Camping/adventure party

When my child reached age 10 — double digits! — I decided it would be fun to plan an adventure-themed party, since he wanted to celebrate with a showing of Pixar’s “Onward” with his friends. (He agreed.)

Since quest-themed printables were difficult to find, I settled on a camping/outdoors focus and Pinterested away. Fortunately, I found an Etsy artist (Frosting & Ink) who was offering just the kind of artwork I needed: http://www.etsy.com/listing/590615059/camping-party-decorations-camping

Printed on ivory cardstock, the images were perfect for a birthday banner, cupcake toppers, directional signs, and other decor.

Then I focused on the cupcakes. A batch of vanilla and a batch of fudge brownies (baked in cupcake tins) were soon ready for decorating.

Then I had to solve the challenge of creating the effect I wanted of glowing coals amid the ashes of a campfire, with a marshmallow roasting on a stick above it. I’d never seen this anywhere, so it demanded some creativity.

Crushed Oreos for the coals and crushed dried strawberries produced a lovely, authentic-looking fire. A pretzel stick with a mini marshmallow finished off the cupcake.

The remaining cupcakes had “logs” made of pretzel sticks and pink flames colored naturally with more crushed strawberries and cranberry juice.

I found LED lanterns on Amazon for about $10 apiece, and I already had a buffalo-checked tablecloth. The movie theater set up a table and chairs in the lobby, where the kids gathered before picking out candy and soda to go with their popcorn.

I had pizza delivered to the theater as the film ended, so the guests dined on pizza, Capri-Sun lemonade, and cupcakes before heading home with favor bags containing a headlamp, a mini flashlight, and a jar of the makings for s’mores.

It made for a pretty sweet party, happy kids, and reduced cleanup for us — thanks to the other parents who cleaned up much of the trash and compiled all the gifts into bags for easy carrying, and then brought stuff out to the car!