A Cars-Themed First Birthday Party (with links to free printables!)

Weโ€™re back from a marathon trip to the Philippines where we celebrated not one, but two first birthday parties for Squishy! *whew*

We had a lot of help from family and friends for both events. One was a Jollibee kiddie party (of course!) complete with a dance number from Jollibee and the crew and a lot of fun and noisy games for kids and grown-ups (a.k.a. not-so-small kids).

We discovered that Squishy wasn’t a fan of loud noises — he literally started bawling every time people clapped or shouted or laughed heartily all of a sudden — you know, like what usually happens in birthday parties. Ha! It didn’t help that the Jollibee function room was in an enclosed space, where the loud music was extra fun and extra loud. ๐Ÿ™‚

We enjoyed the festivities at a safe distance — that is, we spent most of the party outside, looking in through the glass door. Oh, kids.

Squishy on one of his outside-the-party walkabouts. He had on a "cape" in the spirit of the superhero theme.
Squishy on one of his outside-the-party walkabouts. He had on a “cape” in the spirit of the superhero theme.
One of Squishy’s first and favorite words is “car” — his favorite pastimes include hanging out in front of one of the big windows in our condo, facing the street, watching the cars and buses pass by. His other favorite word is “dada” / “daddy”. (He calls Mama different names but trust me, I get most of the hugs! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Inspired by his favorite word we chose a Disney Cars theme for his other birthday party. The good thing about choosing a Disney theme is there is sooo  much material already out there if you want to go DIY for the decorations. Maybe it was the lacklustre “I-can-totally-do-this-myself-if-I-had-the-time” thoughts I had from Squishy’s baptism “event styling”, but I decided to go DIY this time around. I have my family to thank for the “styling” for Squishy’s birthday, especially my Mama’s crafting and Divisoria shopping skillz (Hi, Ma!).

Our Cars-themed decor:

  • Giveaways wrapped to look like stoplights and traffic cones. Decor na, giveaways pa! The cones are stacking blocks. Multi-tasking. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We asked the guests to take them home after the party.



  • DIY invitations printed on board paper with the Cars Jr. theme (links to free printables below).
The flags are made out of drinking straws, black crepe paper, and patterned paper (see HWTM link below!)
  • Playful “Pit Pass” name tags distributed to the kids (Squishy and our family wore pit passes too). All editing done by me in Paint.


  • Celebrant photo gallery, bunting-style (a.k.a. sampayan, haha).



  • Cars bunting, “Happy Birthday” posters (in addition to the huge tarp from Chili’s), loot bags and toy giveaway bargains (mostly) from Divisoria.






  • Catchy names for the desserts and food served to match the theme. These include “Flat Top Gear” (a popular Philippine milk chocolate), “Chewy Brownie Stoplights” (Becky’s Kitchen brownies topped with Nips/M&Ms… Nips seem to have a lot of dull colors), “Stick Shift Stikkos” (yes, the wafer sticks), “Chocolatey Spare Tires” (Dunkin’ Donuts choco donuts), “Corny Cones” (Cornets chips), “Nuts and Bolts” (mixed nuts), etc.





For Chili’s dishes I thought of: Classic Calamari, Turbo-Charged Tostada Chips and Salsa, Speedy Buffalo Wings, and Power-Steering Pork Belly. You get the picture. Be as corny as you want. A thesaurus / Google search for an alphabetized list of all words related to “car” will help.

All editing for the food labels done by me in Paint, with the help of Google stock image searches and free font downloads. 


I know most food labels in parties are held in place by alligator clip holders that look something like this:

Source: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/
Source: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/
These are usually quite pricey.

My hack for this is to get your normal binder clips and decorate them as you wish. (If you scroll up to the food photos you’ll see this is what I used.) I just wrapped a black-and-white patterned paper around the clips using Elmer’s Glue and double-sided tape. Voilร ! Instant (cheaper) sign holder.

  • A car-themed cake that didn’t go overboard with the theme. I didn’t want to push the Cars theme too hard so I did a quick Google search and chanced upon a nice cake design. By happy coincidence the cake colors of red/black matched Chili’s balloon decor so the cake looked right at home! The cake was made by a family friend and the fondant is pastillas (soft milk candy) flavored. If you want her details, send me a message.




  • Making use of free printables. There are a lot of resources out there. Here are the links to the ones I used.

Disney Baby Cars Junior 1st Birthday Party free printables – Cars-theme, but baby-fied. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good for first birthdays! They have a free birthday banner, birthday invitations, thank you cards, and thank you notes.

Hostess With The Mostess Disney Cars free printables – This blog has the complete set! Food labels, party flags, bottle wraps, centrepieces — you name it.

All Things G&D – I customized her VIP Pit Passes, and they turned out really cute!

Here’s one of the “House of Body Art” printables from HWTM in action at the face painting area (face paint was such a huge hit at the party!).



Before Squishy got all tired and cranky towards the end, he enjoyed his Cars party to the hilt. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck with yours!



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