If you have a child under five, you’re probably all too familiar with Paw Patrol. Here is your complete guide to planning a paw”-fect kids’ Paw Patrol birthday party, ideal for real moms who don’t want to spend a fortune to throw a great bash!
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Little Man turned five last week, and this boy takes holidays seriously…especially birthdays. Ever since his dad’s birthday at the end of March, he’s been talking about how his birthday is next and making plans. When it got close enough to really plan, I asked him what kind of party he’d like to have.
I was surprised and thrilled by his response: “Mom, I really liked that dinosaur party last year. Can we do that again?”
Are you kidding me? Of course! It was an easy party in the first place (read all about it here), and I had already done it once. Could life really be this simple for once?
Nope. Of course not.
The morning I went to print his invitations, he sat down by me on the couch and said, “I’ve been thinking about my party, and I changed my mind. Could we do a Paw Patrol party?”
Sigh. “Sure, Buddy,” I said. “We can have a Paw Patrol party.” I did inform him, however, that once I printed the invitations, he couldn’t change his mind anymore. He didn’t. He was sold on Paw Patrol. So off I went to design a new invitation.
It took me most of nap time that day playing around in Photoshop to create this design, but I was really happy with how it turned out. Here’s a generalized version of the one I made, in case you’re looking for inspiration:
Or, you can keep it super simple and use these free printable invites from Nickelodeon. Let’s be honest. The invitations are going to get thrown away anyway. Don’t spend a lot of money on them. I just have fun designing stuff, so I took the time to do it.
Party Planning Reality Check…
Once we had delivered the invitations, we got busy planning the rest of the party. Ideas abound on Pinterest, and I found some good inspiration there, but I also feel really strongly about not going overboard for kids’ parties.
I always ask myself, “Will doing this/buying this make the party better for MY CHILD?” I think we have a tendency to look at all the amazing (crazy) ideas on Pinterest and feel like we have to keep up with the crafty Joneses somehow. But, really, we DON’T.
So you won’t see fancy food labels or elaborate decorations at my kids’ parties. We keep things simple. Although, to be fair, my husband likes to remind me that my version of simple and his version of simple are two very different things. I suppose there is a spectrum of “simple.” In any case, I tried to focus my time and energy on just the few things that Little Man really wanted–a pinata and a cake…Oh, and he wanted to play “Pup Pup Boogie.”
Here’s an overview of what we did.
I printed a simple sign for the front door that said “Ready to PAW-TY?!” and had a picture from the show underneath it. I had planned to draw cute paw prints on the front walk like these ones...but that didn’t happen. Oh well. Nobody missed them.Inside, I had Little Man help me hang crepe paper in primary colors (red, yellow, and royal blue), and we spread a $3 Paw Patrol tablecloth from Walmart on our folding table.
Since I splurged on the tablecloth (yep, I’m a high roller), I decided to just get generic $1 packs of disposable plates, napkins, and cups. They were bright, Paw Patrol-ish colors, and looked great for a third the cost of getting the branded items. Plus, I can use the extras for another event later.
I printed out some free printable coloring pages for the kids to do when they first arrived, and put colored pencils in colorful buckets I already had. I put the cake in the middle of the table…and decorations were done!
Again, we kept food simple. In my experience, most preschoolers eat practically nothing in large-group settings when there are lots of distractions around. Our party was in the morning, so we didn’t even really serve a meal (although I loved the idea of serving “pup-eroni” pizza that I saw on Pinterest).I served four things: cake, lemonade, sliced apples, and “puppy chow.” The puppy chow was a fun, easy trail mix that consisted of me throwing together a whole bunch of things I already had in my pantry (Kix, Chex, pretzels, popcorn, etc). I then mixed in the bone-shaped Scooby Doo graham crackers that Keebler makes (I found them at Walmart) to make it more puppy-like. For reference, here’s what they look like.
I learned how to decorate cakes from my talented mother years ago, and it’s something I really enjoy doing for my kids. I love sitting down with them, looking at pictures, and planning their cakes with them. However, having two kids now limits the amount of time and energy I have for elaborate cakes, so I intentionally kept this one simpler than some I’ve done in the past (you can see those here and here).
He really wanted chocolate AND vanilla flavors in his cake, and I wanted it to be taller than a traditional 2 layer cake, so I made two mixes. I was originally going to use all four layers, but when I went to assemble it, four seemed like overkill, so I just did three layers.
I made a plain white buttercream frosting using my fave recipe and used that between the layers and for the basic cake covering. I had some leftover fondant in the fridge from Little Brother’s birthday last July when I learned how to make fondant for the first time, and it was still good! It was even in the perfect colors for Paw Patrol (serendipity!), so I used it to add a blue band around the bottom and some colorful balls around the top edge. I know fondant seems scary to a lot of people, but if you’ve ever wanted to try it…don’t be afraid! It’s just like playdough for grown ups. If you want to learn how to make it, check out my two-part super-detailed instructions here–from a beginner, to a beginner.
The final touches on the cake were really simple. Some of the inspiration cakes I looked at made a Paw Patrol badge out of fondant, but I didn’t have the time (or skill) for that. Instead, I printed out the badge on cardstock, glued it to some freezer paper, and stuck it on the cake. Simple and effective…and way faster than carving all those details out of fondant. My parents sent Little Man some Paw Patrol toys for his birthday present, and I commandeered a couple of them to go on top of the cake, along with a cute “Happy Birthday” candle my best friend passed on to me. Cake DONE!
I think he approved. 🙂
FYI, as far as logistics, I baked the cake layers several days ahead of time and froze them wrapped tightly in plastic. I crumb frosted the cake a couple days before the party, and then spent about an hour decorating it all the morning of the party. Not bad!
1. Coloring pages
When the kids first arrived, I had coloring pages for them to do (see above for the link to the free printable pages I used).
2. “Pup Pup Boogie” dance party
The next activity on the schedule was to play “Pup Pup Boogie”. It was one of Little Man’s very few requests for the party, so it had to be done. On the show, Pup Pup Boogie is essentially the Paw Patrol version of Dance Dance Revolution. I’m not aware of a commercial version of the pup’s fave game you can buy (and I probably wouldn’t have bought it even if there is), so we just made up our own dance games. I found the Pup Pup Boogie music on You Tube, and we turned that on and let the kids show off their best moves.
We did a free form dance party at first, and then we turned it into a “follow the leader” game where one kid would do their “best” move and the other kids would try to imitate it. It was really entertaining to watch how into it they got! We did the Paw Patrol song a couple of times, and then we took requests from the kids for other songs they wanted to dance to. One of the best we did was the “Move and Freeze” song (find it here). I was amazed by how long this entertained the kids.
3. Paw Patrol “Training”
I told the kids that we were going to train to be rescue dogs, just like the Paw Patrol. We did several games and activities built around this idea.
- Ring Toss Rescue – I set up orange cones (purchased at the dollar store) and we attempted to toss pool rings (similar here) onto the cones.
- “Chase” the pups – This was basically a Paw Patrol version of tag. One of the kids got to be Chase and had to try to tag the other pups. When he/she did, that kid became the new Chase. Simple and fun.
- Play fetch – Dogs love playing fetch with a frisbee, right? So, we played fetch, too. I threw a frisbee and all the kids had to try to catch it. Whoever caught it, got to throw it next.
- Obstacle course – I had plans to create a simple backyard obstacle course, but this one never materialized because I ran out of time.
- Emergency “Find the missing ____!” – This is another idea that I didn’t end up doing, but I would totally take the time to do if I could plan the party again. I essentially wanted to create a little treasure hunt for the kids to find a missing pup or cat or turtle (it seems like something is always missing on that show).
This was the highlight of the party. Kids LOVE getting to bash a cardboard box with a stick to get candy. Stay tuned for a future post where I outline how I made this piñata out of an empty diaper box for under three dollars. Warning: piñata-making is kind of tedious, but it’s WAY cheaper than spending $20 on something your children are going to destroy in 5 minutes.
And that’s how we partied, Paw Patrol style! I was exhausted by the end, but the kids had fun and Little Man felt loved. Success!
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