drive-in birthday party

Birthday parties can quickly become a real money pit, so when we see awesome themes and activities that don’t break the bank we just have to share! Our friend Andi, of Idaho-based Andi Marshall Photography pulled off the most darling Drive-In party for less than $50! Here’s how she did it:
kids, birthday, drive in, car, diy

Upon each guests arrival, they each got a box with all of their car’s sticker decals and tickets for buying treats at the concession stand. You can buy the printable PDF file here. They spent time decorating their cars and exchanging tickets for movie theater style confections.

kids, birthday, drive in, car, diy

They had five tickets each to spend on a variety of delights like: lemonade, popcorn, licorice, smarties and animal crackers. And Bonus! Pretty much mess-free.
kids, birthday, drive in, car, diyGuest then took their filled snack boxes back to their cars and watched the show (a 20 minute episode of Curious George.) Then after the screening, Olive opened presents and they sang and ate cake and ice cream. At just about one and a half hours long, the party was just long enough for kids to enjoy themselves and short enough to avoid those party melt-downs.
kids, birthday, drive in, car, diy
Here’s Olive the birthday girl!
kids party, drive in, diy, food


While the party required some preparation time in advance for cutting out the cardboard for the cars and the sticker decals, Andi loved how simple and smooth the party went from start to finish. Doesn’t it look so sweet! We’re sure it was a huge hit.
Head here for Andi’s photography, and darling Instagram account (those darling kids!) @andimarshall
Photo credit: Cindy Worwood
Sticker Decals designed by Spencer Marshall of Marshall Brand Advertising + Design
Need more birthday ideas? Here’ a Peach Picking First Birthday and Super Hero Training!


  • Andi
    March 4, 2013 at 8:12 am

    you ladies are too nice, i LOVE it. thanks for the feature! xoxo

  • Christine
    March 4, 2013 at 8:43 am

    ohmygoodness, this is absolutely adorable! I want this for my birthday party!

  • jesse
    March 4, 2013 at 9:07 am

    such a cute idea, i will keep this in mind for next year!
    thanks for sharing. xoxo

  • Catherine Vargas
    March 4, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Adorable and very creative 🙂
    Vintage Inspired Fashion by Independent Designers for Your Little darling

  • Jenny
    March 4, 2013 at 11:43 am

    What a great idea! We’ll have to give that a go!
    Would you mind sharing the font you used in the first picture (At the Drive In Birthday)?
    Keep up the amazing work! 🙂

  • aubry.
    March 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    small fry birthday hat! i looooove that little sneak! andi is the ultimate… she’ll blow your mind with creativity AND cost effectiveness…. a skill i oughtta pick up on.

    not to mention her designer husband…. who makes all things possible.

  • Julie
    March 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    What a great idea! Plus I loved that she kept the party short. I got talked into a three hour first birthday party. Hmm did not work at all. The guest of honor fell asleep. Next time I will definitely be keeping this time frame in mind.

  • Sarah Kyle (Lady Go Lightly)
    March 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Oh my word. this is the most amazing birthday theme I have ever seen. EVER. I like that it was short and sweet. I am currently planning my son’s first birthday, and I just want something simple, short and sweet. Obviously he’s not old enough for this one though. Soon enough!!

  • darcy
    March 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    my kiddos would LOVE this! such a cute idea! thanks for sharing it!

  • Suzette
    March 5, 2013 at 7:05 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this party idea!!! Super-cute little cars & the kids all look hypnotized by whatever they are watching!

  • Jenner
    March 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I want a grown-up version of this at my next birthday!

  • […] For full details on this adorable drive-in movie birthday party featured on Small Fry Blog – read here. […]

  • Laurie Tarpley
    July 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I love this and think it will be perfect for my son!!! Do you mind sharing if you used a certain type of box? Or do you have a tutorial for it???? Love it!!!

  • […] Y por último, una idea chulísima para hacer una de esas tardes que vienen los primos a casa, o los amigos, o para una fiesta de cumpleaños. ¡¡¡Cada uno con su coche tuneado de cartón!!!!! Además pueden ayudaros a personalizarlo a su gusto. Podeis verlo en este blog. […]

  • Jules
    November 4, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Thank you for this idea! My son is turning 3 in December and it’s great for the winter season. Do you have any “blueprints” on the cars? I could certainly try to do each offhand but it would be super helpful to have a design to work from! The windshield part is my biggest burden i think! Thanks in Advance!

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    January 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

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