Last fall we went on vacation to the island of Oahu, Hawaii. We like to stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village because of the family friendly resort with kiddie pools and slides, private lagoon, on site penguins, and the fully equipped rooms. Anyway, I digress… The Hilton Hawaiian Village is a short walk to the main hub of Waikiki where most of the restaurants and shopping are located. Every evening after a full day of fun and sun we would walk past the Army Museum where there were tanks and cannons from wars and battles from history. My 4-year-old son, K, was interested in tanks prior to this vacation but being up close and personal to the tanks and the history around Pearl Harbor and Honolulu made him a complete military fan. As we were on the cab ride back to the airport K looked at me and said “Mamma, I want an army party for my next birthday!” And so it began, 6 months of army party planning. Thank you to the Military Channel, the local Army Recruiting Center, and the Army Surplus Store in downtown Seattle for helping with my research process.
Theme – Army, army tanks, and all things camouflage
Decorations – black linens, camouflage twill fabric table runners and basket liners cut with pinking sheers for a rough jagged edge, wooden foot locker box, green cake plateaus made from Dollar Tree plates and candlestick holders, a few of my son’s army vehicles and army guys, and army recruiting posters and stickers. The primary colors for this party were black, khaki and green, and a few pops of yellow and red.
Food and Beverage – I used Lady Yum Confections in Kirkland, Washington for most of my desserts including lemon and raspberry cake, chocolate “hand grenade” cake pops, camouflage cookies, salted caramel French macarons, and vanilla cupcakes. For the rest of the snacks I served “Humvee tires” or mini chocolate donuts, “Rescue Ropes” licorice, “Orange blasters” orange cheese puffs, “MREs” or freeze dried fruit and popcorn. My mom also got involved and was happy to help prepare some chocolate 5s and stars to coordinate with the theme.
Activity – When I first started the party planning process I had grand plans to create an obstacle course or “boot camp” but as I got closer to the party date I decided it would be less work and less cost to simply hire a professional to keep the kids active. I worked with Jet’s Gymnastics in the Seattle area to provide on site gymnastics activities for the children. Jet and team arrived about 1 hour prior to the party start time and set up mats, bars, beams, and all kinds of fun equipment for the children to run through as an obstacle course. This activity was really a huge success. The kids were able to get their sillies out in a fun and organized way. Leave it to the professionals will be my new motto! Thanks Jet!
As an additional activity I set up the cut out tank with a few props like aviator glasses, hats, and a camouflage vest for the kids to get pictures as the entered the party. The concept was a lot of fun and the kids had fun picking out props and posing for photos. Lesson learned: use a solid sheet or backdrop for the pictures to really work. This was my first attempt at a photo booth and I’d love to do it again now that I have a better idea of what works.
Party Favors – Huge thanks to the Army Recruiting Center who happily provided my husband with stickers, pencils, lapel pins, flags, and more to really add to our goodie bags! In addition to what the recruiters provided, I added Pop Rocks (which I learned the hard way are incredibly messy and can damage your carpets if eaten by the family dachshund), bubbles, binoculars, and a few other goodies.
I couldn’t have done this party without the patience and help of my husband, the woodworking handiwork of my dad, and my mom. Last but not least I certainly couldn’t have put together such a fun party had it not been for my two biggest fans K&T. I love you both to pieces and my hope is that when you’re all grown up you look back on your childhood and say “We always had the best birthday parties!” XOXO, Mom