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Yesterday I shared some frugal kids birthday party ideas. I mentioned that one thing you can do is make a special cake for your child without breaking the bank, so today I’m going to expand on that and share some fun and frugal birthday cake ideas!
It’s up to you whether you want to do the whole thing from scratch or do part of it from scratch. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with boxed cake mix and store brought frosting—the contestants on the Great British Baking Show may turn down their noses, but your time and energy is worth something, too! If you want to do some of it from scratch, though, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes later in the post.
One thing to note before we begin. As you’ll see below I’m not planning on winning any decorating awards or hosting my own cake show anytime soon. Your kids aren’t on Pinterest and really don’t care. They think anything you make is great and they just want to eat the cake! So don’t be hard on yourself or feel like you need to spend $50 to have a professional cake.
Fun and Frugal Birthday Cake Ideas
I always start by asking the birthday kid what flavor they want. When they were too young to pick, I chose something I felt like they would like. We went strawberry picking to celebrate one child’s birthday every year for several years, so those cakes often involved strawberries in some form!
Here are some recipes I’ve used multiple times over the years:
- Best Buttercream Frosting (also try their chocolate buttercream version)
- Mammy’s Banana Cake
- The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake (great for fall birthdays!)
- Simply Delicious Strawberry Frosting
Remember, again, that you’re not here to win any awards for decorating. What matters is that your child likes it! You can spend hours learning how to make things out of fondant, or…
Have a kid who loves Legos? Stick their favorite figures into the cake. Or grab a fun dump truck and make it the ultimate cake topper!
For one of our kids’ 6th birthday, the request was something like this: “A blueberry cake with white icing and blueberries on top and blue icing that goes around and around and up and down.”
Most years they also want to help decorate, and this becomes a highlight of the day for them. Give up any desires of greatness and let them join in. Dig out sprinkles and anything else and let them enjoy it!
If you want a little help stepping up your game and for the kids to still be involved, check out the Real Cooking Line Princess cake kit. It’s designed for kids 6+ to be able to help make the cake and has very easy steps to follow. For mamas with 5 girls… everything in it is re-useable so you can make a few cakes!
Make Your Own Toppers
Another option is to make cake or cupcake toppers by printing things from the Internet. Use Google image search to find what you’re looking for, then print them on cardstock. Cut them out and tape them to toothpicks. Then stick them into cupcakes! While we won’t go into copyright issues here… you aren’t selling them so Marvel/Disney isn’t going to care.
If you want to decorate with your own icing, use food coloring to turn vanilla icing (homemade or store bought) the color you want. Then spoon it into a large Ziploc storage bag, cut a little bit off of one corner, and pipe your own icing without buying special tips or bags. (Again, this is not going to produce a professional looking cake—but that’s not the point!).
The final component of a birthday cake: candles! It’s true that candles are not super expensive to begin with, but if you have multiple kids, your best bet is to start buying the candles that are just single numbers. Keep them in a safe place and start combining them together once your kids hit double digits. These are also great because they can make even a small cake or cupcake look a little extra fancy.
As I said yesterday, make sure the energy you expend on your child’s birthday is in line with your priorities. Birthdays are a fun way to celebrate your individual kid, but you don’t have to go over the top to make it a special day.