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Parties for 1 year oldsAt this age it's best to skip the fanfare. Simpler is better. Parties at home are the least stressful for everyone. Schedule for when baby is at his best: Just after nap time or a couple hours before nap time if you want to have a quiet clean up. If you plan on inviting other 1 year olds, invite their parents too. Avoid kid only parties until grade school if you can. Large parties can overwhelm babies, so it's better to keep it small. Those with large families should plan for quiet time for the birthday child or a nap in the middle. Now for the train part. Party items featuring trains will set the tone for your party . Add train cups, plates, banners, & center pieces, plus train toys, videos, train music or sound effects on tape, and your party say "choo-choo." Remember not to go overboard with activities. Babies find shredding wrapping paper just as exciting as gifts and party games.
Safety note: latex balloons are a deadly choking hazard. If you choose to use them tie well out of reach of young children and dispose of them immediately after the party. party games can work, depending on how advanced and how interested the kids at your particular party are. If you have space, train shaped "jump houses" (large inflated structures that kids climb into and literally bounce off the walls) can be rented. Look under "party" in the phone book.
Safety Note: Station an adult to keep watch of kids in the jump house at all times. For young kids a mom or dad inside the jump house is ideal. Beware of older kids: they can seriously hurt younger children by falling on them. It's best to have "big kid time" and "little kid time" rather than letting different age groups share the jump house.
Parties for 3 and 4 year oldsMany of the activities for age two still hold. In general, at these ages the choking hazard prohibition is lifted (except for latex balloons, which are considered dangerous until age six), all sorts of train favors may now be used. They come in every form imaginable. "Jump houses" and also simple games can now be appreciated.
Links page for some of our favorites).
Many have party facilities and some can even be hired for private rides.
Train museums are also a great option. If there are no tourist railroads
or museums nearby, or if you are more adventurous, you can try a train
spotting trip. Remember Safety First!
Train Parties for age 13 and upIf you thought the preteen parties were tough, you're in for a long road ahead. Make sure you have your teen's input every step of the way. Innovation is the name of the game. For young modelers, a layout building party might work (keep projects small and easy). Tourist railroads are always popular. For the adventurous, train spotting can't be beat. This is a hobby unto itself. There are books and web sites on the subject and travel planners/tour operators who set up train spotting vacations. For newbies, check with historical societies for locations of stored antique railroad equipment, old rail lines, yards and anything else of note. Modern rail yards and depots are good places to start also. Note: Safety First! Never approach working or idling locomotives, or trespass on railroad property. Stay off of tracks, crossings and especially bridges. Using binoculars and standing on hills overlooking mainlines is the safest method. Remember to keep guests to four or five kids and consider inviting parents along. Bring a camera to record it all.
Parties for AdultsIn addition to the suggestions listed for "age 13 and up," investigate local railroads (smaller ones might be better) to see if any offer tours. Some large factories and farms even run a few engines to deliver their goods. Look around, trains are everywhere! Check out our links page for info on train spotting and tourist lines.
WeddingsAfter a childhood spend with railroading, what else would you have but a train wedding? The ceremony and/or reception can be held at a tourist line. Some will charter private rides and others have outdoor or indoor facilities with scenic views of their trains. Wood whistles dressed up with tulle make great favors and can be blown in place of the traditional rice throwing. For music you can find several compilation CD's with various pop and county stars singing their favorite train tunes.
Holiday DecoratingTrains at Christmas are not a new idea. The annual train around the tree has been popular for many decades. But now that elaborate decorating for other holidays is common, trains are creeping in to other holidays as well. Consider this:
Using electric model railroad cars:
Easter: an assortment of rabbits, chicks, and eggs can adorn
your favorite cars. Combine with the newly popular easter decorations
such villages and easter trees. Ready made: decorative
trains are becoming more common.
Ventura, CA 93003 USA