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An airplane party for Tea at 3

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Tea chose an airplane theme for his 3rd birthday party.  I appreciated that his choice allowed me lots of opportunities to be creative.

This post has all the nuts and bolts details from the party.  You may wish to check out the password-protected post with pics of the kids enjoying themselves.  The password is Tea’s first name.  (Sandy – this is a quiz for you 😉 )

The invitations were boarding passes with the guests names printed on them.  (Identifying info has been blurred so you can’t hunt me down and force me to design more of these.)

Guests arrived to a “Gate XY (our house number)” sign at the door, an airplane painted in the colors Tea chose hanging from the chandelier, and “clouds” of blue balloons (because white balloons against a white ceiling would be sad).

The kids were hyper from the car ride (and the anticipation of the party, in Tea’s case), so we herded them outside pretty quickly to attempt the make-shift obstacle course I had set up in the backyard.  It involved tunnels, cones, hurdles and slalom sticks.  Some of the pieces were borrowed from my dad’s dog agility equipment – what the kids don’t know…  There were 2 courses set up so they could spread out and keep moving.  We didn’t time them or make them race, we just let them go crazy.  They ran and crawled around it for awhile and eventually turned their attention to the swing set.

The little pilots were then given their wings and an airplane to fly outside.  The goal was to land the gliders in roasting pans, but it was really more of a free-for-all.

During the pandemonium flying, we pulled aside kids to take their pictures in order to make pilot’s licenses to put in the treat bags  (although most kids weren’t as thrilled to have their picture taken as Tea – I think he’s immune to my overly zealous snapping away).  I printed them out business card-sized and they are so cute!

They worked up an appetite and we served airplane meals in divided trays with finger food for the kids, and a grown-up salad and fruit for the adults.  Someone totally burst my bubble while I was in the planning stages of the party by telling me the kids wouldn’t know that airplane meals come on divided trays.  But I bounced right back when I reminded myself I was doing this for me, not Tea.  (Because, let’s be honest, I wanted an excuse to be creative.  Tea would have been equally happy just running around the backyard with his friends.)  One of the benefits of the tray meals was that I could make them ahead, and then drop the whole thing in the compost when the kids were done, just as Courtney brilliantly discovered with the box lunches she served the kids at the shower she hosted last month.

The highlight of the party for Tea was the much-anticipated chocolate airplane cake.  Thank you, Mom, for pulling through with an amazing cake.  The thought of constructing an airplane cake and then frosting it makes me break out into a sweat.  Mom was concerned it wouldn’t look enough like an airplane, but when Tea saw it this morning, he asked to get in it, so I think he was convinced.

The last game we played was “pin the pilot on the airplane”.  I used some free clipart I found online and enlarged it.  I colored the belly of each pilot a different color in photoshop so the kids would know which one was theirs. although they are young enough that I don’t think anyone noticed or cared how close they got to the cockpit.  I initially wanted to design a “pin the plane on the runway” game, but decided that could be traumatic if planes started “crashing” all over the place, given we’re taking Tea on a plane to Europe next week.

The highlight of the party for me was when 5 children went home (kidding!)… because they got their treat bags that I had so much fun making.  I cut plain old brown paper lunch sacks into suitcases, hung a luggage tag with the child’s name, and filled them with no candy!  (I’m sorry, Tea.)  I found cute airplane glycerin soaps on etsy.  I made passport coloring books and included little bundles of crayons.  I dropped in their new pilot’s license, and the kids stuck their gliders in.

All in all, I think the kids had a fun day.  We so appreciate our friends, and were glad to see everyone who could make it.  I had such a good time getting ready for the party that I’m wondering if I could somehow make a living planning kid’s parties without actually attending them.  Any ideas on how I might make that happen?


17 responses »

  1. Awesome party, my dear. Pia had so much fun (we will see just how much fun she had based on how many minutes before her bedtime she falls asleep tonight. that was a horribly constructed sentence). The cake was amazing on two levels. It looked great and it tasted delicious. Typically cakes are one or the other. I had two pieces and am considering driving to your house again on Friday to have another piece. So please save me an ample slice. Like the cockpit.

  2. This is so cute!! I love everything but most especially the little airplane meals and the ticket invites! Oh Robin, what will you think of for Button’s birthday?? Oh, didn’t you know? You are now officially in charge of planning it!

  3. Wow!! What an amazing birthday party!! You did an outstanding job of putting it all together. Love the invite. Love the little suitcases to go, love the Pilot’s licenses. Super creative robin. I rally think you could make this into a business. Start doing them for friend of your and word will go fast. Take lots of pictures, make a website, and show everyone your creative side.

    love it all!

  4. Oh, everything looks so adorable and fun! What great ideas! And I can tell from the pics of the kids that they had a ball! Sorry we had to miss it…We got our little suitcase full of goodies. Thank you! We’ll have to take a rain check and come over for a playdate some day. Lia was asking about Thanu’s house yesterday. (Making me feel horribly guilty as the party was going on when she inquired…) But, mommy is trying to make it to her own runway on time and there’s lots of preparations going on here…:)

    Talk soon!


    Whoa!! Robin, this is amazing! The invite is so cool, how could anyone not come to this party after getting an invite like that! Love the goody bags and the cake looks fantastic (i love cake)!!!
    SO… Wee’s birthday is mid-July, can’t wait to see what you have planned 😉
    What, you are NOT for hire?! … but Wee specifically requested that Tea’s Mom plan her party after seeing Thanu’s extravaganza.

  6. Just found your site as I was looking for ideas for an airplane theme for a summer camp I am doing for children. I would like to know where
    you got the official looking passport cover and also how you made the treat bags. One more thing…..the pilot license….what kind of paper
    and where you got the airplane signa and you menionted wings? Thanks so much!!!

    • Hi Joy,

      I made the passport cover, airplane log, and pilot’s wings using Photoshop and images I found online. I printed them out, and, in the case of the wings, laminated and glued a pin to the back. I’d be happy to email you the files.

      For the licence I glued regular poster board to a big sheet of foam board to give it added stability. I used a craft knife to cut a square out.

      To make the treat bags, I used regular brown paper lunch sacks. I reinforced them on the inside (at what would be the tops) with clear packing tape and then the bags to make “suitcase” handles. The tape kept the handles from ripping off.

      Have a great summer camp!

      • Hi Robin, how did you get the print out of the invites!? they look amazing!!!

      • Hi Robin! I’ve seen a zillion airplane parties online but yours is by far the cutest! Would you be soooooooooo kind to email me the files for the passport cover, airplane log, pilot’s wings and invitations? I understand you probably get tons of requests like this but I loved everything so much! tks a lot

      • Robin,
        I would love use these ideas at church. Would you email me your files?

      • I would LOVE those files!!! 🙂 You did an amazing job!

  7. Pingback: Tea’s Unparty « Domestic Wormhole

  8. Im just planing my boys 2nd birthday on airplanes cause he is addicted to it…. can u share information where did u buy all the stuff? I just bought an airplane cake pan at amazon and i hope i can put it together!
    Thanks… and it was lovelly the party you made!

  9. Hi, I’m planning an airplane themed party for my own 3 yr old ( his party will also be on May 12!) and I really enjoyed what you did for your son last year. I was wondering if you’d mind sharing where you found the compostable food trays. BTW my name is Pia also! It’s so rare for me to see it anywhere.

  10. You really should start a business! You are amazing! I was wondering if you would share your passport file with me? I wanted to make some for my son’s birthday. The one I made doesn’t look near as good as yours! Ever considered opening an Etsy shop? Thank you!

  11. Hi,

    As everyone here stated, your party and overall planning was fabulous. Overall, I have been on major hunt for stuff for my son’s second bday birthday party – airplane theme. Would love it if you could send me your invite file for me to use as well as where you got the trays (great idea). Also please, the passport cover!! Thanks in advance.


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