How can 12 months fly by so very quickly? This year we celebrated my son’s first birthday and held a train themed birthday party. This was not a Thomas the Train theme so it was a bit of a challenge to find non Thomas the Train items. We have nothing against Thomas, but just wanted a basic train birthday party. Let me assure you, it is possible. Maybe your child loves trains but is past the age range of Thomas, this will give you options to help make the train party special and personal. You can also expand on these ideas to make the party for an older individual’s birthday party.
Train Birthday Party Decorations
When I started planning my son’s train party, I had the colors blue, white and red in my mind. I also wanted to capture the theme using train crossing decorations. This was a good place for me to start searching for decorations.
Disclaimer: Before we get too far into this, I must warn you I did make some of the decorations. So, if you don’t think you are “crafty” call up you closest friend who is and I’m sure she will be there in a minute to walk you through this. Or maybe you’re willing to take on being a little crafty for this party. It’s really not too much. I promise you can get through it.
Train Party Table Decorations
We had to set up a couple folding tables around our house to accommodate all of our guests. Each table was covered with a plastic table cover. I used a different color cover on each table. The colored tables included: red, blue, white, silver and gold.
I like to make sure to trim the cover to fit the tables better. You don’t want your 4 foot table to be covered and have 2 feet of table cover hanging off of each side. The easiest way to do this is to unfold the plastic cover long ways to the end of the tables, but not open the cover completely. While it’s still folded, cut the desired amount off of the length of the cover. Now you’re only cutting 12 inches instead of 48 inches. Then open the cover and smooth it over the table.
(This post may contain affiliate links. That means that, if you click on a link, and make a purchase, I might get a commission from the sale, at no added cost to you. )
For the table decorations, I used a Fun Expres Train Track Paper Party Tablecloth Table Runner . Three came to a pack and they were long enough to cut and put down as the table runner on all my tables. (These came rolled up in a way that would have them curling upwards when they were laid on the table. As soon as I opened the box, I rolled them the other way so that the curl would be going downwards towards the table in time for the party.)
You only need about 2 feet of this table runner on a 4 foot table. I used a little longer piece on our dining room table. (All our tables are rectangular) If you have a round table you can still use this table runner idea. Just configure the size so it fits in the middle of the table.
I spent hours looking for decorating inspiration on Pinterest. Now that I did all that work you don’t need to!
I wanted pictures of my son up for the first 12 months of his life. I wanted to keep with the train theme so I decided to make a train track on the wall and put pictures between each cross tie.
To do this you will need to follow these instructions.
Train Track Picture Wall
Materials: (based on displaying 12 pictures)
- 6 – 12×12 black sheets of scrapbook paper
- 5 – 8.5 x 11 brown sheets of paper
- Paper trimmer
- 12 – 5×7 pictures
- Removable wall putty
- Cut 2 inch strips from the 12×12 black paper. Cut all the paper. T
- Cut 1 inch strips from the brown 8.5 x 11 paper. Cut from the shorter side.
- Put putty on the back of 1 strip of black paper. Place the first strip where you want to start the pictures on the track.
- Put putty on the back of the first 5×7 picture and then follow it with another back strip. Leave some wall space showing between the tracks and the picture. Continue this with all the pictures.
- To give the track more dimension, angle the rails so it looks like it is turning.
- Once you have put up all the pictures, add some more tracks before and after the first and last picture, if you have room.
- Starting from the beginning of the track, start adding the brown strips above and below the pictures. As the track turns, you will need to shorten the brown paper to make it fit the new angle.
This project WILL take time. I started creating my track the week before the party. I put a little up each night. Do not try doing this the day of the event.
This took up a lot of wall space and it was a great focal point for the party. All the guests were able to see pictures of our son growing up over the year.
You could do this for any age birthday. Pick some pictures from over the years and place them between the tracks.
To add to the theme of the train party, I had RR crossing signs up around the house.
Yellow Crossing Signs
Materials: (based on 6 RR signs)
- 6 – 12×12 yellow/gold scrapbooks pages
- 1 – 12×12 black scrapbook page
- Large black ABC letter stickers or a thick black marker. Or use your circuit to cut out the letter R
- Using your Cricut, cut a full size circle out of the yellow paper, If you don’t have a Cricut, use a large bowl, trace the circle and cut it out.
- Cut 1 ½ inch strips from the black paper. Glue these crisscross onto the yellow circle and add the R to each side of the X to create the crossing sign.
Crossing Signal Lights and Sign
Materials: (based on making 3 light signals)
- 6 12×12 black scrapbook paper
- 6 12×12 red scrapbook paper
- 1 12×12 white scrapbook paper
- Black ABC sticker letters
- Cut a large black circle from each sheet of black paper. You can use a Cricut and cut a large circle OR you can trace a large bowl and cut the circle out by hand.
- Cut a smaller size circle from each of the red sheets of paper.
- Glue a red circle onto each black paper circle
- Cut 6 – 2 inch strips from the white scrapbook paper.
- Glue 2 white strips together to make an X.
- Use the stickers to spell out RAILROAD CROSSING on the white “X”
- Hang these crossing signs above the black signal lights.
(I saw this wording idea on some Pinterest posts. I cannot take credit for the cute birthday wording on this signal. I’m not sure of the originator since I saw it throughout Pinterest.)
An Actual Running Train
An extra special touch for the train party decorations was the actual train set we had running. Since his birthday falls a couple weeks after Christmas we borrowed my parents small electric train that used to run around the bottom of the Christmas tree. If you’re able to get your hands on a small electric train set it will really get your guests talking. You can set it up on the gift table or on a table where you place snacks or the cake.
Our house has an open plan and there is a large ledge between our kitchen and family room. We put it up there so you could see it from anywhere in the party. However, it was so high up that when the track loosened up and the train stopped, we could not fix it during the party. So, I would recommend setting it up in a more convenient location. No matter where it is set up though it will grab your guest’s attention. At least ours ran long enough for all the guests to see the running train.
Indoor Railroad crossing arm
We have a white mantel over our fireplace. I decided to make that look like s railroad crossing arm. Using red streamers and double sided tape we made the mantel look like the crossing arm.
I also had another train set, that was not fully hooked up, but rather just a straight train track with the train sitting on top of the track to add to the fireplace mantel. (My husband, being the rock star he is, took down my Back to the Future DeLorean Christmas ornament and put it in front of the train. I LOVED it and others noticed this little detail too)
The previous ideas and decorations were the biggest focal points of the party. But, I did incorporate a few more little items around the house too.
- I set up a table with The Little Engine That Could book for guests to sign as they walked into the party. I had the book set up with pens and all the guests could write a little note inside the book so my son will know, in future years, who came to celebrate his 1st birthday and their wishes for him.
- Bandanas – I had white and blue bandanas throughout the party. On the snack table, I turned them on an angle so a tip was hanging down off the table and I alternated the two colors. I also used a bandana as his bib during cake time. He looked adorable!
- The cake was decorated by a bakery. It had an amazing train decoration on the cake. It was as delicious as it was beautiful.
- Additional Signage – Above the cooler with the water, I made a sign that read “unleaded” and above the cooler with beer and wine I made a sign that read “diesel”. Looking back, I probably would have used “steam” and “diesel”
- Small train set, my parents had a smaller train set that I also used for decoration. I put an engine near the guest book and the rest of the train set on the fireplace mantel.
While I did spend time making decorations, these were simple decorations to make. They also made a big impact on the setting of the party. These extra touches really made people aware of the theme. It brought everything together.
Train Birthday Party Invitations
I made sure we incorporated the train theme into everything from the beginning. We looked all over for train birthday party invitations, but if it was train theme invitations it was Thomas the Train. Therefore, my husband and I created the invitations. I make cards so this was easy for me.
I used blue 8.5×11 paper and cut in half on the long side. The paper was now cut to 5.5×8.5. My husband found a train image and added “The Birthday Train is Almost Here”. We printed this out and glued it to the front of the card.
On the inside it read
“Please join us to celebrate 1 year” then we added all the party information.
Example for party information
The train departs from the YOUR LAST NAME Station, you address
Boarding begins at PARTY START TIME o’clock
The train departs from the Smith Station 123 Main Street
Boarding begins at 12 o’clock
Lunch and cake will be served
Please be sure to reserve your seat today 555-555-1234
We received so many compliments on the invitations. All of the guests knew it was a train birthday party from the first mention of the party.
Planning to do a non Thomas the Train birthday party does require a little more thought and work on your part rather than walking into a party store and picking up the decorations. However, it does allow you to personalize the party for your guest of honor. We loved hosting a train birthday party for our son. And while he won’t remember it, we have a lot of pictures, a great guest book that everyone signed and our memories to share with him when he is older. The other benefit is that he is so young that I could recreate a train birthday party for him and his friends when he is a little older.
You now have all these ideas tucked away ready to roll out when you need them. I hope these decorating ideas give you some helpful tips to create your own train birthday party.
If you like these ideas please feel free to pin to your birthday board