The once simplistic, thrown-together, backyard shindig that used to describe a child’s birthday party in “the good ol’ days” has slowly morphed to a level of complicated and time-consuming usually reserved for weddings,  charity benefits and coronations!

In an effort to reign-in my daughter’s ever-growing expectations,  I decided to have a camp-themed party in our backyard for her fifth birthday.  While the trickiness of developing a list of invitees still existed, I was determined to make this a whimsical throw-back to backyard parties of yore.

For my daughter’s party, I relied on a few essential elements while developing my overall “look” for the camp theme…lighting…seating….and smores!  I used mason jars with tea lights, tiki torches and large globe lights, all of which I either already owned or borrowed.  I also found dragonfly LED lights at an end-of-summer clearance sale at Target.

I was stuck for an idea for a banner until I came across red poster-boards at CVS for $.99.   I cut the boards in half and arranged strips of white copy paper to form my “CAMP ELLE” sign.  It was definitely a one-hit-wonder…as it eventually fell victim to Florida’s infamous humidity…

The following pictures are brought to you in black-and-white (old-school style)…


The evening started out with guests entering through the side of our yard, under the sign, and between the tiki torches.  A trail of dragonfly lights lead our guests in the right direction.  We roasted hotdogs on skewers over our backyard firepit.  My sister set up her large tent, which we filled with balloons (some with coins), and had each blind-folded child take a turn at trying to find a “prize balloon.”  Once they were successful, they had a chance to choose something from the “prize bucket.”


Next up was tug-o-war….over a kiddie pool….filled with (plastic) snakes.  Let’s just say a good time was had by both the children and parents alike…

(That’s my husband body-turfing)

The games continued with a real classic …..Limbo (purchased from Oriental Trading Company for $19.99, Limbo Rock (Reggae version) from iTunes for $.99)

That’s my girl!  She gets that from her mommy…1995 Palm Beach Gardens High School Homecoming Limbo Champion.  (On a serious note, I hope no one truly looks that up, because it may or may not be true…the point is….I was damn good at limbo!)

Let them eat cake….

Let them eat smores (the lesser-known portion of Marie Antoinette’s famous quote)…

Last, but certainly not least….the opening of the birthday presents….

The evening was certainly a success!  We threw in a little karaoke at the end (sorry no pictures!)…and that was the icing on the cake (excuse the pun.)  A super-simple, inexpensive party and a serious good time! I forgot to mention I took the “free route” with the invitations (thank you Evite!)  As for the “prize bin”…I collected trinkets and toys from the clearance sections, $1 bins, and wholesale online stores (i.e. Oriental Trading Co.)   There was actually so many prizes left, that we re-used the bin at my niece’s party (which was awesome by the way,and I can’t wait to post about it later this week.)  As for party favors, Hobby Lobby is a great source for themed-party paraphenalia.  We used bandana-print boxes and filled them with compasses, flashlights and smores ingredients.

So, you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a successful child’s party.  And, honestly, I think you can’t beat old-fashion fun!  My sister-in-law just threw a wonderful “cowgirl” themed birthday party for her 5-year-old daughter, complete with ponies and hayrides (granted, it helps she lives on 5 acres and is surrounded by horse farms!)  Some other great party themes I’ve seen recently include tea parties, carnivals, and Hawaiian luaus.  A great resource for some totally amazing birthday party (and wedding, etc) ideas is .  Some may not fall in the economical category, but you can always tweak them to fit your budget. 

I’m always looking for new party ideas, so if you’ve been to/thrown any parties lately…I’d love to hear about them!  And, as always, subscribe to this blog so you don’t have to waste your entire day checking to see if I’ve updated anything!!