planning our son’s Hotwheels inspired birthday party

Little Dude’s first birthday party was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

His second birthday party was Veggie Tales themed… (I might blog these pictures someday)

This year I knew we’d have either a cars or trains birthday party, but around Easter it became VERY apparent that Little Dude would be THRILLED with a Hotwheels Birthday Party.

I knew I’d have to plan in advance and have better strategy than previous years, meaning I needed to streamline my efforts… our second baby is due just a few weeks after Little Dude’s birthday.

In previous years:

  • I prepared/planned too much food
  • spent too much time/effort on the cake
  • worried too much about the decor
  • let’s face it, the first year or two, birthday parties are mainly for the adults… but this one, the 3rd year, the focus definitely shifts to “it’s a KID party”
  • while I would have said “I need to stick with a budget” the last two years, I justified just about any idea for his party that came to mind… KIDS DON’T CARE about “Pinterest Details” {99% of the time, anyways}… so I really wanted to shift the focus to what Little Dude thought was cool and his friends attending and stay within a BUDGET!

After last year’s birthday cake fiasco (the “rainbow” colored cake that tasted like chemical junk and I threw it out… then had to go by a store-bought cake at the last minute), I proposed to my sweet but VERY logical husband that “with all the money and time I spent on making a “Pinterest Fail” cake, on top of the grocery store cake, I should have just ordered a NICE cake from a bakery!”

He agreed.  Whew!

So this year’s birthday cake will be done by a local bakery that does GLUTEN-FREE cake (yay!) and can copy just about any idea you bring in. (Super yay!)  Our son is gluten-free, soy-free and shellfish-free, so I was thrilled to find a bakery that could do a delicious cake that agreed with his food-allergy restrictions.

So YES, the cake is VERY important to him.  He doesn’t get to dig into just any dessert you place in front of him.  He’s very understanding about his limitations and so I feel like he appreciates food he CAN eat that much more.

He asked for a gluten-free chocolate cake and I opted for a caramel filling since that was on the “safe list” provided to me by the bakery.  It will be round with a Hotwheels ramp on top.  He was OVER THE MOON about this cake the bakery found online as inspiration.  He wanted to hold it right away and has been talking about it ever since.

I think after 7 years of being a professional photographer, I’ve seen just how inspiring a beautiful cake can be to a party or wedding reception… so I am completely fine with spending less money on decorations to have a very cool “focal point” birthday cake.

Despite my failures of Pinterest experiments, I always land back there for ideas.

I also designed his bookmark-sized birthday invitations (yes, I grayed out private details).  I wanted each guest to get a “ticket” to his birthday party, just as they would being a VIP guest to a car race/show.

We have a basic color theme.  So instead of “Hotwheels themed” plates and plastic-wear, I’ll be picking up solid colors.  I think the only “themed” decor we’ll have is the checkered tablecloth and flags – but I’ve yet to go to the party store.  My goal is to find a tablecloth we can use again, if the price is right.  I don’t mind the throw-away tableclothes but I can’t help but think how much fun it would be to use the tablecloth again or upcycle it to some pillows for his room or a chair cover.

Thanks to Target, I already have a stash of reuseable Popcorn cups.  We’ll make stovetop popcorn, which is very affordable in bulk at Vitamin Cottage.

Little Dude LOVES nachos, so this will be our main meal offering.  I’ll have ground beef, cheese and spicy fixings for people to make their own nacho plate to their preferences.  We buy 1/4 a cow each year, so we already have the ground beef on-hand.

I am planning on making the gluten-free soft pretzels from Pamela’s gluten free pizza dough mix.  It’s a really easy recipe, but I admit, if I find some gluten free soft pretzels at Costco, I’ll totally buy them instead.

The last food item I think we’ll do are sliced apples speared with grape tires… they look like cute little race cars and I love that it’s an organic, healthy choice.

I saw a lot of “fueling station” ideas on Pinterest, but honestly MOST people and kids are cool with water or milk at a kid’s birthday party.  I don’t allow our son to drink soda and I made a HUGE batch of “healthy” slushees last year (Veggie Tales BD party) and hardly anyone drank it.  It tasted just fine… I think most people prefer to wash down a sweet cake with water or milk.  (This is my theory) 🙂

My goal is to be OUT of the kitchen and involved with the memories at Little Dude’s birthday party. Here’s how our plans are coming together:


Hotwheels Birthday Party Idea Board

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