Jacqui - posted on 06/16/2012 ( 1 mom has responded )
Children's Birthday Cakes....they can be the source of great despair, wonderful pride, parental envy and many more emotions.
I recently had dinner with a male friend who had earlier that day accompanied his daughter to a 3year old birthday party. He was blown away by the drama of the birthday cake. He confessed that, out of interest, when the cake made its appearance, rather than watch the birthday girl blow out her candles, he instead studied the faces of the other mums at the party.
“You should have seen their faces when this huge pink palace cake came out,” he said, “it was like every other mum in that room threw up their arms and said ‘How am I ever going to compete with that?’”
My friend was completely bemused by the theatre of the cake and the worry of the other mums. In his own opinion there was nothing whatsoever wrong with a bought sponge covered in icing and smarties and candy.
It seems that most of the dads I spoke to were of the same opinion. Another dad who popped in for a coffee one afternoon confessed that he had had to escape the house because his wife was on her third cake – for their child’s 4th birthday.
“I keep trying to tell her that the children won’t even eat the cake,” he said exasperated, “but she just won’t listen.”
I am not sure exactly why it is that we execute such pressure on ourselves as mums with the cake. Prior to having children I had never baked – not even scones. Then suddenly I had children and was at home and I almost expected that I should be able to bake. I used to get myself into such a tizz over cakes and parties until my mother-in-law bought me my very own copy of the Australian’s Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book. An amazing book which encourages you to buy ready-mix cake and spend the time decorating the cake instead of spending the time baking it. Nowadays I just love the adventure of trying out a new cake for my children and feel I have become a bit of a dab-hand at it.
However, I never care how it actually tastes – in our house only the icing is ever eaten!
Another friend of mine went to a child's 6th birthday party recently. The theme was a Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
When she turned up at the party, she admired the table settings and in particular the big beautiful yellow teapot which was the centre piece of the table. When she asked her friend where she had bought that beautiful teapot the friend looked at her strangely. It was only when it was time for the birthday cake to come out that my friend actually realised that it was a CAKE and not a teapot at all. Not only had her friend baked this stunningly beautiful teapot cake, but she had also spent ages decorating it with beautiful iced roses - AND had even made two beautiful tea cups out of sugar and colouring. For a 6th birthday party.
My friend said that every other mother's heart sank as the the candles were lit on the cake. Indeed my friend then attended a 2nd birthday party just a week later where the cake was an amazing Burger Bun and then another birthday party where the birthday cake was a Gruffolo cake and all the rest of the spread was similarly themed but all the spread was Gruffolo themed. "It was amazing," she said, "but the child was 3years old. The food was for the adults to admire, rather than the children to consume,"she said.
It does raise the question about who we are actually doing the food for at a party? Surely it should be the children, rather than to show off to the other parents? Although often we do get pulled into the game of competition, sometimes without even realising it. My same friend has decided to abstain from the whole cake drama herself and instead pay someone else to do it. She just feels she would rather spend her time elsewhere rather than competiting with the other mums over who has done the best cake.
Personally I love making the cake myself. I will spend hours lovingly putting it together. For someone who couldn't cook for toffee before children came along, my newfound skill is something to be proud off and, quite honestly, I will happily show off my birthday cakes to anyone who cares to look.
The rest of the spread is pretty basic though. Cheerios, marshmallows, popcorn - nothing that is going to take up too much of my time. And sausage rolls for the adults off course!
And, if you haven't already read it, don't forget to read the Birthday Party Etiquette post: http://www.ifonlytheytoldme.com/2012/03/...
What's the best cake you've ever done? Who's had a birthday cake disaster? Why is it we are so obsessed by the perfect cake? What are your top tips for a hassle-free birthday spread?