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Do You Dare Enter? A Lost Lumberjack Birthday Party

Take a walk through the woods: it leads to this magical event. Here, a little lumberjack by the name of Eli turns five years old to explore crackling campfires, a s'mores table, and an indoor grove of Fir trees.

Meet the Lumberjack Team

The idea of a lost lumberjack in the woods came to Eli's mom, Shannon Von Eschen, in a dream.

"The entire event was inspired by lumberjacks," she says. "And based it all on the idea of a team of lumberjacks who'd gotten lost deep within the woods, long, long ago during one of their logging missions. It was then us, as guests, who were going to stumble upon their camp, and their legacy, and getting to enjoy all things lumberjack: pancakes, axe target practice, tree sawing, s'more roasting, and wilderness camping under the stars."

Pictured here: Shannon, husband and father Jason, and the birthday boy Eli (who was turning five) all wore lumberjack attire to the party, plus woodsman-inspired temporary tattoos.

Calling all Woodsmen

The event was housed within a century-old schoolhouse hidden in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Friends and family in attendance were encouraged to bundle up in their lumberjack best. Here, Eli's grandfather Frank Crabbs of CreekSide Tree Nursery arrived in character — dressed in red plaid flannel, donning a matching trapper hat, and wielding an axe. Synergy note: He's a true lumberjack. As a master carpenter, he constructed many of the wooden props for the party.

An Adventure Awaits

Calligrapher Taryn Eklund Ink designed the invitations. Note some of the fun details: a brass compass needle affixed to the envelope, a list of beard facts, the promise of s'mores, and an encouragement to "wear plaid and a smile."

Sit and Stay Forever

Situated by the entrance and manning the bar was one of the "Lost Lumberjacks," serving cinnamon-stick caramel apples and what was dubbed "Lumberjack Apple Cinnamon Ale."

"I even bottled custom 'Lumberjack Ale' for Eli and his friends," Shannon says. "Sealed with organic apple juice, it looked just like a true woodsman's choice of drink."

The Woods Within

A written reassurance in the invitation will allay any fears: "the woods are dark but not that scary." Forty-five live Fir trees, some sparkling with string lights, towered over the room. The sound of crackling bonfires, whirring saws, and howling wolves echoed throughout the space. Fog machines were hidden underneath the tables to set the mood of an abandoned forest. Leaves, pinecones, and wood chips lay scattered over the floor.

  • eli lumberjack birthday party pallet room
  • eli lumberjack birthday party branches on stakes
  • eli lumberjack birthday party nuts tray
  • eli lumberjack birthday party decorative logs

"It smelled and felt like you were truly outdoors."

Unfamiliar Faces

Four "Lost Lumberjacks" made an appearance at the party: One sitting at camp, near the fire pits; one at the bar serving drinks; one in the upper attic, still lowering his tree cuttings down into camp; and one, outside the camp, at the wooden scrap pile. Plus, a full-sized skeleton horse stood tied at the camp's entrance, waiting eerily outside.

Fun in the Forest

Even the littlest of lumberjacks could enjoy the fun and games of the day: an axe-throwing target (with kid-friendly foam axes), a nail tree game, tic-tac-toe burlap gift sacks, and "A Tree for Me," where each child used tree cuttings to create their own tiny evergreen trees to take home.

 

Remember Eli's grandfather Frank? He was the true lumberjack behind the lumberjack camp seen here: imitation fire pits (suitable for children), canvas camping tents, banquet-sized tables, tree-handled s'more roasting sticks, a pergola shelter, crates, candle-holders, sitting logs, a split-rail fence, and a life-sized two-man crosscut saw. "Ever year, he never ceases to amaze me with his endless talents," Shannon says.

A Forest of Feasts

Food and drink outfitted the tables with a lumberjack's appetite in mind: syrup-smothered pancakes, strips of bacon, stacks of s'mores, and mini apple pie jars lovingly handmade by Cheryl Wu, Shannon's mother.

  • eli lumberjack birthday party cookies
  • eli lumberjack birthday party cheese spread
  • eli lumberjack birthday party potatoes on a stick
  • eli lumberjack birthday party bacon service
  • eli lumberjack birthday party pancakes
  • eli lumberjack birthday party table
  • eli lumberjack birthday party crafty mason jars
  • eli lumberjack birthday party white cake

Get Cozy

Across the way, a separate table leans on the sweet side: cake served atop a birch stump and freshly roasted coffee.

  • eli lumberjack birthday party coffee cup
  • eli lumberjack birthday party cake
  • eli lumberjack birthday party cake serving
  • eli lumberjack birthday party bowls and forks

The Cake

Eli's constellation-inspired cake was made by Moriah of Wildflower Cakes. I'd given her a theme, as I wanted the cake to be dark, mysterious, and masculine. "It was such a hit and so very dapper!"

After cutting the cake, a star piñata was lowered from the ceiling.

Gone Exploring

The kids were each given scavenger-hunt bags made by Lana's Shop, and forestry items on the list were hidden all through the party. The kids had a blast hunting all over for the tiny hidden gems.

S'mores for Everyone

As for sweets, an entire table was dedicated to s'mores (with hundreds of marshmallows). Eli's name was spelled with antique lumberjack saws and an axe that framed the backdrop of the roasting table.

  • eli lumberjack birthday party place setting with marshmallow centerpiece
  • eli lumberjack birthday boy on stump
  • eli lumberjack birthday party smore supplies
  • eli lumberjack birthday party smores service

Let's Play Lumberjack

To help kids (and adults) get into the spirit of the day, there were toy axes and saws stocked aside the camping tents to play make-believe.

"

As always, the most amazing part of the whole day, was Eli's reaction. My heart nearly burst seeing my own tiny lumberjack-clad boy cling to my legs, saying he couldn't 'wait for my friends to see this!'

"

Credits

Photographer/Event Design/Stylist: Shannon Von Eschen | @shannonvoneschen
Culinary Design: Kendall Von Eschen
Food & Desserts: Kendall Von Eschen & Cheryl Wu
Wooden Props/Decor, Outdoor Signage: Frank Crabbs | CreekSide Tree Nursery
Cutlery, Chargers & Lanterns: The TOP
Cake: Wildflower Cakes | @wildflowercakes
Invitations: Taryn Eklund Ink | @taryneklundink
Vintage Lumberjack Stamps: Virginia Sauder 
Scavenger Hunt Bags: Lana's Shop | @lanasshop
Indoor Signage: Cassie Jahn | @cass_rose
Antique Saws & Tools: Karen Vaught, Martha Crabbs & Amy Von Eschen
Live Trees: CreekSide Tree Nursery