Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Very First "Piece of Cake"

In getting ready for my 3 year old son's birthday party this weekend, I fondly remembered planning a 1st birthday party for my now 6 year old daughter.

Even back in 2003, I was adamant that I would not buy a prepackaged "kit" of birthday supplies. No Dora, no Thomas and NO princesses! Once I had announced this plan to my friends I couldn't then go back on my word, even after I figured out how difficult I was making it for myself. Oh, the pressures of your very first child's first birthday party!

So, I decided on a "Jungle" theme - mostly because my daughter's favorite book was "Goodnight Gorilla" and she loved saying the word giraffe. I asked my friend Cindy to help with some illustrations of cute little jungle animals, very appropriate for a 1st birthday party, (although, cheap stock photo would have worked just as well, try Big Stock Photo) and just printed the invitations on my color printer.

Next I had to decide on decorations. I just happened to have a ton of leftover green, brown and maroon construction paper, I found leaf and animal silhouette templates online and my friend Cindy and I went to town! Animals and leaves covered every horizontal surface, the ceiling and some windows too. I chose 3 shades of green streamers from Alin Party Supply and hung them from every chandelier and tent canopy.

Keeping with this Jungle theme, I found green striped cellophane party favor bags and tied them with animal print ribbon, made sugar cookies in animal shapes (although I could have just bought animal crackers) and make cupcakes with a little iced leaf on top. Our house was really small, so for comfortable seating I rented three round tables and covered them with forest green table cloths, and topped them with the paper animal and leaf cutouts. I also purchased plates, napkins and cups in 3 shades of green to match.

I knew there needed to be some kind of activity to entertain the children, and I had not yet heard of bounce houses or rent-a-character. I did not have any experience throwing a kids party before, so I just went with what I knew...crayons and paper. A child height table and chairs with a long piece of white butcher paper plus a few boxes of crayons and markers kept those multi-age kids busy for longer than you would expect.

And now for the piece de resistance! The moment you have all been waiting for... the cake. While looking at my latest issue of Martha Stewart Baby, they had several options for children's birthday cakes. To my great surprise, there was a giraffe! Everything was right there in black and white - a template and everything. All I had to do was make a regular 9x12 sheet cake, the cut out between the legs became the neck, cut off a slope for the back and it becomes the head and tail pieces (see pattern details). White frosting in a can (colored yellowish), frosting in a tube (in a contrasting color) to outline the legs, feet and face, plus some chocolate jimme sprinkles for the spots and you look like a STAR pastry chef!

Honestly, anyone can make this cake... here are a few tips:

• use boxed cake - it always turns out right

• use frosting in a can if you want to, it's easy and it tastes good

• what are you going to put the cake on? cut a piece of cardboard and cover it with foil, or purchase a ready made cake board of plastic or cardboard

• push 2 inch strips of paper towel or wax paper slightly under all the edges of the cake to keep the frosting off of the base board

• if you plan on writing on the cake, leave enough space for it

• remember to purchase candles!

• make cupcakes too - the kids actually prefer them to a piece of cake (and you'll be sure to have enough dessert to go around)

All in all, it was a very successful party, AND I didn't have to resort
to any franchise characters. This first party set the stage
for our family's birthday party plan... original themes,
creative thinking, spend as little as possible
and make it look homemade - even if it isn't!


Sucharita Sarkar said...


Saw you on momblogger's. What a truly brilliant blog-idea. Even I am tired of the Barbie/Spiderman theme parties which we keep on attending here in India.

Your blog gave me so many ideas, the animal theme can be extended to sea-animals (dolphin cake/starfish cookies?), and many many more, can't they?

Do keep giving such wonderfully easy-to-follow instructions.

By the way, the giraffe cake looked too delicious, can't wait for a birthday to surprise the kids.

abigail @ Paper and Cake said...

hi sucharita.... you just made my day! thanks for your comment, i love hearing from people like you!

my next blog entry will be exactly as you are describing, an "under the sea" themed birthday from when my daughter turned 2. it was so much fun! keep checking back, it will take me a day or so to get all the info up.

and thanks again sucharita, for the very nice comments :)

Amber said...

Yay an easy giraffe cake idea! Thank you! My daughter turns 2 this weekend and I almost went with a "Blues Clues" cake but now I can make this :)

Moore Minutes said...

That cake is incredible!! :D What a FUN party.