Thinking about a Summer Camp themed birthday party? Or are you just looking to jazz up a community building event? Or maybe you’ll host a killer backyard BBQ and want a creative theme? With the weather getting warmer, it’s time to take stock of your existing camping supplies and see how you can re purpose what you own to throw an amazing camp theme party that kids and adults will love! See what you can buy, and see what you want to make for a truly #Semi_Handmade #Spectacle!
Colors: Evergreen, gold, red, orange + camo
Textures: Burlap, wood, satin and matte finishes, faux grass
Invitations: Paperless Post
Entertainment: Outdoor Movie + Bounce House, DIY Pet Rock favors, glow necklaces, Piñata
Rentals: Bounce House, Tables, Chairs, Table lamps
Table Top: White Linens, Square Burlap overlay, Red Bandanas, Real Goldfish, gas lit lantern lamps, Camp Party Plates + Camo style goodie bags
Dinner: Hot dogs, (hogs on a log), Pizza (bear bites), fresh fruit and veggie sticks + grilled corn on the cob
Movie Snacks: Crackerjacks, movie theater popcorn with flavored toppings, trail mix bar and vintage ice cream+Popsicle cooler
Drinks: Sparkling Cherry Limeade, Lemonade, Ice water in carafes
Cake: Costco cake I jazzed up myself with camp theme toys + we dressed up Cold Stone’s strawberry Ice Cream Cake to become chocolate strawberry s’more Ice Cream Cake
Favorite Details: Goldfish, Ice cream wagon, money in the piñata, balloon columns
Total Guests: 75 adults + kids
Entertainment This was a backyard party we took on with the help of rentals. Instead of going with an inflatables company (Cost: $400 for 4 hours), we rented the bounce house from a local party rental company where we rented the tables and chairs, and low and behold, it was HALF the price for an entire weekend with the bounce house. The catch? For a Saturday party, the rental company had to deliver on Friday and pick up on Monday for “Free Delivery.” Problem? Absolutely not!!!
As you can see, we set this up in the driveway of the townhouses (with friendly neighbors’ permission) and it was literally a jump party all weekend for about $200. You can also see this is where we stored the tables and chairs until party time as well, on its side and draped with a tarp in case of rain or dew. To go along with the outdoor camp theme, we thought an outdoor movie would be just the perfect touch for a bunch of 6-9 year olds, and really round out the theme. After scouring Pinterest, I weighed the options of a simple sheet, rental projection screen, and for about $200, we purchased an inflatable movie screen knowing that if we used it just TWICE, it would pay off the rental amount. NB: We have used this 6-8 times every spring/summer/fall since and it has paid for itself many times over! It is just so easy to plug in–it inflates itself!
We decided that the movie screen would be our focal point, and using my favorite link-o-loons, we made these super-easy balloon arches for maximum wow factor. We flanked the screen with brown and orange columns, topped with gold “6” balloons to really make this focal point POP!
These columns were blown up with air the night before and the helium-filled 6 held the columns up.
This was a true family affair, so to make it ultra comfy, we had picnic blankets on the ground in front of the screen and a blow up sofa, which ended up becoming a second bounce house/sled/raft later that night!
We used a TV tray to house the borrowed projector, covered with a white table cloth to make sure it was visible and didn’t get knocked over (a miracle considering this sofa became a bounce house/sled/raft as I told you. Mom of three? Totally expected. Just roll with it!
I wanted to use what I already had in our party pantry, while adding a few #Semi_Handmade items that would go into the pantry for later repurposing. I already had the white linens from every party ever, and the red bandanas from the Farm Party, so I went to the fabric store and bought a bolt of burlap, measured and cut squares for an overlay that would add texture and really bring out the campout theme. I knew these would come in handy for future horse, farm, or shabby chic events, and at $0.50 a yard, totally worth the investment.
We rented the gas lit table lanterns, and I added real goldfish to square, low vases I use for every event. These fish ended up being such a conversation starter and for $0.06 each at PetSmart, totally worth it (and the fish had a new home with our guests who wanted them and in our home, so no fish were harmed in the party process!)
Dinner was served buffet style with long, rectangular tables covered with black linens and accented with burlap runners and red bandanas.
We had empty tin cans holding everything from utensils to straws to dandelions.
We repurposed these mini sparkling water bottles from the sparking cherry limeade at the drink table into sign holders for these cute mini chalk boards. I used chalk marker to label the food items, on theme of course.
We also included a concessions stand with vintage crackerjacks, movie theater popcorn with assorted flavors and the ever ultra popular trail mix bar!
For each child, I pre filled a paper bag with plain popcorn, folded the top over and secured it with a clothespin. This would help the kids identify which trail mix was whose, especially important for kids with nut allergies!
I have done a few trail mix bars before, but this time I rolled paper backs outward to make them sturdy and easier to access. Each bag was labeled and included hand stamped daisies and dandelions for an extra touch. Kids could add whatever they liked to their own bag using plastic scoops in each bag. We had twelve different add-in options and the kids loved it, and so did the parents.
In addition to ice water, we served fresh lemonade and Sparkling Cherry Limeade Recipe, always #Semi_Handmade Stir until combined, serve over heaping ice:
- 2 cans frozen limeade
- 3 large bottles of sparkling water
- 1 large bottle of maraschino cherries + juice
- thinly sliced lime circles (optional)
The Cake I used a traditional Costco cake (~$25 and serves up to 50) and although they say they won’t customize, just talk to the bakery manager and draw what you are looking for on the order form. They are always happy to oblige as long as your request isn’t too onerous. I had purchased this Camping Cake Topper Set on Amazon (the tent actually lights up!) because I knew this was a great way to make the cake #Semi_Handmade, leaving the hard work to Costco!
Because I saved so much on the cake budget by forgoing the traditional chic bakery, I was able to add a ColdStone chocolate strawberry ice cream cake, add marshmallow fluff and graham cracker crust to #Semi_Handmake this a Strawberry S’Mores Ice Cream Cake, on point with our camp theme!
We set up a craft table with a basket of rocks we collected from our local park (washed three times). We added several tin cans of paint brushes and 4 packs of Crayola finger paint. To really set it apart, we had feathers, googly eyes, glitter and felt balls of different sizes.
Each child had a kraft food trays we used to house the pet rock (and its accouterment), which made drying, clean up and take home a breeze!
Each place setting had a camp drawstring bag containing a compass, camp pencils, notebook, whistle and s’mores kit. We tied the bags off with a kraft tag, hand stamped with a thank you from the birthday boy. These bags would be used for the piñata later. I know, not on theme, but the birthday boy wanted it so badly so we filled it with camp-related toys from Oriental Trading!
Just remember, depending on the time of the year, your party may run VERY late into the night since you will need to wait until dusk to start your movie. Be sure to point your screen away from the sunset if you can!
This was one of our longest, most exciting and yet relaxing parties. It turned into an entire neighborhood event and we just love to build community!
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