Just about three weeks ago now, we hosted Henry’s 4th birthday party in our front yard with a bunch of friends and family. In all the parties I’ve thrown for him (see his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd), this one was especially fun because for the first time, he reeeeallly knew it was his birthday. He knew what theme he wanted, who he wanted to invite, and what he wanted for presents. He also kept telling us that by the end of the party, he would be officially 4 (although that wasn’t quite true 😉 He had such fun picking out ideas for his party with me on Pinterest and even helped me make some of the crafts in the days leading up to the big event. With this being our last hurrah in this house and with these friends, I was happy to deliver on most of his party expectations!

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Henry tends to go all-in for a particular toy/series/movie/show for a long while before moving on to something else. While I get sick of hearing/seeing the same movie and playing with the same toys over and over, it sure makes it easy to pick a party theme! This time around, Henry was very adamant about a “Dusty Party.” While I’ve billed this as a Disney Planes party here on the blog, for Henry, it was really a Dusty-themed party (Dusty is the main character plane, seen down there on his cupcake). As such, instead of the red- and Planes-themed decor done by most, I instead went with Dutsy’s color scheme: blue, white, black, orange and turquoise…and focused the whole party around this one plane (mostly!)

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As I’ve said before, party invitations are the perfect opportunity to set the theme and tone for the whole soiree! Just like I showed you with the recent Sweet Pea invites, I used my tried-and-true technique of designing/printing invitations from my computer onto paper and then adding some 3D/textural embellishments with cutout paper.

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This time around, I printed the text onto photo paper (which gives a bright, crisp, vibrant final result), and then added the blue cloud frame and cutout Dusty on top of each invite. To make the Dusty cutouts, I used the print-and-cut feature on my Cricut Explore – best thing ever!

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On the day of the party, we had our main display/food table up on the porch…this is always the spot I tend to focus on for much of the decor. This year was a little less elaborate from past years, but still so fun, visually interesting, and really reflective the sky racing theme of the movie!

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I layered a variety of tablecloths both on the table and as a backdrop to create a unique display. Almost all of the decorations were made from basic cardstock with my Cricut Explore. Not only are paper decorations easy, inexpensive and totally customizable, but can go right in the trash afterwards for quick, guilt-free clean up!

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A simple “Happy 4th Birthday Henry” was cut using several different images out of various colors of cardstock and then strung between two mini cones leftover from past parties. On the table, I layered leftover black/white check fabric (from this quilt) with an outdoor chevron table cloth. After bunching the blue tablecloth at the corners with a binder clip (best trick ever!), I added Dusty’s silhouette on paper clouds.

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I created the sky backdrop with a basic light blue paper table cloth taped directly to our siding on all four sides. I love using tablecloths for backdrops because they are lightweight, inexpensive, and come in every color you can think of! To help the light blue backdrop look more like a sky, I made simple cloud banners using cutout clouds and planes (all characters from the movie, also made with the print-and-cut feature on my Cricut). I simply sewed all the cutouts together with my sewing machine and taped them up on either side of the backdrop with clear packing tape!

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When I throw parties, I have a bad habit of focusing too much on the decor, leaving me little time and energy for menu planning and food prep. Thankfully, this was a casual, kid-friendly party, so I decided to offer all finger and pre-prepped foods! I’m a big believer that presentation can make almost anything look fancy, so I amped up how I displayed all the simple foods, ultimately creating a pretty great-looking food table!

Snacks (popcorn, Cheese-Its, and pretzels) were put out in color-coordinated buckets (found in the Easter section at Target). The “In-flight Snacks” labels were cheeky little additions made from vinyl stuck on just for the party! Scoops (just measuring cups from the kitchen), help keep little hands (and germs) out of the buckets!

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I saved myself a ton of prep time by buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables! It was quite a scramble getting everything setup that morning, so this turned out to be a great decision!

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For lunch, we served the basic burgers, hotdogs and Italian sausages with buns and fixings – enough variety to please the whole group! Everything was served on super cute orange chevron plates with matching napkins – a big thank you goes out to my favorite party supplier, Party Pail, for all the awesome party supplies!

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I knew the kids would play the afternoon away, but I still wanted some tables and seating so guests could eat comfortably, as well as sit and visit. We rented a few round tables and chairs from our on-base rental supplier. This turned out to be such a great idea, because guests really were able to relax and socialize for much of the afternoon!

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Each table was topped with a simple blue tablecloth, as well as these centerpieces made entirely from things I had around the house. I cut the number 4s, the clouds, and the Dusty planes with my Cricut, and then attached them to metal kabob skewers with packing tape. I then put styrofoam into the bottom of large mason jars, stuck the skewers right in so they stood up nice and straight, and covered the tops with blue Easter grass. I wrapped the jars with extra fabric, securing it with ribbon around the top. I loved how simple these were and how quickly they came together! Cheers for having a well-stocked craft room!

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On another table, I had a favor buffet for the kids!

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I tried to keep to the Planes theme with the favors too. A bunch of neon-colored plastic helicopters (which the kids had a blast with but ended up all over the place!!), and bubble wands made into paper airplanes were the main offerings at the favor buffet. The bubble wand planes were a huge hit with Henry and all our guests – I have a full separate tutorial to show you just how I made them coming up next week!

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For each child, I cut out vinyl stickers with their names set into the Planes logo for their very own goodie bag. Little personalized, color-coordinated details like these are why I love hosting parties so much…small details make everything feel just extra fun and special!

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Since we are winding down our time here in NC, this party was one of the last times Henry got to hang with many of his friends. I thought it would be a great opportunity to setup a photo booth so we could grab snapshots of all his little buddies! I simply took three colors of inexpensive paper streamers and attached them to the front of our garage, twisting them several times before securing them with tape. A few balloons and some creates (for seating) made for a quick, simple, inexpensive and oh-so-adorable photo setup! While I certainly don’t mind creating some more involved decor for my parties, I love that basic supplies such as streamers and balloons can be quite the display and look so chic when used in creative ways!

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Last, but certainly not least..the sweet treats table! This was certainly my favorite element of the entire party to pull together…and I’m pretty sure the favorite of all the guests too…kids and adults alike!

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I stuck with my finger-foods-only approach with the desserts too, opting for cupcakes over a traditional cake. As I’ve mentioned, I’m such a sucker for the fun little details, and these polka-dotted cupcake wrappers were one of my favorite elements of the whole party! I love that they made the store-bought cupcakes look fancy and really helped pull the entire color scheme together. These wrappers required no assembly…we simply pulled them out of the packaging and plopped the cupcakes right in! Instant cuteness!

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I had our local grocery store top all the cupcakes with light blue frosting to look like the sky. For the cupcake toppers, I combined these mini Planes figures with a bunch of paper propellers cut from cardstock. Because I never miss an opportunity to add texture, patterns, and color, I cut down orange and white-striped straws and secured the planes and propellers to them with hot glue. Come party time, the toppers slid right in and just looked SO fun!

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I am such a sucker for chocolate-covered Oreos, and have been inspired by all the Oreo cakes I’ve seen on Pinterest lately…so I naturally wanted to add an Oreo cake to our dessert table. I’m never one for keeping things easy when it comes to Henry’s parties, so instead of just stacking Oreos out of the box, I dipped two thirds of them in party-colored candy melts. My dipping technique wasn’t the prettiest, but they sure were a hit with our guests! Thankfully, we had a cool day, so these didn’t melt in the bright sunlight.

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Finally, we also featured a candy buffet. I have ALWAYS wanted to offer a candy buffet at a party, and you guys…this was just too much fun! It was my favorite part of the whole party, and I’m so giddy the pictures turned out because it was just TOO cute…

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I’m actually going to share all my tips and tricks for pulling off an adorable candy buffet in another post…so for now, I’ll just show you pictures of all the tasty treats we offered! So guests could fill up to their hearts’ content, I offered both snack cups and paper bags to hold all the blue and orange sweet goodness! Nothing escaped my orange and blue decorations…both were given stickers in the shapes of the Planes movie logo!

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Phew! You deserve a bag of candy from our candy buffet it you made it this far! So many pictures for one post, but I just had to show you all the fun details of the day!

For inquiring minds, here’s my resource list for everything that wasn’t DIYd!

  • Light and royal blue paper and plastic tablecloths: Party Pail
  • Royal blue chevron table cloth: Hobby Lobby
  • Black and white check fabric: Fabric.com
  • Turquoise and royal blue buckets: Target
  • Turquoise food trays: Target
  • White tray (holding hotdog and hamburger buns): Pottery Barn
  • Orange and white large plates and napkins – Party Pail
  • Blue and white dessert plates – Party Pail
  • Blue and orange polka dot cupcake wrappers – Party Pail
  • Orange striped straws – Party Pail
  • Mini Planes figurines – Amazon
  • Orange, blue and turquoise streamers – Party Pail
  • Orange, blue and turquoise balloons – Party Pail
  • White goodie bags – Michaels
  • White cardboard treat boxes – Hobby Lobby
  • Blue lollipops – Party Pail
  • Orange rock candy – Party Pail
  • Blue sour strings – Hobby Lobby
  • Blue cotton candy – Target
  • Peanut butter cups, orange slices, and orange peanuts – Local grocery store
  • Glass serving pieces – various sources including Marshalls, Pampered Chef, and Kirklands
  • Clouds, Happy Birthday, 4s, labels, etc: images from Cricut Design Space library

All in all, it was a great day, and everything Henry had hoped it would be. Toward the end of the party, completely unprompted by anyone, he rushed up to me, gave me a big hug, and said “Thanks for making this great party for me, Mommy.” And in an instant, he was off playing with his friends again as my eyes filled with happy tears. Not every party will involve days of late night crafting sessions and frantic pre-party setups. But this time, I feel like I made him the special day he was dreaming about…and he was just thrilled with every bit of it….and THAT is why I do it all!

My sweet, sweet boy…four years have crawled by and flown by in equal measure. We’ve been through a lot you and I, but I couldn’t love you and more or be more proud of the great kid you’ve become. You are fun, giggly, kind, imaginative and so so loving – I can’t wait to see what year 5 brings!

See You Soon!