/////REAL PARTIES: Modern Train Birthday

REAL PARTIES: Modern Train Birthday

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train themed birthday party ideas

Melisa from the ultra-creative Little Apple Design and Project Nursery sent in this adorable party she created for her son’s 3rd birthday that features a Thomas the Train theme with a modern, updated twist. This is such a great example of how you can “style up” any sort of theme to fit your own personal taste!

(Added bonus: – find free printables of the candy buffet labels below!)

train themed birthday party ideas

Read on for all the details and LOTS more pics, as told by Melisa

train themed birthday party ideas

“My son Austin’s obsession with Thomas The Tank Engine is going on 2 years now and before he grows out of it, I just had to throw him a Thomas & Friends party! The decorator in me, however, couldn’t bare to use the commercial cartoon Thomas. Don’t get me wrong – he’s really cute – I just thought he could use an updated, modern twist.

train themed birthday party ideas

With a brand new baby, I really didn’t have the energy to creatively pull together a birthday bash, so I turned to my party inspiration board guru and contributor, Kelly from WH Hostess. She took my idea, ran with it and pulled together an AMAZING Modern Train inspiration board that I could follow in just a short amount of time.

Kelly also created all the crafty party details – from logos to stickers to banners and much more.

train themed birthday party ideas

train themed birthday party ideas

train themed birthday party ideas

I set the tone of the party with custom paper invites for close friends and family and saved money with free personalized online invitations by Pingg for my son’s preschool class.

train themed birthday party ideas

The menu consisted of gourmet sandwiches, crust-less cream cheese and jelly sandwiches for the kids, mac & cheese squares, Chinese chicken salad in takeout containers, logo cups filled with baby carrots, snow peas and individual hummus disks.

train themed birthday party ideas

train themed birthday party ideas

Some of my favorite decorative touches included the use of 3 foot balloons for a modern statement and simple centerpieces that consisted of of  eco-friendly blumebox vases, shredded tissue paper and clever signs on a stick.

train themed birthday party ideas

A major party hiccup was the sugar cookies from the bakery. My husband picked them up the morning of the party and they looked absolutely awful! Thank goodness I took a cue from The TomKatStudio’s Blog and ordered fondant cupcake toppers from etsy shop Two Sugar Babies, which saved the day!

train themed birthday party ideas

Charynn did an incredible job of creating monogrammed fondant toppers and even a 3D train to spruce up my inexpensive yet tasty chocolate Costco cake – as requested by the birthday boy himself!

train themed birthday party ideas

train themed birthday party ideas

The big hit of the party was the trackless train that rolled through the neighborhood.

train themed birthday party ideas

We passed out engineer hats and whistles as the kids boarded Austin’s party train. The children brought them home along with Thomas tattoos, coloring paper, homemade train shaped crayons and bags FULL of candy. Heck, someone had to take the 28lbs of candy display ordered from the Sweet Factory off my hands and far, far away from my house!”

train themed birthday party ideas

train themed birthday party ideas

train themed birthday party ideas

train themed birthday party ideas


Thanks again to Melisa for sharing this party with us – and to Kelly for offering up free printables of her candy bar labels!

You can download the exact labels (with the candy titles) or blank versions of them below:

train themed birthday party ideas

Click here to download labels with candy names
Click here to download blank labels


By |2018-10-01T05:12:57-07:00July 15th, 2010|Kids Birthday, Parties for Boys|

About the Author:

Jennifer Sbranti is the founder of Hostess with the Mostess®, a creative living and party planning resource established in 2006. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Sonny, and daughters Macy (8) and Rylie (6). Sbranti’s work has been featured in media outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Real Simple, People, InStyle Weddings, and Extra! TV. She has designed creative content and unique live events for several well-respected brands, including Mattel, Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company, Toys”R”Us, Pottery Barn Kids, and Starbucks.


  1. Kelly July 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the LOVELY feature, Jenn! This was such a fun party to work on and Melisa did an amazing job pulling it all together!

  2. Victoria July 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    LOVE it! My friend Claire was at the party, she said it was the cutest!!

  3. Adriana July 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I love this party, it’s amazing and the photography is incredible!

  4. Joyce July 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    This looks great!!!

    So glad to be getting the feed again. =)

  5. dana July 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    LOVE it all. . . . the cute decor, yummy food and a TRAIN ride to boot!! Those kiddos must’ve been in birthday party heaven!!

  6. Melisa, Project Nursery July 15, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Wow Jenn What a great treat to see today on HWTM. Thanks so very much for sharing with your readers!

  7. Victoria July 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Fabulous! Love the adaptation of the cartoon.

  8. Ruby July 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Such a cute party. Great inspiration for any boy birthday.

  9. Nancy Pfeifer July 15, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    WOW! Fantastic party for a boy!!!! LOVE it! She is amazing!!!

  10. Holly of So Chic Decor July 15, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    What a great post! My son would absolutely love this for his birthday party!

  11. Stacey July 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    That train is amazing! I’m sure the birthday boy and all of his friends had such a fun time! Everything coordinated so well. Any little guy would love this party!

  12. Tara July 16, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Thanks for sharing this. Melisa – you rock. This party is sooooooooo incredible. How did you get the trackless train for the neighbourhood? Where did you rent it from? Kudos

  13. bridal girl July 18, 2010 at 3:15 am

    This is such a lovely party! My son Loves Thomas as well so I can appreciate the design of your son’s party. Really cool. My son would also love to have that trackless train for his party.

  14. melissa v July 18, 2010 at 11:11 am

    I love the twist on Thomas the Train idea. My son is turning 4 in two weeks and his party theme Thomas. I already bought party favors, ballons, decorations and made my own invites yet I would like to make some of my own labels and banners. Could you suggest a do it yourself website where I can print and modify some basic designs seen on your blog?

    Thanks for your wonderful ideas and photos on your blog,

  15. Lara July 18, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Hi there! Loved checking out your party! The menu sounded great…any recipes that you can post from it??? Thanks!

  16. Vanessa July 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Love the idea!!!!!!! Were can I find the cupcake tower??

  17. Jenn @ HWTM July 19, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Hi Melissa –

    I actually don’t know of any websites that are completely DIY like you mentioned, but I do know that Kelly from WH Hostess (who did all the labels here) offers these same lables, banners, etc on her website and can personalize them with your son’s name & age – or maybe even do something completely custom if you want them to look different. Here’s a link just in case:

    good luck with the party! :)

  18. Summer July 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I need to get some of those big balloons. Can someone tell me where to get those please?

  19. Jancey July 21, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Great ideas, I had my son’s 2nd birthday party in March and we had a train theme. I could have really used your ideas back then! Love the bright colors!

  20. Candice July 22, 2010 at 7:01 am

    How do you use the printables? I tried to use the blank ones, but they are pdf. so I cannot add what I want to them. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  21. B July 25, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Do you have more pics of the food? I am very interested to see how the mac & cheese squares and the individual hummus disks look like. :-)

  22. Maureen July 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Amazing stuff!! Love it all!

  23. Emily from Spaghetti Arms July 26, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I love this so much. I’m having a red and light blue vintagey-themed party for my son’s third birthday in September, and this party inspires me!

  24. Muna October 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    woww!! these are great ideas of modern train birthday party.
    am in the midst of collecting ideas for my son’s 2nd choo choo train party :)
    thanks for sharing :)

    kuala lumpur

  25. janice March 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    LOVE the party! Where did you order the invites and banners from?

  26. Lidia March 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Where can I get the printouts?

  27. Robin Evans July 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I LOVE your taste! I am planning a train birthday party for my son on September 10th. He is turning one! I don’t want to use Thomas the Train character either, I want to make it so that everyone can enjoy the decor! I love your ideas for the candy, all the colors, etc. The colors go perfect for the invitations that I already ordered from Polkadot Design.com. I have one question, where can I maybe print the train photos that you have to match your labels?? I think I can pull it off if I had a train I could print and make signs with. Thanks so much for your help!

  28. ann reardon September 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Hi, Your beautiful train party has been featured on best of the web thomas parties & cakes To grab your button go to the bottom of the post and copy and paste the html code onto your page.

  29. Anna June 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Love this!
    So much inspiration from this amazing little party! Thanks for sharing.

  30. Ann Reardon July 7, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Your thomas party has been featured on BEST OF THE WEB THOMAS PARTIES CAKES AND FOOD check it out and grab a button here http://www.howtocookthat.net/public_html/best-of-the-web-thomas-the-tank-engine-parties-cakes-and-food/.

  31. terri November 5, 2012 at 7:27 am

    hi there, i was wondering where i could find the 3d train that you used as a topper for the modern train birthday cake? thanks.

  32. Melanie November 15, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Thank you Jen for sharing your great ideas!

  33. Damian Johnson October 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    WOW, looks like Austin had an amazing birthday party. Both my sons loved Thomas as a kids too. <a href="http://funtimespartyrental.com/party-trains-dallas-rockwall-allen-plano-forney-murphy/"&gt; Trackless Train Rental in Dallas</a>

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