Lara Shriftman: My 2-year-old son Lucas loves cars, so for his birthday this year, I decided to throw a car-themed party! With the overwhelming amount of "racecar party" suggestions on Google, I put in a lot of time digging for inspiration and researching.
After looking at a variety of entertainment sites for ideas and supplies, I compiled a unique combination of decor for an absolutely complete racecar-themed soiree. Here are some fun ideas for hosting a racecar party of your own!
In order to maintain the cohesiveness of the theme, stick with a few simple colors for all party details. I suggest black and white (the colors associated with the racetrack) and accent colors such as blue, yellow and red.
It's important to lay out a strict budget before getting started on the shopping and party preparations. Sticking to a low budget can be difficult in regards to event planning, but if you do your research and are creative, throwing a well-executed and fun party will be no problem!
Throwing a party in the comfort of your own home is the perfect way to keep your event within budget.
Rather than getting personalized invitations made, it's easier and more economical to make your own. For example, I took a digital picture of my son with my dog, Lulu Flynn, and uploaded it to my computer. I had my graphic designer friend take the photo and place it inside the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" car to make it look as though they were flying in the car. To stay within the racecar theme, I used a yellow invitation with red writing. I bought plain white envelopes from the Paper Source, and used my computer to make yellow labels with red writing to use for mailing and return-address labels.
Be creative with your copy. Try using phrases that incorporate the theme, such as, "Start your engines and race on over and help John celebrate his 2nd birthday on [date]. Main event starts at [time] at John's Speedway [address]. Pre-registration [RSVP] due to Pit Chief [your phone number].Decor
- Bring the racetrack to you! Experiment with mixing black and white and checkered decorations. Also get creative by incorporating your accent colors.
- The book "Birthday Treats," by Sara Perry, has some great dÃ©cor ideas. Her "Keep On Rollin' Candy Cups" make great centerpieces.
- Party catalogs (such as Oriental Trading Company and Rhode Island Novelty) are a great place to look for inspiration!
- To decorate, use orange cones, black-and-white checkered flags, black and white or checkered tablecloths, plates and cups, red and yellow balloons, finish-line flags and black and white streamers.
Hospitality tent" area to serve the food buffet-style. Move your furniture around to create open spaces for kids to play. Don't forget to remove any breakable items from gathering areas. Create little seating areas by putting down a rug and adding some fun pillows for seating. Group together any kid-sized chairs and tables to create an area where the kids can eat or play. Make a music area for the kids. Bring musical instruments such as kid-sized guitars, a drum set or a piano. Ask your friends to bring them if you don't have them! Stage and set up everything a day or two in advance, so you can play around with the furniture without being rushed.
- Make your own drivers licenses (with photos) and/or "pit passes."
- Make "VIP pit passes" for all of the kids. I designed mine on my computer and printed them out; each pass had the race date and the child's title. I had the passes laminated, punched a hole in the top of them and tied a string through it so the kids could wear them around their necks.
Give each kid a racing helmet (from Birthday Express) and take an instant Polaroid picture of them. Have toy-car racetracks with Hot Wheels cars for kids to play with. (Toys"R"Us has a great selection.) Play "Red Light, Green Light." Find a tree and hang a racecar piÃ±ata. (Don't forget to buy candy to stuff in it.) You will also need some sturdy string or rope and a bat or stick to break the piÃ±ata. This is a great opportunity to play up the black and white by stuffing the piÃ±ata with black-and-white candy such as Tootsie Rolls and mini Hershey's bars. We had music playing the whole time: the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" soundtrack, the Disney's "Cars" soundtrack and related music. Load all of your favorite kids' CDs onto your computer and make a mixed CD or playlist on your iPod. Have the Disney "Cars" movie or a recorded car race on the TV during the party. Pass out race-themed temporary tattoos for everyone to put on.
In the spirit of the racetrack, stick with simple party foods in bite-size portions you might find at a racetrack. Be sure to add in some healthy alternatives, and remember to have something for the adults as well!
Mini hot dogs or turkey dogs
Mini hamburger sliders or turkey burgers
Mini sandwiches: Cut off the crust and use a cookie cutter to make them in car shapes. (You can order cookie cutters for almost any theme online!) Wrap the sandwiches in black and white napkins from any local grocery store. Sliced vegetables with a low-fat dip or hummus Yo Kids yogurt squeezers
Gogo SqueeZ applesauce
CLIF Kid ZBars and Twisted Fruit
Grammy Sammy snack sandwiches from Revolution Foods
Pretzels and Goldfish served in dishes and in racecar-themed treat bags
Make your own tacos (you can substitute ground beef with turkey meat) Honest Kids juice pouches Fresh-squeezed lemonade in racecar sippy cups At my party, we had ACTIVATE water for the adults. (They're these great water bottles with vitamins in the cap that you twist into the water right before you drink!) Bottled water with custom label. You can design a label on your computer and print it off, or have custom labels designed online by the Candy Wrapper Store
Cake and Art makes amazing custom cakes. I had them create a "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" cake with a picture of my son and my dog, Lulu Flynn, to mirror the front of the invite. Since the cake was car-shaped, I knew it wasn't going to be large enough to feed all of the guests. As a backup, I had Ralphs Grocery Store design a second cake to serve. Many local grocery stores -- such as Publix or Ralphs -- can make racecar-themed cakes. You can also customize their designs with inscriptions. I looked on the website and picked out which cakes I liked best, then combined themes to make the perfect cake! Type out a memo of exactly what you would like on your cake, and take it to the bakery to see what they can do to make your design. I chose a "Number 2" cutout and had them decorate the base with black-and-white checkers like a racing flag. On top, they added little red flags and matchbox cars to create a racetrack. For something less traditional, order black and white CRUMBS cupcakes (mini or regular size) and arrange them to look like a checkered racing flag.
Make your own chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and order toppers. Experiment with mixing the colors of cake and frosting with car, checkered flag or tire toppers. (Birthdayinabox.com has great cupcake toppers.Purchase car-shaped cookie cutters and get creative by decorating your sugar cookies in black, white and red. The same cookie cutters can be used for the sandwiches.
Familyfun.com had a great idea for a racetrack cake! Make two round cakes placed side by side and frost them with green icing. Then place a bowl in the center of each cake and sprinkle chocolate sprinkles around the bowls to make a figure-eight track. (The bowls protect the inside "grassy" part of the track from getting sprinkles on it.) Place white Good & Plenty candies on the track to make a center line, and put matchbox cars, racing flags or a trophy on the top of the cake. (Party Land has some great toppers.) Here's another dessert that can also be used to decorate tables: Fill clear bowls with appropriate-colored candy such as SNO-CAPS, Junior Mints, Raisinets, Whoppers and white-chocolate-covered pretzels, raisins and/or almonds. Abba-Zabas, which are perfect because of the black-and-yellow checkers on the wrappers, would also be a cute addition.| The Signature Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate. This can be served in small bowls with oversized red and blue straws.
- Racecar flag bubbles.
- Throw in some racecar tattoos and Hot Wheels cars from Toys"R"Us.
- When the candy came out of the piÃ±ata, we gave the kids their racecar favor bags to put the candy in.
- CRUMBS cupcakes: I placed the cupcakes in single cupcake-sized boxes that I ordered from Uline, and placed a sticker on the boxes to seal them. I stacked the boxes up next to the gift bags for all of the guests to take as they left.
- Add the kids' drivers licenses and/or "pit passes" to the bags before they leave.
Thank-you notes are a must! I used super cute car-shaped notes from Meri Meri. They also have a chic line of racecar products, including invitations, cupcake holders, toothpick cupcake toppers and a racecar garland.