Second Birthday Party: Tractor Harvest

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Veronika is obsessed with tractors, and since her birthday is in the fall, it was a natural fit to tie the vehicle in with a farm theme for the autumn harvest.

This party was very different departure from others I’ve planned, since it was the first time an event took place off site, followed by the party finale back at home.

But as always things start with the invite! I ordered a classic green-and-yellow tractor design (from Amazon) to fill guests in on the deets.

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The birthday girl got a tractor dress to fit the theme (Etsy), and was so thrilled when I pulled it out on party day. “It’s cozy!” she told me.

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The rest of us didn’t want to overdo it on the tractor theme, but plaid prints seemed appropriate for farmers and harvest time.

Onto the decor! Yellow and green balloons matched with a set of party ware (also Amazon) including plates, napkins, paper cups, and cutlery.

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Outside, where the two-year-old guests would be playing, we set up a mini farm! Small straw hay bales (from Party City) were topped with our farm and tractor toys.

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Don’t forget a few seasonal pumpkins. A vinyl tablecloth underneath meant cleanup of all that straw was, well, a piece of cake.

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I kept food primarily to single-serve noshes to keep the party safe in the era of COVID-19.

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Packets of Cape Cod trial mix, applesauce pouches, and clementines (which looked like mini pumpkins), all fit the harvest feel, as well as veggie chips in a trio of harvest colors: orange, yellow, and green.

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Even the cake featured veggies from the earth: Carrot cake perfectly fit the bill.

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Before all of that, though, our guests gathered at a local farm for a behind-the-scenes tour. Including of course, tractors!

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Then it was back to our patio for cake and socially-distanced play outside. Entertain big kids with pumpkin bowling while the little ones play with the farm toys. If you want to organize a toddler circle time, sing classics like Old Macdonald Had a Farm or Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.

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Favors were very simple: mini bottles of farm animal bubbles to take home!

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Needless to say, this party girl had fun on the farm.

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Party Tablecloth

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This is an easy and fun way to get even a toddler involved with the decoration for his or her own birthday party. Set out a long piece of craft paper, along with coloring supplies, stamps, or stickers, and let the fun begin!

Veronika loved the ink pad and tractor stamp I handed over in anticipation of her tractor-themed party. She dotted it all over the paper, with a little mommy help to make sure the ink prints were dark enough for guests to see.

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Then she wanted to use markers. I gave her green and yellow since these were the party theme colors, although she asked for blue, too!

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If you have stickers or even images cut from magazines that fit your child’s birthday theme, add those, too. It was the perfect homemade touch to the decor for her second birthday party! We even got half of a little footprint in red ink, making it a neat keepsake

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Happy Birthday Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Everyone will love this carrot cake: Parents will love that all the sweetness comes from pineapples and maple syrup; birthday boys and girls will love that it tastes great! It’s perfect for toddler parties, in sum.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrot

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 cup non-dairy cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup canned crushed pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  1. To prepare the cake, combine the flour, oat flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon baking powder with 1 cup crushed pineapple. Add the Earth Balance butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, stirring until combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until wet. Mix in the grated carrots.
  4. Spoon the batter into a lightly-oiled round cake pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. To prepare the frosting, combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup pineapple and apple juice in a stand mixer; beat until combined.
  6. Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake.

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The birthday girl loved watching this bake in the oven.

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The best kind of anticipation!

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Maze Through Lentils

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Veronika is obsessed with tractors and other farm machinery, so this sensory bin was a great way to bring the farm play home. It also doubles as a learning maze!

To set up, make a line of masking tape on the bottom of a shallow tray, forming a path from start to finish.. I wanted this to be fairly simple for Veronika to follow, but made a few zigs and zags.

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Add the words ‘start’ and ‘finish’ for early sight words!

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Next, I covered the whole tray with red lentils. Add miniature farm-themed items, whether miniature animals or seasonal miniatures, or anything else that fits the theme. We used mini hay bales, tiny gourds, and of course a little wheelbarrow.

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Could we get the wheelbarrow from start to finish? I showed Veronika how to scrape her finger through the lentils to uncover the path.

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Big brother Travis wanted to jump in for this part!

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Now the goal was the drive the wheelbarrow along the path, making this count as Veronika’s very first maze. Of course she also loved driving it all through the lentils, leaving the tape path behind completely.

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The mini farm items were so fun to play with in further imaginative play.

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She moved items around and “planted” the gourds in the field, and kept busy with the sensory tray for nearly half an hour.

Halloween Countdown Day 24: Hallo-Bowling

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In the summer, it was giant inflatable unicorn bowling around here. Now that it’s fall, it was time for Hallo-Bowling!

To make this spooky spin on regular bowling, first cover paper towel tubes with white crepe paper. You’ll need to work carefully, wrapping a layer of crepe paper, applying glue, wrapping again, and then repeating all the way down the tube. It was almost like making mummy wraps!

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I then added big round Os for eyes and mouths with black marker. Set up your pins in a triangle, and now here’s the extra Halloween twist: your bowling ball is a round pumpkin!

The rounder your little pumpkin, the better. Then just set up the pins and give it a roll.

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Travis, especially, loved watching those wide-eyed ghosts get knocked down.

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