Monday, November 19, 2012

Construction Party for a 4 year old

This weekend we threw Tristan a construction party for his upcoming 4th birthday. It was sort of a full time job this past week planning and implementing his party. Seriously. It was also a last minute scramble to accommodate twice as many guests. We anticipated half the number of guests but then to our surprise everyone but one child accepted their invitation. Last year we had trouble getting enough kids so we invited a lot this year. I was very impressed that everyone RSVP-ed back on time as well:) You can never predict these things but you need to be ready at all times to do whatever you can! The last 24 hours before the party was a grind.

The Preparation

I spent the last few weeks here and there thinking about the party and slowly coming up with ideas. Every time we went shopping, I would browse for things that we could use for the party. I even picked up a couple of things during Halloween because black and orange were good "construction" colors. I wish I had gotten more stuff though because once Halloween came, everything was gone:( You know how hard it is to get orange and black decorations? Hard! Yellow, on the other hand, is available everywhere.

Last year was our first theme party for Tristan. When he turned 3 years old, we had a "monkey" party. It was also the first time I baked a cake for his birthday. I didn't really have the skills to do it before. Since then I had a bit more practice and now I have the confidence to bake more theme cakes and will probably never buy another one again. Lol. For this year's theme, I chose to throw a "construction" party because it is something I've always wanted to throw for him and I thought 4 years would be a good age for it. He already has a lot of construction toys, which made it perfect for using as decoration at the party :) Thanks to Pinterest and the popularity of theme parties from a lot of creative parents, there are tons of ideas out there. Construction parties are indeed very popular, but not popular enough to find supplies for at the Dollar store yet. Luckily, we were in Seattle recently and were able to grab some cool construction party supplies at one of the big stores down there :)

We had store bought decorations and I made some on my own as well. I customized them to read "Tristan 4", "Kids At Play," "Kids At Work," and "Party Zone" etc. The signs were easy to photoshop and I just used yellow and orange construction paper to print them on. They turned out better than I thought. I initially created them with a black marker but the computer printed ones were faster to create and they looked so much better! Then I went a bit crazy with photoshop and decided to photoshop the food labels, food picks, and thank-you tags as well. It was pretty straight forward and all the computer printed stuff just made everything look a bit more professional. You know how I like to pretend to be professional, right? :) Lol.

We had ton of game ideas but when we found out we had so many guests, we had to change our games at the last minute. We had three prizes for three games. We had other activities planned as well, like coloring the dump truck and building paper construction vehicles, but there wouldn't be prizes for those. It was so cool that I found so much stuff on the Internet for our construction party :)

The week leading up to the party was kind of crazy. When we realized the challenge we were up against, I just laughed so hard. I absolutely love planning parties but even I freaked out at the thought of having to plan, host, and cook for more than 30 people. Could I really do all that by myself? I ended up delegating some party tasks to Jean-Louis. I just couldn't handle doing EVERYTHING. Jean-Louis had no choice but to help me with the games. He also helped with putting up the decorations, putting up signs to direct guests to our party site, and of course driving me to the store to fetch things. For a couple of nights, Jean-Louis and I both lost sleep over the stress. Lol. The day of the party, I had to ask my parents to come by 1 1/2 hours earlier to help out. They helped with the tuna sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, veggies and fruit and they helped carry everything over to the party site. We used a bigger room in our building, which was a minute walk away.

Signs/clues to lead guests to party site.

Party Day

There were around 12 kids, including Tristan, and many more adults. There were well over 30 people at the party. My family was there too but there were only a few of them. I have never hosted such a big party or fed that many people before. Ever! We were maybe 30 minutes late, which is always embarrassing, and I realized the next day that I forgot to serve some food. Doh! Even without that missing food, I was still able to fill pretty much the entire pool table with food and that didn't include the dessert either. I guess I really do cook too much food! Haha.

Two words come to mind when I think back to our construction party: epic and chaos. It was the biggest party we have ever thrown! So much work and detail went into bringing it to life. Some times I wonder if anyone notices all the details, besides me :) The whole place was transformed into a construction site using signs, caution tape, and colors yellow, black, and orange. We went all out to create a wonderful construction party for our little boy. He loved it and so did we! I hope our guests loved it too. I overheard that one mom called me a "supermom" for cooking, baking, and doing so much by myself. Someone asked if I was a professional cook or baker so that was a nice compliment too :) I am none of those things but it's always nice that some people think I am.

The party was chaotic with kids going a little wild with balloon fights because the "entertainment department" kind of broke down for a bit. I wasn't there to conduct games and control was lost for a bit. We actually used the cowbell from our marathon to get people's attention. Lol. I had to dash off for 15-20 minutes to deal with camera and camcorder problems. If I didn't, we wouldn't have been able to film anything for the party and that would have been devastating. All that work and we can't even document it? Unthinkable. I also had to find something to blindfold the kids for the pinning game since Jean-Louis couldn't find anything and kind of tore the house apart looking. Chaos. Everyone was waiting for me! Luckily, I was at my computer and was able to check my email because one of the moms had emailed me because she lost our address. I called her right away and they came. Phew :)

We played 3 games, which we implemented in the few nights leading up to the party. We had other games in mind but they were only suitable for half the children. When we found out there were going to be so many kids, we had to change everything. Jean-Louis ended up conducting all the games during the party and did a good job :) I love team work!

Game 1 was "pin the wheels on the dump truck." This one was Jean-Louis' idea. Easy enough. He also created the dump truck. Only 3 kids were interested in playing. I think we had a lot of shy 3 and 4 year olds.

Game 2 was picture bingo. I came up with the idea of picture bingo and Jean-Louis came up with the idea of using stickers to implement the game. We had little construction stickers and we had a big enough set for each child. All the kids received a 4x4 grid, 16 construction themed stickers, and 16 plain white round stickers. They had to place each sticker on the grid in whatever order they wanted. We photographed all the stickers and then printed them big on a sheet in color. We cut out each sticker from the printed sheet and then placed them in a construction hat to be randomly picked out. Each child had to look on their sheet for the image drawn from the construction hat and then cover that image up with a white sticker. Using the white sticker was my idea :) It was a bit transparent and removable, in case we wanted to check for accuracy. But we didn't - ha! Also the sticker wouldn't shift around, unlike playing chips. All the kids were into this game so that was cool.

Game 3 was "throw the rocks (or balls) into the dump truck." Jean-Louis drew another dump truck and we stuck it to the front of a big box. Each child was given 4 balls to throw in. Whoever could get the most balls inside won a prize. Most of the kids were into this game.

We had coloring sheets and crafts but the kids were not really into sitting quietly for a long time to complete any of those. Some of the kids colored a bit. We just sent each child home with the sheets to do it themselves. We had a little TV in the corner of our party site so we borrowed some Bob the Builder shows from the library and played that during the party. Kids would come watch a bit and then leave. Some watched while they ate their food. It was fine.

Made a runner for the table so the cloth wouldn't move too much.


  • Veggies, specialty chips served with onion dip & dill dip
  • Ham sausage, bread crackers
  • Pretzel sticks (labeled "logs")
  • Veggie chips, kettle chips
Main dish:
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Tuna sandwiches
  • Samosas (only thing that wasn't homemade)
  • Pineapple, mandarin oranges, persimmons
Apple juice, other fruit juices, Orangina pop, ginger ale, Aloe vera juice

(Things I forgot to serve: black grapes, all orange cheddar cheese sticks)

  • 10 inch Construction cake (chocolate & white cake with caramel & chocolate buttercream)
  • Chocolate cupcakes, with fondant toppers
  • Lemon vanilla sugar cookies
People ate but we had so much food leftover still. I always find that the parents are a bit reluctant to eat at parties. I did indicate on some of the emailed invitations that food would be provided for everyone, including parents. The kids seemed to have likes the macaroni and cheese. The macaroni and cheese, tuna sandwiches, and onion dip were new recipes I tried for the first time at the party. They all turned out well I thought.

I was so pleased with our "cake zone." I thought it looked super cool. The hanging decorations were overshadowed by all the sweet treats though. There was too much happening in the room and I think those decorations were lost in the mix. I shouldn't have bought them :( It was one of the few things I did buy. Oh well. The lighting was also bad in the area since one of the wall lights were burnt out. We didn't know. Boo :( It was a rented room and we missed testing that out. All the desserts turned out nicely, both in the way they looked and tasted. I thought the sugar cookies were particularly tasty :) I think it's because I used more vanilla bean seeds this time. The cake was super moist and delicious. I screwed up the cut a bit when I assembled it but hopefully people got the idea :) I'll blog more about the cake on my food blog later for those who want more details. Only 5 people chose to have a cupcake instead of cake. The kids also got to choose whether or not they wanted to eat a construction cone or rock on the cake. My nephew requested the "dirt" on the cake. Lol. In my experience so far, cake usually wins over cupcake.

Messed up the 45 degree cut inside - oops!

Each child got to take home a wooden construction kit and a cookie for their party loot. I found the cement trucks and backhoes at Dollarama and pretty much bought them all. Score!

Loot gift wrapped in tissue & taped with caution tape.
"Thanks for stopping by" cookie.

We kept mess to a minimum. Nothing was damaged and cleanup was fast. The party was a success. Jean-Louis and I were so pleased and relieved after the party concluded. Omg.


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