My son turned 4 years old today. Last year, I made him a fun (and very easy) construction site cake. Did I mention that it was easy! So, you might imagine that this year, when I asked him what kind of cake he’d want for his birthday, I was a bit intimidated by his immediate answer, “An airplane!” Why, oh why, did I let them watch Planes so many times before this?! HOW on earth am I going to turn a cake into an airplane?
I could have simply gone to our local grocery store and ordered a cake with ingredients I’d rather not have and with a price I’d rather not pay in order to come up with a birthday cake. Instead, I did what any mom today would do… run to Pinterest!
I had to adapt a recipe I found because the cake I made (a grain-free, honey sweetened one) was much thinner than the one pictured on the pin I saw. But, here’s what I did.
First, bake two layers of cake in 9 inch pans using the batter of your choice. Once baked, slice the first one in half.
Use icing to “glue” these pieces together to form the body of your airplane.
Next, slice the next cake in thirds, as pictured.
The middle pieces will become the wings and the ends will be used for the tail. Ice everything and put it all together. Hopefully, you’ll get a better looking plane than ours turned out. In the end, the children were both very happy that we had an airplane cake… and it tasted great!
And, here’s the birthday boy, proud of being 4, blowing out his candles.
How do you make your children’s birthday’s special?
We did it! For my daughter’s 6th birthday, we held her first real birthday party. I had been concerned about the limited space in our little house and about the costs of such an affair, since we (essentially) live on a teacher’s salary. But, I had it all planned out. We would have the party at a local playground, which would relieve the space issue and make things a whole lot easier on me.
Only one problem. The forecast predicted rain. So, we had to make it work in our little house.
There were several things that helped us keep the party within budget, fun, and even special.
1. We used what we already had. I thought about making a new cupcake recipe (and actually experimented with a few) but decided we have a recipe we like with ingredients we already have. And, that’s what we did.
As a matter of fact, I saw a really cute picture of a way to turn cupcakes into a cute princess dress cake. Even then, I thought about making a couple of purchases to make our cupcake “cake” just like that one, but I didn’t. I keep telling myself, “Use what you have!”
2. Keep it simple. I didn’t know if anyone played “Pin The Tail On The Donkey” anymore. But, since I couldn’t find a cuter, girly version of the game, we went with it. It ended up being quite a highlight for some of the children, who had never played it before!
3. Less is, sometimes, more. We limited our invitations to just a few very close friends. There was plenty of food for everyone, and lots of leftovers besides. And, both the children and the adults seemed to have a nice time together. It actually didn’t rain, after all. So, sitting out in our small backyard made for simple nerf gun war games for the boys and relaxing conversation for the parents, all while the girls enjoyed playing dress up in my daughter’s room. (The girls came out quite often, though, to show off their latest outfits. 😉 )
How do you keep your parties simple?
I enjoy preparing my little one's birthday parties. It's a way I show him that I love him. I'm sure that is the same for many moms. I can, however, get a little carried away when it come to orchestrating the event. That's why I have started to set limits on myself when it comes to planning my little guys parties.
Games Without Props
Forget about pinatas or pin the tail on the donkey. Instead I choose games that require nothing but the child and what will be at the party already. There are games like blind mans bluff or musical chairs. I just make sure that the music is of a more modern variety and prizes for the winners. Have children guess how many pieces of candy are in a jar and let the winner take the jar home.
Make The Cake
Sheet cakes are really sugary and last forever. That's why I like to make my child's cake instead. It can go with the theme or be cupcakes. I prefer making cupcakes for birthday parties because it limits the amount of sugar my child and his friends take in. When I don't do cupcakes I use a bunt shaped cake instead. This still limits the amount of cake at the party (there is a hole in the middle) but can be disguised with the way the cake is decorated. Plus I don't have sugary leftovers for the next week.
Pick a Theme
There are a vast amount of cute birthday decorating ideas on the internet,in books and in magazines. That is why I like to use a theme at my little ones party. It keeps me from over shopping to make his special day even more special. Themes can range from dinosaurs to a favorite movie. If your family has a pool or trampoline you could base the party around those activities.
Set Time Limits
Setting a time limit on the party helps me know how much time I need to fill and how many activities I need. I factor in that the kids will want to socialize a bit, the cake event and present opening. Throw in a few games and I know how long the party should be. It's usually two and a half to three hours.
My daughter just turned 2. She’s the most fabulous little girl in the world. I just adore her. She’s sweet, she’s funny and she’s just nice to be around. We really enjoy her. However, when she was born it was scary. She had some major health problems that led to an early delivery and 3 week NICU stay. So when I’ve celebrated her two birthdays, I was celebrating too making it through a scary time in our lives.
Which is why I decided to go WAY out for her 2nd birthday. I’ll be honest and say it was more for me since she’ll never remember it. But she’ll have pictures which you’ll see below. I decided to throw her a “Milk and Cookies” themed birthday party. Pinterest gave me a thousand ideas and about 4 months ago I started planning. Which is also the number 1 way to save money–plan way ahead!
Her party was incredible. We pulled out all the stops and it looked like we spent a fortune, but I put my Thrifty Diva money saving skills into use. Here are some things I did that will help you too.
1. Plan ahead. Like I said, last minute planning will cost you extra. You don’t have time to shop around and you can’t find sale items last minute usually.
2. DIY-Do it yourself! Or get a friend to. I have a friend who is crazy, awesome creative and made every one of my daughter’s amazing decorations. I didn’t buy one thing for decorations. She did everything from the banner to the little cookie labels. It looked like it was all out of a magazine. You could not have bought better stuff and it was all personalized. I am totally not crafty at all, but thankfully my friends are and will help. I bet your friends will help too!
3. Cook it yourself. This is pretty obvious, but it’s cheaper to make the food yourself. I made my new favorite appetizer. Three words that will change your life, BACON. WRAPPED. LITTLE SMOKIES. You’re welcome for this party in your mouth. It’s the best and were gone in 5 minutes flat. The only embarrassing thing is that people can count your toothpicks to see how many you’ve had :/.
4. Skip the invites. Everyone is on Facebook, and that’s free. It will save you $10-$20. I didn’t hear any complaints.
5. Try to get discounts. I am very fortunate to be a professional photographer and know a lot of vendors. I really wanted a crazy awesome professional cake and my favorite vendor gave me a discount for being a fellow vendor. You may not be in the same situation as I am, but maybe you have other people that will give you discounts for another reason. Don’t be afraid to ask professionals to barter with you if you do anything to trade for.
Now for my favorite part, all the pretty pictures!