unexpected siblings" we had extra treat bags and a few other small "prizes", so they did not feel left out.
It was a lot of work, but it was a great time, and bonus points when he wanted the same party this year.
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