Kids, trucks, and dirt are a magical combination with no discrimination to gender. Even the sweetest little girls I know love to roll up their ruffles and get down and dirty. A sandbox, some Tonka vehicles, and some ready-to-party animals in the 3-7 age group are the main tools required to enjoy a construction-themed birthday party.
Invitations are crafted simply. Yellow construction paper and black magic markers are inexpensive and easy to find. Fold and cut a sheet of paper 3" by 5 and ½". On the outside draw diagonal stripes such as those seen on a construction barrier. Write the word PARTY on one of the stripes. On the inside provide the necessary party information.
Decorating is a breeze. Yellow and black crepe paper intertwined and strung throughout the party area is both festive and economical. "Detour" and "Road Work Ahead" signs can be made from more of the same yellow construction paper and black magic markers. These decorations work for indoor as well as outdoor parties.
Outdoors is best, when factoring dirt tracked throughout the house. But for rainy days or seasons when the weather is just too cold, a plastic wading pool filled with sand works just as well. Just resign yourself to the fact that you'll be sweeping sand for a couple of days.
The birthday child is foreman for the day. Most party supply stores sell plastic construction hard hats for around a dollar. The online party store Party Etc. sells them for 60 cents a piece. Write each guest's name on the front with black permanent marker, and "Foreman" underneath the name of the birthday child.
Games work best if there is a construction vehicle provided for each guest. Borrow from friends to meet your quota.
Large packages of plastic tools are available in party supply and toy stores and make great prizes.
When the lunch whistle blows, lunch a la workday style is packed in a lunchbox or brown paper lunch bag. Thrift shops or yard sales are great places to find used thermoses and lunch boxes for pennies and make a fun way to present a basic lunch. A sandwich and an apple along with a hot or cold drink fuels little construction workers for a tough day at the site. When opting for lunch bags, decorate with construction equipment stickers from party and toy stores.
A construction site cake provides as much fun for its creator as for the consumers. A 13 x 9 sheet cake works best. Frost the cake with chocolate frosting to simulate dirt, and use extra mounds for dirt piles. Decorate with Matchbox-type construction vehicles. Department stores selling these toys generally sell barriers and signs as well.
Construction hands need tool belts. Craft stores sell child size white or off-white canvas half-aprons with pockets. Before party day stitch 2" pieces of elastic onto various spots on the apron. These will allow plastic tools to hang from the "tool belt". Provide fabric markers for each child and let them decorate the aprons.
Another fun party favor/craft involves constructing buildings with colorful popsicle sticks. Buy large packages in craft or party stores and give each guest a handful and a puddle of glue on a paper plate. Make it a game or contest. The tallest building wins!
A delayed party favor is a snapshot taken of each guest wearing their tool belt and construction hat. I like taking a picture of the guest with the birthday child holding their opened gift. This is a big help when writing thank-you's. I then slip the picture in with the thank you note.
As each guest leaves hand them a computer generated "diploma" stating their qualifications in running heavy equipment.
Excavator Scavenger Hunt:
Give each guest a small plastic shovel or serving-size spoon and have them dig for "archeological finds" at the construction site. Buried treasure could be dime store trinkets.