September 14, 2017
Procrasti-caking. We’ve all done it. Online parenting groups are full of great examples of it. “My son’s 5th birthday is in 48 hours. Does anyone know where I can order an authentic Japanese Ninja cake, complete with Miso icing and accurate Japanese characters? Preferably dairy and soy free.” Or, “My daughter is turning 1 and I’ve decided to bake her cake! Does anyone have a recipe for a Snow White cake? I’m thinking white chocolate mud. Do you think it will be hard to create all seven dwarves? I have 12 hours.”
While most party planning can be done remotely and is relatively low risk, the birthday cake requires actual interaction with other humans and it is usually seen as the showstopper. That’s a lot of pressure. So some of us put it off as long as possible, micro managing every piece of irrelevant party minutae we can find to avoid making a decision. Here is the Bee Box Parties go to list to of birthday cake options. Stop procrasti-caking and get baking! (Or buying).
Store Bought Cake
Grocery store cakes have come a long way since the old 70s sponge with sprinkles. There are genuinely viable options that you can simply purchase for a small fee and serve as is. From Disney Characters to Sponge Bob Square Pants, there are a variety of options. This frees up time and saves money, and can be done fairly last minute. Win!
The drawback is, you have to be satisfied with what is in stock and the range can be limited depending on your party theme. Some of the character cakes have very long shelf lives however, and can be bought ahead of time and frozen. (Of course, this means you may need to check the ingredients for kids with allergies.)
There are solutions to overcome the sometime lack of range if you are willing to buy a simple store bought sponge a day or so before. Since waiting till the last minute is what we procrasti-cakers do best, this actually works to our advantage. By purchasing the most under decorated cake you can find at your supermarket, you are essentially organising yourself a blank cake canvas. Remove any adornments or fruit, add a bit of icing and decorate with small theme based items - order a cake topper in advance, pick some fresh flowers, or place lego people/small trucks/farm animals/Disney characters on top. This way, you are less likely to end up on a Pinterest Fail Board next to a ‘nailed it!’ caption. And you can still humble brag about your creation online (and at the party) because technically you did do some decorating even if you didn’t bake. Its called Procrasti-caking, not procrasti-baking after all.
Voila! Let them eat cake!
Home Made Cakes
This can seem like an overwhelming task when you are faced with planning an entire birthday party. The pressure to keep up with the Joneses (who are those guys anyway?) and create the world’s most perfect amateur cake can be immense. Better folks than I have thrown their hands in the air and put baking in the too hard basket, but it doesn’t have to be such a huge deal.
The secret is, at some stage after years of baking fails and stress, you will realise that Mrs Jones down the road with the perfect kids and the perfect party and the perfect cake making skills probably got her nanny to help out anyway (which is totally cheating and you therefore win despite the lump of chocolate cake you made last year that was meant to look like a farm yard scene but turned out looking like a cow pat. Hurrah!)
So don’t stress about it too much. Don’t pressure yourself to create precious memories of flour dusted noses while baking with your child only to yell at them to ‘stop touching that!’ and ‘please just sit there and be quiet so we can create a magical sense of nostalgia together!’ If you are nervous, start with something simple. Create a scene rather than trying to make a cake shaped like something. Use decorations rather than being fussy with fondant figurines, or use a service like Cakes 2 the Rescue, who send you very detailed instructions and - most importantly - templates. You get the brownie/cake points AND its simplified so much that dummies like me can use it. If you are confident enough to create something spectacular, go for it! Also, why are you still reading, you clearly have far superior caking skills than this author. (Alternatively, I’ll see you in the Pinterest fail pins).
There is no shame in just outsourcing the whole thing. Seriously, if you are time poor and have the funds this is a great option. And let’s face it, no one can make a cake look as effortlessly beautiful as the professionals (and if you can see the paragraph above). These creations are the supermodels of the cake world. They look beautiful and the average person knows they couldn’t pull off that look if they tried. The advantage here (aside from sheer aesthetics) is that you can dictate which ingredients you want or don’t want. You want raspberry white chocolate cream flavour with a twist of lemon? They can probably do it and make the thing actually look like Elsa. You need dairy sugar carb and gluten free chocolate cake in the shape of Moana’s volcano? They might even be able to make it taste nice. Of course, you will pay more and it needs to be ordered with plenty of lead time.
Whichever way you decide to go don’t forget the Bee Box Parties golden rule: parties are supposed to be joyful! Even for the host! Do what suits your timeframe, theme, budget and capabilities. And remember, even when cake looks bad it still tastes pretty good. It’s cake. And kids love it no matter what it looks like.
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