If your little train lover is about to turn one year older, make yourself a really useful engine and throw a Thomas the Train party. With a little imagination, turn your house into a bustling railroad station and get ready to host the most exciting birthday party of the year. All aboard!

thomas-invitephoto: Julius Scissor on Etsy

Send Out the Itinerary

Let your guests know about the train-filled adventure by sending tickets out ahead of the big day. These make-shift ticket invites will have your kiddo’s friends all RSVPing in a jiffy. Available from JuliousScissor on Etsy, they are customized and sent to you via email. Simply send the finished file to a printer and you’ll be ready to ship.

If you’re up to the challenge of DIY invites, check out this tutorial from The Youngest at Heart on creating train ticket invites. Grab paper and scissors, and get ready to wow your friends and family!

img_3267-2photo credit: I.D. Mommy

Get Dressed for the Main Event

If you want to go all out, check out this Sir Topham Hat and Thomas the Train Wagon tutorial. Guests will be talking about this look for days and your little might not want to take it off.  And, after all your hard work, you might just let him keep it on!

A simple but festive way to make sure the star of the day is ready to greet passengers upon arrival is donning a pair of classic OshKosh Overalls. Once your little tyke is decked out in these duds, add a few accessories—hat, bandana, whistleand he’ll feel like he’s boarded the birthday train.

thomas-dressphoto: The Sew Princess Boutique

Sure, girls can rock a pair of overalls. But if your train lover is a little lady and looking for something more feminine, check out these polka dot dresses with matching bows from The Sew Princess Boutique on Etsy. With the adorable shoulder bows and matching hair bow, the birthday star will truly shine.

thomasthetrainbirthday1_stephanieandlukeblogspot_redtricyclephoto: Stephaneandluke.blogspot.com

Set the Scene

Lead guests to the station with “tracks” of black tape lining the sidewalks. Welcome guests with balloons or a DIY sign. They’ll get excited as they imagine they’re entering the Island of Sodor for the birthday train adventure. Keep the tracks going inside like Stephanie and Luke for major impact.

thomas-place-settingphoto: Stiletto Lawyer

For Thomas-themed table settings, you can’t go wrong by incorporating bright primary colors. Not only will you pay homage to each of the useful engines, but it’ll make a festive scene too! Check out Stiletto Lawyer’s red, white, and blue decor. The plush Thomas the Train centerpiece (with balloons, of course) makes for a fun, simple and kid-friendly way to decorate.

thoas-paper-suitephoto: ChoosaRoo via Etsy

If DIY talk leaves you feeling like you’re on a runaway railroad car, consider purchasing a Train Birthday Party Printable Package. This is an easy way to coordinate everything from food labels to banners and more. Most packages even include matching invites and thank you notes to keep the up coordinated look before and after the party!

food-serving-trainphoto: Tonya Staab

Prep the Dining Car

Create a snack-carting train by purchasing mini tin-foil trays and gluing cut-out wheels like Tonya Staab did. Set up a Thomas toy to lead the way, and fill the trays with tasty treats like tortilla chips and salty pretzels so kiddos can go down the line and peck as they please.

Continue the train theme into the main course. Kendra at Me and My Insanity crafted a sub sandwich and then used toothpicks to add wheels. Since you can order in a sub sandwich or craft one up ahead of time, you’ll be able to enjoy the party ride and take in the sights with your guests. If a train just won’t do for the main course, consider adding a fruit or veggie train!

Keep the party chugging along by adding a few drinks that will spice up the party decor and add yumminess to the table. Kendra from On My Side of the Room went all out with beautiful water dispensers that will work great for this party and any in the future! Simply add a little magic sign that says “Diesel Fuel” or “Water Tower”, and the kiddos will be loving their Thomas the Train inspired drinks.

blowing-out-candles-thomas-cakephoto: Richard Gillin via Flickr

The Clever Cake

A birthday party isn’t complete without a cake, and a Thomas party calls for a Thomas cake. No matter your baking skills, you’re going to leave guests impressed whether you use this Thomas Cake Pan or go all out with this handcrafted 3D version. Don’t forget the candles!      

If you can’t decide on the flavor of the cake, get busy making a cupcake train. Check out TeenyTinyCakes for step-by-step instructions on a picture perfect display.

thomas-pin-the-1-finalphoto credit: PBS

Entertain the Passengers

Real steam engine or not, there’s no need to scratch your head over train-related activities. Kids love classic party games, so why not include those with a little twist? Try Pin the 1 on Thomas, Bingo or if you’re feeling adventurous, why not a piñata?

traingames_crackofdawncrafts_thomasthetrainpartyideas_redtricyclephoto: Crack of Dawn Crafts

Help your little ones get their energy out by holding train races! Try these homemade, cardboard trains from Redheads Plus One and see which little engine can move the quickest! Based on the age of your guests, don’t be scared to give them a special challenge and make the course a bit harder. Maybe you’ll drop ballon “boulders” that kiddos need to keep in the air or spread out bubble wrap “ice” for jumpers to clear.

Put your really useful crew of guests to work by setting up Thomas and Friends crafts. Check out Craftulate for instructions on making your own party costumes and creating a group train.  

traintable_joshmazgelis_flickr_thomasthetrainparty_redtricyclephoto: Josh Mazgelis via flickr

If your tyke is not already the proud owner of a train table, a party might be the perfect time to get, or maybe even make, one. In no time, you’ll have a perfect activity for guests, scene-setting decor and a birthday present that will be used for years. If you prefer something smaller scale, this train set from IKEA is reasonably priced and still lots of fun!

goodybags_whatrachelmadetoday_thomasthetrainparty_redtricyclephoto: What Rachel Made Today

End of the Line

As the party train approaches the final stop, the kiddos will be excited for Thomas party favors to take home. We’re liking What Rachel Made Today‘s simple way of decorating. Purchase a simple blue bag and train-related stamps to decorate the party favor bags. Add a personalized touch with a name tag, and we’re sure each kid will be clamoring for theirs before the day is up.

Don’t forget to fill the bag with amazing goodies! This Little Engineers Set of a cap, bandana and train whistle will bring back the memories of the party. Add a candy train to the bag to keep the conductors full throughout their journey.

By giving each little conductor a Thomas and Friends-First Look and Find book, you’ll not only give them a fun favor to take home, but you’ll also have an extra activity on hand. As the party winds down, pass out the favors and you’ll have conductors sitting quietly as they search for items on each page. Breathe! What a success!

thomas-thank-you-cardphoto credit: PBS

Don’t Stop Yet

After the train has left the station and the party has come to an end, be sure to send a thank you to show your appreciation. It’s a great habit for littles and there’s a free template from PBS. No more excuses!

3856100382_1c6c212eef_zphoto credit: Steve VunCannon via Flickr

You might think the fun ends there, but if you have a true train aficionado on your hands, make his or her dreams come true by gifting a “Day out with Thomas.” With this ticket, your little will take a ride, meet Sir Topham Hat and spend a day surrounded by everything Thomas. Who says the fun needs to end when the party’s over?

Have you planned a Thomas the Train bash? Share your success in the comments section below.

—Lisa Snart, Christal Yuen and Claire Schillings

 Check out other birthday party themes HERE