Saturday, December 1, 2012

Race-car birthday party

Today we had my son's third birthday. I *may* have gone a little overboard in the decorating and preparations. However the end result was well worth it! When my son came down in the morning, he was in awe of all the decorations--and that was even before I blew up about 30 balloons and frosted all the cupcakes.

This party was truly a labor of love. I made or ordered most of the decorations. I spent about an hour each night, for the week leading up to the party, working on decorations. A few days before the party, I asked Andrew what he wanted for his birthday. His response? "Cake, balloons, and candles." Well, I gave him that--and quite a bit more!



Decorations
The party had a race car theme. I also chose a blue and red color scheme, with checkerboard accents--because even a toddler birthday party needs a color scheme. ;)

I bought the decorations from Etsy (mostly from Paper + Pip Race Car Birthday Decorations) and a local party store (Party 4 Less). I wanted to go with some traditional streamers and balloons too. A couple of his favorite shows have had birthday episodes, so I knew Andrew would be excited to see balloons and streamers! I bought some blue and red streamers and balloons from the party store. We also picked up a small helium tank from BJ's Wholesale Club for about $25.


Mantel
I love a decorated mantel. It's usually one of the first things I start with when I decorate for a holiday or party. This mantel took me less than $5 to make. I bought two checkered flags, for $.99 each. The stoplights are decorated milk cartons. I spray painted them black; cut out the red, yellow, and green circles; then hot glued the circles to the cartons. I got the banner as part of a pack of Paper + Pip Race Car Birthday Decorations, that I got from Etsy. I added some ribbon and put some of Andrew's cars on the mantel, and it was done!



Buffet
The buffet was also pretty simple. I hung part of a checkered banner that I picked up at a party store for $1. The remainder of the banner was in the double windows behind our table. I put two more checkered flags in some red vases that I painted earlier in the week using the tutorial from Oh So Lovely. Then I framed a copy of the birthday invitation and layed out the plates, napkins, and placesettings.

I also taped some red, yellow, and green circles to our stereo speakers to make stop lights. Gotta stick with the theme!

In retrospect, I wish I would have cleaned off our bulletin board a little more. That just slipped my mind in all the cleaning and party preparations.

Food
We tried to stick to kid-friendly foods that adults would also eat. My husband is the cook in the family. He made meatballs, baked ziti, salad, and Kraft Mac and Cheese. I also ordered chicken fingers from a local restaurant. For appetizers, we had a veggie plate, a cheese plate, and a fruit plate.

Dessert
Instead of making or ordering a cake, I made cupcakes. I used the Funfetti cake mix and frosting--bonus that the frosting was the perfect shade of blue. To decorate the cupcakes, I used one of those Wilton cupcake decorators to make a nice swirl. Then I added some blue and red M&Ms and put some white sprinkles on them. I bought the cupcake liners from Sweets and Treats Boutique. I also added some cardstock flags that I bought as part of my Paper + Pip Race Car Birthday Decorations. I attached the flags to lollipop sticks, using hot glue.

I decided to make my own cupcake stand instead of buying one online. It was pretty easy:

- I bought an 8-pack of cake rounds from the craft store.
- I used two 12", two 10", and two 8" rounds. I hot glued two of each size together.
- I covered a couple of Campbells soup cans in checkered paper and hot glued the tower.
- To finish it off, I glued some ribbon around all of the edges and put a red charger--picked up from Target for $1.99--at the bottom.

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  I was pretty nervous that the tower might crash, but it held up! To make the tower, I followed a tutorial from Annie's Eats.

We also served Hoodsie Cups in place of scooped ice cream. It's so much faster and neater! In addition, I made Rice Krispie Treat stoplights by adding red, yellow, and green M&Ms to rice krispies.



Games
We had six kids at the party, ranging from 1 1/2 - 6 years old. Most of the kids were in the 3-4 range. I wanted to keep them busy, so I planned a few activities. Here's what we did:

1. Fruit loop necklaces. I bought some colored shoe laces at the dollar store and bought a box of Fruit Loops. The kids had a blast making their necklaces. It was fun and it was great for fine motor skills!

Here's a picture of the kids stringing the necklaces and one of Andrew modeling his necklace.

2. Bean bag toss. I made a stoplight using black construction paper and red, yellow, and green circles. We also made our own beanbags. I bought white tube socks at the Dollar Tree and filled them with cheap split beans. The kids had fun throwing the bean bags at the colored spaces.



3. Twister/Lego tower. My husband wanted to take part in the DIY crafts. He put together a spinner, similar to what you'd see in a Twister game. He used two of the extra cake rounds that I bought for the cupcake tower. Then he used a lollipop stick and an empty medical-tape plastic ring. For the pointer, he cut a small plastic package tie. Then he glued a colored circle on each of four spaces.

The goal of the game was for the kids to spin the circle to choose a color. Once they picked the color, they were supposed to choose a lego of that color to start building a tower. By the time we got to that game, the kids were pretty wiped out though. Just spinning the circle ended up becoming the game!



Other touches
Birthday shirt. I ordered Andrew a shirt from Lisa Gorno on Etsy. It was really cute and came fast. In retrospect, I think I could have made this shirt myself by adding a "3" applique to a shirt. However, I wasn't really up for it with all the other decorations I took on.

Invitations. I ordered his invitations from Eventful Cards. I fell in love with these invitations pretty early and they really shaped my vision for his decorations. I bought the JPEG from this shop, then had the invitations printed at Walgreens on photo paper.

Birthday hats. I bought cheap birthday hats at the party store for $.99. I then decorated them using cutouts from the Paper + Pip Race Car Birthday Decorations kit. Paper + Hot glue gun = Custom party hats.

Party favors. I also made some party favors for the kids. Most of the items were car-related and came from the dollar bins at Target and Michaels. I also added a few temporary tattoos, stickers, and play-doh. I put everything in a clear treat bag, then stapled a Thank-You label from the Paper + Pip Race Car Birthday Decorations kit.

I had a bunch more ideas for Andrew's birthday party that I never got to do. Check out the ideas I came across on my Race car birthday Pinterest board.




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