Do you have a little Toy Story fan in your life?
My son used to LOVE Toy Story and for his 4th birthday he begged for a Toy Story themed birthday.
Perfect! Toy Story! Finally a request with readily available decorations vs the previous year’s ‘Fireman Sam’ request which is apparently only popular in England. (I don’t even pay regular shipping charges for party supplies….there’s no way I’m paying international!)
It should have been easy….except for his birthday cake request.
He wanted a birthday cake featuring a reenactment of the dump scene from Toy Story 3.
Do you remember that one? Yep, it’s the one where all the beloved characters say their traumatic, tear-filled, goodbyes as they face certain death while getting sucked into the incinerator. The same scene that made my husband return home from taking the kids to the movie theater with a shocked look on his face saying, “the end of that movie was a cross between Alien & The Shawshank Redemption!”
It just screams “Happy Birthday!”
But in my 9 years as a parent, I have done my best to honor all of the strange birthday cake requests that my kids throw my way, so I was up to the challenge.
After all, how can you say no to the kid that loves Toy Story so much that he wore this Buzz Lightyear costume (that his sister MacGyvered together out of an Amazon box and a backpack) all day, every day for over a month.
I’ll get to the decorations & favors shortly, but as with most things in life, I will start with the cake.
So, how does one create molten recycling garbage using only edible items? I needed something red, but not bright red, with bits of orange and brown for accents. His birthday is near Halloween so fortunately we had some orange at our disposal.
Crumbled up orange candy-corn pumpkins?
Crushed orange lifesavers?
Ah hah! Halloween Oreos!
That took care of the brown & orange, but I still needed some red.
(Cue mental flashback to Steel Magnolias.)
“Worse, the cake part is red velvet cake. Blood red!! People are gonna be hackin’ into this poor animal that looks like it’s bleedin’ to death.”
Red Velvet Cake! Perfect!
Of course, to be safe, we should really make a prototype the week before to make sure it looks sufficiently molten-dump’ish.
We also considered using gigantic piles of red & orange sugar crystals and let Zurg be the judge. Zurg suggested that perhaps piles of orange and red dyed sugar crystals wouldn’t be the best thing to feed a dozen 4-year-olds.
As with all of my cake decorations, my one requirement is that any inedible part of the cake needs to be something that can be reused or played with again in the future.
Lucky for me, I was able to find this fun (and relatively inexpensive) Toy Story Action Links Junkyard Escape and assemble it around the cake. For $20 plus the cost of a boxed cake (and a bag of Halloween Oreos, with plenty left for ‘sampling’) we had a fun cake and a toy that my son still plays with two years later.
You may be saying to yourself, “hey, this is the only picture that looks like it wasn’t taken by a monkey with a disposable camera.” That’s because my dear friend, Lindsey’s kids were at the party and she snapped a couple of shots. She’s amazing so I’m totally pimping her at Lindsey J Baker Photography in Austin.
You wouldn’t believe it based on how much time I’ve spent talking about the cake, but there were actually some other elements to the party.
I’m a big fan of decorating with toys that we already have laying around the house. Here’s Zurg (and our dog, Jackson) greeting guests as they arrive.
I love using re-usable wall clings (shown here with Jesse and Mr. Potato head) to decorate for parties. Once the party is over we use them to decorate they kid’s room until the next party. Click here for more information on Disney “Toy Story 3″ Wall Decal Cutouts 18″x40”
We made “The Claw” by overlapping two long strips of cardboard (reenforced with extra cardboard at the folds) and covered with tin foil. Again, not gorgeous but a big hit with a room full of 4 year olds.)
The most Pinterest-y part of the party was definitely the goodie bags (primarily because I totally stole the idea from Pinterest.) As you might expect, they took approximately forever to make, but dang are they cute!
Inside the party bags we had Toy Story Play Packs & Miniature Slinky Dogs that we were able to find 4-packs for about $6. Some ding dong is trying to sell them for almost $30 now, but I’m sure you can find them somewhere cheaper.
For the Pizza Planet sign, we printed out the Pizza Planet logo on a regular piece of letter sized paper and glued it to a piece of poster board that we had cut in the shape of the space ship (and colored in the red accents with marker.)
We bought one over-priced Toy Story themed tablecloth and cut and taped the inexpensive green one on each side to cover the table. We used the leftover green tablecloth strips to decorate other areas, like the goodie-bag table.
My favorite part of the party was letting our little Buzz Lightyear open one of his presents early: A REAL Buzz Lightyear costume to replace the worn out cardboard version that he and his sister made. (There’s a funny story behind the pumpkin in the background if you have a minute to spare.)
You could tell by that smile that he was not going to be taking this costume off any time soon.
Not even to go grocery shopping….
Or to go to karate class….
And of course, Halloween.
Even as he gets older and has moved into Star Wars, Buzz Lightyear still makes an appearance.
Here’s wishing your little Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, Zurg, Wheezy or whoever your child loves from Toy Story, a very Happy Birthday!
Here are some links to get more information about some of the items mentioned in this post.
Once upon a time, Susanne Kerns was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago she traded in her corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. She started her blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off her online advertising skills and begin her job search. Instead, she now uses it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so her kids think that mommy has a job.
Susanne’s essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and she is also a contributor in the upcoming books, It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood – Tales of Wonder Woe & WTF?! You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.