My dad turned 60 last month, and to celebrate, my mom and I threw him a birthday party! My family owns a couple of cabins along a local river, which are my dad’s pride and joy. We went with a camping birthday party to tie one of his favorite things into his big celebration!
Camping Birthday Party
If you’ve read any of my puppy party posts (Golf Birthday Party or Young, Wild, & Three), then you know I take my party planning seriously! And it all starts with an internet search and a special Pinterest board.
If you want an inside peek at the party, check out this Reel I shared over on my Instagram account.
Like I mentioned above, all my parties start on Pinterest!
For Parker’s (my sweet dog) parties each year, I usually try to pick a theme that goes along with his age, name, or nickname. For my dad, I thought maybe I could find a fun theme revolving around 60, so that’s where I started my search.
Soon after hitting the search button, I realized I was not a fan of any of the party inspiration on Pinterest for 60 year olds. Not a fan. At. All. So, back to the drawing board I went!
At this point, I had nothing to lose, so I did something I do with Parker, I searched toddler party themes. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But I’m here to tell you, there is a gold mine among toddler party themes on Pinterest! You can find so many adorable ideas, puns, themes, etc. that you can build on to make a party perfect for you and your guest of honor!
I quickly came across a ton of camping and outdoor party content. As I mentioned, my dad loves our cabins and spending time outdoors. While he doesn’t actually go camping regularly, I thought it was a fun tie-in with the cabins. So boom! Party theme and built-in venue secured!
If you want to take a peek at the Pinterest board my mom and I built, you can find it here. One thing to keep in mind when creating your own Pinterest board is to not be afraid to pin something even if you only like one single thing in the photo or in the corresponding blog post. The point of the Pinterest board is to compile ideas and party inspiration. You don’t have to use everything you pin! And you can always delete a pin if you decide you hate it later.
If you’ve read any of my party planning posts, then you know how much I love Canva for invitation design! I created the camping birthday party invitations in Canva along with a few other paper goods, which I’ll detail down below.
I use the free version of Canva and find it to be an invaluable resource. It comes in handy every time I plan a party, and I also use it to create social media and blog graphics. It’s an invaluable tool!
The first thing I do when designing a birthday party invitation is type in a few keywords in the Canva search bar. Canva has TONS of free templates, so I always like to take a look at those for inspiration and ideas. You can create anything you want from scratch on Canva, but I’ve found that it can sometimes be easier to start with a template you like and edit the heck out of it.
Here’s a comparison of the template I started with and my final invitation design.
Canva has a lot of free design elements for users to work with, but sometimes it can be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for when you search for things. Most of the time, the search results on Canva return paid options and not free ones. Over the years, I’ve found that looking at templates and working off of those can be an easier way to find free graphic elements that fit your design theme.
Activities & Custom Paper Goods
What’s a party without a few activities?
For this camping party, we got the idea for a scavenger hunt from our trusty Pinterest board. I popped back into Canva to whip something up! I started with the original party invitation as the base design, changed the words around, added a transparent box for legibility, and then selected eight things I thought would be pretty easy for our guests to find.
In all transparency, the scavenger hunt is super cute, but we didn’t actually end up playing it! We spend the majority of our time eating!
Custom Coloring Sheet
Next up is the custom coloring sheet! I have two young nieces, so I thought this would be something fun that everyone could do no matter their age! Again, I hopped right back into Canva to design this item too.
When creating a coloring sheet in Canva, I have a few tips.
- Look for elements that are monoline or in a line drawing style (meaning simple and made of just one line)
- If you’re running out of monoline options for your theme, look for elements that are perhaps made of more than one line but you can change the colors to make the inside white (like paper) and the outer lines black (to simulate a monoline design). That’s exactly what I did for the tents and the fire. They are more complex elements that I was able to edit to make black and white. *This trick only works if you’re planning to print on white paper.
- You can also create your own elements if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for. I made the “Camp Kizer” sign with a few rectangles and short lines
Because you already know how much I love a theme, I couldn’t resist picking up some bark colored pencils for everyone to color with.
The coloring pages were a hit and quite a few are now hanging on the front of the refrigerator in the cabin!
Something that my family has at nearly every party/birthday dinner is a “head accessory” if you will. That sounds weird, but we almost always have party hats, crowns, glasses, eye masks, or something equally fun at all of our family birthday dinners.
I stumbled upon these woodland masks on Amazon and bought them right away! They’re super cute, well made, and are guaranteed to make you laugh!
As you can see, we had a blast with them! And to display them, I used an unlit Christmas tree, which served as a party pine for our camping birthday party!
Custom Enamel Mugs
My pride and joy! The item I was most excited about for this party and what I’ve gotten the most compliments on since party day. Custom Enamel Mugs! AHH!!
For Parker’s last birthday party, I made custom tumblers and absolutely love the level of personalization they added to the party.
For this camping birthday party, I was originally playing around with the idea of customized thermoses (like the plastic ones that everyone had to match their lunchboxes in the 90s). I ran into some issues with this idea and could not find what I was looking for at an affordable price.
In my thermos search, I had a spark of genius and thought about enamel mugs. Again, I hopped on Amazon and found exactly what I wanted right way. These enamel mugs are simple, camper chic, and affordable. They also come in several other colors if you don’t want white.
Once I had my mugs, it was time to figure out my design. I knew I wanted something to mark that they were birthday cups, but I wanted more than just “Rob’s 60th” on them. I pulled out the party invitations and started playing around with the “happy camper” wording I’d used on those.
Well an adorable idea was born, and I never looked back!
Execution & Materials
I used the program Procreate on my iPad Pro to draw the little tents I used for A’s. After a quick export of the art from my iPad, I imported it to Silhouette Studio (the software for my Silhouette cutting machine).
I made a few adjustments to the art once I got it in the cutting software, placed the tents where the A’s should be in “Happy Camper” and then started cutting.
I used a permanent matte vinyl in black. And all of the text for these custom decals is Britannic Bold. It’s my go-to font for all vinyl projects. Here’s a Reel I shared over on my Instagram page, which shows how I applied the vinyl to the mugs.
Making the custom enamel party mugs was probably the most time consuming project for the camping birthday party. But as I stated earlier, they are what I’m most proud of and have gotten tons of compliments. One of my friends even told me that she’s considering making some for her bridesmaids. Such a cute idea!
Chalkboards, letter boards, and white boards are invaluable when it comes to party signage! I like to gather all my boards and use them to welcome guests, identify party areas, display party puns (of course!), and much more! I use all these boards in my everyday home decor, so it’s super easy to swap them in + out and update the phrases for parties and events.
Here are a few of my favorites and the boards I used for the camping birthday party:
- Large Letterfolk letter board
- Mini Letterfolk letter board
- Chalkboards with stands
- Small letter board & oak stand
- Chalk Markers
Your signs might be different than mine, but here’s what I went with:
- Camper Registration (The first things guests saw. Sitting next to the cabin’s guest book for everyone to add their name to.)
- Welcome to Camp Kizer (Insert your own last name here)
- Mess Hall (Food table)
- Camp Store (Gift table where only the birthday boy was eligible to shop)
- Activity Center
- C2 Bunks (The party was held in our second cabin, which we affectionately call “C2”)
For the food label cards on the mess hall table, I used brown Kraft paper and a black brush pen. Super simple, cute, and on theme. Here’s a little Reel showing you how I did it.
We couldn’t have had a more perfect venue for our camping birthday party than our river cabins, however, party decor was still important!
Along with all of our signs, we needed some basic items as well like balloons and a tassel banner. I grabbed a tassel banner kit on Amazon and was really impressed with it! It took me about an hour to make all the tassels (it’s not hard, it just takes times), but the quality was great and one package made 30 tassels.
For Parker’s third birthday, I purchased an inflatable giraffe. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but when I saw it, I knew I had to have it! After that party, I knew I wanted to get an inflatable animal for the camping birthday party too. I was originally looking for a bear, but couldn’t find one. The next best things was this inflatable deer, so that’s what I went with! And the deer was a HIT! My nieces played with it for over an hour! Talk about cute and $17 well spent!
I bought a few additional things to tie the theme together!
- Buffalo Plaid party ware
- Metal hurricane lanterns
- Large wood plaques as a cake stand and for serving food
And now the for food! Over the years, I’ve found that party food is one of my favorite things to plan! You know why? I love puns, and I find party food puns to be some of the best! I like to go all out, so naming my food after the camping party theme is CRITICAL!
- Moss ball (A cheese ball with crackers. We used the garlic cheese ball recipe included in this blog post and then rolled it in parsley to give it the mossy look. 10/10 recommend this cheese ball recipe for any party you throw. It was delicious!)
- Fishing rods (a pretzel rod made to look like a fishing pole by tying licorice to the rod with a gummy worm on the end)
- Logs (Swiss Cake Rolls)
- Hot dogs roasted over the campfire
- Campfire cake (learn how to make the candy flames here)
- Trail mix
- River water (blueish green party punch)
- Matches (pretzels dipped in white chocolate and covered in red sprinkles. My mom said these were tedious to make, and it would be easier to use red candy melts and leave off the sprinkles.)
- Wild berries (a simple fruit salad of your favorite berries)
- Rainbow trout (rainbow Goldfish)
- Arrows (vegetable or fruit kabobs)
- Flames (Nacho Cheese Doritos)
There you have it! All sorts of ideas and inspiration for planning and hosting your own camping birthday party! I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out!
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