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Nostalgic Vintage Toy First Birthday Party

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vintage toy first birthday kids table

From jacks to red wagons, slinkies & more Fredricka did an AMAZING job of bringing her husband’s {very clever} idea of a “Zach in the Box” theme to life! This Vintage Toy First Birthday Party is guaranteed to bring a smile to “kids” of all ages…who couldn’t light up at details like an Etch a Sketch frame photo booth prop?!  I’m also a HUGE fan of the 3D “jack in the box” invitation.

Check out the party details below to see how Fredricka & Lorena pulled off this singing invitation. Yep… you read that right! ;)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • “Lincoln Log” Chocolate Wafers
  • A colorful harlequin patterned cake topped with an adorable tiny red tricycle
  • Fantastic graphic design/printables throughout – from the invite to the cool bottle labels
  • Sugar cookies with a vintage circus font “Z” and “ONE” + a cute sketched train
  • Teddy bear & kaleidoscope centerpiece on the kids table

jack in the box invitation

vintage toy first birthday monogram decoration

first birthday party shirt

vintage toy party entrance

vintage toy first birthday cake pops

vintage toy first birthday dessert table

vintage toy first birthday sweets

vintage toy first birthday soda labels

vintage toy first birthday colorful monogram cookies

vintage toy first birthday lincoln logs

vintage toy first birthday kids table with a teddy bear centerpiece

vintage toy first birthday trackless train

vintage toy first birthday party pictures

vintage toy first birthday with an etch a sketch photo booth

vintage toy first birthday favors

vintage toy first birthday high chair bunting


PARTY DETAILS, as told by Fredricka

I went back and forth endlessly on an appropriate theme for my son’s 1st birthday party. After sitting and thinking long and hard about what he loved to do, I realized that while some babies love music and some love books, Zachary’s interest is simple–he absolutely loves playing with toys. Thus, the inspiration for a toy themed party. A

s my husband and I discussed the theme and how to give it a unique spin, he said “this may be silly, but what about making a play on Zachary’s name? Perhaps a “Zach in the Box” party?” I loved the idea!

From there, the theme was set! As an aside, the tag line for the party, which was incorporated in various places, was “ONE Fun Year.” Having developed a recent affinity toward “vintage” parties for boys, I wanted the party to have a vintage feel, so I decided to go with a vintage toy theme.

To do the theme justice, we immediately started collaborating on a way to incorporate “Jack-in-the-Box” elements into the party, and we decided to try our hand at making a Jack-in-the-Box-style invitation. What a fun project to put together and build prototypes for. To make the invitation, my husband spray painted red some paper mache boxes purchased at Hobby Lobby.

I searched Etsy for designers who had vintage toy themed invitations and found Lorena at Songbird Greetings who was ready and willing to tackle our unique invitation design at a palatable price. She was amazing to work with!

I decided to use a harlequin pattern after finding a really fun and colorful fabric on Spoonflower. Finding the fabric was perfect because I was able to purchase the fabric for my son’s custom hat and bib. Lorena designed side panels for the box invitation with each panel featuring a vintage toy image and the words to the classic Jack-in-the-Box song (“All Around the Mulberry Bush”). The invitation itself was designed to be accordion folded so it would “pop” out of the box when opened. I was excited to see my idea brought to life and the feedback from our guests was great.

The decorations were simple—vintage toys. I went through our home and pulled out the kids’ toys that seemed appropriate for the theme. I also purchased a few items on Amazon and eBay. It was fun reliving my childhood as I selected toys for the decorations. It has also been fun introducing my kids to the toys my husband and I played with as children. So far the spinning top and toy radio are a hit! Beyond toys, I went with the simplicity of balloons, which, in my opinion, are a must for any child’s birthday party. The guests were welcomed with a directional sign pointing them to various points of interest. I made a red burlap door wreath with a “ONE” pennant banner tied in the center and some wood toy plaques affixed to the wreath. I also recycled pinwheels from my daughter’s 2nd birthday pinwheel-themed party and displayed them in the yard for a fun effect.

One very fun decorating element was my son’s monthly photo display. I purchased a set of red 5×7 photo mats on eBay and made 13 (I had 12 monthly photos, as well as a 1 week photo) miniature “Etch A Sketch” frames using paint pens. I was delighted with the outcome! They sat on the kitchen bar with a sign in the middle that said “A Look Back at One Fun Year” (remember the tag line I mentioned earlier) and small vintage sports balls purchased from Hobby Lobby, as well as a miniature wagon.

The dessert table was fun to plan. I knew I would use vintage toys to embellish the table, but I also wanted to make a play on vintage toys with the dessert selections.

The center attraction was the cake, which was done with a harlequin design to match the invitation. I also had a miniature version made for Zachary’s smash cake. I decided on a #1 and a small red vintage tricycle for the cake toppers, and I bought a vintage yellow step stool from Hobby Lobby to serve as the cake stand.

The cake pops were made to resemble “sail boats” and I sat them on custom blocks made by yours truly. Other desserts were animal crackers in a jar, which served as “monkeys in a barrel,” baby puffs, which served as “marbles,” baby yogurt melts, which served as “Tiddly Winks,” Twizzlers, which served as “pick-up sticks,” chocolate hazelnut filled wafer sticks, which served as “Lincoln logs,” and I ordered custom sugar cookies to tie together the party design, as well as pull in a train image. The backdrop was simple, yet purposeful, with the use of a Jack-in-the-Box wall decal found on Etsy.

In keeping with the toy theme, I decided to present each guest’s party favors in his or her own “toy box” using kraft paper gable boxes I found at Hobby Lobby. Again, Lorena was quite helpful in helping design cute labels for the “toy boxes.” The boxes were filled with various age appropriate toys for each guest. The favor table was decorated with a “Z” paper mache letter covered in harlequin paper designed by Lorena, as well as various vintage toys, including a vintage airplane from Zachary’s nursery.

It is very important to me to have an appropriate activity for each of my kids’ parties, so that was the next challenge. Of course, I knew most of the time the kids would simply play with toys, but I wanted a highlight activity, so a friend suggested a trackless train. Perfect! Zachary’s “toy train!”

The table for the older kids was simple. I used harlequin print digital paper designed by Lorena for place mats. I made the kids hats using additional digital paper from Lorena that matched the colors in the harlequin design and embellished them with tags made by Lorena. The centerpiece was a miniature Red Flyer wagon with a teddy bear and kaleidoscope. The kids table was in the playroom so the older kids could easily eat and play.

I started incorporating photo stations into my kids’ parties this year after my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. Zachary’s was fun, although after looking at the party photos I realize we hung the pennant banners that were supposed to be in the backdrop far too high. I purchased a set of photo props from Etsy, as well as chalkboard speech bubbles, and I also made a large “Etch A Sketch” frame (to match the miniature ones) using a custom photo mat purchased from Hobby Lobby framing counter.

To correspond with the “ONE Fun Year” tag line, I bought Zachary a simple “ONE” t-shirt with primary colors to wear with shorts. (Boys aren’t nearly as fun to dress for birthdays as girls) I also purchased the inspiration fabric I found on Spoonflower and had it shipped directly to Janet at Dainty Couture to create Zachary’s custom birthday hat and bib. Janet was great to work with and was able to turn the items around quickly after a slight delay in receiving the fabric.

This party was incredibly fun to plan and was filled with nostalgia that could be enjoyed and appreciated by adults and children alike.

Vendor Credit
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POSTED BY:jenn s.JENNIFER SBRANTI is the Founder and Creative Director of Hostess with the Mostess®, a hip and modern party planning resource.

12 responses to “Nostalgic Vintage Toy First Birthday Party”

  1. Emily Covington Waltenbaugh says:

    Beautifully done!

  2. This party is adorable!! Great job!

  3. Beautiful + beyond charming. Totally adore.

  4. I love how the cake pattern matches the pattern of everything else as well.

  5. that's is so cute and adorable.

  6. Alana says:

    So many beautiful ideas & the etch a sketch idea.great party.where did the photo tree decal come from? Would love to purchase on for my bubs 1st party.

  7. Fredricka says:

    Thank you for the feature! I am truly honored that you all loved my son’s party as much as I did.

  8. CJ says:

    LOVE THIS! How long did it take for you to plan this party? and how long did it take for the designers from Etsy to design and ship your item? I love the train, where did you find this? I am planning my daughter’s 1st birthday and I want to make sure I give myself enough time.

    Everything came out beautifully, and I love the favors, I think I will have to take a trip down to Hobby Lobby!

    • Fredricka says:

      Thanks, CJ. It took me 6 weeks to plan my son’s party, but ideally I would’ve given myself about 3 months to reduce my stress level and minimize my late nights. I spent a lot of time planning my daughter’s girly Sesame Street party, which was 7 weeks prior, so I underestimated the time needed for my son’s party.

      Lorena was awesome to work with and her turnaround was amazing. All of her files are digital, so it was a matter of simply going to Staples to print the files as they came in.

      I found the train by Googling “trackless trains” in my area. If you live in a large city, you should be able to find one in your area.

      Definitely check out Hobby Lobby. I shop them for all my parties and find the cutest decor and great craft supplies. Good luck planning your daughter’s party!

  9. All Fun and Games | Cameo Vintage Rentals says:

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  10. Brandi says:

    Love Love Love this! I am currently in the process of recreating your party for my sons first birthday! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!