Sunday, February 20, 2011

Race Car Birthday Party

Many years ago I worked for Parents Magazine (BC, Before Children) and I gleaned a handful of tidbits about raising children. One idea that stuck with me was the birthday party attendance rule.  OK, maybe not a rule, but a recommendation, but one that anyone raising children in a confined space will appreciate.  Parents Magazine recommended adding ONE to the child's age and that was the number of guests the child could have at his/her birthday party.  So my one year-old had two guests...and so on.  Sometimes I felt guilty when my child got invited to the birthday party for the entire class at the local gymnastics club, or the bowling alley or pottery-making class.  But my child would come home upset because the birthday girl was too busy with her other friends to play.  So we stuck with our add-one rule, and it worked for us.

And true confessions, I liked planning birthday parties at home and doing all the creative things that go along with it. (Not to mention the cost to hosting a 30-person gymnastics party!)

One year I decided to have a race car birthday party for my son, Dash.  I saved up printer paper-boxes from work so the children could make their own cars and race them down the sidewalk.  We were lucky that it turned out to be a beautiful day -- I don't know how we would have raced these cars in our apartment!

The kids made their own license plates and decorated their "cars" themselves, and we used jump ropes to give them a shoulder holster.   For wheels we used black plastic plates that we secured to the boxes, and a white plate on top for a steering wheel.  I found little plastic cones that they raced around, and we had our own flags to signal the start of the race.  We even stopped traffic -- pedestrian, that is -- as neighborts and others walking by stopped to watch the races and cheer!

 Ready, set, go!

I scoured the dollar store for gift bag ideas, and thanks to Nascar I found bubble-bath in a plastic oil can and matchbox cars of all shapes and sizes.  I even found a car jello mold, which we used to mold soaps!

My favorite party website is Family Fun Magazine, which I have used many times for birthday cake ideas.  I had lots of fun making a race car track for this party -- I even found a plastic pit crew from Babykakes, my resource for many cake decorating accessories.  The trick to this cake is simple -- ground Oreo cookies for the track, tinted coconut for the grass, and Mike n' Ike's for the dotted lines.  The race car tablecloth was a fun added touch.

As my children have gotten older, the number of friends they want to invite to their parties has actually shrunk, and they'd much rather order a pizza and eat ice cream than have make a race track cake for them.  Hmmm, I have a birthday coming up soon.  Maybe I'll have to be creative just for me!