Treehouse Birthday Festivities!

 

Theme/Setting

Our youngest son loves being outdoors and climbing. So, it was easy to choose a treehouse theme celebrating his fourth birthday. I was hoping to capture an antique/nostalgia feel. After all, a treehouse is timeless and something boys (and girls) love.

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Our home is rustic with a modern twist, so I basically accentuated the country aspects more. Decorations were FUN to collect for the party!  Lots of great finds from craft & second hand stores, flea markets, rummage and yard sales – unique items made of wood one can’t readily find in newer department stores.

As for the party color scheme, I wanted this spring season birthday to have bright, cheerful colors yet represent a rustic feel – so I went with country blue & white/bright and dark greens/tans & burlap/ brown accents with some gingham patterns in the mix.

Living in Nebraska, the weather is always topsy-turvy.  It could be sunny and warm one day and soon become cold and snowy the next!  The original plan was to have the party indoors – mostly in our unfinished basement (a very forgiving plan due to kiddos eating chocolate cake and having lots of energy….).  The week before the party though, gorgeous weather presented itself with lots of sun , temps in the 70s, and made me hope for the same at party time. I am pretty sure I drove my husband crazy leading up to the party by talking about the weather nonstop!  A cold front came through earlier in the week leading up to the big day bringing lots of rain and some snow, but it started to get better the day before the party.  On the big day, we still went with the original indoor plan, but it was partly sunny and the temperature was decent – enough for the kids were able to get outside, explore, and check out our boys’ treehouse in the woods!  Success!!!

 

Invitations/Thank You Cards

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I created the invitations and thank you cards in Corel Draw and went with a basic layout. I really wanted to emphasize wood grain more than the color of a tree, so the stationary had a black & white design with limited text colors of blue and green.  There’s also a curiosity of where the ladder leads to that appealed to me. I also went with lower case letters for more of a cute, innocent feel. After the invites and cards were printed and cut, I framed them with brown scrapbook paper and accented with green envelopes.

 

Party Garland

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To make the party garland, I first cut our color scheme fabric pieces  in 6” x 8.5” pieces (3 each/color or pattern) and set them aside.  I then took twine and made a gentle curve in front of our dining room windows securing with thumb tacks on both ends of the outer trim.  Next, I used E6000 glue to hold the fabric to the twine.  No sewing involved!  The garland really helped to bring out the birthday colors.

 

Treehouse Cake!  

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The cake!  Where do I begin?  I knew I wanted to make a cake that resembled a treehouse and looked over photos on pinterest for inspiration.  I found one but had to tweak it to my liking.  I went with spring greenery instead of autumn leaves since this party wasn’t in the fall season, and I’m not a fondant cake decorator (although I always admire how some fondant cakes turn out). I don’t feel I have enough knowledge and patience to explore this technique, and honestly, I and many family and friends do not care for the taste.  With this in mind, I went with simple, ready-to-go store bought chocolate frosting.  The cake is created in three layers (also store bought mix) with white frosting in between the middle marble flavored layer. The top and bottom layers were chocolate.  I like making really moist cakes, so I always keep a close eye on the baking process and take the cakes out the second the center is done.

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My sketch of what I wanted the cake to look like……

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After the layers were baked, I placed the first onto a flat, cut piece of wood (purchased at Michael’s for $9.99).  The raw, rough edges of the wood helped to achieve the rustic appeal I was striving for.  I love this wooden piece!!!  I put the other layers & frosting in place and then used pretzel sticks to outline a door and window.  Whala!  The cake was finished, and I let it refrigerate until party time.  About an hour before the party began, I took the cake out of the refrigerator and placed it on a wooden cake stand I’ve had for some time (also another great flea market find for a whopping $1.00). I then placed greenery (purchased at Michael’s for $9.99) at the back of the cake stand (securing it with a few pieces of scotch tape which was then hidden with greenery leaves) and wrapped the leaves around the sides and base.

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As for the ladder, the boys and I had fun weeks before selecting sticks from our woods – I like to let them be involved and apart of the party planning preparations.  After I narrowed the sticks down to the ones I thought would work, I measured how long I would need two of them for the ladder support.  I then cut and glued the longer and shorter pieces together with E6000 glue.  I also made a little sign which read ‘barrett’s treehouse’ (still going with lower case letters) with tan copy paper and brown scrapbook paper (left over from the invites and thank you cards).

 

Table Decorations

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Wooden, cut logs:  Back in October, my husband and I hosted an autumn party which we cut wooden pieces found on our property and made them into centerpieces.  Afterwards, my husband wanted to use the logs for campfire wood, but I urged him not to because the birthday ideas had already started to form in my head! I am so glad we kept these as the logs were perfect with the treehouse theme.  I simply placed them on the  tables.  We even had kids making the logs colorful with crayons – another fun activity! Overall, the logs gave interest and character to our son’s birthday bash at no expense.

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Smokey the Bear book:  I had several items displayed on our dining room table, including a Smokey the Bear children’s book.  I found the book at a flea market for .25 cents!  It was originally a library book, and I LOVED the great vintage colors which worked so well with the birthday party color scheme.  I read the book to the boys when I brought it home months ago, and they were attentive to the story about Smokey.  I love old books and was excited to add this to the party decorations.

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Wood trays & bowls/picnic baskets:  All purchased at second hand stores (prices ranged from $1 – 5 each). I love all of them!

Personal photo:  I always like to include a  photo at party time – it helps to make the birthday kiddo feel even more special (frame purchased at Michael’s - for $8.00).

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Big brother made leaf decorations for little brother’s party!  He did a great job!

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Glass Jar with wooden lid:  Placing marshmallows in the jar – not only for decoration and to bring out the outdoor feel, but the kiddos loved munching on them too!

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Niche Decoration

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I like this area of our home because it can feature a main event/holiday. With this birthday, I wanted to emphasize Barrett’s name and came up with:  a rustic, wooden board with greenery letters in a larger metal container.

I want to give a shout out to the Ecostores  in Lincoln, Nebraska as I love their stuff!  This store supplies the public with reclaimed building products – many interesting finds including the old board I used for gluing our son’s name on.  The board was very affordable (.35 cents/linear foot for a 2” x 6” board).  As for the letters, I found these at Michael’s craft store on clearance for $2/letter (I also purchased letters of our older son’s name as I will include a board with his name too at a later time).  The metal container and Spanish moss also came from Michael’s (metal container was $14.00 and a large bag of Spanish moss was about $7.00).

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Our oldest son wanted to help with the decorations, and he did a great job drawing, coloring, and cutting a tree & leaves out of white copy paper!  We displayed his work underneath our younger son’s name.

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Food

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It seems like it has become a tradition for us to serve sandwiches at both sons’ birthday parties!  I like providing our guests with soft, fresh breads, so I work with local bakeries to special order wheat &  multi-grain hoagie buns and smaller sized rolls (great for kids or small appetites) and pick our order up the day before birthday time. Hours before the party, I put together two different kinds of meat and cheese sandwiches – we save a lot of money making the sandwiches ourselves. I have the process and assembly practically down to a science now so it goes fast.  I guess this makes me a sandwich artist? :)

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Party Favors

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I was looking for different party favor ideas that related to trees and ultimately went with maple syrup and pancake mix.  Why?  Knowing maple syrup comes from the sap of a maple tree, it seemed fitting.  Plus, both our boys love this traditional breakfast combination, and I know they are not alone!  I checked with parents to make sure all attending children did not have food allergies and got the go ahead to proceed.

Finding the little glass jars at Hobby Lobby at $1.00/jar (during a 50 % off week) was a highlight!  I love, love, love these jars!  The design fit perfect with our country accents.  I bought maple syrup and pancake mix in bulk at Sam’s Club. To make the 1 cup of pancake mix look pretty, I used clear, plastic bags (purchased at papermart.com). Little labels on the bag and jar tied with hemp string gave an extra detail.  On the back of the pancake mix label, I also included cooking instructions.

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On the day of the party, I placed all of the pancake mix bags in a large antique wooden bowl, and displayed the maple syrup jars on a wooden tray.

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Wall Art

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I inserted a special message into our framed artwork which hangs on our dining room wall.  This was made from a large, long piece of cardboard, duck tape, fabric, sticks, and E6000 glue.  I measured and cut the cardboard and then cut a larger fabric piece and folded it around the cardboard.  After securing it in place with duck tape, I turned it over and glued the sticks in place.  I loved how it turned out!

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Not so pretty on the backside, but it worked!

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Lantern

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I found the lantern at a second hand store for $2.00!  It’s really for a candle, but instead I inserted foam (I painted the foam black before putting it in place) where a candle would be (purchased a bag of wooden letters at Wal-Mart for $3.50/bag).  I painted the letter ‘B’ with acrylic paint in the color of light blue and glued it to the foam.  The lantern served as a great balloon base.

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Outdoor Decorations

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About a month before the party, I found a wooden cart on craigslist for $15.00.  I had wanted something for our front porch area and thought this would be perfect for party decorations as well as plants and other seasonal items later on.

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How I made a fabric bag for holding balloons down:  I first started with a trash bag and then added a few bricks to the bottom.  I then added lots of small plastic bags all around which helped to add the ‘puffiness’ to the bag. After I tied twine around the bricks, I secured an additional loop of twine to the twine around the bricks and had it go up towards the opening.  I then gathered the fabric and made sure the loop was a little on the outside (this is where the balloon strings would be secured). The last step was placing the twine around the outer part of the fabric.  Even though there were a few steps involved, it was not that time consuming and was very economical too.

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Custom Water Bottles

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For those who know me and our past parties, I love creating custom water bottles.  The bottles are enjoyable, healthy, and a nice, personal touch to the party.  When I designed the label on the computer, I inserted Barrett’s photo and created a wood grain design on each side.  I also added a big blue number 4 emphasizing our son’s new age which stood out from the brown and black background.  After the labels were printed and cut, I took a burlap-like fabric (actually a curtain panel I have kept as extra fabric) and draped the fabric in an old Pepsi Cola drink carton which was a gift years ago from my mom and dad.  I then placed a few water bottles in each compartment.  It gave the dining/display table an old charm, and I was happy to put an antique to use.

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Fun Facts Signage

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Besides being super fun, I wanted the party to be educational too.  With this in mind, I added the following fun facts about:  lemons with our lemon dessert, apples with apple juice boxes, and the sap from maple trees with our maple syrup party favors.  I actually learned a few new things when making these signs too. These signs were made out of tan copy paper and left over brown scrapbook paper.

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Piñata Time!

I have to admit, I have been anxious and curious to create a piñata.  I guess I’ve always thought it “looks easy enough” to make and I might as well try to do it. I didn’t really want to work with paper mache either – just preferring to work with cardboard. For inspiration, I looked online and found nothing with treehouses.  So I had to try to figure this out on my own. While shopping a few weeks ago, I asked a store for a few newly emptied merchandise boxes.  Most stores are glad to get rid of boxes so I got a quick “yes”!

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At home, I taped the boxes together and poked random holes all around them – including holes at the top for inserting the candy which I then did.  Next, I cut a few rectangular pieces out of black construction paper for the door and window. After those were glued in place, I took a roll of brown crepe paper and glued pieces around both boxes.  *I really wasn’t that concerned with the pieces being perfectly aligned – after all, this thing is going to be beaten to shreds by many kiddos!  The next step was to poke holes for hanging the piñata with twine.  On the back side of the boxes (at this point, it looked like a treehouse structure), I used green and black poster board for making the tree – gluing the pieces together and ultimately to the boxes.  NOTE: I could not find brown poster board, so I painted the black piece brown and the steps a lighter brown with acrylic paint.

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Interactive Tree

In one area of our basement, I constructed what I call an interactive tree out of mostly paper and some plastic.  I rolled brown craft paper on the floor and had drawn an outline of a tree with a black marker.  I then made the sections of leaves, apples, lemons, and flowers out of poster board.  A treehouse and wood ladder pieces were then made out of a cardboard box.  The green plastic pieces on the sections of leaves were actually from an Easter basket bag from a few years ago. I glued the plastic to the poster board in certain spots, and I thought the kids would enjoy its texture!

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All loose items that could be moved around – mixed and matched.  It was fun to see the kids use their imagination! Mission accomplished!

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Chalkboard Time

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I like how our chalkboard comes in handy various times in different ways.  Whether it is just with our boys or a large gathering like this party, the board helps initiate creativity.  Before the party, I had drawn a tree on the board to get the ‘imagination juices flowing’ and was curious what would happen during the party.  It was interesting to see what the kids came up with!

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Coloring Sheets/ Gift information

Coloring Sheets: I thought the kids would enjoy having a coloring station at the party, so I designated another area for just that.  Weeks before, I designed coloring sheets in Corel Draw that personalized our son’s party.  There were a few different kinds of trees, treehouses, and leaves that could be colored. We had a few baskets filled with crayons on the tables ready to go for the party. Ready! Set! Draw!

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Our birthday boy LOVES the mazes in his preschool workbook he does at home, so I had a blast making a maze with him in it!  In the maze, he has to find a way to his treehouse. I loved seeing his expression when I had completed and printed it off for him to see!

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Gift information: We recently attended a birthday and I came home with an idea of making a gift information sheet in Corel Draw.  Too often, there is NOT enough time to write at a kid’s birthday party when gifts are being opened – and trying to remember who brought what is sometimes tough. So, I tried to lessen time by having a form to quickly fill in.  It also looks nice enough to later place in a scrapbook.

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Many thanks to all who helped celebrate our son’s big day!  It was so much fun!  After the party, my husband said, “I bet you are already thinking of what to do for his birthday party next year.”  He is correct!

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