I'm planning my son's third birthday party. This year, the theme will be Thomas the Tank. No questions asked. Seems this Brit book/show series is a mega-hit with the under five-year olds. And the cost of Thomas-related party items prove it.
I'm on a budget, and even if I weren't, I don't think I could successfully justify the cost of these items to my husband. So I combed the Web for Thomas resources and ideas, and tapped into my creative side (thanks to Microsoft Publisher) and am making most of the items.
Turns out, Walmart sells every character invitation except Thomas. There are numerous online stores where they can be purchased. There's even a website where a Mom created a design in Publisher, and is selling the file for $6. Are you kidding me?
(I'd planned to include my free version, but I can't figure out how to attach the darned publisher file!!! Will have to attach later.)
The Cupcake Toppers
I have a ton of Avery 5163 labels from one of my Mom's [many] abandoned projects. After much trial and error with several mediums, I figured the labels and toothpicks would make great cupcake toppers. The DH helped me transfer an image to the left side of the label. Next, peel it off and fold it in half, remembering to insert a toothpick in the bottom before sealing it completely.
Check out the finished product.
The Lollipop Labels
Very similar to the cupcake toppers, I transfer the same image to the left side of the label, and on the right side, I print a little message and the date. Fold it around the lollip so that the front side displays the image and the back side reveals the message.
The Cupcakes / Cake
For whatever insane reason, I've decided not to go with a Walmart sheet cake and to do all the baking myself. A two-tier round chocolate cake and chocolate cupcakes! As I type this, I'm recalling my husband asking me exactly when I'll have time to do this. The day before I answer with almost certainty. Anyway, I'm no fondant queen, so my method is this. I'll frost the cake like most laypeople do, and top it with a lightweight Cranky the Crane toy. The cake topper is also a birthday gift for my son. How cool is that.
As for the cupcakes, I'm still trying to figure out how to display them. I'm leaning toward making a cupcake stand. I don't want to purchase cardboard rounds, so I think I'm going to cover boxes (not sure what type of material yet, but spray paint is definately out of the question even though that seems to be a popular choice. Spray paint and food - ewwwwww.) The best idea I've seen to separate the tiers is a salt box cut in half, but because my boxes (which are new btw) are properly sized, I don't think separations are necessary. But that could change.
(What I ended up doing is finding two complementary boxes. I covered them in foil, like you would a present, and secured red ribbon around the sides to cover the seams. My husband thinks it looks a little grown up, but I think confetti, cupcakes, and colorful candles will take it down a few notches.)
The Goody Bags
I'm not fond of filling goody bags to the brim with candy. I like stuff that will keep the kids busy like activity books, crayons, mini mazes, etc. So obviously there are lollipops which is why I created the lollipop labels. But there are also crayons, and coloring sheets from the official Thomas website.
I'm hoping to find train stencils or reasonable Thomas stickers to include. That's a search in progress.
But my favorite part of the goody bags are the labels. (Did I mention I have a boatload of the Avery 5163's?!?) Under the ubiquitous Thomas image, there is a 'you made tracks' message. I'm debating whether or not I should personalize them, but it becomes an issue if all the kids don't show. And it would deny me one of my favorite activities...recycling.
I am a big fan of balloonpartyplace on eBay. I buy most of my character balloons from them and get them blown up at Walmart for about 50 cents. Avoid florists who charge 4x as much per balloon.
http://www.thomasandfriends.com/usa/Thomas.mvc/Activities/Home also provides free posters. I printed a few and plan to attach them to the patio walls.
I also have about 2 1/2 yards of Thomas fabric I bought some time ago, expecting to sew curtains, a blanket and a pillow for my son's room. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. In the meantime, I'm thinking I may use it as a table cloth, that way I won't have to cut it, can wash any icing off it and still use it for its intended purpose later.
I'm nearly Thomased out. lol! I had no idea how popular this little guy is and how much there is about him and for sale on the Web. It's insane. But I have to admit, I've had a lot of fun creating these things for my little guy. And I suspect I'll be doing the same thing, but with Dora in a few months. :)