A Handmade Birthday

As a child, I always remember having had a birthday party. When I was very young it was mostly family, but we were so many children in the family and then it was friends from school, the neighbourhood and my parents’ friends’ children. It was always the same set up, the same children and me in a lot of pictures a bit unhappy. Perhaps I had understood already that growing up was a trap and resented it happening anyway.

When my son turned one we threw him a party, with no specific theme and a mixture of guests. He didn’t really understand what was going on and he also seemed quite dissatisfied that all these people had invaded our house. So when the time of his second birthday came a few weeks ago, I decided against a party. I still wanted to give him a special day though and even if he doesn’t remember it, there are photos and videos to prove that it happened. Ah, the joys of  the digital revolution.

As he is currently going through a massive obsession with trains, I concluded that this was the best theme for his birthday. Pinterest, my trusted source of inspiration didn’t disappoint this time either.

I wanted the day to start as soon as he would come out of his room. We have a big collection of toy trains already, so I put some of them on each of the steps leading to the living room, certain they would catch his attention and he would follow them all the way to the bottom of the stairs.DSC_1759

There a set of railway tracks waited with more trains leading to the living room and the train carrying all the presents.


Initially, I wanted to make the main train completely out of boxes, like all the amazing trains I had seen on Pinterest, but unfortunately I had to use whatever was available in the middle of the night, which is when I do these projects usually. I was never an especially morning person, but life with a baby has forced me to become fully nocturnal, haha.

I used some leftover cardboard boxes to form the top part of the engine, where the driver sits and my two trunks to form the rest of the train. The wheels were made from paper plates, leftovers from his 1st birthday.


I covered everything with red wrapping paper and some Thomas the Tank Engine paper. I also used these transparent but filled with confetti balloons pretending to be smoke coming out of the train’s chimney. I made a paper chain with some more Thomas paper to connect the two carriages. I couldn’t bear cutting a window on the cardboard box at that time of the night so I outlined it with some ice cream sticks and hang a small Happy Birthday bunting for decoration.


As you can see in the picture the space at the front was filled with more presents, which also helped to stabilise it.

For the cake, I made a set of cupcakes to resemble train wagons. I used this Marry Berry recipe for the cupcakes. 

DSC_1752I started by sticking marshmallows to the sides of the toothpicks in order to make a stable base for the cupcakes.


Then added some icing on the outer sides of the marshmallows which served as a glue to stick the oreo wheels on. DSC_1754

I couldn’t find any biscuits or crackers big enough to hold the cupcakes, so instead bought some garibaldis, which came into two connected pieces and sat perfectly on top of the toothpicks.


Thomas the Tank Engine drove this train too, accompanied by some minis. I had to make this from the previous day, which resulted in the Oreos not being as crispy as the first day but still quite tasty. If you do have time, take them out of the packet the same day so that they remain fresh.


And here is my little man before he blew the candles. Behind him the permanent pile of unironed clothes.

I was very pleased with the train surprise and so did he. I am now thinking of next year.

And what about you, do you have themes for your children’s birthdays and what was the best one so far?

About delightfullypeculiar

I'm Vasi, Greek living in the U.K. I wouldn't call this blog my sewing journey but an attempt to make and do the things that make me happy, sewing being one of them.
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8 Responses to A Handmade Birthday

  1. tialys says:

    You’re definitely making some very happy memories for you and your son.

  2. Anne W says:

    It’s lovely! What a great way to do it! The best birthday party I threw was for my youngest daughter who was absolutely Harry Potter bananas. I can’t remember how old she was, perhaps 7 or 8? The invitations were handwritten with green ink, given to the parents to place on the front door step in the morning for the kids to find, they all turned up in witch or wizard outfits. We had Harry Potter themed food, I made marzipan pumpkins to put on the tables, and we hired a magician for the entertainment. The kids loved it!

  3. Andie W. says:

    Awww! That has to be the cutest birthday ever! You rock!

  4. Donnalee says:

    What a charming little event! He seems delighted. Good for you!

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