Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Camp Cruz, Take 2

Last year, I told myself I would be done with themed parties after five.  I decided five years of parties was a good run and once Cruz was in school, I could focus that time and cost on more informal birthday parties with friends.  And then it got closer to his birthday and I started dreaming of our family gathered around the fire pit with bowls of soup and hot apple cider, and that soon morphed into yards of flannel and burlap garland, the makings of a chili buffet, and good old fashioned camping games of potato sack races and cider donut eating contests.  And nothing makes me feel more creative than watching a good party spread morph together before my very eyes. :)

Five years of parties, with five invitations to match.  Each theme, and the small details that accompany them, are so fun to look back on.  And every year I say I have a new favorite!  This one was everything fall and was as much a celebration of the season as it was Cruz's birthday.  And after watching the weather all week long (on three different weather apps.), we were happy with the balmy temps and little rain that fell and offered us the chance to be outside.  

I kept decorations pretty simple this year, pulling together this spread for our hutch as the main center of attention.  I had the burlap banner from a previous party, and had everything else setting out somewhere at home; except the burlap feed sacks and vintage camping light I scored from a vintage store downtown.   

I made a similar fabric garland for Mila's Tea for Two party and now it's draped between the spindles of her big girl bed.  I love the burlap and red flannel garland just as well and can't wait to find a pretty place to put this for the holidays.

This sign literally took twenty minutes to make.  A couple of pieces of barn wood, some black acrylic paint, and a few balloons to dress it up.  Turns out, brown balloons are not in high demand in the Cedar Valley.  I couldn't find them ANYWHERE!

I had gingham tablecloths, simple red plates, and Mom loaned me a lumberjack serving tray.  I wanted the food spread to be simple and kid-friendly, but after six years of birthday parties, I also know my family comes prepared to eat!  Beau made his famous chili, and my mom made a pot of chicken chowder.  We grilled hot dogs for the kids (and for those creative enough to make chili dogs), and had a meat and cheese tray, apple sauce, apple slices and this yummy brown sugar dip, and an easy harvest hash (similar to this one).  I also made a yummy apple cider punch with apple cider, orange juice, and a bottle of sparkling apple cider.  It was a hit! 

My favorite fall cookies, from Wal-Mart.  Unfortunately, I was informed Saturday that they are done selling them for the year.  If you haven't visited Wal-Mart's bakery area lately, I was impressed with all of their festive sweets, including some adorable mini cupcakes in several yummy-sounding flavors. 

This cake!  I could have just as easily baked the whole thing, but paid twenty bucks for Hy-Vee to do it instead.  But I did make the fire!  I followed this recipe for the fire and it turned out great.  The key is to let it cool completely before peeling it off the baking sheet.  Looks cool and even tastes yummy! 

We had a s'mores buffet but I didn't get many pictures of it! 

We did three camp activities - potato sack races, a hands-free donut eating contest, and a nature adventure hunt.  The kids (and the adults) had a ball, especially attempting to eat those donuts!  My favorite part was Mila, in the center of the action, grabbing her donut and nonchalantly eating it while the rest of us looked like weirdos around her!    

After games, everyone earned a knapsack, one of my favorite details of the party.  I went stick hunting one day after work, tied some fun outdoor adventure prizes like flashlights, glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark tattoos, and faulty parachute guys in a red bandana, and tied them to the stick with some twine.  They were easy and made for pretty cute hobos carrying them around the yard. 

And gifts.  We did games first, then gifts outside before dinner.  Cruz loved his new set of Elephant and Piggie books, his never-ending bag of Star Wars loot from Gabe and Gina, his Kylo Ren action figure, and his very own gift card from Great Grandma and Papa, to which Cruz said, "I can use that to buy pretty much anything." 

It was another great party for the books!  And now it's on to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a patient little lady's big day.  I'm starting to think I'm hard-wired to always need something to plan. :)    

(Invitation purchased from Etsy shop, ReplyOccasions)

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