Welp, it’s official – I have a 7 year old! The past couple of months I’ve been recapping my oldest’s past birthdays in anticipation of this one (check out his Dr. Seuss 1st birthday, dinosaur 2nd birthday, zoo 3rd birthday, Mickey Mouse 4th and 5th birthdays, and Mo Willems (Elephant & Piggie and Pigeon) 6th birthday).
We decided to have his 7th birthday party at a local fire hall, because he loves fire trucks. The only drawback was needing to have a smaller crowd due to size limitations (I would’ve loved to invite more friends, especially his classmates). But admittedly, we’ve been having really small gatherings the past year or two for our kids’ birthdays, and it’s made a big difference for me in keeping it fun and less stressful. Doesn’t seem to matter who is invited, I’ve confirmed via trial and error that the amount of people affects this the most (for me, personally). I always want to invite everyone, but finally realized that the most important thing is that my kids feel special and enjoy their party. So as much as I LOVE planning their parties, I’ve realized life’s too short to make these parties stressful (I want to enjoy them, too!). So yea… fire hall = perfect for my son, but smaller crowd (although that’s becoming the norm for us).
Anyway, I tried to keep the planning for this party simple. Here are the details (get ready to see a lot of red, yellow and orange!)…
I did another invitation using Microsoft Office (I think Publisher, but Word would work just as well). I just used google image searches for my pictures (inserted a text box for the “7” in the firefighter hat). I used paint to “erase” the background around the image for my son’s picture (just zoom in to 200 percent or until you can see the pixel squares if more control is needed), and save the file as a new picture – then insert picture and crop once in your document. I’ve also used the free app “Photo CutOut” on my phone with success in the past to cut people out within images (it’s just that at the time I was working off of my computer instead of my phone). Here’s the final image I texted out:
I love making a birthday shirt for my kids, and find the absolute easiest and quickest methods involve either fabric pens or felt and fabric glue. For this shirt, I went the latter route. I always start with a simple sketch (usually based on google image searches and modified to my liking and skill level). Here’s the general process below in pictures:
For the favors, I made “matchstick books” with pretzel sticks dipped in red candy melts for “matches”. This was as difficult as it sounds 😉 My 3 year old wandered into the kitchen while I was making these and wanted to help; they were easy for him to make, too! I used 3″ x 4″ treat bags for the “matches” and made each “book” out of card stock using some finished “matches” for size reference (I had 10 matches per book). I stapled the bag of pretzels into the book (like your typical matchbook). I made the labels using MSWord and just cut and glued them to the front of each book. I made almost the entire bag of pretzels, so there were plenty of leftover matches for the dessert table. They disappeared quickly (who doesn’t like chocolate covered pretzels?)!
Check out some of the party guests scheming to grab some below (it was cute – I watched them whisper to each other about it and look around to make sure their parents weren’t watching before grabbing some, haha!).
I also got some $1 bubbles for each of the kids, because all of my kids still love them! Some of the kids broke into them before leaving:
I used the template sign I created for the “matchbooks” to create food signs. We served “Fire house chili dogs” (we individually wrapped the hot dogs before leaving the house to keep them warm); “Fiery fruit” (strawberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple); “Smoked meats & cheese;” and were supposed to have “Flaming peppers” (red, orange and yellow bell peppers) – but the peppers got left behind in our fridge. Oops!!!
I’ve learned through these kid parties that I really enjoy decorating cakes! Baking them is too much work (and pressure!), but I love getting to customize the decor. This time I ordered an undecorated, sheet cake from Snickerdoodles Bakery (same bakery as this Mickey cake – they make delicious, custom-filled cakes, and are great at decorating them if you prefer ordering a finished cake)! I used pre-made, pre-colored fondant (it softens quickly after you knead and roll it out, plus it tastes good for fondant) and an edible marker to decorate it. I used a sketch for this process as well, then cut paper templates out of card stock (the parchment paper pictured was the same size as the cake, so my templates were made to scale). I did freehand the: hose, water, siren, headlight, flames and the “7” – but I wanted to make sure the truck was big enough and that the windows and ladder were proportional to the truck chassis. I used a cup to trace out the wheels.
The dessert table had the cake; “Matches;” “Fire balls” (cheese balls); “Fire hoses” (licorice); and “Smoke clouds” (marshmallow pops – marshmallows dipped in white chocolate, then rolled in red, yellow and orange sprinkles).
I think making the marshmallow pops are self-explanatory, but the “burning buildings” took a bit more time. I wrapped boxes in brown butcher paper, then drew the windows and flames on with sharpies (a ruler was handy to draw the windows quickly). I wanted the buildings to be different shapes and sizes for interest, and used what I had on-hand. I used a full granola bar box and a one-third, full chocolate milk box – having weighted boxes was key to support the marshmallow pops (which tasted like chocolate covered peeps!). When finished, I used a screwdriver to poke holes into the “buildings” for the marshmallow pops, and may or may not have punctured a chocolate milk in the process… (this was after assuring my husband that there was NO WAY I’d be poking holes low enough in the box to affect the chocolate milks). Hahaha…. whoops! Rather than unwrapping and redoing the building, I rolled the dice and left it – thankfully nothing leaked (and there wasn’t a huge mess on the inside of the box afterwards either). Whew! ☺️ They were time consuming to make, but easy – and I was happy with how they turned out!
Of course, the baby girl preferred the licorice…
For entertainment I made a “pin the tail on the dog” game using foam board, a white poster board, sharpies, and card stock. Yea, pro tip: these are sold as a printed picture because clever kids will use their hands to feel where the tail should go. Only one kid tried this, but still – lesson learned… I readjusted based on where her hands first touched the board, but I was actually kind of impressed, haha! Also, I was unsure how fun this game would be for 7 year olds, but it was a HUGE hit! They thought it was hilarious!!
I also put butcher paper on top of the table covers, along with a couple cups holding crayons. The picture below was taken when the first guests arrived (note the coloring already in action)!
Coloring was a great activity to keep the kids busy until the fireman could give the fire safety talk.
The fire safety talk was great! A lieutenant gave the talk and then got fully dressed in his gear. He spoke with his helmet on, which made him sound like Darth Vader. He also pushed the alarms on his gear, which scared one kid (who politely/frantically asked his mom “Can I go potty? Outside??” Hahaha), but of course the alarm was turned off quickly. It was an excellent way to show kids what to expect in a fire, so they’re not scared of firemen or try to hide upon seeing or hearing one. Hopefully that never happens, but it was a great way to teach the kids. Each kid got a firefighter hat after the talk. E got a white one (signifying “chief”), but his little brother really wanted it so he switched with him (and E was happy because red is his favorite color) ☺️
The coolest activity was the fire engine rides. The drivers even turned on the siren for a bit during each ride (and they made multiple trips so that every kid that wanted to ride could have a turn)!
They also had a fire engine parked in the hall where the party was set up, and let the kids climb in and out as they pleased (as long as they weren’t turning knobs or pushing buttons). E loves putting on his seat-belt, so he got lots of practice, haha!
For any local folks, the Hereford Volunteer Fire Co was where we held it; they were wonderful to work with and I highly recommend them! They help set up the decor when we arrived and were very relaxed – apparently they only book one party per day, so we didn’t feel rushed to get out. Plus, I forgot a ladle for the chili, and they happily lent us one to use (proof that firemen really eat chili in the firehall? Haha). They were so friendly and the fire lieutenant was great with kids (he was SO good with E, who was having a rough time until he let E wear his helmet)!
Anyone else have a party at a fire hall? If you have a little one with any interest in fire trucks, I highly recommend this idea! I think this will be a party E always remembers (I know his brother hasn’t stopped talking about it)! 🙂