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.