“I’m just gonna do a store-cake this time.”

That was the plan. Until I couldn’t find somewhere to do a Mario Kart cake. Scrap the plan. I’ll do it myself.

I love planning birthday parties. Executing the party? Not my thing. I grin and bear through the party itself. I struggle through staying on schedule, rallying littles to play games, managing kids with their own agendas, wrangling the gift opening ceremony, divvying out prizes, remembering to make sure kids leave with goody bags, reminding my child the manners and norms of gift-receiving and being guest of honor, handling squabbles and scraped knees, and juggling party-executing with friend-mingling. There are just too many variables and I end the day exhausted and convinced I’ve let everyone down in one way or another.

But planning the thing is a blast. Give me a theme, Pinterest, and a few weeks’ notice and I’m good to go.

When Five-going-on-Six said he wanted a Mario Kart party, my wheels started turning. Pun intended.

Let Them Eat Cake

Decorating a cake is one of my most favorite creative outlets. I look forward to the three times/year I get to mix sugar and Crisco together to make something recognizable. But these particular few months were already too full. I couldn’t fathom how I could pull cake week together. Yes, cake week. I need an entire week to gather, bake, make, decorate. It’s just how it goes.

And though I was completely skeptical it could be done, the result was my best cake yet! A store cake would have been fine, but I’m glad this came together in spite of life!

[Cake technicalities for those playing at home: I used a (gasp!) Betty Crocker super moist Party Chip mix. That’s my go-to for cakes and everyone always raves on the taste. I baked three 10×10 cakes using a square Magic Line cake pan and Wilton Bake Easy strips. I cut the third cake in half and stacked to make a two-layer 10 x 15 cake. I made way too much icing – 5 or 6 batches following Wilton’s recipe. I totally imperfectly eyeballed the checkered pattern using a star tip. The roadway is made with gray homemade buttercream. The only fondant elements are the mystery boxes, mushrooms, banana peels, stars on toothpicks, bullet and finish line. I printed a checkered flag finish line sign with my son’s name on it (in free font: Super Mario 256) and attached it to toothpicks. I purchased Mario Kart vehicles on Amazon as a treat for the birthday boy.]

You’re Invited…

I did run into a tiny snag trying to print these Etsy-paid invites at FedEx Office (which, for the record, I still call Kinkos). I was allowed to use their self-serve machine to print Mario things, but they could not print them for me.

Games, Games, and More Games

  • Scavenger Hunt 
    This was such a hit! The first minutes of a birthday party can be awkward. People are arriving and you don’t want to start without anyone, but you don’t want kids terrorizing your house looking for things to do! The scavenger hunt gave kids something to do as they arrived and it was easy, free, and a blast! Some kids went back later in the party to do it again, even though they’d already found all the items!
  • I used free printables and taped the items around the yard – on rocks, trees, siding, doors, and anything else I could find!

  • Yoshi Egg Race
  • Bingo
    We ran out of time, so Bingo never happened. But, we were ready to go 🙂
    I nabbed the free printables here.
  • Tattoos
    I found sheets of 8 Mario Kart temporary tattoos at our local Party City. This was another activity for kids arriving. I also saw several kiddos later that week with their characters still on their hand/arm, so I guess I should have warned the moms they needed to use a little oil to get them off. (My kids’ lasted almost a week!)
  • Coloring Pages
    So what if my two-year-old was the only one who enjoyed the free Mario Kart coloring pages table 🙂 She was one of many who enjoyed the snacks (Cheez-its – the birthday boy’s favorite, bananas – a nod to the Mario Kart banana peels, and Capri-Sun – for hydration. I used a black Sharpie to draw banana peel faces on the bananas.)
  • Mario Kart
    The main event (which was totally unnecessary!) was the kids getting to play Mario Kart. This is all my son really wanted. I couldn’t picture how we would cram all these friends around our TV, so I googled “video game birthday party Kalamazoo” and found is a new business in town – a video game truck that pulls up for the party! I negotiated down to a shorter party (because these are kindergartners after all!) and a lower rate. The kids were pretty excited as the truck pulled up and they realized they were going to go inside and play Mario Kart! The truck allows for 20 kids to play simultaneously (spread across five screens and video game systems).
  • Chalk Hot Wheels Racetrack
    The day before the party, I tasked the kiddos to draw a racetrack on the driveway. They enlisted the help of neighbor friends and they did not disappoint! The chalk racetrack was perfect for the bucket of Hot Wheels I put out. As kids grew tired of Mario Karting (which does happen, at least for kids other than my own), they retreated to the driveway to race their cars around the chalk track! And of course, some went back to Yoshi Egg Races and the Scavenger Hunt.

First (and Last) Place Finishes

As kids finished their time in the Mario Kart truck, the birthday boy handed out Mario Kart medals I’d found at Party City. The kids loved being rewarded for their racing skills 🙂

notice the kids sporting their “medals”


I bought a handful of supplies for very reasonable prices from Birthday Express. One thing I bought was a Mario Kart tablecloth. I ended up using dollar store tablecloths to cover the tables (black tablecloths with white-out painted road lines), so I turned the Mario one into a banner, at my husband’s suggestion! We wrote a Happy Birthday message and attached a “6” dollar store balloon! It turned out cute and was perfect for the garage decor 🙂

Checkered flags, balloons, and checkered flag crepe paper rounded out the decorations. We lined the driveway and attached those flags to everything in sight.

Goodies to Go

The birthday boy had a great time with some of his favorite people doing some of his favorite things! I had a great day watching him enjoy his day, but I was also relieved when it was “Game Over” for us all!

And Trevor was a fortunate boy to have all four of his grandparents (who live in Arizona and New Hampshire) here for his birthday celebration!

11 thoughts on “(6…5…4…)3…2…1…Mario Kart Birthday Party!

  1. You’re insane. Fun and creative, but totally out of your mind. You may want to start a business with this–there are those who will pay the big bucks for you to do this for their kids. Way to go, Mom! Trev had to have been ecstatic. How did Jack feel? What’s he expecting for his next one? (I’m ALWAYS thinking about what the repercussions of such a feat mean for the next in line!)

    1. It was so fun. But only because I only do it every few months. If I did it as a business, it would stress me out. I always leave a little extra time so if the cake isn’t looking good I can bail and go buy a store one. That’s how confident I am ? Also for the amount of time, supplies and effort it takes, I’m not sure anyone could afford me. Also, I’m not a perfectionist on this sort of thing (it didn’t bother me that the cake tilted a little and that the checkered pattern wasn’t equal). Hahaha all that to say – I don’t think I’ll be selling cakes any time soon ? But thanks for the vote of confidence!!!
      Well Trevor had been planning his party since Jack’s ninjago party in December. I think jack gets that his bday is a long way off. Sydney is asking for princess cake already, though, so clearly she gets it!!

  2. So creative! I should hire you to plan D’s birthday party, because I have no idea yet what we are doing! And it’s in 14 days- yikes!

    1. You have plenty of time. Deep breaths. Deep breaths ?
      I’m happy to help!

  3. It was much fun to attend…my soul sister of theme parties and mom-cakes!! 🙂

  4. Oh you are a life saver. THANK you for the scavenger hunt pages.

  5. I make all of my grandkids birthday cakes. I’m no cake boss, but I really enjoy all that I put into their birthdays. My grandson chose your Mario Kart design on Pinterest, and I must admit it came out great! I also ordered the cars from Amazon. I can’t wait til he sees it later today. Not sure how to post a picture of it for you.

    1. That’s so great you make all their cakes! I’m so glad you made this one and to hear it turned out well!! So exciting. I’m sure you’re excited for him to see it. It’s such a fun cake!! If you want to, send me a pic at amyleskowski AT gmail
      Happy Birthday to your little man!!

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