I stumbled upon this theme idea before E.J. was even born, and thought it was adorable. My due date for him was July 1, so I knew that he was likely going to be born around the 4th of July, if not on it exactly. Well, he was born on the 4th exactly. So, naturally, we've had a "Red, White and TWO" party in the works since 2014!
We had a lot of fun planning this one, and frankly, it was one of the easiest ones to plan for me. Obviously, the stores were stocked with patriotic goodies starting in May for Memorial Day, so I had no trouble tracking down decor. In fact, the hardest part was choosing exactly what I wanted to have/do and which things I could skip!
Let's talk party details!
I searched and searched on Etsy for the perfect invitation and found a few that I really liked, but ultimately I decided to put one together myself using some of my Etsy favorites as inspiration. This was my final product:
E.J.'s birthday party invitation!
All of it was for found free online, including the chalkboard background, fonts and fireworks graphics. I designed it in PowerPoint and had it printed through Vistaprint.com. I was nervous about the colors showing up on the black chalkboard background, but they printed really well!
I always have fun with this part! And I loved, loved, LOVED how this party looked when all was said and done:
I love to have a banner at the entrance to the party! For this one, I printed the letters on solid colored cardstock, and printed some flag-patterned paper from this free download to mount the letters on.
Red, white and two!
Dining tables and centerpieces:
Each dining table was covered in a red, white or blue tablecloth. I made star table runners out of felt using this tutorial, and we finished it off with festive flowers and small American flags in little milk jars (found on sale at Michael's). I thought it turned out really cute!
Our grocery store was stocked with fresh patriotic flowers for the Fourth!
I bought a bunch of banners and stuff to hang up for the party (thanks, Target Dollar Spot!) but ultimately we skipped most of that in favor of keeping it fairly simple.
I made a red, white and blue paper chain that we were able to hang in thirds across the pavilion:
The decorated pavilion
Paper chains on the ceiling
At the far end of the pavilion (by the dessert table) we also hung a few red, white and blue paper lanterns that I grabbed on clearance at Target last year after the 4th of July. At the opposite end, we hung a flag.
Red, white and blue as far as the eye can see!
I thought the result was striking!
The "2" Sign:
I also made a sign with pictures of E.J. from the last year in the shape of a number two, and included fun facts about E.J. at two years old.
These signs have become tradition!
The main food table
For the regular meal, we served hot dogs and hamburgers (it just feels right for an American-themed party, doesn't it?), and chips and dip...
All served on festive dinnerware, of course! Dollar Tree had great paper plates and napkins, plus fairly sturdy star-shaped platters.
...plus, "Yankee Noodle Pasta Salad" (I followed this recipe/tutorial)...
My red noodles were a little on the pink side, but the salad was tasty and you get the idea!
...and a flag-inspired fruit platter (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and yogurt-covered pretzels).
Star-spangled strawberries, and other fruit.
We had bottled water, sweet tea and lemonade to drink.
I went a little overboard with the sweets, but that's where I had my fun. I also cut one that I had planned: s'mores! I wanted to have little bags of s'mores fixin's for everyone, but that one didn't come to fruition. We made do with four other dessert options, however!
The dessert table
I'll start with my favorite: the Majestic Bird Bites, a/k/a eagle cookies! I was so excited when I found this recipe on Pinterest because these things look amazing. Unfortunately, I personally don't really like any of the ingredients in them, but my guests who ate them said they were delicious! In short, they are white-chocolate-covered marshmallows rolled in shredded coconut, placed atop chocolate cookies, with cashew noses and decorator gel eyes. (You can read the full tutorial here.) I was so excited that they turned out as well as they did! Even E.J. recognized them as eagles as soon as he saw them, so I knew they were a winner.
Majestic Bird Bites
Look at this guy! He looks good enough to eat.
I also had "Firecracker Cookies," which were just sugar cookies with Pop Rocks mixed in, and sprinkled on top of the icing! I followed this tutorial, though I just used box cookie mix instead of making them from scratch. They were tasty and fun!
Cookies topped with Pop Rocks!
My easiest dessert was the apple pies. It just felt like we needed to have apple pie at an American-themed party, so we picked up little individual pies from Walmart for 50 cents each. I dressed them up by putting them on a patriotic cupcake stand (from Oriental Trading) and sticking little pinwheel pics in them. They were cute and tasty!
Apple Pie stand
I found the pinwheel picks at Party City. I thought they were so cute!
And, last but not least, we had birthday cupcakes. I made them myself: red velvet, blue funfetti, and vanilla. I frosted them accordingly and set them out like a flag. Our dimensions were a little off, but I loved how it looked!
Lots to do at this table!
We always have our guests sign an on-theme book for the kids. This time, we selected Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents. It's a really cute book—too old for E.J. right now, but we look forward to reading it with him in the future! Alongside the guestbook we posted an instructional sign asking for our guests' "John Hancock," and a picture of E.J. riding the bald eagle on the carousel at our local zoo while waving two American flags. Because obviously.
Guestbook sign (the font is Washington Text, free on dafont.com)
The most All-American little two-year-old you've ever seen.
Photo props have become a party staple for us. We love to use them to make sure we get fun pictures of all our guests at the party! This time, we had five options: the Statue of Liberty (printable crown found here paired with a torch made using this tutorial); George Washington (a wig from BuyCostumes.com); Abraham Lincoln (hat and beard from BuyCostumes.com); Uncle Sam (hat found at Michael's, and a DIY beard-on-a-stick); and Rosie the Riveter (headband found on Amazon here and a DIY "We Can Do It!" sign on a stick).
Photo props, ready to go
Additionally, Eric created informational signs about each of the featured costumes (for the record, all signs were made using the previously-linked free digital papers, plus free graphics found online):
We also included an instructional sign, and a photo of our family modeling the prop options:
Photo props sign
A family in photo props
We planned a mini-Olympics-type game that included various events such as egg-on-a-spoon, water balloon toss, and a homerun derby using a child's t-ball set. But, we had bad weather during planned game time, so we scrapped all that and just did a little USA trivia. Eric found a selection of questions online, and we played as we finished eating, so teams were naturally divided up based on where everyone was sitting. At the end of the game, the teams were awarded candy medals (Twix for gold, York Peppermint Patties for silver, and Hershey's bars for bronze) in an Olympic-style medal ceremony, complete with the playing of the national anthem.
The medal ceremony
Gold and silver medals
Favors, Comfort Items & Thank-Yous
I always sincerely hope our guests know how much we appreciate them coming, and given the stifling July heat at this shindig, I wanted to do my best to make everyone feel comfortable. Because let me tell you, it is no joke to hang out outside on a muggy Florida summer day. So, at the back of the pavilion, I had a red, white and blue picnic basket (another clearance find from last 4th of July) filled with patriotic paper fans (from Oriental Trading), battery-operated misting fans, bug spray and sunblock.
Trying to anticipate all the elements!
I bought the stuff for our guests, but it was HOT! I had to dig into that basket myself!
We put together some festive favors for the kids. Each child got a little patriot bucket (Target Dollar Spot) filled with: star-shaped sunglasses (Party City), a small flag, bubbles (Target), a glow stick (Target) and a red, white and blue lollipop (Dollar General). My hope was that, since the party was July 2nd, our guests might be able to make use of the favors on the 4th of July! I also made little star-shaped labels to put on the buckets, thanking our friends for coming.
Favors for the little firecrackers
The favor buckets
Favor tags - I do always love a good pun!
Last but not least, when all is said and done, we send thank-you notes to thank our guests for coming. I designed these myself, again using freebies from the internet, and we sent them out along with photo prints of each guest from the party.
Patriotic thank-you notes
And that was our Red, White and TWO 2nd birthday bash! We had so much fun!
If you have any questions about any of the above details, please feel free to contact me.
Happy birthday, sweet E.J.!