The first Father's Day was celebrated in the US a century ago although it didn't become a federal holiday until 1966. Worldwide it is celebrated on a variety of dates---from December to January---and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners and family-oriented activities. In the US and a few other countries, Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. Here's how to throw dad a race-y party that's sure to rank high in his standings.
Element #1 - Theme, Mood & Color: Carry Out Your Theme in Everything You Do
Putting the pedal to the metal on this party, I'm going to rev things up a bit for my Father's Day BBQ starting with the theme. I've decided on NASCAR! I chose it because after football, it's the most widely watched sport with over 75 million fans worldwide.
The great thing about using NASCAR as a party theme is there are lots of built-in colors to choose from -- yellow, orange, red, blue, purple -- and hundreds of things you can buy or make, that are sure to ignite the right mood.
There are two tricks to getting this party off the starting line. (1) Not doing what everyone expects, and (2) remembering this party is not really about NASCAR...this party is all about Dad.
So, ladies & gentlemen -- start your engines -- and let the party planning begin.
Element #2 - Invitations: Make Yours Inviting
While there are many NASCAR themed invitations you can buy for your Father's Day NASCAR BBQ, I'm going to tell you about something different. Something people won't be expecting.
All race car drivers have trading cards, so why not make dad a special trading card invitation that includes his photo on one side, and his driving stats on the other. NCR makes a product called "Flip Pix Trading Card Pack." Simply download the software template and you're off to the races!
I thought it would be fun to include some or all of the following information on the trading card invitation such as when dad got his license, started to drive, who taught him to drive, how many accidents he's had, how many tickets, who he taught to drive, who he tried to teach to drive, what kinds of cars he's owned, and what were some of his favorites.
Once you've gathered Dad's stats, include his photo, and don't forget to add the party details such as the date, time, and location. You could also use different photos of Dad on each card and encourage everyone to bring them to the party for trading or sharing. So fun!
Element #3 - Decor & Ambiance: Remember Set and Setting Are Everything
There's so much you can do when decorating your Father's Day BBQ.
Try using the checkered flag as the foundation of your theme. Use checkered flag tablecloths, checkered flag table skirts, and actual checkered flags on sticks as part of the centerpieces and other decor.
My favorite items you may want to consider using are a relatively new product called Lumi Loon Balloons. They inflate with helium and have LCD lights inside, so they come in different colors and flash at different speeds.
You can make bouquets out of them, put them at the entrance to light your guests' way into or out of your party, or you could spread them around the back yard for added ambiance.
Another fun decoration I found on the Internet is a pack of Raceway Street Signs. They say "Pit Road," "Victory Lane," "Gasoline Alley," and "Turn 4." You can place them around the house naming various areas such as the food table, bar, kitchen and bathroom; or you can just place them at various places in your back or front yard to get people in the racing mood. Can't find a name you like, make your own!
Using the above items, I plan to make centerpieces for my food table, beverage area, and other main party spaces using an opened Matchbox lunchbox (filled with Styrofoam) as my base. A few metallic stars and glittery sticks add just the right amount of theme colors to the black and white of the checkered flags. Then I'll cover the Styrofoam base with chocolate race cars, and place the whole thing on a black, plastic, circular, food tray from Party City. Whatever you decide to create, keep it masculine and try adding some personal touches you know dad will like.
Element #4 - Food & Beverage: Don't Stress About Food and Drinks
What Father's Day NASCAR BBQ would be complete without serving "sliders?" Sliders are basically mini burgers, so use your favorite beef and/or turkey burger recipes to feed your hungry crew. Just make your burgers into 3x3 inch squares and serve them on Sweet Hawaiian Bread Dinner Rolls. Yum!
Serve your little burgers and bags of chips in food baskets. Consider using paper-checkered napkins for the basket liners, and inexpensive bandannas (found online) for cloth napkins.
If you're serving beer, ID rings are really fun, and they help people keep track of their beverages. Many fit around bottles and/or cans. If you're serving drinks in glasses, consider LED flashing light cups. They come in a variety of colors and can be set to blink quickly, slowly or stay on steady.
These useful food and beverage accessories prove you can still have fun and be practical when throwing a party for your favorite guy.
Element #5 - Activities: Engage Your Guests in Something
One of my favorite activities for a party...maybe because I'm in the video business...maybe because I can be a bit of a ham...or maybe because it's just a great way to honor someone special in your life and show them how much everyone cares...is the Winner's Circle Interview. This is one party activity people definitely won't be expecting!
You'll need a video camera and some willing family members. You can act as the interviewer, or ask one of your guests to do the honors.
The best way to achieve a product you can all be proud of takes a little fine-tuning and prep work.
First, create an appropriate backdrop for the interviews. It should be a well-lit place that you can dedicate to the activity, maybe decked out with flags and other racing regalia. Second, set up the camera on a tri-pod, close enough so the microphone picks up what people have to say, and third, prep your questions ahead of time. You may even want to send your guests the questions before the party so they can formulate their answers.
Or you can be completely spontaneous and roam around as the party progresses for some color commentary. You decide what fits the personality of your group best.
If you want to add more fun to it...create some sort of identification for your participants. For instance, have the person being interviewed wear a special racing helmet, jump suit or cap.
The interviewer could also be identified with some element of clothing like a baseball cap, navy blue blazer or press credentials.
Lastly, have everyone come up with their own race car driver name. "Hi, I'm here with Shelby Phillips, The Flying Cobra. Cobra, tell me...what's something that Dad has taught you over the years?"
During the party, have everyone take their turn at being interviewed. Some sample interview questions might be: If you could take dad anywhere in the world, where would it be? If a famous actor were to play dad in a movie, whom would you cast? What's something dad taught you how to do? What's your favorite story dad tells all the time?
Once all the interviews are complete, play it back for Dad and the rest of your guests towards the end of the party. Then give the interview to Dad as his present. For an unexpected surprise, you and your guests could all chip in and give dad the video camera as a gift. Taking it a step further, show him how to operate it, too.
Element #6 - Special Touches: Set Your Party Apart; Give Them Something From Your Heart
There are all kinds of party favors you can give your guests when they leave your Father's Day NASCAR BBQ. But I've narrowed it down to three ideas to get you started.
I like the idea of using little gold trophies filled with individually wrapped chocolate race cars. I like the idea of re-purposing the flashing LED glasses. Just wash and re-package them in their boxes, either on their own or filled with chocolate or gummy race cars. Or send everyone home with a LED Lumi Loon Balloon.
Dad, of course, he gets a copy of the Winner's Circle Interview DVD and maybe even the camera you used to shoot his interview.
Whatever special touches you decide to use, be sure to include a little note in your theme motif...like the checkered flag design, that tells everyone how much they mean to you, and how much you appreciate them helping you celebrate and honor dad.
Something like: "Thanks for being part of the pit crew...it really kept dad in the winner's circle."
There are over 64 million dads in the US and probably as many ways to celebrate his special day...but this party idea is sure to please most of them. Even if your dad's not a NASCAR fan, he probably secretly wished he were a race car driver at least once in his life...maybe last week when he was racing to work...or perhaps when he was a younger man.
This idea is flexible too. It can be used to celebrate a birthday, or other celebration for a racing fan. The point is to make it special and to let the guest of honor know how much you care about them.
I'm Shelby Phillips, "The Flying Cobra" thanks for coming to my party!