I have two boys; my eldest is six, and takes birthdays very seriously.
Months before his actual birthday, there are discussions involving themes for the party, the type of cake he would like, and who he would like to invite. For his birthday this year, he would like me to make his cake in the shape of the millennium falcon from Star Wars… Let’s see if that works out, particularly when I reflect on my other attempts at birthday cake creations.
For my baby shower, I was given a copy of the Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes cookbook. I was thrilled as we never had this book in our house when I was growing up. I dreamt of the amazing creations I would bake for my children. I would channel my inner Martha Stewart.
I take comfort in the words from Masterchef – “as long as it tastes good”. Because the way some of my birthday cake creations have turned out, well, at least they tasted great.
My son’s second birthday cake, a train, was a disaster. In fact, the whole back carriage of the train fell off just as the guests arrived so I was frantically sticking fondue skewers through the cake to hold it together, while telling people to quickly take photos before the whole thing fell apart.
I tried butter cream icing on his fire engine cake. Despite having a winter birthday, the butter cream somehow starting melting and kept sliding off the cake.
It continues along this theme for the rest of his birthdays. Thankfully he doesn’t seem to be emotionally scarred from them.
I thought though I may have learnt from these experiences when it came to his younger brother’s first birthday. I was going to stack the odds in my favour. I had the picture I found on Pinterest of the cake I was going to make. I had the pre-coloured ready to roll out icing. I had the alphabet letter cutters. This was going to end my losing streak.
No. The alphabet letter cutters managed to mangle up the icing and the icing got stuck in them. The icing also stuck to the bench top after being rolled out, despite me dusting the bench with icing sugar, as recommended.
Martha Stewart was either having a good laugh at my attempts, or was shaking her head at me in disbelief. Birthday cakes and I just don’t get along.
I’ve learnt over the years that kids birthday parties do not always go according to plan. And that’s ok.
Now you’ve had a giggle over my failures, here are some tips that I hope can help with the next child’s birthday party you’re planning.
Don’t look at Pinterest for inspiration. As well-meaning as it may seem, it will only break your heart when you can’t recreate the designs! I have learnt this the hard way.
Forget bunting. It looks amazing, but unless you sew for a living, it will drive you crazy trying to make it. A friend of mine said she spent weeks making 200 flags of different colours to attach to the string, only for the weather on the day of the party to be so windy, they couldn’t go outside and use the bunting!
Piñatas can be great fun, but make sure you double the ‘keep clear zone’ around the piñata. Kids armed with sticks who are determined to break out those lollies can be dangerous.
If you use toys as cake toppers or decorations around the edge of the cake, make sure your child knows that they will NOT be eaten or cut up. At an Octonauts themed birthday party I went to, there were tears when the birthday child thought Captain Barnacles was going to be sliced up with the cake for everyone to eat. No one wants that sort of trauma.
Don’t worry about planning lots of elaborate games. We planned a treasure hunt for our eldest son’s pirate themed birthday party. Complete with clues and a map that would lead them to the next clue, the next map, and eventually, the ‘treasure’. Well, one child got so excited, he ran all over the garden, skipped all the clue spots and went straight to the treasure chest and started eating all the lollies before anyone else could get there.
A friend of mine said her children still say their favourite party was the one when one of the kids found a dead bird in the garden.
I wouldn’t call myself an expert on kids’ birthday parties, but I’ve been to enough to know that the only thing that matters, is that at the end of the day, the birthday boy or girl is happy. Oh yeah, and make sure you have a bottle of wine ready for later on when the clean-up has been done and the kids have gone to bed!
Have you had any birthday cake disasters?
Do you have any tips for making a birthday party a success?
I originally wrote this as a guest blog post for All Wrapped Up.
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.