It's A Small World Birthday Party - Part 2

Bonjour y'all - welcome to part 2 of the little one's Small World themed 1st birthday!

In case you missed the first post with details about the food & cake you can read about that here.  But today's post is all about the decor!  Since I was pressed for time to get super crafty, all of the decorations can be pulled off with a tiny budget, both in time and dollars!


I knew that I wanted to stick with a boldly colored small world theme, rather than the pale version.  I love both versions but I thought it would be easier to decorate with rainbow colors rather than pale pinks & purples.  Plus I've never been a fan of pink.  There's that too. 

etsy small world invitation

I went with a premade invitation from Etsy from Hello Darling Design Co.  In less than 72 hours, I had a final pdf version in my little hands and headed off to Kinkos to print & cut invitations.  I tossed them in envelopes from Michael's and voila.  Without further ado, the party was scheduled & had a great image to help focus my decorating & theme.


Normally my crafty-self would prefer to make all the decorations from scratch, but just prior to the party we were on vacation and trying to pull off some major room overhauls.  Needless to say, my decorating time budget was severely trimmed down.  Thankfully though, I came up with a number of easy to implement decorations and props to pull it together on a budget.

The spread.  Please don't miss the awesome trash can in the corner.  I kid you not, maybe my favorite part of the party!

The spread.  Please don't miss the awesome trash can in the corner.  I kid you not, maybe my favorite part of the party!

Balloons - I chose a variety of bold rainbow colors from Party City to match the invitation & hung them on the back of baby girl's chair to make a nice accent in the pictures of her digging into her cake.  I also picked up multi-colored utensils and plates while I was there to complement all the bright colors.

Banner & Pinwheels - I picked these up at Party City, though you could easily DIY these with the tutorials you can find on Pinterest.  

Globe & Small World themed books & toys - Baby girl has two Small World themed board books that she absolutely loves which is part of the reason I settled on this theme.  Furry Friends (Touch & Feel) & Guess Who  added to the tablescape, along with a 'Small World' themed bath toy I found during our last trip to Disney World. 

Printed graphics - I found a faux map of the ride here & a version of a vintage poster advertising the ride (find it here) & printed them and just added them to the decorations on the table.  Certainly nothing fancy.  

How adorable are these? Find them at your local Michael's craft store.

How adorable are these? Find them at your local Michael's craft store.

Paper Balloons - I found a kit for these super cute and colorful balloon "stickers" that reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from the ride.  A little Elmer's glue attaches the paper portion to the removable vinyl sticker which can easily be moved from one location to another.  The little ones loved these since they were 3D & kept trying to pull them off the column they were coloring.   I moved them higher & higher, so I know they will still stick in more than one place.  I used a 50% off Michael's coupon on the kit which served as a nice accent.

Small World Goodbye Signs.png

Goodbye signs - One of my favorite parts of the ride is all of the signs saying "good-bye" in every language that are posted at the end.  It's my personal goal to read each one before the boat pulls up to the dock to unload.  I'm weird.  I know.  It's ok.  I downloaded a small world themed font (find it here) and typed up a bunch of them, leaving space around them to cut them out in various shapes.  I then taped them to rainbow colored paper I found in a card stock pad I picked up at Target that had a similar color scheme but with cool patterns.  I posted them all over the door, because you should be reading them as you leave, am I right?  Super easy, but unique craft.

Coloring sheets - We had a few kiddos at the party of coloring age, so I wanted to have something to entertain them during any lulls.  (Since it was mostly adults, I didn't plan any real activities but this really worked!)  I found a cute coloring page (you can download it free from here) that fit the theme and involved no prep for me other than finding crayons!

small world puppets

Small World Doll Puppets - Seriously.  How cute are these?!?!?  Start with this coloring page.  My mom blew up each of the dolls on her home scanner/printer to a size that just felt right.  How's that for technical.  Then I broke out my colored pencils for a little stress therapy (which was totally productive in this situation) and went to town.  The books I mentioned earlier in the post have the same characters on this sheet, so I used them to guide my color choices.  It's all in the details folks.  Then I laminated the front of each doll to make them a bit more durable in kid hands, cut them out, then taped them to large popsicle sticks.  A few may now be headless or had the hands ripped off, but they survived the party and more in the hands of a one-year old.  Little victories.  But I won't even pretend like I didn't quickly pull out my favorites & hide them away in hopes they will survive safely until she's a bit older and will treasure their cuteness like I do.

Soundtrack - I hooked up my phone to our kitchen radio & ran a playlist of Disney World ride music in the background.  Because well, what else would be fitting? It's from this CD set I bought years ago at WDW.

Trash Can - Do what?  Serisouly though.  This random find at Party City will revolutionize every party I throw from here to eternity.  This trash can is colorful, pops up (it comes folded flat), can hold a ton of trash, and I don't have to direct everyone to the trash can or spend precious party time bagging up trash and collecting paper plates.  You've been there.  Don't do it again.  Trust me - this is so worth the money!

She had no concern for my need for a good picture - she wanted that puppet & wasn't taking her eyes off it!

She had no concern for my need for a good picture - she wanted that puppet & wasn't taking her eyes off it!

For good measure, baby girl & I wore matching Small World shirts that were a limited time from the Disney Store.  It ever you should match your child why not on her birthday before she can be embarrassed by me!

I would love to see other ideas or pictures of your party if you decide to go with a 'it's a small world' theme.  Whether its a 1st birthday or 90th, it's a totally doable theme for any kid or kid at heart!

Amazon links are affiliate links to help you source the items I used easily.  The rest are just plain old links.

It's A Small World Birthday Party - Part 1

A few weeks back we celebrated Baby Girl's first birthday, and since I am never one to shy away from a reason to craft, I took advantage of getting to pick her birthday theme for the first (and likely last) time.

Small world party

Enter 'it's a small world'.  One of my favorite rides at Disney World.  I know it has it's haters - but I LOVE the education you can get on that ride if you want to.  Especially for a kid.  Different languages, different clothes, different animals, but only one world where we all like to sing and dance and ride rides at Disney.  Am I right?

While prepping for the party I saw lots of cute pictures on Pinterest to match the theme, but the pictures led to mostly dead links.  So without further ado, let's jump in to the details of our DIY celebration!  To keep this post from bordering on offense with it's length, I'll share about the food & cake today and post later this week about the invitation & decorations.  


My mom always made our birthday cakes as kids.  She rocked out some 'My Little Pony', 'Sesame Street', and wait for it....Popples themed winners during our childhoods.  (Sidenote: You weren't a child of the eighties if you don't remember the Popples...refresh your memory here).  And even though there are bakery owners in my bloodline - it's just not a task that comes to me easily.  Did I inherit knowledge of piping bags & tips? Yes by george, Mr. Wilton, I did.  But can I pull off a smooth & professional frosting job? Absolutely not.  So with some motherly advice (and about 10 phone calls to her mid-cake decorating), I tried something new this year & was happy with the final product.  Here's how it went down in case you also have nightmares of cake baking.

small world birthday cake diy
  1. Bake a box cake of your choice.  I cooked them thicker than normal, requiring extra boxes.
  2. Let the cakes cool completely, then place them on a tray and wrap tightly in plastic and freeze at least overnight (this makes it easier to cut them and decreases the amount of crumbs when you do your first frosting layer).
  3. Cut your cakes and layer them, placing frosting in between each one (I used this AMAZING tool from Wilton this time and will never again attempt to hand trim cakes and end up with an uneven cake).  Be sure on the top layer that you flip the cake so that the smooth side that was the bottom of the cake pan is now the top of the cake.
  4. Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake (called the crumb coat).  Cut wood skewers to the height of your cake and place 3 or 4 near the center to keep the layers stable.
  5. Let the cake sit at room temp until frosting is "hard".  Then you can do all the final decorating you want without worries about crumbs showing through the final product.
  6. I used a Wilton #21 tip to cover the cake in stars to keep from having to aim (and fail) at a perfectly smooth cake top.  I wanted to do all the sides the same way - but it's July.  And was 90 degrees outside and I couldn't get the frosting to hold up and not "slide" down the cake.  Sure I could have added confectioner's sugar to thicken it.  But I was DONE as far as my desire to just GET. IT. FINISHED.  So my best attempt at smooth sides it was. 

I found a graphic of the small world ride facade using my friend 'The Google' that was used bold colors, knowing it would coordinate with the other decorations I was planning.  I printed two copies, cut them out, and laminated both sides with self-laminating paper from Scotch that I picked up at Target.  This allowed me to be able to wipe off any frosting mishaps, and I could bend it to replicate the curve of the cake & it would hold its form after sticking it a few inches into the cake. Just be sure to leave enough white space below the picture when you cut it out to be able to have that be covered by some of the cake & frosting.  Be sure to place the decorations on the cake before you start piping decorations - it will easier to pipe around them than to clear up mistakes!

I was super pumped to partner with a local creative Pegged by Grace to have her creative wood doll versions of my favorite dolls from the Small World ride to serve as cake toppers on the adult & the smash cakes.  These guys will be great toys for the little one when she gets a bit older and doesn't put everything she touches in her mouth.  The dolls we used represented Mexico, France, Canada, the Netherlands, and Hawaii.

small world smash cake

For the smash cake I followed the same recipe as above, but colored a bit of my frosting a pale pink and piped a "1" in the center of the cake and then filled around it with plain white frosting.  Super easy.  And the wee one just wanted to pet the frosting - forget smashing!


Since we had family coming from far and wide & I wanted to be able to visit rather than rush around in the kitchen, so I opted for foods that could be prepped ahead that I knew the little one would actually eat.  Sure I could have had cute hor'deurves from each continent.  But really?  She's one.  If she was older it could have been another hidden educational lesson.  But this year - momma just wanted food on the table that was edible.  

  • Chic-fil-A nuggets
  • Chif-fil-A fruit tray
  • Chic-fil-A tea & lemonade (are you catching onto a theme?)
  • Green Beans - nothing but a Sam's Club can of Green Giant beans with some good old butter and salt thrown in (and maybe a spoonful or two of bacon grease for good measure).
  • Corn - Sam's club bag of frozen corn with butter and seasoning salt for the win (thanks to sister for storing this in her freezer & cooking them up!)
  • Mac & Cheese - nothing like a family size frozen container - no fuss & easy to serve!

Needless to say it wasn't gourmet, but bellies were full and at the end of the party hearts were happy.  That's a win in my book.

Keep your eyes open for Part 2 - decorations & invitations!

Amazon links are affiliate links I've included to help you easily source products we used.