As my twins’ first birthday approached, coming up with the birthday party theme was the most fun item on my to-do list! I considered Dr. Seuss and the Hungry Caterpillar, but since we’re an outdoorsy family and- let’s face it- had lots of woodland creature stuff left over from their baby shower!- a camping theme ended up being an easy and super fun idea that worked for everyone!
Their party was held in a firehouse hall, so we had a good amount of space to work with, but not much existing decor. Still, it ended up looking adorable and the guests- especially the kids, had a total blast! Here are some of the ideas we used;
For the invitations, we did a little photoshoot so we’d have an on-theme picture of the boys. It was simple and super fun! I used this adorable woodland tapestry, draped over a piece of furniture, and made a fake campfire out of some log blocks and these silky scarves! I’ve had the log blocks for years- they’re literally just pieces sawed from a branch I found in the woods, and they were perfect for this!
(Obviously the pictures with the babies in them were much cuter, but for internet privacy reasons you’ll have to imagine them there in their matching plaid hoodies! But how cool is that tapestry? It was so worth the $23 and we use it all the time for forts and other fun things!)
The party day set up…
This came together pretty quickly and easily! Plaid tablecloths were a must, of course, as was our amazing summer infant portable play yard in case someone needed a safe spot for a baby to play. This picture was taken before the tent was put up in…
The Dramatic Play Area
This was my favorite part of the whole party and was SO much fun to plan! We set up a huge camping play area at the end of the room, and all the kids at the party had an amazing time playing! I had some coloring pages and basic crafts, but no real organized party games, since this was enough fun to occupy everyone!
In the picture, you can see
a $20 piece of AstroTurf from Home Depot! It looked so adorable and has now been repurposed as a fun and unique rug in my classroom
Once again, we used log blocks and silk scarves, but I also ran an extension cord under the AstroTurf (I just cut a tiny hole in the middle to run the cord through) so I could plug in a set of orange Christmas lights for an amazing sparkly effect!
We set up some lawn chairs around it to create a fun campfire conversation area. I left out the extra log blocks for kids to play and build with as well.
The fishing game
Our twins’ big birthday present was this super fun rocking boat from Simplay 3, which also flips over to become a little set of stairs, or on it’s side to be a counter for dramatic play. It was a bit of a splurge, but worth it, since they can use it for so many years in so many ways! I set it up as a little fishing game- I taped a blue plastic tablecloth to the ground to create a “river”, and added the boat. Just rocking in it was entertainment enough, but at the craft table I had some fish pictures copied onto cardstock for the kids to color, cut out, and add paper clips to, and I made magnetic fishing rods. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making a fishing game, you can always pick up this adorable one from Melissa and Doug instead.
(This picture was taken halfway through the party, as you can tell by the wear and tear on the river!)
The Ball Pit “Pond”
This was so easy to set up and the biggest hit with kids of all ages! I used my Fort Magic kit to make a ball pit shape (one blue rod high and two purple rods square in every direction) and used their fabric clips to attach a large blue sheet to it, then filled it with about 30 blue balloons! All of the materials fit in one reusable shopping bag, and putting it together took only a few minutes. The kids loved bouncing around in it!
(Fort Magic comes and goes from Amazon sometimes, but Antsy Pants play offers something similar here.)
Along with a borrowed tent, a couple of sleeping bags, and some plastic snakes and bears from the dollar store (our party favors), that was the dramatic play setup! The open ended play allowed all of the party guests to imagine, have fun, be active and engage with each other! It was really wonderful.
Our staple foods were easy- hot dogs and hamburgers, some chili, and cornbread. For a fun snack and party favor for everyone, we set up…
The Trail Mix Bar!
I lined up buckets from the dollar store filled with peanuts, mixed nuts, pretzels, Chex, M&M’s, raisins and chocolate chips, with scoops for people to serve themselves!
At one end of the table I left treat bags for people to take some home in, and sharpies and stickers to decorate the bags with so they wouldn’t get mixed up.
It was a relatively cheap, fun, and very on-theme party favor and snack for our guests!
(You can find the wall hanging we used in the background here)
For the cake, I made a carrot cake, and frosted it with blue cream cheese frosting. I decorated it to look like a forest scene with trees made from pretzels and mint M&M’s, more M&M’s around the bottom for grass, some crushed Oreo “dirt”, and pretzel letters making the twins’ initials on the top. I made smaller cakes with less frosting for their cake smash so the main one could stay intact for the other guests! My only cake decorating credentials come from watching baking shows on tv… this was definitely more “Nailed it!” than “Great British Baking Show”, but I was satisfied with the result and it tasted good!
You can’t have a camping party without s’mores (duh!) but I couldn’t think of a way to heat marshmallows for forty people, indoors, without breaking the venue’s rules and/or creating a fire hazard. Luckily, these yummy treats solved the problem perfectly! I made them the night before, cooled them overnight, and they were ready to go the day of the party!
To make the s’mores treats;
Grease a 13×9 inch pan with butter or cooking spray. Crush two bars of Hershey’s milk chocolate into chunks.
Heat 3 tbsp of butter in a large saucepan
Mix in a 10 oz bag of marshmallows
Stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth.
Turn off the heat.
Add 6 cups of Golden Grahams and stir until they’re fully coated and the mixture begins to cool.
Then stir in the chunks of Hershey’s chocolate and dump the mixture into a 13×9″ dish
Let cool and cut into squares. Enjoy indoors, outdoors, any time of year!
And there you have it,
A Fun and Easy Camping-Themed Birthday Party!
Are you planning a camping themed birthday party? Have any other great ideas? Leave a comment and let me know!
For another great indoor birthday party idea, make sure to check out my Treasure Hunt with Rhyming Clues! For another immersive dramatic play experience that kids will love, check out Vicky the Vet: Book Related Activities for Animal Lovers!