I'll give you three guesses as to what the duckling's party theme was this year. If you said dancer you're wrong, unless you're thinking about this dancer, in which case you're technically right, but mostly wrong (this is a kids' party. Sheesh).
"Obsessed" isn't really an appropriate description of my son's love of all things firefighter. He lives in a parallel universe to ours, one in which his asthma nebulizer is a firefighter mask, the doorway to our dining room is a fire pole and his baby sister is his fire dog. Did I mention his bed is a fire truck? Literally, a bed inside a fire truck.
And unlike real firefighters, he never takes a break. Ever. He is always on duty. Aaaaaalways. As in he accompanies me to the grocery store dressed in full regalia...fire helmet, jacket, boots and plastic saw in hand (you know, just in case he has to cut his way through the produce aisle to save someone from a fiery inferno).
Needless to say his party theme was decided long ago (right around the time he started requesting that we exclusively address him as 'Firefighter Duckling'), but he did add that he wanted three things - red balloons, a pole and face painting. (Save the pole for your 18th birthday, kid, and please for the love of guacamole don't invite me).
We did have face painting, which I'll share later, but for now, let's start at the beginning.
Last year during the hurricane we put up a board and batten entryway, which made for the perfect fire station locker room where each child's fire helmet was hung, right below their own fire "hose" (mini water sprayer), which was part-favor part-activity (we had a firefighter obstacle course set up in the backyard).
The duckling's party was also sponsored in part by Kinko's. (Not as in "they gave me money to write this post" but as in "I spent $18 in engineer prints for the party which I'm about to describe". Kinko's, I'm open to future birthday sponsorships if you're reading this).
There are posts galore on the interweb about how cheap and awesome large-scale prints from Kinko's are. I would have to concur. Knowing that my son and his friends are young enough to still be into "independent play" (i.e. doing whatever the heck they want whenever the heck they feel like it), I had a few "self guided activities", including coloring this fire truck, which I printed for $9 for the largest size (48"), glued to poster board and cut out ipso schmipso. The original photo was one I nabbed at the fire station open house in my in-laws' town the weekend before. I think it looks pretty good.
Ps how do like the duckling's face? I had two of our babysitters who are home from college come be my "party assistants/face painters". Naturally my son requested a fire truck. When his little friend Kate saw it she thought it was an apple. I knew what she was talking about. She must read Busy Town books because it totally looks like Lowly Worm's Apple Car. No judgments, Ellie and Julie. I think you did a great job.
Back to Kinko's. The second print I made was of the photo of the birthday boy at the fire station, which we hung in the front door so guests knew they were in the right place. I didn't get a great pic, sorry. (In fact there's no picture of my actual face from the entire party, just an elbow in one pic and two blurry knees in another. #momproblems)
I kept the rest of the decor pretty simple but couldn't resist some red pom poms over the food table. And of course I had a half a million toy fire trucks to put out, too.
I found these awesome firefighter themed (and free) printables online at How To Nest For Less, including the cupcake toppers and a really clever "certificate of achievement". I had already decided to do a firefighter obstacle course, but these were the perfect (free) endcap to the activity. Truth be told five of the kids weren't interested, two kids did half of it and three kids did it five times each. That averages to 1.5 completed obstacle courses per kid, so I'm calling it a success.
You know who loved the obstacle course? Weeb. What a great bestie.
For some of the other kids, the heat and cicadas EVERYWHERE meant that the "fire hoses" quickly proved too tempting not to unleash on people and bugs alike. And when I say "the other kids" I mean the dads.