The Toy Story movies are about friendship, loyalty and the joy of playing with toys--themes that can come to life when a child decides to have a Toy Story party on his or her birthday.
But how do you begin the party planning? What should the invitations look like? How should you decorate? And what food should you serve?
Keep reading if you're looking for answers to those questions and more ideas for a memorable Toy Story party.
Set the tone for the party with invitations that match the theme. Official Toy Story party supplies--invitations included--are available online and in most party-supply stores, but you could save some money and flex your creative muscles by making your own.
- Using brown cardstock or construction paper, create a toy trunk with a lid the folds down. Make them so when you open the lid, the party details are revealed.
- Take a photo of your birthday kid's favorite toys. Using a page-design program on your computer, write the party details somewhere on the photo, then print enough copies for each attendee. Mail them off in envelopes or as postcards.
- Choose one of the Toy Story characters, and build the look of the invitations around it.For Woody, for instance, the invitations could be shaped like a rope or cowboy hat.
For Buzz Lightyear, the inside of the card could be yellow and the front could be black with small holes punched in it, replicating a sky full of stars. Somewhere on that card, Buzz's catchphrase ("To infinity and beyond") should be written.
To make a Slinky Dog invitation, cut out the face and front paws of a dog from brown and tan construction paper. Also cut out a tail and hind legs. Separately, assemble the dog's front and the dog's back pieces with glue. Then, cut a spiral from a circle of paper and glue the inner circle of the spiral to the back side of the dog's face and the outer circle to the dog's rear end, so that (after the glue dries) the dog's body stretches out when the spiral is pulled apart. Write the party details either on the dog's front or back ends or along the spiral so the information can be read when the dog is stretched out.
Here's the most important thing to remember about the Toy Story invitations: somewhere in the wording, instruct the guests to bring their favorite toy to the party.
Playful Party Decorations
The colors most often associated with Toy Story are blue, yellow and red. They appear in the movie's logo, and you could easily implement that color scheme by using blue, yellow and red streamers, balloons, plates, cups, napkins and other party supplies.
Brown is also an important color in the movie because of the character Woody's hat and costume. Buzz Lightyear's costume is white with bright green accents. You could play with Buzz and Woody's friendship/rivalry by decorating half of your dining table with brown supplies (including straw cowboy hats) and the other half with white and green ones. Then, let the kids decide which side to sit on.
In addition to setting the main food table for the kids, set up a small dining table for the guests' toys (perhaps a child's art table), and have the children put their stuffed animals and other friends at a place setting when they arrive. You could find out the names of the toys ahead of time and make placecards for them.
Instead of traditional pointed party hats, place plastic or straw cowboy hats out for the kids to wear and take home as favors.
Or go with traditional pointy party hats, but cover them with Toy Story-themed fabric following the instructions in this tutorial. If you prefer not using fabric with the licensed images on it, use generic cowboy- or outer space-motif fabric.
Movie-Themed Party Games
Wondering what the kids will do during the party? Lead them in these games and activities:
- Organize a relay race that the kids must complete while holding the favorite toy they brought from home. If they drop their toy, they must return to the start line.
- Purchase or draw a picture of Woody, then cut out cowboy hat shapes from brown construction paper or star shapes from yellow or gold paper. Blindfold the kids, and have them take turns pinning the hat or sheriff's badge on Woody.
- Set up a craft table where the kids can make their own Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads to take home. Give each child a potato-shaped piece of brown construction paper and a glue stick, and then let them attach arms, lips, eyes and other body parts that you've cut out ahead of time. If you don't want to make your own body parts, you could purchase Mr. Potato Head sticker sets instead.
- Here's another Mr. Potato head activity: Set out two Mr. Potato Head toys and an equal number of body parts for each one. Two at a time, blindfold the guests and have them race against each other to put all the toys' body parts in the right spot. Set a timer for 30 seconds, and when the time runs out, take off the blindfolds and let them see how close they came. You're bound to get an arm poking out of where the nose should go.
- Play a game of Catch My Heart, but instead of tossing around a heart, have the kids start by throwing one soft stuffed animal. As they get the hang of it, add another stuffed animal to the tossing. You can read the full instructions for playing Catch My Heart in the Kids' Parties Games and Activities section.
You might be able to play the game with the toys the kids brought from home, but only if everyone brought soft items that can be thrown. Use your own set of stuffed animals if a toy could be broken or if a toy could hurt a child if tossed too hard.
One of the neat things about the Toy Story movies is that they show kids how to flex their imaginations and make up tales about their toys. Remind them of this, and then give the kids some free playtime with the toys they brought from home. They might come up with clever adventures that their toys embark upon together.
You could even set a time frame--say, 15 minutes--for the kids to come up with a story about their toys that they'll then perform to the adults at the party.
Incorporate the Theme Song
"You've Got a Friend in Me" is the Toy Story theme song. Play a twist on musical chairs to that tune, but since friendship is meant to be inclusive and not exclusive, don't send players "out" when the music stops and they can't find a chair. Instead, take away a chair after each round and tell the kids they must find a way to share the chairs that remain. By the end of the game, when only one chair is left, they'll probably find it hysterical to be stacked together on one seat.
Note: set some rules before the game begins: No pushing, no shoving and no jumping on top of each other to get to the chairs.
A Table of Comical Snacks
Have some fun with the food menu at a Toy Story party by tying the meal to the movie's characters.
Serve baked potatoes with toppings that have personified labels, such as "arms" for celery sticks, "hair" for shredded cheddar cheese, "eyes" for black olives and "lips" for slices of red bell pepper. You probably don't want the kids to make a giant mess of their food, but encourage them to "decorate" their baked potatoes with the edible body parts to make their very own Mr. Potato Heads. Serve hot dogs in honor of Slinky Dog, the wiener-dog toy in the movies. Don't feel bad if you decide to just order pizza. Pizza Planet plays a key role in the first Toy Story movie, after all.
Here's a link to even more Toy Story products on Kristen's site.
Don't forget to have your child send thank you notes to his or her guests. You could buy pre-packaged ones.
Or have the birthday kid make his or her own by gluing white construction paper clouds onto blank blue notecards. Print out the word "Thanks" in yellow from your computer and have the child glue it on the card, too.
A Toy Story party can be fun for preschoolers and school-age kids, and because of the many characters in the movies, the possibilities for party crafts, decorations and activities are endless. Have fun planning this special day for your child.
A Cowboy Hat Cake
The cake could be shaped like a cowboy hat, or you could use a Toy Story cake pan to make it.
Or, decorate the cake with a simple background, like the blue sky and clouds (another image from the movies), and adorn it with plastic Toy Story figurines or figurines that depict classic old toys, such as radio flyer wagons and teddy bears. That's what Pedretti's Bakery, of Elkader, Iowa, did when hired to make a Toy Story cake for customer Trisha Finley and her daughter daughter Jillian.
Easy and Memorable DIY Favors
Looking for a small gift to send home with the guests at the end of the party? Here are some Toy Story-inspired ideas:
For less than $2 each, you could send each child home with a paint-your-own ceramic piggy bank . Painting the pigs could also be an activity during the party. Just be sure to make it one of the first items on the agenda since the paint will need time to dry before everyone goes home.
The favors could be make-your-own cowboy hat craft kids--another activity that could be done during the party or at home after it's over.
How about giving Toy Story coloring books and small packs of crayons? You could even make your own coloring books by printing out coloring pages and binding them together following these instructions for making hardback books.
Movie-Themed Birthday Gifts
Not sure what gifts to give your young Toy Story fan for his or her birthday? Kristen Ryan, About.com's Guide to Toys, featured some of the products that came out surrounding the release of Toy Story 3. Take a look at what she had to say about:
- And the Limited-Edition Jessie Doll
- The LEGO Western Train Playset
- The MobiGo Toy Story 3 Game
- The Buzz Lightyear Rocket Blast sprinkler