We decided to have a car themed birthday party for our son Ellington who is obsessed with cars. Cars, trucks, trains, but really mainly cars (and he says it like he’s a Bostonian – “caaaars”). We were wavering on whether to do a second birthday party or just go on a family outing, but my love of entertaining won over. I really wanted to make it fun for the kids, but not spend a ton of money. Everyone had a ball!
We did a quick photo shoot in our front yard and made this fun and festive invitation. It set the tone for the party!
Car Photo Booth
The car photo booth ended up being the focal point of the party and everyone – young and old – loved it! I can only take credit for having the idea for the photo booth. It was created entirely by my amazingly creative and talented sister, Jacqueline. Check out this step-by-step guide to making your own car photo booth. It only required an old moving box, red, black and silver masking tape and white paper. I love how you can customize the vanity license plate to fit the occasion. I asked all the guests to send me their photos so I can make a memory album for Ellington. The backdrop is a race car birthday banner from Amazon and a few of the photo booth props I took off their sticks and stuck on the wall.
I bought a package of checkered flags and taped them around the house, along with black, white and red balloons. I covered the dining room table with a checkered tablecloth and used my son’s cars as centerpieces on tables throughout the house and in the backyard. After I put the flags on the front door, my husband suggested we make another vanity license plate for the front door – it was a perfect festive welcome sign to the party. I put some of my son’s larger trucks in the front yard as decorations when people walked in, but he moved most of them by the time folks arrived (ha!).
For kids activities, we painted cars, played with homemade organic play dough, which is much safer for little kids who tend to eat everything, and had a piñata. We also took all of Ellington’s cars, trucks and trains out and put half of them inside and half in the backyard and the kids had a ball just playing with things that go.
I love throwing parties, but having two little kids has been a game changer. I can’t as easily pull off a fully homemade menu and cook everything the day of the party so food hacks (i.e. a few store bought items) and preparation are necessary. The menu had to be quick and easy and allow me time to get the kids, me and the house ready (all while breastfeeding) and not also be a crazy frazzled mom. My menu centered around large grilled vegetable platters (recipe here) that I prepared the day before. I also served a pesto pasta with asparagus and tomatoes, smoked whole chicken from an amazing local BBQ spot called Jon’s, a simple green salad and a platter of strawberries and grapes. Also had pizza on hands because, obvi, that’s what kids really love. And, the most important thing, lots of vino and bubbly!