A Super Easy (and budget-friendly) Birthday Cake

I remember the frenzy that overtook me while planning my daughter’s first birthday. Everything had to be perfect and charming and homemade. I stayed up until midnight baking two flavours of cupcakes and the next morning mixing up several batches of buttercream frosting. I was still frosting cupcakes as the guests arrived.
I put so much love into those adorable cupcakes. When it came time to sing Happy Birthday to my sweet little girl she wanted nothing to do with the cupcakes and ended up having a prepackaged rice crispy treat instead. Cleaning up after the party there were lots of half eaten cupcakes, or cupcakes with the icing licked off… all went into the trash. Fast forward 10 years and 1 more kid in the mix. My stance on the importance of Birthday Cake has evolved. I’ve done it all and seen it all, from rustic to elaborate, cheap and cheerful, to extremely expensive and from totally generic, to completely custom cakes.

What I have learned is that there is no wrong birthday cake. Each cake is special to the party and really it is whatever makes the Birthday kid light up when they see it coming their way. Would my now 10 year old daughter love a $300 customized 3 teired cake from a boutique bakery? Of course she would. Does her face light up when she is presented with an adorable Grocery store sheet cake with icing rosettes? You better believe it does. Would my 5 year old son love me to bake him an elaborate Super Heroes themed cake he saw me scroll by on Pinterest? Absolutely! Was he beyond excited about the lopsided Spiderweb Cake that was presented instead? Totally! The biggest difference for me? It’s much easier to bin the $15 store bought cake, or the pre-mixed, easy bake cake than it is the ultra expensive, or uber labour intensive cake in the end.


A fun (and low-stress) option is to turn the birthday cake into a party theme or activity. There are lots of places in most cities that offer up baking and cooking theme parties including the big grocery store chains. It’s a wonderful place to host a bunch of kids outside of your home and avoid the cleanup. Here’s a link to explore if you live in Canada: President’s Choice Birthday Parties

I’ve also seen this idea done on a small scale where the mother of the birthday girl had the guests involved in baking and decorating the birthday cake in her home. On an even smaller scale, I have doled out naked cupcakes and set up icing and decorations for the kids to create their own concoctions.

If your kid isn’t so into cake (as one of mine wasn’t on their 3rd birthday) skip the cake altogether and set up an ice cream bar instead. Kids love to be involved in the kitchen on any level and they will revel in having control over any kind of toppings bar.

Written by: Leyla Boyd Stein, DIY Dillitante, Pinterest Disrupter


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