Camp Andrew: A Backyard Summer Birthday Party

BlogHer Original Post

Each June for the past few years we have celebrated our sweet baby boy’s birthday. But suddenly with the big FOUR, he’s not a baby at all—not even a little bit. He's not a toddler. He’s suddenly such a big boy. He talks to us all the time, and he’s really interacting with us as his own little person. It’s crazy awesome. He has SO much personality, so many thoughts, emotions, questions, and is very opinionated (just like someone else I know...) He never ceases to amaze us.

Invitation

And so, when we asked our buddy what sort of birthday party he wanted this year he suggested an “outside party.” Thank goodness his birthday's in the summer so this could become a reality!

Even though he had never actually been camping yet, within the past month or two he has been talking about camping in a tent and “roashing” marshmallows constantly. We decided to combine the ideas, and came up with Camp Andrew!

Camp Andrew sign

bulletin board

I set up this table at the entry area to display some photos of Andrew from the past year. I used a bulletin board with maps of the forests and lakes in our hometown area as the background. The map of our little town is featured in the top corner and the lake where both of my brothers have worked every summer for the past several years is the main focus of both maps. Kind of fun :) I placed a few lanterns on this table, as well as plenty of sun block and bug spray for the guests. Sunblock is definitely a requirement for any outdoor summer party!

Snacks

Not only is a camping-themed party totally summer-appropriate, it’s one of the most low-maintenance parties I’ve ever hosted. (I mean, it’s still me, so I overcomplicated everything, but you know what I mean.) Since classic camping foods are mostly hot dogs and chips with the occasional side of baked beans, the menu was pretty simple. Heck, the guests cooked their own entree over the fire pit—it doesn’t get much easier!

Hot dog

Unfortunately the guests descended on everything so quickly I wasn’t able to get a photo of the overall table set up, but that’s okay. I would much rather everyone feel relaxed and enjoy themselves than worry about getting a perfect photo. Our simple spread included

  • Hot dogs, brats, and chicken sausages for roasting
  • Baked beans*
  • Caprese pasta salad**
  • Ants on a Log
  • Assorted potato chips
  • Dried fruit and nut bars

* First time I’ve ever enjoyed baked beans in my life. Maybe making them homemade is the answer!
**Yes, this is the caprese pasta salad I mentioned last year and have since had the recipe requested at least 100 times. It’s coming, I promise! At least I wrote it down this time.

Ants on Log

Beverages

It’s always important to have plenty of beverages, but for a summer party in the heat, make extra-sure your guests will be hydrated!

Ben's face

Ben’s face here just kills me. One of my favorite pictures ever.

smores Cupcake tower

If there is one variety of cupcake I make that gets the most “oohs” and “aahs”, it has to be the s’mores cupcake. Just the quick help of a star-tipped pastry bag and a kitchen torch make them look impressive, but it’s really not complicated at all. I redecorated the cupcake tower I used from Caroline’s birthday with new card stock and ribbon to fit with the green and navy color scheme.

S'mores marshmallow Pops

I thought it would be fun to have multiple s’mores-themed dessert items so we had a few of these s’mores pops ready. Basically just a jumbo marshmallow on a stick with melted chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. These were very popular with the kids. I think they just love food on sticks!

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