My oldest daughter turned 11 last month. That’s right, E-L-E-V-E-N.
Hold the phone, this girl is growing up way too stinkin’ fast.
Believe what they tell you about having kids. You blink, they grow. And it doesn’t stop!
I have sort of an unwritten rule of thumb about throwing birthday parties in our family.
Each year you get a party, but they trade-off between kid and family versions. So this year was a family party year for our birthday girl.
We’ve always wanted to try a campout in our backyard. So when I suggested that’s what we choose for our party theme this year, she was all for it!
My brother and sister-in-law generously let us borrow their larger tent for our family – and since we aren’t really camp-savvy they even graciously set it up – and they also brought along their smaller tent for them to sleep in.
Thankfully the weather cooperated. After a few really bad rain storms, I was afraid our campout would have to be moved indoors, but the yard dried out enough to accommodate.
Here were a few other highlights from the party:
We kept the menu classic: lemonade, hot dogs, baked beans, roasted red potatoes and corn on the cob. For snacks we had a few different varieties of trail mixes, goldfish and gummy worms/Swedish fish.
We made these cute little “fishing rods” using pretzel rods and pull-apart red licorice tied to the end of a gummy worm.
My daughter requested a homemade ice cream cake this year, which my sister and I attempted to try our hands at making. After a little bit of research and a lot of freezing and re-freezing each layer, we were successful! And it was fun making the “forest” scene on the top using some plastic toys we had.
I also made some cute campfire inspired chocolate cupcakes for her to take to school for a birthday treat. They were iced with orange frosting to look like flames, and mini pretzels to look like logs.
I am actually kind of proud to say I really did not have to purchase a whole lot to pull the decorating portion off for this party’s theme. I already had a lot of the stuff lying around that came together to create the camp gear look I was going for.
A red-checkered picnic tablecloth, a vintage camping lantern, my cast iron skillets, and some of the toys from the girls’ doll stuff all worked to create the look….for free!
I even found this adorable little picnic basket at Goodwill for only $4. It was brand new, never been used. It will be fun to take it along with us on picnics to the park next summer.
The highlight of the party after dinner and presents was the anticipation of sleeping outside in our tents. My kids have never done that before, so as you can imagine, they were excited.
By some odd coincidence, most everyone showed up sporting red and black buffalo check. I must have missed that memo, but I still wore my plaid!
For those who were staying over in their own tents, you had the choice of either enjoying a s’more outside by the campfire or watching a movie inside with snacks until bedtime.
We initially wanted to set up our outdoor movie projector to watch The Parent Trap (the original 1961 film) with Haley Mills. But after all the rain we’d been having, the mosquitoes would have literally eaten us alive had we done that! So inside movie was the more popular vote.
Sleeping out in our backyard proved to be a memorable night. Among the snores, midnight train whistles, chilly night campfire air and hard ground, I think it’s a night we’ll look back on….fondly.
Although I have to admit, I’m a spoiled “cabin” girl myself. Would prefer my bunk any day over the sleeping bag.
I think our little – or not so little – birthday girl was a happy camper with this DIY backyard camping themed party.