I’m not sure there’s a person out there that can hear those words and not think of Toy Story… Well, that was my intention, because the theme of my summer baby’s 4th birthday party was Toy Story!
I’ve recently shared his shark-themed 1st birthday, Elmo-themed 2nd birthday, & construction truck-themed 3rd birthday party. But this year, he’s really gotten into the original Toy Story movie. For months he has been watching it basically on repeat, and started requesting a Buzz Lightyear cake back in… May? (After his brother’s Firehall birthday, he has been very vocal with requests on what he wanted for his birthday, haha).
After months of giving me a consistent “Buzz Lightyear cake” request, I finally committed to the theme in July (his birthday is late August). Of course it wasn’t a week after I bought little Toy Story figures for his cake that he requested a Maui party & cake (as in, the demi-god from Moana). This is because in mid-late July, the boys started watching Moana on repeat. So I briefly considered changing course (there’s SO MUCH I could’ve done with a Maui theme!), but then I offered to make him a Maui cake for his actual birthday, and a Buzz cake for his party. Thankfully, that was an easy sell! Haha.
Any interest in how to decorate a “Maui” cake?? It was super easy, so maybe I’ll do a quick post about that later… 🙂
But back to his Toy Story party. I actually ran out of time to execute all of my plans, because the house was torn apart from working on our fireplace built-ins, which were 95% finished by the night before the party (so this post gives a sneak peek reveal of them, since some of the decor was on them!).
I made these using Publisher, but I bet MSWord would work, too. I used the free “Photo CutOut” app to remove Buzz’s head from a jpeg I got from an image search, and inserted H’s head (cut out the same way) when I inserted both pictures into Publisher. (Usually I just use Paint when cropping photos tightly, because I don’t have Photoshop; but the app was convenient since it was on my phone – it may have been a little quicker, too). I used WordArt for the logo, with “very tight” spacing on his name, and “Segoe UI Black” font for all of the text. I used that same font for the rest of the invite where ever there’s black text; for the colored font I used “Gill Sans Ultra Bold”. I made the red shape in the logo using the “Freeform” shape (the weird, wave-looking shape in the “Lines” category when you try to insert a shape).
Decor and Favors:
I also created a “claw machine” by wrapping tinfoil around cardboard (something our new TV came in handy for – the box!), and used clear, monofilament cord to hang the tinfoil wrapped “claw” from our pendant light.
I used my Cricut to cut (basically 1000!) circles for eyes on the aliens. I hand-cut the mouths and ears out, but there were only 24 bags and those shapes could be imperfect, so it wasn’t too bad (I just stacked several sheets of paper and cut out about 4 of each shape at a time. I was NOT about to hand cut the 144 circles for the eyes though – and you know if they weren’t perfect circles the aliens would look really off.. haha!).
The aliens, which doubled as the favor bags, were filled with green & purple rock candy suckers, bubbles, and sheriff pins (all obtained from Party City – love that place)!
The other built-in was “Woody-themed” with a “Branding station”.
I got a bunch of Toy Story stickers, stamps, and tattoos, and made sure the kids all picked what they wanted to add to their favor bags before leaving. I could see this easily becoming an activity to do during a party if you wanted though! ☺️ NOTE: I used “Eras Bold ITC” font for “The Claw” sign, and “Rockwell” font for “You’re My Favorite Deputy” and “Branding Station”.
For the cake table, I recreated the logo from the invitations by simply making each letter larger, printing them, and cutting them out (the letters in his name were printed one to a page, the “is turning” were 3-4 letters/page in landscape). I found a roll of red paper at Michaels, which I used to create the trapezoid-ish shape. I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the red shape, and then taped everything to it. I used painters tape behind his name and the “4” to help reinforce them. I hung it all with clear, monofilament cord around the curtain rod (using painters tape to secure the cord to the back of the sign).
I also got monkeys in a barrel and green army men to scatter around the food tables for some more decor.
I wanted to create little Etch-a-sketches for food signs, as well as a Pizza Planet sign, but I ran out of time. Here are some inspiration pictures for what I was thinking of you want to tackle this though (I would’ve just used the “Eras” font for “Pizza Planet” and either the same for the etch-a-sketch, or downloaded a free, “etch-a-sketch” font for those).
Food and Cake:
For food we obviously had to serve pizza (this is where the “Pizza Planet” sign would’ve been so cute!), and since we made it ourselves we prepared several mini pizza crusts so the kids could build their own personal pizzas.
H also requested Mac n cheese and cheese puffs, so I made sure to fit those in ☺️. With the missing “etch-a-sketch” labels in parentheses, we also had:
- Spiral, Mac n cheese (“Slinky dog pasta”),
- Broccoli cheese casserole (“Mrs. Potato Head’s broccoli casserole”),
- Meat, cheese and crackers (Hamm’s ham & cheese”), and
- Fruit salad (“Moon rocks”) – also ran out of time to create a watermelon rocket per the inspiration picture below:
We also meant to throw a salad together (“Rex’s herbivore salad”).
For dessert we had the
- Cheese puffs (“galaxy puffs”), and
- Chocolate pudding inside of boot-shaped cups, with gummy worms (“There’s a snake in my boot!”).
We ran out of time to create “aliens” (Oreos dipped in lime green candy melts, each with 3 candy eyes) and “haystacks” (Rice Krispie treats covered in shredded wheats, with a Twizzler “pull-n-peel” wrapped around each one as a “tie”).
It kills me a little bit inside because we had all of the ingredients ready to make the stuff we didn’t get to, but the morning of the party we had a few hours eaten up by our truck breaking down (Yay!! But seriously, big THANK YOU! to our friends that rescued my hubby; it could’ve been much worse!).
The other time-suck was that the cake took me like twice as long as I anticipated (it somehow took me 4 hours to decorate?!?!)…
To make the cake, I made sure to level each cake and add buttercream between each cake before stacking to make each tier (thanks, Nailed It! Hahaha). I think the hardest part about the cake was making sure I didn’t have crumbs in the buttercream (my husband suggested AFTER the party that I create a simple syrup to coat each cake before frosting them, to prevent any crumb issues – I plan to try that next time!).
Also, I had ZERO chill while stacking the top tier!! I frosted each tier separately (each tier contained two cakes), and frosted the top one while it sat on a small piece of cardboard. Once finished, I carefully/quickly slid it onto the bottom tier. I had to touch-up the bottom of it in one area because my hand smudged it a bit, but I had plenty of extra buttercream for touch-ups. After the tiers were stacked, I added the fondant accents.
I made the clouds and Buzz Lightyear accents using pre-made fondant. (Working with fondant is easy! Just use parchment paper to sandwich your fondant when you’re rolling it out, and use latex gloves so it doesn’t stick to your fingers when placing it on your cake). I also used an edible marker to write my son’s name instead of “Lightyear”.
For Buzz’s wings, I used Rice Krispie treats covered in fondant. It’s hard to tell by the picture, but I used the first wing as a template to cut the second one out.
Once I got the wings covered in fondant, a sharp knife worked well to trim the white & purple colors to the places I desired, and I made sure to have the green and red strips cut to size before applying (although there’s some wiggle room to stretch and/or readjust them). The green strips really cleaned the wings up nicely, so the white and purple sections didn’t have to be perfectly straight.
For the moving box, I created a short, Rice Krispie treat box base, and pushed each graham cracker tightly into the center of each side. I also used yellow fondant on the inside of the box to reinforce the inside of each corner. Then I slowly pushed it into the top of the cake and filled it with mini marshmallows.
Lastly, I carefully placed the characters around the cake. I used a little fondant on the bottom of their feet when they didn’t sit directly on the cake, which secured them nicely to the cake board (which was just tinfoil wrapped cardboard).
You’d better believe that the first thing H did after blowing out his candle was take Buzz out to play with him! ☺️
if you remember from H’s third birthday recap, we now own a bounce house. So party entertainment these days is pretty much taken care of! 😁
But as I mentioned above, the “branding station” could easily be a party activity (especially applying temporary tattoos 😉 ). I originally got a “pin the sheriff badge on Woody” game, but there were only 8 stickers and I didn’t have time to make 24 “badges” before the party, so… we skipped that! 😊
We DID have a Buzz Lightyear piñata. H requested a “rocket picañata,” so I was excited when I found the Buzz one. (And yes, I may have asked H several times about this, just to hear him say “picañata” over and over again, hahaha).
Overall, it was a fun party, and there were only 5 pieces of cake, and one wing leftover (yes, someone’s older brother ate an entire Rice Krispie treat wing, haha), so I am calling it a success! PLUS, now the built-ins are almost done, so it was VERY productive! Haha.
Ummm…. a couple more dessert table pictures, because that cake took forever… 😆
Have any of you ever tried decorating a cake? Am I crazy that I think it’s fun?? Should I write a quick post about an easy, DIY, Maui-themed cake? It was WAY less involved than the Toy Story cake… 😂