Party: A Scarry Third Birthday

Written by UndercoverMama on .


North Hills

I have fond memories of my mom baking my cakes (maybe not quite so elaborate) when I was little. I was the youngest of five kids, and with two of my own, I can appreciate the gesture even more now. I grew up in the 80's in a small, middle class suburb 45 minutes northeast of Pittsburgh, and birthday parties were held at home in our neighborhood back in those days. Decorations were homemade. I want my kids to have some of those memories.  


My son’s third birthday party had a Richard Scarry theme (Cars and Trucks and Things that Go is his favorite book, followed closely by Busy Town). We held PJ's birthday party at our house and invited all of his neighborhood friends and their families, plus our family in the area. I am ever thankful to God for providing us endless sunshine that day which allowed the throngs of kids to play outside. It was perfect, or at least PJ thought so.

I created a Busy Town on our mantle using printouts from the book glued to cardboard.


For favors we used beach pails instead of gift bags to kick off the start of summer. Did I mention the ton of kids that floated through our house?


Here is the extent of my artistic streak. I covered the ring toss board with white paper then painted a Lowly worm around the hole. It took me almost two hours to paint a worm and he only has one leg and no arms.


As for the cake, I’ve started a tradition where I make a cute cake for the kid's birthdays. It was Ernie for PJ's first and a bulldozer for his second.

This year, in trying to keep with our Richard Scarry theme, I set out to create this guy:


There were no google images for "Hot Dog Car Cake", so I winged it by modifying the hot dog cake recipe from the Disney Family Fun website.

I started the cake at 11pm on Friday night. PJ's party was at 1 on Saturday. I re-used the frozen Sara Lee sponge cake that I used for the bulldozer cake. Big time saver and it cuts so well half-thawed.


Insert the Twinkie hot dog body, 4 chocolate mini donuts (wheels), and 4 pretzel rod axles. I cut out just a small indentation on the underside of the cake where each of the axles would be positioned. A little brown food dye mixed with red food dye created the odd hot-dog flesh icing color. In keeping with hot dog car realism, I had actual hot dogs nearby as my guide for color.


After frosting the hot dog, I squeezed a little yellow cake icing on top... and the finishing touch: a cut-out printed Scarry character glued to a craft stick. My husband had actually suggested the pipe cleaner to simulate the scarf flying in the book and I dismissed it as a dumb idea. But when I tried it, it was exactly what the cake needed (you were right, honey).


Source list:

Buckets: Five Below ($1 each!)

Books: Barnes & Noble

Bean Bag Toss Game: Sporting goods section at Target

Brown Food Dye: Michaels

Have a great idea for a party? Want to see it featured on the PlayGround? Let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.