Parents, polish up your helmets and shine your hubcaps: we’re about to plan a race car birthday party to satisfy even the speediest of little car lovers. Although the day itself will probably whizz by as fast as a Formula 1 car on a street circuit, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of planning time before the big day begins.
The good news? You won’t need any spare tires or motor oil to make this party a winner. Instead, we have a lineup of race car party themes, activities, and snacks you’ll need to make this a first-place party—plus, all the best car and construction party supplies at our Party Shop.
Photo by Momo Party; Speedway Celebration by Paperless Post
Start your engines: Race car theme 101
Planning a race car birthday theme is all about recreating the racetrack, only in your backyard or party room. Thankfully, this doesn’t require you to source the scent of burning rubber or the soundtrack of squealing cars. Still, you can steer your party planning in the right direction by recreating sights and sounds inspired by the races.
Choose race car-inspired colors and decor
A racetrack is a colorful place, largely thanks to all those shiny cars whizzing by and the flashy designs they use to grab your attention. To capture an element of those thrills for car lovers of all ages, plan your party around colors and decor that are just as eye-catching, such as:
— Bright primary colors, including red, green, blue, and yellow
— Orange cones
— Black-and-white checkered flags or multicolored flags
— Brightly colored or black-and-white balloons
Of course, if your racetrack needs an extra spin to suit the birthday child’s favorite things, you can alter the colors however needed to suit the theme. Some twists on the classic race car theme might include:
— A race to the zoo, with pastel colors and animals
— A Disney “Cars” birthday party, with characters like Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen to complement
— A retro-themed car party with gold and silver decor and pink and blue race cars
Acquire some race car-themed party supplies
Once you’ve determined whether you’ll go with a classic race car theme or if you’ll be adding your own spin, it’s time to load up with the supplies you’ll need to pull it all together.
To fast-track your planning, consider the categories below:
— Decorations – The flags are up. The engines have started. Who will be the first to cross the finish line? There’s no way to know for sure, but you can ensure every guest feels like a winner by incorporating trophy-worthy party decor, such as a Racing Car Foil Balloon (1) to drive the theme home, a Gold & Silver Tassel Garland (2) that recreates the electric excitement of the track, and a Golden Balloon Arch (3) to give them that picture-perfect backdrop for their winning lap.
— Tableware – If you’re aiming to serve up some car-themed birthday cake and party snacks, plain old plates just won’t do. It’s a great idea to capture the spirit of race day with some Race Car Plates (4). To catch any spills (let’s face it, the racetrack can get messy), you’ll also need some Race Car Napkins (5). Don’t forget to quench the little racers’ thirst with some Race Car Party Cups (6).
— Race car party favors – To send your guests home with a party favor that has them dreaming of race tracks and revving engines for days, fill some Multicolor Party Bags (7) with Matchbox vehicles, car-themed cookies, and street sign-inspired stickers.
“Little Racer” by Cheree Berry Paper & Design for Paperless Post; Photo by Serjan Midili.
Ready, set, race: race car themed games and activities
What car-themed birthday party would be complete without some games to let the little racers test their speed? They’re sure to show off their racing savvy in these car-themed party games—so prepare some party favors and prizes to hand out in advance.
Stoplight balloon pop relay
For a party game that excites the racing spirit (and inspires plenty of giggles, too), you can’t go wrong with a balloon pop relay. And as a suggestion, you’ll probably want to play this game outdoors. Run the relay with these steps:
1. Blow up as many balloons as you have party guests. To follow the theme, use stoplight colored balloons in red, yellow, and green.
2. Have the children form two lines, with each being a team.
3. Place enough balloons for each team in separate piles at the other end of the yard.
4. When the race starts, one member of each team must race across the yard, take a balloon from their pile, and sit on the balloon until it pops.
5. Once the balloon has been popped, they can race back to pass off the relay to another team member.
6. The first team with all racers to cross the finish line wins.
Race car derby
When it’s time to get in some actual racing, this game will undoubtedly delight your young speedsters. Set up a starting line and finish line in the driveway or somewhere safe in the house, like a long hallway. Next, direct your racers with these steps:
1. Provide each child with a toy race car, such as a Hot Wheels car or a windup car. Have them line up behind the starting line and point their car toward the finish line.
2. At your signal, they’re allowed to give the car only one push. Some cars may go off track completely, but that’s part of the game!
3. The car that crosses the finish line first is the winner.
We love the creativity of the shoebox race, a game that’s adaptable for many party themes. Unless you have a stock of shoeboxes handy in the garage, you may want to ask each child to bring their own for this birthday party idea. Next, follow these steps:
1. Before the party or while the kids are otherwise engaged, tape the shoebox lids down securely. Cut a 4” x 1” slit in each lid, lengthwise.
2. Provide each child with a shoebox to decorate like a race car, adding wheels, windows, and racing colors. You can use some simple and easy-to-clean craft supplies, such as crayons or markers, or allow the children to paint them and glue on strips of construction paper.
3. When the shoeboxes are decorated (and all the paint or glue is dry), have the children wear their box as a shoe on one foot. Take them outside and conduct a race to see who wins.
Photo by Momo Party.
Pit stop party snacks: race car theme food ideas
With all that racing going on, your party guests are probably going to need to refuel a few times. But should your car-inspired creativity come to a halt just because they’re eating? Certainly not.
To keep the engines warm and the enthusiasm running, serve up some snacks that allow party guests to build their own edible race cars.
You can provide various components for their creative snack, such as:
— Wedges of apples and oranges to serve as the car’s body
— Round crackers for hubcaps
— Oreos to serve as wheels
— Different shapes of pretzels for the nuts and bolts
— Stop lights made with M&Ms and chocolate squares
— Triangles of cheddar cheese for cones
— Lemonade or fruit punch to serve as the “fuel”
If you don’t mind getting a little messy, you can also serve up car-shaped sugar cookies and allow guests to add their racer name, car colors, and numbers with icing. Just be sure to be on standby with some paper towels if anyone’s icing goes off track.
Don’t forget to serve everything with car-themed plates, napkins, and cups—and to top your kid’s cake with a super-special race car candle holder.
Race car-themed invitation wording
When it’s time to send your race car birthday party invitations, you want to make sure your future guests know just how much fun they’re going to have. In other words, you’re setting the tone for the whole shebang—much like the announcer at the race track.
Invite your guests with some racing-inspired wording to spark their excitement, such as:
Start your engines!
It’s Devon’s 7th birthday.
Join us for a day at the races
Saturday, March 26th,
3 o’clock in the afternoon.
[address of party venue]
We welcome you to wear your favorite car racing colors.
Please RSVP by March 15.
Ready… Set… Race!
Kate is turning eight!
We’re celebrating with a race to Route 66
Please join us from 1–3 p.m. on March 19th
At the Gershwin residence
Anyone who’s been to a racetrack knows that half the excitement is the anticipation that builds up at the starting line. With the energy your invitation wording inspires, your little racer’s party is certain to keep the guests on the edge of their seats.
“Birthday Beep” Flyer by Paperless Post.
Paperless Post: the invitations and supplies to power your party engine
When race day arrives, we know the birthday kid is going to delight in all the fun and games you have planned. And with all that zooming around, you can be certain everyone’s going to sleep like a rock in their little race car beds when all’s said and done.
Just remember: Even though the party is race car-themed, there’s no need for you to scramble around like part of the pit crew the day before. Instead, shop for supplies that match your Paperless Post race car invitations at our Party Shop. It’s the best place to find everything you need to host a successful car themed party, from start to finish.
Editor’s note: Party Shop shipping only available in the continental US.