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rustic and vintage dessert table

All aboard the party train! For her son Eli’s 2nd birthday, Tara Berger of One Stylish Party was inspired by Eli’s favorite bedtime story to create this Cozy Little Red Caboose Birthday Party! This party is filled with rustic vintage decor and details from the story, not to mention Eli and his guests got to ride on a real live train! Makes me want to curl up under a blanket with a mug of hot cocoa. :)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Vintage train ticket punch card party invitation & matching train ticket cookies
  • Cozy white cable knit sweater cake & a little red caboose cake topper
  • Antique suitcase cake stands + ‘baggage claim’ suitcase party favors
  • Train themed cake pops like a stoplight, railroad crossing sign & a black engine + mini railroad crossing cookies
  • Paper pinwheels, banner & tent cards made from pages of the book

train ticket party invitation and cookies

paper pinwheel birthday party decor

white cable knit sweater cake

vintage chocolate cake pops

mini railroad crossing cookeis

train themed cake pops

simple party desserts like chocolate chips cookies and sprinkle covered chocolate pretzels

little red caboose cake topper and party banner

baggage claim party sign

baggage claim party favors suitcases

2nd birthday train ride

PARTY DETAILS as told by Tara

When it came time to plan my son Eli’s 2nd birthday party, there was no question that it would be train related. But it goes without saying that train themes have pretty much been done a million times over for two year olds, so I wanted to come up with something other than the traditional Thomas the Train or vintage train party. My son loves to read books together (especially train ones!) so I decided to base the party on his favorite story book, The Little Red Caboose. We read this every night before bed and he can now recite almost every word, so I knew this would be perfect for his party.

The party was hosted on board a local historic steam train at the Wilmington & Western Railroad, and the photos of the party were taken outside of the train station. I wanted the party to have a warm, rustic and cozy feel with authentic vintage details and lots of handmade decor elements. I started by turning to some of my favorite vendors to help bring my vision to life.


Gretchen of Three Little Monkey’s Studio couldn’t have hit the nail better on the head with the graphic design for the Little Red Caboose Party. She set the tone for the party with a punch card train ticket invitation and carried the vintage vibe through in all of the little details such as the favor tags, party circles, straw flags and banners.

Based on the design of the invitation, I worked with Linda of Frog Prince Cake and Cookie Design to create train ticket cookies. She also crafted the little red caboose fondant cake topper which looked like an exact replica of the train the in the story book!


I turned to my favorite cake baker, Divine Cake, Inc. to come up with the concept for the cable knit sweater cake that was the true centerpiece of the table. With a lot of dark, contrasting patterns on the table, I wanted the cake to stand out but still work with the warm, rustic feel of the other party elements. The texture of the cake was easily one of my favorite elements of the party.

Next, I looked to cake pop artist, Nicole of Bella’s Bakery and Bowtique who modeled her cake pops exactly after the illustrations in the book, including a caboose, a black engine a railroad sign and a traffic signal. These were definitely a favorite among the kids at the party!

As a huge chocolate lover, I think a dessert table isn’t fully complete unless there is some form of chocolate on the table. I found some adorable rainbow sprinkle chocolate pretzels from Sweet City Candy that complimented the other desserts perfectly. The mini railroad cookies were from Stephanie J’s Creations, which were the perfect size for little hands and mouths. And the decadent Oreo cake pops from Painted and Sprinkled were displayed on a vintage tartan lunchbox.


In keeping with the rustic feel of the party, I used real vintage props for the dessert table. I sourced many of the cake stands and pie plates from Triple M Good Parties and the antique suitcases came from Peckled. In addition to her gorgeous event rental inventory, Peckled also created the pinwheel banner and food labels which were constructed with real storybook pages.

The custom suitcase favor boxes were designed by Paper Built and filled with an array of train related trinkets and treats. To help tie the look of the two tables together, I created the storybook bunting for the backdrop (hung on an antique railroad car), decoupage letters that spelled out my son’s name and the giant balloon tassel balloon to add a pop of color.

The guests at the party enjoyed an hour and a half train ride on board a private train car at Wilmington & Western Railroad. My son Eli was in awe of the entire experience and spent the majority of the time looking at the window and pointing to all of the things we passed along the way. He still talks about that trip on a real “choo choo train” to this day, which makes my heart so full knowing that his special day was so memorable.

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