Choo Choo! All Aboard for a Train Birthday

Is there anything more purely boy than a choo-choo train?

Being the mom of three menfolk, I’m no stranger to some rough and tumble parties – from rock concerts to hunting and fishing and Avengers to cowboys – we’ve ended only one with a broken arm.

When I read about this amazing place, I knew it was meant to be. Luke and trains are like peas and carrots. Time to chat all things steam and coal.

Let’s start with the venue: Cedar Rock Railroad.

The railroad is just north of Austin in beautiful Southwest Williamson County Park. They’ve made some fantastic additions in the last few years and I always love supporting small businesses. They are the lifeblood of our community. I had the location locked up, so when TomKat put her party printables on sale for Cyber Monday, I snatched them up and got to pinning.

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We chose a Friday evening, since the train now runs during the week from 10am to 5pm. Turns out that was mostly brilliant. The weather almost circumvented our plans, but my prayers to St. Jude were heard and the rain held off. It was also homecoming season in sweet Texas which meant that the park was largely deserted. No really. We were the ONLY people in the park and at the railroad. It ended up being the most beautiful setting for Luke’s fifth birthday. Okay, I’ll stop yammering and let you see the details.

The Fun
The train ride! With popcorn! We popped it the old-fashioned way the night before on our stove. I may never go back to horribly overpriced microwave popcorn again.

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The Good Eats
The railroad station had three “pads” of tables, two four-table areas and one six-table. Turns out that six-table spot had blue tables, which conveniently  matched the party theme colors. {swoon} Those are things only I say, right? Of course there were delicious cupcakes and cookies from my very favorite baker on the planet, Olga, at Polkadots. I love that I can just send her the invitations and a few pins on Pinterest and voila, vision made reality. That table runner was just some great fabric, on sale, at JoAnn. My original plan was to sew it, but, life.

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There was a even little Wet ‘Yer Whistle bucket that held all the cold drinks, including water and mini cans of Sprite.

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We had a little “steam” and “coal,” because TRAINS. And also chocolate. You should’ve seen Will’s face when I sent him in to get the brownie bites at HEB. He just shook his head and said, “Man, I love parties. It’s when you let us eat sugar.” HA!

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I needed some height on the table, so I just inverted one of my cake plate stands. Mission accomplished. But, when the boys crowded around for the “happy birthday” singing, I took them down. Because it’s all fun and games until a cupcake gets destroyed.

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I used one table as the dessert/treat table and the other five for the guests. Scott was super de-duper handy and made all those wooden boxes for me, out of cedar fencing. Now, they’re being employed as fall decorations in our house. I like to call that winning. Each one was a mobile party box, housing plates, napkins, blue corn tortilla chips, pretzels sticks (aka logs) and a little pretty with some baby’s breath and green button flowers. $8 in flowers, can’t beat that.

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Scott whipped up sandwiches (our party food staple) and it made for a great, light dinner at the park. Because we had to haul everything out there and back to the house, I had to get creative on the serving ware and food.

The Joy
For a parent who has a child with feeding issues, this moment was particularly sweet. Pun intended. For years, we have struggled with texture and sensory processing. Many of Luke’s birthdays were spent quickly singing “happy birthday” and then rushing him away from the cake to escape the inevitable gagging and throwing up. So many tears I have cried. So many prayers I have prayed.

And then this.

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If ever your heart needed to see a miracle…Exhibit A and B.

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The Thank You’s
The favors were one of my favorite parts. A girlfriend of mine recently started up her own party planning business (take note my Austin friends!) and had the perfect suitcase for me. I packed “The Little Engine that Could” book inside and with some twine and printables, they were simply perfect. Luke took his role as passing them out to his friends very seriously. You know, because the business of being a good host is important.

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These boys have a combined 30+ surgeries between them. They each just turned five (look how much they’ve grown!). Yes, they have lived a thousand lives, and then some. So, it seemed fitting to spend a beautiful Friday evening, under a lovely awning of trees, listening to the sounds of boys playing tag and hide-and-seek. Their mommas have taught me a lifetime of lessons in friendship, perseverance and faith.

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The little engines that could, indeed. Happy fifth birthday, Luke!

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Vendor credits
Printables/Twine/Balloon/Straws: The TomKat Studio
Table runner: JoAnn Fabric
Train shirt: Revolution46R46 via Etsy
Cupcakes and cookies: Polkadots
Popcorn containers: Dollar General
Green and blue Mason jars: Target (but Amazon carries them, too)
Suitcase: Style Co.
Party Favors: Amazon
Conductor hat: my Mom!
White party stands: Ikea via a sweet neighbor


  1. Heather on October 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    How adorable is that party?! And the birthday boy!? I mean, really. Cuteness overload! If we ever come near Austin we are SO stopping by that place. We have quite a few railroads here in Birmingham, being the Industrial Era mothership, but only a few railroad parks that are deemed safe for a mom of 3 to wander. Anyway, adorable party! And, gorgeous family, as always!!

  2. Amy on October 2, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Oh goodness that is adorable!!! I love your ideas and creativity!!! So much happiness on Luke’s face! What a very very special day for him.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. […] finally shared all the pretty, lovely and awesome about Luke’s fifth birthday party. For some reason the fifth milestone struck a chord this year. Pouring the love into the details […]

  4. Nicole on October 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE all of this! I love the popcorn as steam – I never would have thought of that! The colors couldn’t be more perfect, and his train t-shirt is just the right tie in to the theme. Well done, mama!

  5. Bonnie on October 3, 2014 at 9:42 am

    So cute, K!

  6. Elise on October 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Oh my goodness, this party! You’re so great with all the details, Kathryn. I love them. And I totally would have noticed and rejoiced if the picnic tables matched the color scheme. Amazing!

  7. It’s Fall Y’all on October 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    […] might recognize those cedar fence boxes and green Mason jars from this shindig. Several years ago, on a whim, I had the kids whip up the “thanks” craft while I cooked […]

  8. […] The table was decorated with my go-to white tablecloth (my party workhorse) and a little green- and white-striped fabric, leftover from Luke’s train party. […]

  9. […] that doesn’t mean that both sides of your table have to look the same. Case in point, this train-themed party I created for my son. I elevated the favors on a suitcase, put two lower treats in the middle (steam and coal) and then […]

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