A birthday cake is one piece of the party you cannot do without, and blowing out the candles on your birthday cake is an annual rite of passage. This tradition not only celebrates the reaching of another year, but it allows you to create treasured family memories. It has the added bonus of making the birthday child feel even more special on their big day.
Starting a birthday cake tradition : Make or buy the birthday cake? : Where can you buy birthday cakes and supplies? : How much will a birthday cake cost? : Decorating the cake : Lighting the birthday candles : Cutting and eating the birthday cake
Whether you’ve slaved over the cake and its decorations for hours, or grabbed one from the supermarket on your way home from work is immaterial – the fact that you’ve got one to put candles on is the most important thing.
Ideally, for a child’s first birthday, there will be something you can stick a candle into – even if it’s just a muffin or a cupcake – the important thing is to start that tradition. As they get older, you can become a little more creative if you’d like, tying in the cake with their favourite colour / toy / film character etc.
If you’ve spent some time on the making of the cake, bear in mind that a great number of young children simply devour the icing and any decorations and actually leave the cake itself on their plates. Remember this is in no way a reflection on your cooking ability and says more about their desire for sweet things than your baking skills. If you can’t get a sugar rush at a birthday party, then where can you get one?!
For most of us, this decision is governed by our budget and the time we have available. Just remember that there is no “right way” for how or where you get your cake, as long as your child has one!
You have many choices:
- you can make a cake from scratch, using your own ingredients and your own tins;
- you can make a cake using pre-prepared cake mixes and bake them in specially hired shaped tins;
- you can buy a plain sponge and decorate it; or
- you can buy a cake that is already decorated
Depending upon where you live, your choices may be widely varied or limited to one or two stores. For a listing of cake shops, cake decorating supplies and children’s cake decorations and partyware nationwide, you can search the Kiwi Families database.
Cakes can be purchased from the supermarket, specialty stores and bakeries, secretly booked at the restaurant where you’re celebrating your child’s birthday, ordered online and delivered to your front door, or commissioned from a friend who’s happy to help. In some main centres in NZ , there’s even a home delivery service offered by supermarket bakeries, such as Woolworths.
Cakes can start from as little as $2.99 for a cake mix and climb to $50 (or more!) for a spectacularly decorated cake from a specialty cake shop or baker.
Looking for a book to help give inspiration?
If you would like to buy a ready-decorated cake, your local supermarket will have a standard range of these available, from something as simple as a chocolate “Happy Birthday” cake to themed cakes, such as SpongeBob SquarePants or a Barbie cake.
If you have a bigger budget, then speciality cake stores and some bakeries can provide ready-decorated cakes, such as Batman or the latest Disney movie or a ‘car’ cake or ‘fairy’ cake (cakes can be very gender specific!). They can also create something very personal and memorable for the birthday party. If your child is passionate about a toy or game, TV series or film character, or if they have a favourite colour or activity, then creating this into a cake is where these craftspeople come into their own.
Making and decorating your own cake? There are literally thousands of great ideas out there. If you’re still looking for a theme for the party, your imagination may be sparked by some of the amazing cake ideas available. You can search the internet or go to a bookstore or library for speciality books about children’s cake decorating.
We will be adding a whole heap of decorating ideas to our Birthday Cake section over the coming months, so keep checking back in. There’s a lot you can do with food colouring, ice cream cones, lollies and a whole heap of icing sugar!
There’s usually only one contentious issue when it comes to birthday cakes – making sure the child who blows out the candles is the one who’s having the birthday!
As birthday parties are pretty exciting for most children, there’s the odd one who forgets themselves and tries to muscle in on this all-important part of the birthday proceedings.
Depending upon the age of the kids present, it might pay for the person lighting the matches to stay close to the birthday child in order to put a speedy halt to any premature blowing of candles by other, little guests. Siblings also need to be reminded before the party begins, that it is not their birthday and their turn will come.
Once the birthday child has had their fun, it can be appropriate for any younger children to have a turn at blowing out the candles, depending upon their age, behaviour and if you have the time.
Cutting the cake is great fun for children, because it means they’ll get to eat it soon!
Many families let the birthday child make the first cut (with a little help, if required) and encourage them to make a wish whilst they do this. Naturally, they are not supposed to tell anyone their wish, or else it won’t come true!
If old enough, the birthday child can also be involved in cutting pieces of cake, putting them on party plates and handing them out to guests. This will make them feel important and help them learn valuable hosting skills.