Ladybugs 1st Birthday

My youngest daughter has turned one. Definitely growing so fast and developing into a real lady.

Ladybugs and goodie bags

To match this I created a Ladybug theme for her party. Full of ladybug spots and red balloons. All the things that make it colourful. While I did find some ideas for parties online, finding actual items in the shops was challenging.

The Invitation
I created my own invite with Coreldraw, working out a bit of a rhyme for the wording. I folded it in three and placed a some small ladybugs resting on a leaf of green paper on the outside. I also sent the invitation out digitally to those friends and family I do not see often enough to hand deliver.

Bug Serviettes from Woolies

The Decor
We were lucky enough to discover some party items at Woolworths – this included bug masks and some bug serviettes. The focus was on colours so we went with red party bags, spotty bugs on the bags with labels as well as red balloons with black ribbons. For the kids party table I got a bright red plastic tablecloth in case of any unlucky spills!

The Party

Emma Bug at her party


The kids attending were all encouraged to wear spots or stripes as bugs and all entered into the spirit. With wings and feelers and all crazy outfits it was really great. To keep some of the older kids busy I also baked some cupcakes and mixed some icing. Giving the kids some smarties, jelly tots and some plastic knives they decorated their own bugs. One or two dads had to eat the result – but when it comes to parties – it is all good.

Ladybugs are easy, fun and with some pipecleaners feelers are a breeze!!

Birthday Cake Ideas

So it’s party time … and your little darling wants a masterpiece for a cake.  However, you don’t have a small fortune to hire someone else to bake the cake.  Where can you get ideas?  Ideas that are practical and simple!

I’ve found the website www.coolest-birthday-cakes.com to be a valuable source of inspiration.  Ordinary moms have posted pictures of their extraordinary cakes (along with instructions on how to make them), and I’ve often been able to adapt an idea to make the birthday cake of my child’s dreams, without it turning into Mom’s nightmare.  Here I’d like to share some of my creations with you, in the hope that they will inspire you to even greater heights.  I don’t have a great deal of artistic talent, so if I could do this, I’m sure you can too!  I must add, though, that we have baking shop nearby which sells all the cake decorations you will need, and I support them royally when it’s party time!  You will save a fortune if you are able to make these decorations yourself, but I’ve never been able to manage too much of that.  I have, however, sometimes bought plastic icing and moulded a few bits and pieces out of it.  If young children can make creatures out of play-dough, then I’m sure you can work with plastic icing.  It’s the same type of activity.  At least, that’s what I tell myself.  I suggest you locate your nearest bake shop and pop in there before your next birthday party.  You’ll be amazed at what you can find.

A bit of good advice …

I used to wait until the day before the party and then bake and ice the cake on the same day, but that would make the day very rushed.  I believe in doing as much as I can in advance, so I bake the sponge cake about a week or two before the party.  I then freeze it.  Now, when it comes time to ice the cake the night before the party, I simply take out the frozen cake and ice it.  It actually works better trying to ice a frozen cake, because you don’t end up rolling crumbs into your icing.  If the cake has to be cut to a specific shape, I also freeze the cake beforehand.  So then it’s bake the cake, freeze the cake, cut the cake, freeze the cake again and then finally ice the cake.  I find it easier to cut the frozen cake.  Also, baking the cake in advance has the advantage that if the cake should flop for any reason, you still have time to bake it again!  It takes some of the pressure off on the day.

Now to the cakes!

This one I did for my daughter’s 4th birthday.  She wanted a princess castle, and it seemed easy enough to make.  Inspired by a friend’s cake, I constructed this for my daughter.  It was the easiest cake I’ve ever done!  I put two square cakes on top of each other, then cut a third sponge to get the four squares of cake for the turrets.  Upturned ice cream cones, some Smarties, a few bought flowers around the edge, flags made from wrapping paper and toothpicks, tons of butter icing in various colours … Voila!  My cake was done, and the princess and her friends were impressed.  Change the colours and you could have an impenetrable army fortress for your junior soldier.  Add a few army men (available cheaply from any toy store) to complete the effect.

Winnie the Pooh was for my son’s second birthday.  I discovered the technique for making pictures on the cake …  Take a piece of wax paper and trace your picture onto the wax paper.  (I suggest a simple picture – too much detail and you’ll find it too difficult to transfer the design to your cake.)  I suggest freezing the cake after you put the base coat of icing on it.  Then place the wax paper with your design on the cake.  (This is why it works better frozen – otherwise your icing will stick to the wax paper when you take it off.)  Now you simply take a pin and prick the wax paper along the lines of your design.  Once you remove the wax paper, you will have the dotted line of your prickings marking your cake.  I’m sure this technique works better on your hard, flat types of icing, but I’ve used it successfully on butter-icing too.  The grass on this cake is done by taking granules of sugar and dripping green food colouring  onto the granules.  If you only use a drop or two of colouring, you will colour your sugar without dissolving it.  Then sprinkle on your cake where you need the “grass”.  As this one was for a boy, I didn’t use any flowers.  The birthday boy also doesn’t eat cake but does eat Smarties, so I decided to use Smarties for the border so that he would be able to eat some part of the birthday cake.  The other Winnie the Pooh cake was done for a friend of my daughter.  In both cases, after I’d pricked the design onto my icing, I coloured in the design using butter icing and then piped the outlines onto the cake. The Eeyore cake was done along the same principles.

Getting more adventurous …

After these cakes, I felt I could handle the challenge of more complicated 3D designs.  In each of these cases, I cut the frozen cake into the required shapes and iced according to what I needed.

 

What little girl isn’t crazy about ponies?  When my little girl reached that stage, she wanted a pony cake and I had to improvise.  With a few tiny plastic ponies which formed part of her birthday present, we decided on this cake.  Tin foil for windows, chocolate disks as roof tiles, and a pretty garden.  She and her friends thought it was beautiful.

 

A quicker version of a pony cake is this one.  Still the same 3 ponies, but I baked 2 round cakes and cut one of them in half.  The two halves got put on top of each other, and I iced it to look like a waterfall (don’t mix the colouring in properly and make it slightly runny to get the effect of water flowing).  Green icing and blue icing is all that is needed.

 

I found the pattern for this dinosaur cake in a number of places on the internet, and was able to make it out of two round cakes which I then arranged on a rectangular cake.  I decorated it with butter icing and used chocolate disks cut into 6 slices for the scales on the dinosaur’s back.  Smarties were used for spots, and I put a couple of plastic dinosaurs on the cake for extra decoration.

 

Lightning McQueen and Sally were cut out of frozen cake.  I iced them and used a few bits of printed paper to make the decals on the cars.  Smarties were the eyes.

 

 

 

 

All parts of this mermaid cake were edible.  I moulded the mermaids out of plastic icing and used Flakes as the tree trunks.  The “island” was baked in a round Pyrex dish and I sprinkled caramel sugar on the icing to make it look like sand.

 

 

 

 

Nicole’s friend wanted a Barbie cake, and I wanted to do something different.  So I used two mini Barbie dolls and covered a tower of cake with rolled out plastic icing.  I made stools out of cake for the Barbies to sit on, and covered that with plastic icing too.  The cake for the tea party was made out of a bit of leftover cake, and I moulded the tea-set out of plastic icing.

 

I hope you’ve been inspired to do something extraordinary next time one of your children has a birthday!