How to Plan Some Retro Revelry for Your End-of-Summer Soiree

Planning a birthday party during the summer can be magical and yet, as the season comes to a close and schedules are about to get more hectic, even the thought of planning something can be exhausting. Summer might be mostly for the kids, but there’s no reason adults can’t have just as good of a time—even while arranging the details!

First, choose an engaging theme that will excite children’s imagination. This retro camping theme is the perfect afternoon birthday idea to bring joy to partygoers of all ages. Colorful teepee tents, adorable decor and creative treats for the kiddos are just the ticket to feel transported away for the day. And with the help of these fabulous local businesses at your fingertips, a striking event requires only minimal effort.

Second, whip up some whimsical food from your childhood with an adult twist that you can make ahead of time, allowing yourself to enjoy the festivities and be fully present with your loved ones. After all, this season has a beautiful way of creating memories with family and friends, and like all things sweet, it is fleeting.



2 bags microwaved butter flavor popcorn, popped, kernels removed

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


1. Pour popcorn onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.

2. In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir continuously until mixture comes to a boil. Set a timer for 5 minutes and allow mixture to boil without stirring.

3. Remove from heat. Add baking soda and vanilla. Stir to combine.

4. Pour caramel over popcorn. Toss to coat. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove. Stir to coat popcorn.

5. Allow to cool before breaking into smaller pieces.

Recipe courtesy of Sugar Drop Cake, Party & Sweets Supply Shop


TIP 1  A camping theme requires getting a little farther out there in an outdoor space, whether it’s a large yard, park or actual campground. It’s best to have a “home base” for people to gather and to assist in staging/storing food and drinks. The Flying Ham rents hyper-adorable retro campers for parties of all types and, in addition to being spacious and functional, it sets the tone perfectly for this shindig.

TIP 2  The roomy indoor space on the camper provides a great practical and storage space for the party and an extra relaxation zone for adults. Examples for an adult tea/cocktail party setup are available for viewing on The Flying Ham’s website.

TIP 3  The gleefully cute teepees and spectacular decor shown here are provided by Let it B Love. Master decorator and children’s party visionary Jessi Van Zant styles handcrafted, fully customized events with her Nashville-based company. Besides, what kid doesn’t love a fort to play in?

TIP 4  Adult twists on the children’s favorite food will appease all palates. Some great ideas are:

1. Hand-breaded chicken fingers with a variety of easy dipping sauces (ketchup, honey mustard, spicy aioli and boozy barbecue). These can be cooked ahead of time on a sheet tray, wrapped in foil and transported to the event.

2. Macaroni and cheese with choices to mix in on the side (salsa, peas, avocado, diced ham, bacon, hot dogs, diced jalapenos or creamy artichoke dip). Make the mac and cheese in a slow-cooker and once it’s done, simply unplug, cover, transport and re-plug in to keep it warm.

3. Pieces of cheese and charcuterie layered and skewered on a wooden craft stick. The kids can have fun pretending to cook them on the faux campfire!

TIP 5  Can you call it camping without s’mores? Pre-skewer marshmallows on pretzel sticks, and use a brûlée torch to toast them for the little ones. They’re fun to eat as is, but have graham crackers and chocolate handy, just in case. And don’t forget the pack of baby wipes for sticky hands and faces!

TIP 6  Take all the work out of a birthday cake and party favor sweets with Sugar Drop Cake, Party & Sweets Supply Shop. Featured in these photos, owner and award-winning cake artist Brooke O’Dell creates edible works of art out of her business in Brentwood. She has something for everyone and every occasion!