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Disney Cars Themed Birthday Party

My son Grayson is obsessed with Disney/Pixar Cars.  Like, seriously obsessed.  He introduces himself to others as "Lightning McQueen," and if he's feeling particularly sassy, he'll throw in a "Ka-Chow!"  Luckily for the rest of the people in the family, Cars is a very enjoyable movie (for kids and adults), so the fact that it has regular rotation on our Blu-Ray player is not too bad.

When it came time to plan Grayson's third birthday party, I knew it had to be special.  Not only does he have more friends his own age that can participate, but he also has much more awareness of what's going on (unlike a first birthday party, which is really more for the friends of the parents than anyone else).  I have him the option for a Cars or a Toy Story (another favorite of his) party, and of course, he went with Cars.  To see his jungle-themed first birthday party, click here.  To see his ice cream social second birthday party, click here.

As with everything we do, we wanted to make this party our own, and not full of pre-packaged licensed products.  This meant a lot of DIY.  Fortunately, I planned this party in the age of Pinterest, where I found a ton of inspiration.  Click here to see my planning inspiration board for Grayson's Cars themed birthday party.

First, we needed a personalized invitation.  I went with this one found on Etsy from MistyPrints.  For printing, I went with a new favorite printer, UPrinting.  This is the cheapest online printer that still does good quality work, and with a quick turnaround.  Here's how ours turned out:

And now, for the details!

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.  This does not cost you anything additional, and helps me to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

Entry sign. "Welcome to Radiator Springs, Gateway to Grayson's Birthday." I created this myself in Illustrator and Photoshop using these instructions, but you could probably do something similar with this free Vacation Postcard font and this free Honey Script font.

Some of the DIY details for the party.  Rusteze, Flo's V8 Café, and Ramone's House of Body Art printable links are below. Route 66 signs made by printing an image found on Google Images.  Cupcake toppers made with a scrapbook circle cutter and toothpicks (image printable link is also below).

Inspired by this adorable idea from the Miggyhood blog, I created "eyes" for the windshields of our two cars out of white and black posterboard.

Naturally, the dessert station was to be "Sarge's Surplus {of Sweets}" inspired by Sarge's Surplus Hut from the movie.  Link to the printable is below.

Mini chocolate donuts were "Spare Tires."  A really popular snack for the adults and kids!  Font for food signs: Rocket Script.

Cupcakes with DIY cupcake toppers.  I would have loved to have done some fondant toppers like these, but the DIY paper toppers were much friendlier on the budget.

Rusteze (Iced Tea) and Fillmore's Organic Fuel were the beverages. Link to the printables below.

Pulled pork sliders with checkered flag picks.

The kids in attendance were of the perfect age to appreciate a bouncy castle, and I found a great deal on renting one here locally (Amanzi Party Rentals).

Luigi's Casa Della Tires (inspired by this blog post on From Rookie to Rock Star).  Printable link below.
Centerpiece consisted of two tires with a Route 66 sign and two checkered flags.  Sorry for the bad lighting!

Guido's Pit Stop (inspired by this blog post on From Rookie to Rock Star). I didn't have the time to make this Lightning McQueen out of wood, so I made it from a few pieces of red foam board, and painted the details with acrylic paint.  This turned out to be big hit amongst the kiddos.  The could "wash" Lightning, "gas him up," and "change his tires" (all in quotes since none of them involve water, gas or removal of tires).

Cars bubble bath bottle made a perfect "gas can" to place in the snack cup I attached to the car.

Car wash supplies from Home Depot worked perfectly for "washing" Lightning.

Toy bolts were attached to Lightning's wheels, and using toy wrenches and screwdrivers (all toys Grayson already had from toy tool sets), the kids could pretend to change Lightning's tires.

I missed getting a picture of our Ramone's House of Body Art station where kids could put on temporary Cars tattoos.  I had bowls with water and small pieces of sponge to help apply the tattoos.

Tires and bean bags made for a fun competition that we called "Mater's Tire Toss."  Prizes were Cars themed stickers and toys from Party City.  Even the adults got in on this one.

Favor bags included all sorts of Cars goodies (links on where I purchased favors are below).

What Cars party is complete without a Cars themed playlist?  There are hundreds of options out there, so it took some time to narrow it down to these top picks:

Cars Party Playlist:
  • Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen)
  • Drive My Car (Paul McCartney)
  • Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)
  • Roadhouse Blues (The Doors)
  • Take it Easy (The Eagles)
  • Guitars, Cadillacs (Dwight Yoakam)
  • The Distance (CAKE)
  • Running on Empty (Jackson Browne)
  • Life is a Highway (Rascal Flatts)
  • Little Red Corvette (Prince)
  • Slow Ride (Foghat)
  • Hot Rod Girl (Brian Setzer)
  • 409 (The Beach Boys)
  • Fun, Fun, Fun (The Beach Boys)
  • Route 66 (Chuck Berry)
  • Life in the Fast Lane (The Eagles)
  • The Little Old Lady from Pasadena (Jan & Dean)
  • Greased Lightnin’ (John Travolta/Grease Soundtrack)
  • Little Deuce Couple (The Beach Boys)
  • Low Rider (War)
  • Up Around the Bend (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
  • I’m In Love With My Car (Queen)
  • Beep (Playmates)
  • On The Road Again (Willie Nelson)
  • Sh-Boom (The Chords) – a must for a Disney/Pixar Cars themed party!

Party Supplies:
Reminder: This post contains some affiliate links, which means I may receive commission if you make a purchase using the link.

I hope that you find some inspiration with these!  Next party I'll cover will be my son Sawyer's Rock n' Roll themed first birthday party.  Stay tuned!!


Jane Aiello said...

I also live in Austin and I'm planning a transportation themed bday party for my son. Where did you get the tires from?

ramonaruby said...

Hi Jane! I actually just found them in a spot near my work where tires are discarded, though I am not sure if they are still there. I actually still have the tired and have been meaning to get rid of them... if you have means to pick them up, you are welcome to them! Email me at