This guide has everything you need for an awesome (and totally doable) Hot Wheels birthday party your little racer will love!
NOTE: THIS POST INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS TO PRODUCTS I HAVE USED AND LOVED, BUT AS ALWAYS FEEL FREE TO SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST DEALS. SEE MY DISCLOSURE TO LEARN MORE.
It’s birthday season at our house right now. All three of my boys have summer birthdays (May, July, and August), so we do a lot of celebrating this time of year. This year, my seven-year-old asked for a Hot Wheels birthday party, and today I’m sharing how we pulled off a super fun party for under $100 dollars.
My boys LOVE planning their birthday parties with me each year. It’s become a tradition for us to sit down, talk about their ideas, browse Pinterest, and plan a fun birthday bash. (See the bottom of this post for links to our other parties.) At one point in my life I wanted to be an event planner (until I decided it would be WAY to stressful), so my kids’ parties are my small way of scratching my planning itch.
Still, as much as I love planning parties, I don’t have unlimited time (hello, three kids running around my house all day!) or money to spend on elaborate parties. So I’ve tried over the years to focus on the things that really make parties special for my kids, and let go of all the “Pinterest Perfect” ideas that are really adorable but my kids could care less about.
Our Hot Wheels Birthday Party
Little Man told me nine months ago that for his next birthday he wanted a Hot Wheels birthday party. This kid cracks me up. Most kids don’t plan that far in advance (or if they do, they still change their mind seven thousand more times before the real event), but my careful planner is loyal. He made his decision and he stuck to it faithfully.
Honestly, I was thrilled with his choice, so I encouraged him. It was such a fun party to plan, and the kids had a blast! Here’s how it went:
I have always designed the invitations for my kids’ parties myself, but this year I decided to keep things simple. I found a few really cute designs on Etsy, and then I let Little Man choose his favorite.
This is the option he chose:
And here were the runners up:
You can print the invitations on your home printer and cut them out. Or you can crop the digital image after you have personalized the info, save it as a jpeg file, and print it at Costco (which is what I did).
Fifteen minutes of effort, less than ten dollars spent, and invitations were DONE!
Decorations are where some people spend HOURS of time, and gobs of money. I don’t.
I admire the cute tablescapes and balloon arches, but I simply don’t want to invest that kind of time into something that my kids don’t really care about. Here’s a tour of the super simple decor for our Hot Wheels birthday party.
First, I wanted to have something on the front door to identify our house as the “party house.” My son had invited a few friends from school that had never been to our house before, so I wanted to make sure they felt confident they were in the right place. I settled on this simple “Welcome Racers!” sign to go on the front door.
(Note: The printable banner above does not include the Hot Wheels logo because of copyright restrictions, but you can easily print your own logo to add. Just copy and paste the clip art into a word document, resize as desired, print and cut out.)
Inside, I hung a black and white checkered banner along our kitchen island (similar here) and placed our “hot wheel” pinata on top to welcome guests.
I focused the rest of the decor around the table:I bought blue plastic tablecloths at our local party store, and then created a table runner out of orange wrapping paper (dollar store) and removable road tape (Amazon). I filled a couple of mason jars with blue paper Easter grass (thank you Easter clearance) and tucked some racing flags into them (again from the party store).
I placed a few of my son’s Hot Wheels cars on the road tape so they looked like they were driving down the road, and called it good!
For place settings, I set out a Hot Wheels coloring page for each child (more about this below), an orange paper sack goodie bag, and a VIP Pit Pass for them to fill out. These pit passes were stapled to their bags to keep track of whose was whose. And, we were done decorating! Most of the supplies came from either the dollar store, our local party store, or my own house. All together, I spent under $30 dollars for all the decorations, and that’s including the road tape (of which we have more than 20 feet left over to use for play time later).
Our party was from 3-5 pm, so we didn’t need to serve a full meal. I saw endless ideas for cute food ideas on Pinterest, but I opted to keep it simple (again) because in my experience, kids don’t eat a lot at parties.Other than the cake and ice cream (more details on that in a minute), I took my handy dandy dollar store party tray (I use this thing ALL the time for crafts and snacks), and filled it with an assortment of kid-friendly finger foods:
- Baby carrots
- Apple slices
- Goldfish crackers
We also made lemonade (at my son’s request) to go with the cake. Less than $10 worth of food and five minutes of prep (I know because I forgot to make the food tray and had my husband prep it five minutes before the party…oops!…real life, people!).
I love decorating cakes. It’s something I learned from my mom, and it’s a fun creative outlet for me. It’s also a way I challenge myself each year to learn and develop new skills. I have to admit though, this cake almost killed me.
That might be a tad dramatic, but I did actually make my husband promise to remind me next year that I have sworn off 3-dimensional fondant creations for at least a year. Sometimes I get really big ideas and I underestimate the work and time involved in bringing them to life.
That being said, I was ultimately pleased with how the cake turned out:At Little Man’s request, I made a chocolate cake as a base. I baked three 9-inch round cake layers using box chocolate cake mixes. Then I covered it with a thin layer of chocolate buttercream frosting before adding a covering of blue fondant.
In case you’re thinking…Fondant??? I could never do a FONDANT cake!…hear me out. I used to be terrified of fondant too, but a couple of years ago I decided to take the plunge and try it. It takes a little getting used to, but really…it’s like play dough for grown-ups.
If you want to learn how to make fondant, check out my two-part super-detailed instructions–from a beginner, to a beginner.
Once I had the basic cake made, I got to work decorating!
My son really wanted a loopty-loop on top of his cake with a ring of fire for the car to drive through. I created the loop by wrapping a strip of orange fondant around a vase and letting it dry over night. It still seemed a little soft the next day, so I added a triangular support under each side of the loop. Once I did that, it held up great!
I free-handed the ring of fire based on my inspiration picture. I wasn’t sure how I was going to attach the fire ring to the cake, but my brilliant son suggested we poke bamboo skewers (cut shorter) into the bottom ends of the arch and then stick it in the cake. The ring did crack a little when we assembled it, but it worked and nobody could even tell once we had it all together.
For the sides of the cake, I simply printed this Hot Wheels logo, glued it to some wax paper (cut to the same shape), and “glued” it to the side of the cake using shortening. (Fun fact: shortening is a great adhesive when decorating cakes)
The final touch was the checkered flag border around the bottom. I was planning to keep this simple and just buy ribbon to wrap around, but I couldn’t find ANY! Back up plan was to buy black fondant and cut a bazillion squares to go on top of a white band of fondant. But, when I was at the craft store, I found these “sugar sheets” which you can cut to any shape using scissors and adhere to frosting using a little water or shortening. It sounded super easy, so I took a chance.
I have to say, I was NOT a fan of this product. It worked out okay in the end, but the sheets were incredibly brittle and I had a hard time cutting my squares without the corners breaking off. Perhaps I just got a package that had been on the shelf for too many months and was dried out. It’s a great idea in theory, but I found it difficult to work with. Since I was doing this 20 minutes before the party began, I had to just make it work, but I would have preferred working with fondant.
Thankfully, 10 minutes before the party started, I finished the cake and snapped a few quick photos before all the guests arrived. Yikes! Note to self: don’t cut it that close next time.
P.S. – If you want a MUCH simpler cake option, check out these adorable car cupcakes from Mom vs. the Boys.
Games and activities for our Hot Wheels birthday party were so easy because with race cars, the ideas are endless! Here’s what we did:
Design your own race car
I printed various Hot Wheels coloring pages and let each guest pick one to color with a design of their choice. This was a great gathering activity for the kids to do while they waited for everyone to arrive.
Pit crew pass
I had the kids draw their “ID photo” self-portrait and write their name on their own pit pass (I modified this free download to include the Hot Wheels logo). Then, we then stapled them to their orange goodie bags so we could keep track of whose loot was whose throughout the party.
Ring toss with road cones
We simply took pool toy rings and tossed them at construction cones (you can buy these 2/$1 at the dollar store).
I bought a pack of two Tire Pool Inner Tubes on Amazon (cheaper than anywhere I could find them locally) to use for some fun relay races. I was going to use them as part of the decor as well, but it became apparent to me very quickly after I blew them up that morning that it was far too tempting for my kids to throw them around and attack each other with them. So, they went into hiding until we needed them for the party.
I gathered the kids for some relay races, counted them off into teams (1-2-1-2-etc.), and lined them up.
For the first race, the kids had to take turns rolling the tire down the “street”, around a construction cone, and back to their team. Repeat until all teammates have had a turn. If you have uneven teams, have one teammate on the smaller team go twice.
For the second race, I had the kids wear the tire like a hula hoop and run down and around the cone.
These races were super simple, but the kids got really into them.
Choose your race car
I knew from the moment my son chose his Hot Wheels party theme that we would let each child take home their own race car. They are cheap and I knew we could also use them for some fun activities during the party.
My boys went to the store with me and helped me pick out a dozen really cool cars. (Walmart has the cheapest prices, but if you want to save yourself some time, here’s a variety pack you can have delivered to your home). I laid them all out at the party and the kids drew numbers to see who would get to pick first. I had a couple of extra cars so the last person would still have a few to choose from. Thankfully, everyone seemed happy with the car they got in the end.
Car and spoon race
Once everyone had a car, we did a classic “egg and spoon” relay race, but with cars on the spoons instead of eggs.
Tournament of champions
The culminating game was our pinewood derby-style hot wheels race. About a year ago, my husband made a wooden race track for my boys to use with their Hot Wheels, and I was excited to be able to use it for the party. We set up heats so that the top two cars (of four) in each heat moved onto the next round. We kept running races until we had a final winner. Then, we let the kids keep racing as much as they wanted against whomever they wanted, just for fun.
If you’re interested in making your own track, here are the basics:
- Buy a 1 in. x 12 in. x 8 ft. board (ours was just the cheapest pine) & 40 feet worth of square doweling (I think ours was 1/2 inch, but I’m not sure).
- Measure out four racing lanes of equal width (3 inches each).
- Use wood glue to adhere square dowels all along the outside edges of the board and along the lines between the measured lanes.
- That’s it! You can build a fancy stand if you’re handier than we are, or just prop the board up on a cinder block or storage bin.
- Use an extra piece of dowel (or any kind of straight stick…like a ruler) to keep all the cars lined up at the top, and then pull it away to start a race!
I hope that helps!
Other Hot Wheels birthday party activity ideas…
- Use your inflatable tires as goals for a bean bag toss.
- Play “pin the wheel on the car” or “pin the steering wheel on the car”
- Draw a race track on a patio or driveway and have kids do time trial races around it.
My kids LOVE pinatas! I hate spending twenty bucks on something that gets destroyed in five minutes, so I have learned how to make my own. It’s a little time consuming, but it’s really easy and it’s a great activity for after the kids are in bed while you watch your favorite Netflix show.
I had NO intention of making a car-shaped pinata, but I stumbled on the idea of making a “HOT WHEEL” and thought “I can do that.”
Click the link below to learn how to make a pinata from a cardboard box. For the wheel shape, I just cut two cardboard circles (traced from a large decorative bowl I have) and then wrapped a four-inch band of cardboard around the circle to make the edge of the tire.
Once I had the basic shape taped together, I covered the whole thing with black crepe paper, and glued on a paper hubcap (google clip art), a flame, and a number 7. Super easy! And the whole thing cost me two dollars (for crepe paper and glue).
The favors for this party were really simple. Each child got to take home the race car he or she picked out along with whatever loot they got out of the pinata (candy). That was it!
That’s a wrap!
There you have it…a low-stress, fun-filled Hot Wheels birthday party at home that cost well under a hundred dollars (probably closer to sixty for us).
Here’s a little insight into the aftermath of the party. Whew!…The good news is, I just wrapped everything up in the tablecloth and threw it away! Then I set my robot vacuum to work and sat down for the first time in eight hours! Much needed rest while my boys happily played with all the new toys they had just acquired.
What do you think? Would your kids enjoy this Hot Wheels birthday party? Do you have any other ideas to add? Share in the comments below!