When both of the boys enthusiastically insisted that what they really wanted was a Disney Cars themed birthday party, I heaved a heavy sigh. I'm not against branded characters, but I do dislike the over-the-top craziness often exhibited at Character Parties. Not to mention that anything with Lightning McQueen on it is likely to be at least twice as expensive as an equivalent Generic Race Car product.
After some careful thinking and planning, I was able to come up with a party that satisfied not only my frugality and preference for simple celebrations as well as the boys' love for Lighting McQueen, Mater, and the rest. Here's what we did.
I used the generic Paint program on our computer to enlarge a racing checkers image I found online. I centered and printed the checkers and used my embellished paper to make these little favor boxes. (Free printable box template found here.) I customized them further by adding Cars stickers, and then filled them with sheets of stickers for our young guests.
We used another free printable that does not seem to be available anymore for the invitations. They were cute, featuring Mater inviting you to a "tow-tally awesome party" or Lightning McQueen urging you to "race on over."
The cake was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I added still more racing checkers and some red frosting, and finished the decorations with a few clean Cars figurines and candles. (No, no one was turning fifty-three, it was simply a joint party for a five-year-old and a three-year-old, and I didn't have enough space to spread out the candles.) I bought some Cars napkins to accent our red desert plates, and that was all!