A beaver dam party {my son is 8}

He’s 8.
That makes me sad and happy all in one moment.
His favorite place is the “Beaver Dam” next to our house.
All he wanted for his birthday was a cake that looked like a beaver and for his friends to come hike around with him. I like birthdays and celebrating them. However, I’ve learned my boys really don’t care about all the little details…what they care about is how they feel after the celebrating is over. They don’t need the latest party craze. They don’t need costly parties and elaborate decorations. And though, I truly enjoy all those details and decorating….it is nice to know those things aren’t what matter the most.

His party was super simple. A cake that looked like a beaver. A hike to the beaver dam. One structured activity. And a whole lot of 8 year old boys running crazy and free outside.

I’ll be honest, I am super proud of the cake. Pride comes before the fall, so I am sure my next cake will be a mess. I did a google search and found one by The Cake Cow. Her’s is amazing and it looked simple enough that I could attempt it. I am not a baker. I am not a chef. My cakes are usually a disaster. However, I kind of think for the first time…I nailed it. When my birthday boy saw it complete, his response was “That is AMAZING. I can even see it’s blood. Awesome Mom.” My next son came in and said, “WOW…it even has blood!”. All that work and their favorite part was the red velvet cake peeking through the icing. I love those boys.


When I was planning the party, I told my son we needed one activity. He said I should give all the boys some pretzels and peanut butter to build their own beaver dens. He told me they could take them home as their party gifts after the party. He’s a genius that one. So in a nutshell, he planned every detail of his party. I just followed his instructions. Easy Peasy Pumpkin Squeezy.

These are what I call the “Calm Before the Storm” pictures. So peaceful and quiet. Then the van load of little boys descended on my solitude.

Β I found him a jedi beaver shirt on etsy last week from HappyFamily. How perfect for the birthday boy?!

The party began with battles…lots and lots of battles. Boys are so easy.

Then we walked the couple of feet over to the woods.

Some people call these “wellies”, if I called them that in Oklahoma I’d get a bunch of odd looks. They’re my mud boots, rain boots, work boots and my beaver dam boots…

In case you’ve ever wondered it is nearly impossible to relocate beavers. Right now this area has dried up, so they are downstream. However, once spring rains come the beavers will return. They destroy all the trees and create ponds that mosquitos infest. Our neighbors have tried all kinds of friendly and not so friendly ways of relocating them. Yet, the beavers always return….much to my son’s delight.

You can’t hike with 8 year old boys and not jump over streams carrying weapons. What if a rouge beaver has returned and tries to attack? Foam swords, shields, fake guns and plastic light sabers are essential. Can you believe not one boy landed in that stream? Nice.

This is what most of the trees look like in the area. And here is the largest den…it is hard to tell in this photo how amazing it is. Chris gave the boys an educational lesson on beavers and their habitats.

And we returned home.

They set to work on creating their beaver dens.

General Grievous showed up.

I got chocolate chips because I thought peanut butter, pretzels and chocolate sounded quite yummy together. Just fyi, if you give a bunch a boys little brown pieces of chocolate for a beaver den….well their minds go somewhere else.

Guess which little brother was a bit bummed it wasn’t his birthday?

I got icing all over the box under the cake. It was a mess. So, I used a paper punch to cut circles out and shoved them all under the edges of the beaver. I also glued them randomly to the box where I had dropped blobs of icing…and that is how I hid the mess I made with icing.

I let the boys tell me which part of the beaver they wanted to eat. Boys are so funny.

It was probably the most relaxing birthday party we’ve had around here.

The boys really just ran wild outside and I tried to divert any injuries.

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  • fooxoo - That cake is AWESOME! Happy birthday! 8 is no longer a baby hah!

  • Nicole - I love it! Looks like a great adventure of a party!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - I love this! This is my kind of birthday party! Do you think it’s ok for a 36 year old lady to have a beaver dam party?
    ps- what you said about the “stuff” of the party not being important. Just the way they feel aftwerwards- that was beautiful. I know you were speaking for your family there, but I think you hit it head on for us too.

  • Sarah Pratt - What fun! And with the weather being as beuatiful as it has been, Happy Birthday!

  • kassie - Super cool birthday!!!!

  • kiley - My 7 & 9 yr. olds were looking over my shoulder at this post and they said, “Awesome…the beaver has blood!” Yup…it’s a boy thing! Sounds like a great party!

  • Leila - My boys loved this kind of birthday too — the most successful ones were where the cake was a battlefield (used army men that you buy at the grocery store in a bag for $2, best toy ever) and where we turned our yard into an obstacle course.
    You are so right that kids don’t need a lot of crazy activities and you don’t need to spend a fortune on anything. They really just want to run around together! Well done!

  • robyn - Just makes me smile to read about such a happy birthday! Thank you for sharing!

  • Sarah Wolfe - I’d be proud of the cake too. Sounds like a party any boy would love πŸ™‚

  • Christy - How cool! Kind of reminds me of the grooms cake from Steel Magnolias..lol

  • elizabeth - that looks like so much fun! and the cake turned out great. im not sure how many people could make a party full of boys layed back, but it looks like this was a complete success.

  • jackie - Great cake!!!! and from the looks of it the party was a complete success. Fantastic that your little guy knew exactly what to do. Making the beaver dams/dens was a great idea!!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Wendy - Great job on the cake! I appreciate the insight on boy’s birthday parties since mine is only 2. I tend to go overboard on decorating and I can already tell his dad doesn’t care. He’ll probably be the same. This looks like a lot of fun.

  • Amy Beachy - looks like the perfect party!

  • Molly @ mixedmolly - What a great party for a boy! No party is complete without light sabres around here πŸ™‚

  • giozi - Congratulations to your boy.
    You had a great party, a funny time. The cake is gorgeous !!!
    Love your birthday parties I want a party like this too !!

  • Abigail C - Hah! That looks amazing! And wow…the red velvet does at a disconcerting edge of realism…

  • BΓ‘rbara Isenberg Grzybowski - Just loved the cake!!

  • Gevay - Good job Mama! Looks like a mess of fun!

  • Bella - Your cake came out so cute! Looks like the boys all had tons of fun, you oldest one knows how to plan a party. πŸ™‚

  • cailan - And you should be proud! What a terrific cake – love that you made your boy so pleased.

  • Sara W - Totally awesome beaver cake! You nailed it – way to go.

  • Jeannette - You did an awesome job with the cake! Of course, I knew you would!

  • Allison - What fun…love the cake…looks like they all had a blast!
    Not to change the subject, but….I am a long time reader, and first time commenter. We are adopting our precious foster daughter this week (we took her home from the hospital when she was 24 hours old and she turned 18 months this week). I put a Chinese proverb on her adoption announcement that I thought you might like (if you haven’t already seen it). It says: “An invisible red thread connects all those destined to be together regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.”. There is also a beautiful children’s book called The Red Thread by Grace Lin which I am guessing you will love to read to your Little One when she comes home.
    Thanks for your blog…I do enjoy it!

  • Debbie - Love that cake, esp with the red inside! ;D Don’t you love when “someone else” does the planning? So fun!

  • Shannon Phillips - So great! I just love this and I just love boys. You are right, they are so easy. You just need lots of energy to keep up with them. You have an 8 year old! That is just crazy and amazing. Great job on the cake girl.

  • rachael - Great party! The cake totally reminds me of the groom’s armadillo cake in the movie Steel Magnolias. Have you seen it?
    I have two little girls and now a little boy. I know how to do girly things but I’m kind of lost at “boy” stuff. Your blog is helping me to navigate the way. Thank you!

  • ginger - such a fun idea..i have to say, i LOVE the velvet cake effect!!

  • Alice H - That cake is pretty amazing! And I agree boys are easy. But I think girl parties are too. I have thrown an American Idol party (karaoke), a bunco party, a spa / Italian dinner party, etc. But my older son came up with the idea to have a Nerf Gun party one year and that was fun and easy as well! The boys look like they had a lot of fun!

  • Luce - What a lovely lovely post. I hope some day to be this creative with my children’s parties (I don’t have any kids, but here’s to hopin’)


  • RaD - What an awesome birthday!

    And in regards to your boy being eight… It could be worse, he could have just turned 10 last Saturday. We celebrated with many children and our trampoline and video games and a sleep over. Sounds crazy, but really, they were so good and I almost hated to see them all go home at 1:00. Almost.

  • Katie - What a fun, chill birthday party! Way to be a rad mom. πŸ™‚

  • Anna Joy - What an amazing party πŸ™‚ I love it!!! Happy birthday to Biggest Brother!

  • kelly - seriously brilliant.

  • amber - That is hilarious. I grew up with one sister. I have a 4 year old daughter. And a 2 year old son. My daughter is so easy to predict. My son however, at 2, makes me laugh & cringe daily. He loves to fight his dad with plastic bats or foam swords. He likes to run as fast as he can. He never ceases to amaze us with his climbing/hiding/destructive ability. We have our 3rd due in 2 months. For him I hope it’s a boy. For us…I don’t know if we can handle it;). lol Thanks for sharing all of your fun kids with us. And Happy Birthday to your big man!

  • MichelleD - Today is my son’s 7th birthday and Saturday we had a dinosaur cake and cupcakes and we blew up a big inflatable movie screen and watched Puss N Boots outside with snacks and popcorn after it got dark. Boys are easy. πŸ˜‰

  • Ingrid - amazing cake!!! well done

  • Kimberlee Jost - That’s the best Beaver Dam Birthday party I’ve ever seen.
    For reals.

    And I didn’t read through the comments, but surely someone has mentioned that the Beaver sort of reminds of them of the bleeding armadillo cake from Steel Magnolias. Hilarious!

  • Courtney Connelly - Happy Birthday C! I very clearly remember getting the phone call eight years ago that you were here, sweet memories. Really cool birthday party!

  • Gabby Burns - What a cute idea!!! And educational too! Kudos!!! : )

  • Amanda D - You really are the coolest Mom ever!

  • Sarah - What a great party idea! I loved seeing the pictures of the beaver dam, I’ve seen the above ground parts before, but never the tunnels that are normally underwater- that was so neat to see! πŸ™‚

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Seriously adorable.

  • able mabel - Love how you covered up the icing mess! What a fun party!!

  • Minnesotamom - Now there’s something party-planners don’t probably often get requests for: a beaver party. Love it!

  • Tiffany - Wow!!! This is so cool. I want you to be my mom.

  • Amy - I LOVE this post, especially because I’ve never had a glimpse into the world of boy birthday parties… and that is one amazing cake!!

  • Lindsey - Wow – the cake turned out Great! Looks like a fun day!

  • Carol - This post made me so happy. What a fantastic boy beaver party. Love it.

  • Sheree - Oh I love that cake! You should be proud of it! πŸ˜€

  • eRin @ Growing Up Senge - This is so awesome. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt birthday and for the refreshing reminder that moms don’t have to over extend themselves with every detail to make an adorable, personal, memorable event that will make their kids as happy as they can possibly be. You nailed it! And the cake is AMAZING! I like yours even better than your inspiration source – well done!!

  • Alisa Muir - What a cool birthday party.. and the cake is awesome.
    In New Zealand we call rainboots Gumboots…. πŸ™‚

  • tracy a - happy birthday big boy! (he’d probably cringe to be called that, eh?) 8 seems so big ashley…and the cake is amazing. great job! i’ll have to tell you k’s 4th cake story sometime (it was just this past friday). disaster and success all at the same time! (ps, i’m still thinking about how great Monday last must have been!!)

  • Jenny B. - Perfect party! One of my most memorable birthday parties included “ice skating” in tennis shoes on a big patch of ice in the middle of the driveway. πŸ™‚ That cake is awesome. I love how you cleverly concealed the icing messes. And the pretzel beaver dens are terrific! Well done.

  • Honeybee Mama - LOVE it! goodness, why can my boys want parties like this? i keep getting request for chuck e cheese and bounce places. i think i need to offer some “suggestions”…

  • Debbie - What a great party! My boys would have loved that when they were little if we had the place to do it. πŸ™‚ Now they are teenagers and still their parties are easy. A bunch of boys running crazy playing airsoft war and eating pizza and you’re done! If the weather is bad they’ll settle for playing video games … add pizza and you’re done with that party too.

  • Bethany - Awesome party! Love the wholesomeness of a nature theme birthday party! And beaver dams sound awesome!

  • Anne Launius Berbling - SO cute! My youngest son (almost 18!) would have loved it…in fact, he STILL would…Great blog; I’m a new follower!
    Anne ?

  • Erin Johnson - Hello. I have loved your blog for a long time! I love how real and sincere you are. I saw the framed art that says love jesus in this: post http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2012/02/23/i-am-random-and-distracted/, and I was wondering where you purchased it. Thanks!

  • STEPHANIE - THIS IS TRULY AMAZING!!!! I LOVE IT!!!! how creative and fun they got to make their own delicious beaver dams! fantastic work πŸ™‚

  • Jessica P - This is awesome. Loved every bit of it. And for a “not worrying about the little details kind of party,” I sure loved all the little details! Way to go, mom! πŸ™‚

  • erica - absolutely love it! we do “simple” parties here, too…and the kids enjoy their special day with a few friends…usually outside. this year my 8 year old requested 4 of her friends to come over – do a few art projects and make their own ice cream sundaes – easy! πŸ™‚

  • Lori - I want a beaver dam party! Love that shirt. super cool cake. You did great – really! The teeth are hilarious.

  • Jeni - Such a fun party and the cake is great!

  • rachel - what a cute idea! the cake is adorable and i love the “make your own beaver dam” activity! looks like a fun day!

  • Brooke - This is the cutest thing ever!!!! My grandparents gave me a stuffed beaver when I was really young, and because of that, beavers were my favorite animal growing up. I would have DIED if I had a beaver birthday cake. I LOVE this!!

  • Fig Milkshakes - I love how little brother looks like he’s making a motion with his lips as though he is imagining what it would be like to blow the candles out himself. This is one of those moments you have talked about – capturing the sweet moments in the middle of all of it.

  • Christina - And that would be one more reason i’m glad I have a little boy. πŸ™‚ I hope mine has birthdays as easy as this as he gets older. Right now, at almost 4, it’s all about family and mom stressing out. πŸ˜‰

  • Paula - AWESOME–we have a creek with other critters, but not beavers! You can have my coyote.

  • Sarah{Handbags*N*Pigtails} - Those who know me know that a beaver tried to kill me once. Its a long story and a super funny one, but also embarrassing. I literally froze in fear as a beaver crossed the path in front of Eric and I on a hike one day. He had to pray for me that the fear would subside and then I took off running like an idiot. I had never seen one so up close before so I had no idea they were so flippin’ huge. They freak me out to this day. Your cake however? Totally adorable.

  • Kelly - My boys are 11 and 7 and would love this!! Thanks for the inspiration. Very fun idea! And the cake was awesome!

  • Elizabeth - Fantastic. And I am with you on the low key but memorable experiences to offer up for birthdays. The photo of your son with the beaver shirt on in the kitchen caught me by surprise – he and my son look almost identical in that photo. Mine is 8 as well, same build, same hair, same way he would hold that light sabre! I LOVE the shirt. What size did you get for him? Would love to find the same if you have a link for it!

  • Tracey - pictures are great! Thanks for having Kaleb, he had such a good time!!!

  • Jolie - that beaver cake is fantastic!! (I think my favourite pic is post-eating when you can see what everyone’s chosen to nibble on, hahaha, I love boys!)

  • Shannon - What a great idea for a party! Your family is so creative, I love it!

  • Erica - it all looks fabulous! In the UK Beavers is the name given to the group of children in the Scout movement who are younger than Cubs. I’m looking forward to making this for our Beavers’ group birthday!

  • Regina - Oh I love your idea so so much! It’s incredibly cute and I’ll have a try with my sons, too. But – the cake looked a bit cruel in the end, with all the red dough pieces lying around like bloody flesh, didn’t it? πŸ˜‰
    All the best for you and your boys!

  • Rick "Turk" Steffens - Thanks for the great idea! My 40th year class reunion is coming up and the gal that usually bakes our cakes has been ill for some time now so I thought that maybe even I might be able to bake a cake. Believe it or not, I used to—–40 some years ago! LOL! Our high school mascot is the Beaver so wish me luck! πŸ™‚

  • Samantha - Hi there, Thanks so much for sharing your ingenious idea about building the beaver den. We’re stealing it for my son’s Wild Kratts birthday party this weekend, but I am stumped on what the boys should build the den (or dams) on. I love the cardboard oval pieces shown here; can you tell me where you got them? Thanks so much!!

  • AshleyAnn - Samantha – those are cardboard cake plates from Hobby Lobby. I don’t know the technical title, but they are in the cake decorating section. I am sure you can find them at any store that sells stuff related to cake decorating. It was you put small cakes on before decorating…

  • Jenn Hays - Hi-I found your blog through another blog. We have 2 bio sons and 1 daughter through adoption. We are in the process of adopting another little girl. I have been enjoying your blog so much. I LOVE your style and reading your adoption journey. I started at your most current post and have been back reading and this is where I am at. I just saw a boy in this post that I believe is a member of the Fulligim (sp?) family. We adopted our beautiful daughter from Swaziland and not many kids have been adopted from there. We are also adopting our 2nd daughter from there. I am just amazed at what a small world it is!