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Ethan’s School Bus Birthday Party!

2012 December 31
by Becky

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When I get an idea in my head, it’s very hard for me to let it go.

So when, after waiting all year to figure out what theme would please Ethan the most for his second birthday party, I decided school buses fit the bill (the kid FREAKS whenever one drives by!), I got this crazy idea all mapped out in my brain.

It included bus shaped banners, signs, tickets, favors, and a REAL school bus.

I started with an invitation.

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I drew a retro-ish school bus and added some details. I couldn’t help but put Ethan at the wheel.

I then spent two months calling bus rental companies trying to find one that would send a school bus to my house for a reasonable price. Like 50 of them. But I’ll get to that in a minute…

After the invitation was in the mail, I started working on other bus shaped and colored decorations. I tried not to go too “black and gold” crazy (as a Husker, I’m naturally put off by these colors) so adding in some rich orange and teal-ish blue helped bring some color into the theme.

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school bus birthday, school bus birthday party, school bus party decorations, birthday party decorations, school bus theme, school bus party, two year old birthday party, toddler birthdayGet bus table signs, and cupcake toppers at my Etsy Store.

The food followed a “school lunch” theme: ham and cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese (in the form of balls from Trader Joes…YUM), veggies, juice boxes, “lunchables” cheese and meat tray, and “hot dogs” in the form of pigs in a blanket. Easy-peasy but oh so yum.

Oh, and of course we needed bus tickets!

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For all the decorations I tried to use materials I already had laying around.  Like the clothes pins of which I had 94 after buying them to display holiday cardsA few streamers, balloons and some curling ribbon topped things off. I wrapped contact paper around cook books to add height to my table—much like Cosmo Cramer, I’m all about “levels”.

After designing cupcake toppers and planning to make cupcakes I changed my mind. Cupcakes require plates and tables and forks and a big mess. So with a quick search online, I found the perfect solution: school bus cake pops. Easy to eat, no utensils required. And how cute would the kids look walking around with school buses on a stick? An easy tutorial from CatchMyParty blog helped me make these little yellow treats a reality. I finished them three days in advance and my tip? Add a little Crisco to your melted chocolate…I don’t believe these are even possible without it.

They were a HUGE HIT.

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The kids knew exactly what these pops were and started asking for them as soon as they gazed upon the food table. I’m pretty sure each kid had three. And no mess!

So back to this school bus business. After booking a bus only to have them cancel on me three weeks before the party, I made more calls and finally found the nicest company IN THE WORLD. O’Brien Bus Service. I can’t tell you how many people treated me like I was C-R-A-Z-Y for requesting a school bus to drive my two year old and his buddies around town. But O’Brien took my idea seriously…and helped me make it happen. Even when the forecast called for downright blizzard conditions the night before the party, Mr. O’Brien was in contact with me, hoping as hard as I was that the snow would hold off a few more hours.

We woke to a morning of dreary skies…but not a drip of rain or snow. But around 10 flakes started to fall. Luckily it was the kind of snow that melts upon impact so the bus arrived as planned. Everyone headed out the door with their bus tickets, into the beautiful falling snow.

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I was the last one on the bus and I won’t lie…when I climbed aboard (and of course handed my ticket to the driver) I looked up and saw our friends and family seated, row after row, kids with wide eyes and smiling faces…I had to hold back the tears. I know, it sounds dumb, but when things work out just as you planned, it can be quite emotional. But I held it together and took my seat with the birthday boy. Then we were off!!

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Matt, our super-wonderful-amazing driver headed around town while I started up the tunes—there were at least five different versions of “Wheels on the Bus” pumping out of a tiny speaker attached to my iPhone. Huge snow flakes fell outside the windows while we bumped along, singing and pointing out each item mentioned (wipers, horn, windows…you get it). All the sudden Matt called back, “Anyone want to push some buttons?” as he pulled into a parking lot. One by one the kids walked up and climbed into the driver’s seat. Turning the wheel and honking the horn were the popular attractions. Some of our drivers looked like pros! Others (like Ethan) were happier just watching.

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Then we headed back to the house for a few more pictures. I’d say we spent about 30+ minutes with the bus and it was worth every second of time I spent finding it. The kids were in heaven. And hey, it was a warm, indoor activity that cost much less than any party venue I could find…plus it was something different. Just our style.

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school bus birthday, school bus birthday party, school bus theme, school bus party, two year old birthday party, toddler birthday

Back in the house it was time for cake. More sugar!! And this year I was sure to put the birthday boy in front of something pretty (not bottles of alcohol like last year. Oops).

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And for the favors? I had a fleet of mini buses.

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 Overall it was exactly what I had hoped for…and, more importantly, Ethan seemed to be completely satisfied too! He was so worn out from playing with his buddies and riding the bus that by the end of the party (1pm) he was sneaking away to lay down. He said, “Lay down. Sleepy.” He partied till he dropped.

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To all our friends and family there to share Ethan’s big “Two” birthday, thank you so much. And to those that couldn’t join us, we missed you.

If you’d like to check out Ethan’s second year, I’ve put together another video! It was MUCH more difficult to put together than last year’s video…I started with over 30 minutes of video clips and photos then somehow reduced them down to 9:39. Not an easy feat, but I think it turned out pretty cute. Something we will love watching in the future! Enjoy.

 

Product list: 
Buses: Courtesy of the Alexandria Public School District Department of Transportation. Chevron Contact Paper: Amazon.com. Signage: designed and handmade by me. Chocolate “Two”: DIY with a Candy Writer. Cake flags: DIY. Bus Tickets: DIY printed at home. Invitations: DIY printed at Winkflash.com. Pictures: me, Joe Schon, Justin Horgan, Lauren Gramlich, & Bret Gramlich. 

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30 Responses leave one →
  1. December 31, 2012

    we went to a school bus birthday for a friend and they also had a bus take the kids on a ride. such a cute idea! I really want to rent one of those mini trains for Simon’s 3rd b.day but I haven’t found one just yet. :)
    Dara recently posted..Favorite Posts of 2012My Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      December 31, 2012

      Oh man! Just when you think you have finally come up with something original…(the school bus that is, not the theme). I think a mini train would be AMAZING!!! I’ve never seen one for rent! Please let me know if you find one.

  2. Shannon permalink
    December 31, 2012

    Wow! What an amazing party! So sad we couldn’t be there to help celebrate. Happy birthday to Ethan!

    • Becky permalink*
      December 31, 2012

      We missed you too! Hope your holidays were great.

  3. December 31, 2012

    Oh my gosh you are an awesome mom. Can you please plan my kid’s future parties?? I was at the opposite end of the spectrum where I told my husband no party when Henry turned 2 b/c I figured it was our last year we could get away with it! How horrible! OK, maybe next year you might need to be hired…
    Jen at themamayears.com recently posted..letting go of 2012My Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      December 31, 2012

      You know Jen, that’s not a bad idea! There are plenty of birthdays in the future, save up your good ideas for when Henry will actually remember them!

  4. Lara permalink
    December 31, 2012

    It was an AMAZING party. You are hired for our next party. :)

  5. Grandpa & Grandma Voboril permalink
    January 1, 2013

    Becky,
    Awesome party! Happy 2nd Birthday Ethan. The video was amazing. Boy how he has grown. Love you guys.

  6. January 5, 2013

    Loved this party! I thought it was super original and, more importantly, he seemed to love it.

    • Becky permalink*
      January 5, 2013

      Thanks Rebecca! He did love it…things like school buses are just magical to two year olds!

  7. Adrianne permalink
    January 6, 2013

    Too cute! Everything looked amazing, what a great idea :)

  8. Grandma Johnson permalink
    January 7, 2013

    Beautiful video Becky. I was brought to tears by seeing him grow and all the love that you and Stu give him.

  9. Kristan permalink
    January 7, 2013

    Fabulous party!! It was perfect in every way! Must say the pictures turned out pretty stellar too :)

  10. Lauren G permalink
    January 12, 2013

    Amazing video! I can’t believe I missed watching it until now! Great choice of music with the pictures. Ethan will appreciate seeing these when he’s older. The holiday pictures cracked me up because I found one today of Ethan’s Easter eggs at the house today back from the “pumpkin visit” last October. So glad we could be a part of Ethan’s year 2.

    • Becky permalink*
      January 13, 2013

      Glad I reminded you…you were, after all, featured. :) Can’t believe you found an egg! Hilarious. So glad you were there too.

  11. Bhama permalink
    January 16, 2013

    Hi, I cannot believe how alike we think!! I had made up my mind just as you did that I want to have a school bus party for my 4 year old, and looking for how to hire a school bus, I stumbled upon your site. And really, you made me feel normal LOL anyways, I am still figuring out the school bus thing – I am not sure if I can dish up $400+ which is what they are quoting in my area, and they are saying a min of 4 hours (I really need it for a couple). Anyway I can do it for less? I would love to hear how to go about this. And honestly, it would be great if you could share how much you paid for it. Feel free to email me.
    Awesome party!!! Love it. hope mine turns out half as nice….

    • Becky permalink*
      January 16, 2013

      Ha, you are running into the same problem I did—hence the dozens of phone calls to bus companies all over Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Since I named the company on my post, I don’t feel comfortable telling you exactly how much I paid (that wouldn’t be fair to them) but I will tell you it was MUCH MUCH MUCH less than $400 (I can not justify paying that for a child’s birthday party). And they let me pay for only an hour, not the typical four-hour block. The trick is to call actual BUS companies, not charter companies. I didn’t figure this out until around call 45. I somehow got a hold of a BUS company, specializing ONLY in buses, not limos or vans or limo buses. The first bus company couldn’t do it (due to holiday break), but they referred me to another bus company and after that happened a few times, I found O’Brien (AKA my heros). All of the school bus companies I called were INCREDIBLY nice, helpful, and interested in my business. I gave them my budget and they agreed (I also promised a shout out on the blog). It was like a small miracle.

      I hope this helps! Just keep calling! Go through the phone book and ask for referrals. Skip “charter”, “limo”, “limo bus”, and look for “bus company” or “school buses”. Good luck!!

  12. January 29, 2013

    Saw your party feature and I had to drop by and say congrats!! What an amazingly cute theme for a birthday party! Your son looked soo happy! You did good mama!
    …love your blog by the way!

  13. September 26, 2013

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it,
    you happen to be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog
    and will often come back down the road. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great writing, have a nice holiday weekend!
    best bachelorette parties in chicago recently posted..best bachelorette parties in chicagoMy Profile

  14. Kira permalink
    November 18, 2013

    Your video was awesome! It actually made me teary eyed and I don’t even know your little guy! Such a sweet idea! I think I’m going to try to make one for my sons birthday as well. My son is turning 2 in February and he is also obsessed with buses! He carrys a little one with him everywhere he goes and gets so excited when he sees them. I loved all your ideas! Your very creative and this posting was so helpful! Great JoB!

    • Becky permalink*
      November 19, 2013

      Awww! Thanks! I’m trying to do one every year…this year’s is a little behind but I’m hoping to maximize my “flying to Hawaii time” by working on this year’s video. So glad you liked our party pics! Hope your school bus party is amazing. Renting the bus was TOTALLY worth it. His buddies still talk about it!

  15. Jessica permalink
    November 27, 2013

    Thanks so much for this inspirational post. Planning my sons 2nd bus birthday party now and wondering where you found the party bus favors? I’ve been searching and can’t find what I’m envisioning. Thanks!

    • Becky permalink*
      November 27, 2013

      Thank you!! The buses were actually given to us by the school district when I asked them to do the bus ride for us and they couldn’t due to liability issues. It was the sweetest thing!! I had planned on getting some mini buses on amazon, maybe they still have some? Good luck!

  16. May 14, 2014

    Hello, I was wondering where you purchased your bus favors from.

    • Becky permalink*
      May 14, 2014

      Hi! My favors were actually a gift from the school district…I had asked them first to do the bus rental and when they couldn’t due to liability issues, they dropped off the cute favors for the kids. I had found similar ones on Amazon though! Sorry I can’t be more help, maybe check with your local school district? Good luck!

  17. July 30, 2014

    Good day! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have
    done a marvellous job!
    minibus rental recently posted..minibus rentalMy Profile

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