This past weekend, I put together a Toy Story themed birthday party for my 6-year old daughter. With a few creative touches and a little bit of elbow grease, I was able to create a fun and memorable party without breaking the bank, or staying up until 4:00a.m. the night before.
Step 1: The Invitations
I've always been of the mindset that a nice invitation sets the tone for the whole party. But what to do when you're short on time and on funds?
I found my solution in the creative personalized invitations at printmyparty.com. Print My Party creates personalized invitations that look like special event tickets, in dozens of styles (Disney themes, Super Heroes, Movies, popular musicians, etc). Ordering online was incredibly easy, and I was provided with a proof in less than a day. Once you approve the proof, you are able to print as many inviations as you like from your computer, or have them printed at a photo kiosk. A personalized invitation costs only $12.99! I had my invitations printed at Costco through their online service. The invitations print 2 to a 5x7 sheet. I was able to get 16 invitations for less than $4! As an added touch, I created an "Etch A Sketch" mailing label for the envelopes (which I already had at home).
Note: I was not compensated in any way for this review. I simply stumbled across printmyparty.com while browsing online for invitations. I took my chances, was thrilled at the outcome, and am happy to share my honest and unbiased review.
Here are the Etch a Sketch labels that I created. You are welcome to download and use them for free. The font that I used for the addresses is called "Dim Wit" and can be downloaded for free by clicking HERE.
Download the labels for FREE in MS Word Format by clicking HERE
Step 2: Decor
FRONT DOOR and WALL DECOR: The invitation set the tone that the birthday party was taking place in "Andy's Room". So, when the guest arrived, I wanted to echo that sentiment. I found a font called "Pastel Crayon" that mimics the look of a child's handwriting in crayon. You can download "Pastel Crayon" by clicking HERE.
Using this font, I printed out a sign that said "Andy's Room", mounted it on a sheet of red poster board (purchased from the dollar store), punched a hole in either corner, and looped through some rope. I hung the sign on the front door along with the "Wanted" poster from Toy Story 3.
There are a few scenes in the Toy Story movies where you see drawings made by the character "Andy". I found downloadable copies of Andy's "original" drawings and printed them in color on regular printer paper. I mounted the pictures on the same sheet of red poster board, and hung them in the main party room. You can download Andy's pictures by clicking HERE.
MAIN ROOM: The dining room table was first laid with a white linen tablecloth, followed by red bandannas and a square of burlap. I created towers made from classic Tinker Toys and Lego, which I used to support full-size toy versions of Woody and Buzz Lightyear that I borrowed from a friend. The great thing about this centerpiece is that Buzz and Woody were interactive talking toys, so they carried on a dialog with one another throughout the party. In addition, we rounded up as many Toy Story toys as we could from the girls' rooms, and used them as instant decor.
I got a lot of mileage out of a bucket of official Toy Story army men that I purchased at Target for $9.99. Using butcher's twine, I created zip and rappel lines. I affixed the army men to the twine using a small dab of hot glue. This gave the appearance of the army men zipping in to the room and down the chandelier to the party table.
Another classic children's toy, alphabet blocks, were a fun way to spell out a birthday wish, and add color to the table.
In the movie Toy Story 3, the nefarious bear "Lotso" rides around in a toy dump truck. Our cupcakes pulled triple-duty as a table decoration, cake, and party favor when they were served in individual dump trucks.
Step 3: Games
The kids enjoyed a pinata shaped as Buzz Lightyear's space ship, and had a lot of laughs playing "Pin the Badge on Woody" and "Stick the Space Ranger Patch on Buzz" (both purchased from Party City), but the favorite game by far was, "Fix-up the Mixed-up Potato Head". In this simple, yet fun game, two children at a time compete to put two very mixed-up potato heads back together. They are each given a Mr. Potato head that has been assembled incorrectly. The first one to put the potato head back together correctly wins! I purchased the Mr. Potato heads from Target for $7/each.
Step 4: Movie
After the kids had run off some energy and shaken their sillies out with the games, we settled down in the living room to watch the original Toy Story movie. The children were served popcorn in movie-theater style bags purchased from Smart & Final.
Step 5: Food & Drinks
Throughout the party, bottled water was always available to keep the kids refreshed and hydrated. To make it extra fun, I designed a custom label that I printed on adhesive paper and wrapped around the small sized bottled waters. You can download the labels for "Buzz Lightyear's Refueling Fluid" for free (non-commercial purposes only) right here:
Click HERE to download the labels for free from Google Docs.
The health-food police may come and put the cuffs on me for this one, but we thought it would be fun to offer up a silly snack that made an appearance in Toy Story 2.
We started the party at 2:00 p.m. so that we could serve dinner after the movie. My daughter's favorite food is pasta, so we served "Slinky Dog" pasta (just corkscrew noodles with butter or red sauce), fresh fruit, and garlic bread. Drinks were served in old fashioned milk bottles that I picked up at an auction, and were adorned with silly straws from the dollar store.
For the "cake", chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting were dunked in a bowl of crushed graham crackers (with a few chocolate grahams crumbled in for contrast) for "sand". Each cupcake went in to the bed of a toy dump truck, and got covered with more crumbs. As a "topper", a Toy Story army man hitched a ride. After the cupcakes were eaten, we gave each truck a quick rinse, and put them (along with the army man and silly straw) into each child's goody bag.
The birthday girl sure seemed to enjoy all the Toy Story fun.
And so did her friends!
I hope you did too!