Off my plate: birthday cupcakes

Birthdays are fun. Well, if you’re getting presents. Or eating cake. Or playing games. But planning them, cleaning for them, making everything can be a pain. And the mommy blog world & pinterest doesn’t always help, with their perfect photos and drapes that match the party decorations. Really, who has time for that? Things 1&2’s birthdays come at the end of summer and beginning of the school year. Their birthdays fall during the busiest time of the year for us, with the start of fall soccer season, school, and a very busy season at work for The Cat and me.

Last year we had a great combined birthday in between the dates to accommodate The Cat’s navy deployment schedule. I did a lot of extra work to make matching everything, but with the wind (and my forgetting to take pictures), not many people noticed. But we still all had a fantastic time. So I decided to take inspiration — but not guilt — from Pinterest this year. I was going to tone down the party planning to relieve some of the pressure.

Thing 1 was heading into second grade just after her 7th birthday. For the first time we let her invite friends over to our house for her party. I hate housekeeping, so getting ready for that is always a pain. I let her pick from a few themes I thought we could support easily. She choose an art party. No problem. This was my favorite offering. Projects to make and take instead of games and favors. Little to no decoration was needed besides brightly colored Dollar Tree tablecloths covering art surfaces. And, since our weather in August is fairly nice, we’d do much of it outdoors.

The only thing left to decide on was the cake. Some years I’m rather lazy and we just buy a cake from the store. After all, you can’t really do cake ahead of time, and there are just so many things that could go wrong — and usually do for me. But in addition to paring down my party expectations, I was also trying to pare down party expenses. So I decided to make cupcakes. But that part of me that strives to be Supermom couldn’t let it go at that, they had to be decorated nicely. Yes, I could let go of table centerpieces and personalized goody bags, but plain cupcakes just went to far. I went shopping for cute liners, cake mix and a can of frosting (yes, I really was slacking on this one, eh?), and found Cake Mate Writing Icing in classic colors. Perfect for an idea brewing in my head. So, I baked and frosted a batch and — after a quick photo session with the birthday girl — turned them over to Thing 1, who very nicely included her brother. They decorated them together. I think the result was pretty cool, especially with the photo mounted on a clear acrylic cupcake topper and the silicone footed baking cups. And it took no yelling from me for the kids to behave while I slaved away for their party. That puts them in competition for best cupcakes ever.

art cupcakes

The bar had been set. When Thing 2’s fifth birthday rolled around a month later, I had to include him in party preparations. He really wanted a video game party with his three local cousins. And his sister, I had to remind him. That was a bummer, because we only had 4 controllers, but he agreed to let her partake in the festivities. There were plenty of incredible video game cupcake ideas online, but I had to remember that I’d have a pre-K boy helping me. While browsing Pinterest, I came across this one I had previously pinned as a Halloween idea. Monsters, video games…close enough, right? Thing 2 thought so. So, again, I baked (in a great selection of new foil lined wrappers from Wilton and Reynolds) and frosted and he sugared and drew and placed eyes. The results, cute as a…monster.

monster cupcakesBoth parties were a lot of fun. And the cupcakes were universally praised as cute and very nummy. And I felt so much less stress that I remembered to take some photos. Looks like we could be entering into the era of a new tradition. Lazy mom parties. This is one I think I can keep up with.

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