Let’s face it, planning a birthday party at home can be a daunting prospect… the idea often starts out small and then spirals out of control. Once you invite siblings, neighbours and friends at school, then realise you not only have little mouths to feed but parents too, on top of décor, entertainment, party bags and the likes, it almost seems more practical and affordable to book a package at soft play and let them deal with the aftermath than doing it yourself. However, with a few DIY hacks and careful sourcing, you can have an awesome party and still watch the ‘purse strings’.
I secretly enjoy planning a good personal social event, although I often get anxious during the process. Still, I always end up loving the result and seeing happy faces all round. This year, my little man turned 3 years old and over the year, he has developed a crazy obsession for all things ‘race cars’. He can name all of them, from mustangs to Ferraris and he loves visiting the autodrome with his daddy to watch the 24-hour race. So it made complete sense to theme his birthday accordingly.
In this article, I talk you through my party planning process complete with accompanying pictures from our talented friend Nabeela Huda.
The Entertainment And Games
For us, hiring just a balloon bender wouldn’t cut it for the theme, so I had to get creative! Renting a Ferrari didn’t fall within the budget, let alone buying one (sarcasm), so I decided to call out to our local community via an FB group, for a neighbour with a sporty car to swing by during the party, rev their engine a bit and let the kids take pictures. What happened after I pressed ‘post’, left me crying humble tears of joy. Over 20! people came forward offering to drive by with awesome sports cars to make Kai’s day…. from Cobra’s to Mustangs, to the CEO of the UAE Ferrari owners club! I was left overwhelmed with choice.
In the end, the birthday boy was surprised with a spectrum of classic/vintage car and modern race cars for his big day. At about mid-way through the party, a convoy of Ferrari’s purred their way down our road (organised by the Ferrari owners club who were absolutely amazing with the kids) in tow with a branded cap and Ferrari race car toy as gifts. All the kids got to have a look at the cars, take pictures and meet the owners (all with parents’ supervision of course). This did not cost me a penny! It was just pure selflessness from my kind neighbours – I remember for Kai’s 1st birthday, putting a call out in the community to borrow large soft animal toys for his ‘Wild One’ theme, and had loads of mums come to my rescue! Community is really a wonderful thing, so be sure to turn to yours when in need here in Dubai!
As mentioned before with décor, I was fortunate and lucky enough to have Party Centre approach me for a collab and they kindly gifted some awesome party supplies, including a couple of race car piñata’s – At 70aed for the pinata, this is a fun and affordable activity that can be enjoyed by children aged 3+.
Lastly, I wanted the kids to be able to make something car related and get crafty, so I hired the services of Splash & Bounce who organised a crafting table with supplies, table-cover, chairs and a very friendly assistant. The children enjoyed painting ceramic race cars and making cars out of popsicle sticks that they took home with them – At every point, there were children at the table, it proved a great hit and at 550AED all in, I thought it was worth every penny.
I definitely didn’t want to go ‘overboard’ (depending on your idea of the word), but basically, I knew I did not want to hire the likes of photo booths, backdrops, customised stationery and all that jazz. Neither did I have the time to do so, nor the budget, so I used what we had in-house to create a cute entrance installation with Kai’s toy cars on a black and white lined road leading into the house by using two plastic bin liners and double-sided tape. I reused the bin liners after, so they did not go to waste.
Balloons came courtesy of Party Centre and once Kai’s birthday was done, I gifted them to another family in our neighbourhood to use them for their son’s party the next day – I really encourage people to do this if possible. I often battle with the love of organising a good party against the guilt of all the waste that ensues afterwards. Next year, I plan on trying to plan a zero-waste party… so watch this space!
The cute picnic tables were sourced via Miss Faye and Lion, who also threw in tires and cones to use as props – This cost me 540AED+ delivery. But, if you have tables and chairs at home, or throws and pillows, it will save you $$.
The amazing food for parents and toddlers came courtesy of my long terms clients DISH catering who cut me an awesome deal. But for more affordable catering, there is a tonne of fun DIY kids party food ideas available here. If you are hosting a special event at home and have the cash to splash, I highly recommend using DISH catering services!
The Party Bag’s
This was a fun DIY project, that I completed with Kai. The black party bags were from party centre, at first, I glued on coloured bobbles from Daiso, but that kept failing, so I simply cut out circles using white card paper, coloured them in red, yellow/amber and green and stuck them on with glue to resemble a traffic light. We really had fun making them together. Inside the bags, I placed a yummy racecar biscuit (by Arwa Federal Cakes), a multi-coloured giant crayon and a toy car brought in bulk from Party Centre. The kids loved them!
Birthday Cake And Deserts
My go-to cake designer for Kai, every year, is Awra Federal of Arwa Federal Signature Cakes. Again, she is a long-term client of mine, so gave me a great deal, but her birthday cakes and party deserts are reasonable in price and taste so good! I highly recommended her – She stuck to my brief but added her own flair – I particularly loved the gear stick cake pops and so did the kids!
*Plan Your Race Car Themed Party At Home With The Below Suppliers*
Race car themed crafts: Splash & Bounce – Party tableware/balloons/race car pinata/black party bags: The Party Centre – Cake & deserts: Arwa Federal Signature Cakes – Picnic table, cone props and tires: Miss Faye & Lion / Catering: DISH Catering – Photography: Nabeela Huda