Re-post from my other blog Cerebral Blueprint, but with some changes. I'm still working at getting everything moved.
THEME: We were originally thinking of a spy party, but my son then got invited to one a month before his birthday. I know it doesn't really matter, but we also go for originality. So we changed plans and thought the Backyard Campout theme would be perfect since we have a big backyard and a fire pit. Luckily the weather was just getting warm enough to be outside, and not so warm that we'd be crazy to stand around a fire pit.
INVITATIONS: I read about some S'mores invitations and thought that would be really cute, but I wanted them to be puffy. So I turned to my new favorite invitation supply - craft foam. For the crackers, I cut them the size of real graham crackers (which I measured) on light brown foam, punched holes, scored the break line in the center, and chalked the edges. The marshmallow was just a free-form shape and brown chalked edges (and a touch of black like real toasted marshmallows would have), and another free-form shape for the chocolate. I glued the marshmallow to one side of a cracker and chocolate to the other, then I punched holes and hooked them together with a piece of yarn. It really didn't take that long to make them after I had a pattern because I only needed 7 of them. My daughter had to help me come up with the saying because I was having a hard time working the word "S'more" into a sentence.
DECORATIONS: This was easy since we were outdoors, and that's part of the theme. We pulled our trailer out onto the lawn in the backyard and put up the canopy with our picnic table under it. This gave us a sheltered place to eat, and the trailer helped block some of the chilly wind. Then we set up benches around the fire pit and camp chairs and coolers for everyone to sit on.
ACTIVITIES: As the boys showed up we had them decorate a foam visor with foam camping stickers and letters. We had 4 red and 4 blue visors, so that automatically split them into two teams for the games. But after making their visors we sang camp songs and my husband and older son told campfire stories while we waited for everyone to show up. A great website for songs and stories is Ultimate Camp Resource.
Then we divided into teams and I gave each team a list of items to find on a scavenger hunt in the backyard. They were: a rolled up blanket, a flashlight, bug repellent, a camp plate, water bottle, first-aid kit, and small cooler. It was all just stuff we had in our camping gear except the first-aid kits were small boxes wrapped in white paper with FIRST AID and a big + on them in red marker. I wrote the items on a piece of torn brown paper bag that I crinkled up, smoothed out and rolled into a scroll. We gave each team a backpack to collect the items in. Each item had either a blue or red ribbon on it so they knew which team it belonged to. After the scavenger hunt we had a backpack packing relay with the same items.
At the end of the party we played tug-of-war, freeze tag and animal charades while we waited for parents to pick them up.
To drink I mixed up some lime and lemonade Kool-aid mixes in a clear pitcher (makes a good lime green color). I washed some plastic bugs and put them in the bottom for "Bug Juice". The boys loved it, and I made sure I squished them up a bit before pouring into their cups. While half of the boys roasted their hot dogs, the other half went to the "Trail Mix" station where my daughter and her friend scooped up some favorites into baggies that I had pre-labeled their names on. They got to choose from M&M's (I found some Indiana Jones ones with adventure pictures on them), Teddy Grahams, peanuts, raisins, mini marshmallows and pretzels.
CAKE: The cupcakes were chocolate cake and frosting with crushed Oreo's for the ashes, pretzel logs for the logs and Fruit Roll-Ups for the flames. They don't make orange Fruit Roll-Ups so I used red and yellow, wet them slightly and stuck the two colors together. Then I just free-hand cut out the flames with a small paring knife. They didn't turn out exactly as I pictured them, and my flames kept flopping, but they were still cute.
Then, of course, we made S'mores. I was worried that at this point they wouldn't be hungry anymore, but they are boys. They each ate at least two and had a lot of fun perfecting their roasting techniques. Some boys definitely had some practice and others did not.
FAVORS: These are always one of my favorite things to come up with for a theme party. I got water bottles from the dollar store (found them cheaper later at Walgreens), and filled them with a whistle, glow stick, Milky Way candy bar, gummy hot dogs, fire balls, pop-rock gum and tied them off with a compass. I kept the water bottles hidden in a cooler until it was time to hand them out. I always suggest labeling everything with the kids' names. They always set things down again before leaving, and then you know who it belongs to again.
My other kids enjoyed helping, and my youngest, who was sick, got to sit in the trailer and watch without getting near anyone. It was such a fun party for the guests and our whole family.
The end result...