Since I DIY a lot of our birthday party décor, we’d started talking to our oldest son about his fourth birthday party several months ago.
Right away, he said he wanted a train birthday party… which we did for him at two years old. I didn’t want to recreate the same theme, so I suggested perhaps animals? He replied, “It can be a zoo train.” And so this year’s theme was born!
For a more tips on creating your own DIY Birthday Party, visit my guest post at the Melissa & Doug Blog!
Zoo Train Birthday Cake
I knew immediately the centerpiece would be the cake, which I wanted to make look like a zoo of sorts.
Safari Ltd. sent me several TOOBS of their animal figures – wild animals, rainforest, zoo babies, and train (somehow a couple of little boys walked off with the train figures and started playing with them!)!
The Safari Ltd. animal figurines are so detailed, and the perfect size for both little fingers AND cake decorating! My sister and I created a two-tiered cake, frosted in green – his favorite color! With green-tinted coconut for grass, and graham crumbs for pathways, the Safari Ltd. animals were posed (washed first!) atop to show various parts of the zoo. We had monkeys climbing the banner, alligators entering a pond, and even a gorilla climbing up the side of the cake!
Surrounding the cake – I’ve always wanted to do this – was a Melissa and Doug Zoo Train set (Amazon affiliate)! Our son spotted this first thing in the morning of course, and spent any free time he had trying to drive the train around the cake (heart in throat!).
The fun part about a cake like this is the decorations were part of his gift!
More Party Decorations!
Our banner this year was honestly one of the easiest I’ve made so far… I cut paper flags from card stock, then punched holes and threaded twine through. Note – use smooth twine not the rough gardener’s twine we had on hand! To decorate, I used monogram letter stencils from Oriental Trading (the same set I made my Valentine’s wreath with!), and my Le Plume markers (which make for the SMOOTHEST coloring marker I’ve ever used) to create the text. Because the markers left slightly fuzzy edges from tracing the stencil, I defined the edges with Sharpie metallic markers, which made his name really stand out.
DIY Birthday Party T-shirts
found these large zoo animal stencils on Amazon.com (affiliate link), and used them to decorate the blank banner flags by simply tracing with the Sharpie metallic markers. The stencils also came in handy for a DIY table runner – I painted the shapes onto a burlap runner in a variety of bright colors! Our son even helped with a few too!
Each year, I’ve always made the birthday boy a special something to wear – decorated bibs, and now that he’s older, t-shirts. This year, I used freezer paper to create my own stencil of zoo animals riding a train! Yasutomo FabricMate fabric markers made it a cinch to color in for the finish. It was so easy, I made another for little brother! I just wish I’d chosen white tshirts as I think the colors would’ve been more vibrant!
Zoo Train Birthday Party Food!
Our menu included Decorate Your Own pizzas, zoo and train shaped pasta in the macaroni and cheese, chicken wings (because you know the lions have to have their meat!) and salad (a zoo animal staple). The food actually went so fast I had no time to take photos except of the Lion Veggie Tray!
I think this year’s dessert table was my favorite of all time! Besides the zoo train cake, we also had: zebra brownies, kangaroo fruit kebabs, caramel corn, and…. A feeding station to make your own trail mix goodie bags!
Zoo Train Birthday Party Games!
The kids had fun before the party decorating their own treat bags with Scratch Art stickers from Melissa and Doug, as well as creating silly animal faces with Make a Face animal sticker sets! I set up a special table with a roll of art paper over the top for extra coloring space.
Since we keep our birthdays family oriented versus a huge kiddie fest, I like to create these scenes and add special details to make the day extraordinary!
I definitely think our Zoo Train Birthday Party was a win for the memory books!
I received products from various companies to facilitate this post and the activities depicted. All opinions are my own.