I simply refuse to purchase a birthday cake. And shhhhh, I don't think my kids even know it is an option. When birthdays role around in our frugal home, Mama heads to the kitchen. Cooking, which includes baking, is essential to running a frugal home. And one need not be a french trained chef to pull off a birthday cake. All you need is an idea and access to Google. In fact, once you are comfortable enough in the kitchen, it is a great place to spend time with wee-ones, and instill in them the basics of food prep. It will save time, be relatively healthy, and cost far less than a cake from the store.
My little one celebrated first, and had been requesting the following for months: "a rainbow cake with fish.". It only took me a few minutes to zero in on an Angle Food cake. Fruit would make up the rainbow, a bit of whip cream to create clouds and base to a-fix blue sprinkles for "water" where I used frosting gel to create some fish. The cake was from a mix -- which I opted for after reading about how hard one is to make from scratch. It was easy enough, and assembled in a hotel bathroom since we were traveling on her actual birthday.
Our son adored his 4th birthday cake, and requested a repeat -- chocolate, chocolate chip. I used Ghiradelli coco as well as chocolate chips. His theme included an airplane this year. To accomplish this I dusted the cake with powered sugar (for clouds) and poured blue/purple frosting into an airplane cookie cutter. It turned out fine, and was delicious!
And I threw in a bonus....we took treats to our church on his actual birthday. Cupcakes inside ice cream cones. Filled 2/3s of the way with batter, baked for 25 minutes, topped with frosting and sprinkles. A great twist on cupcakes -- no wrapper to purchase and then toss in the trash, and amusing for children and adults.
So there you have my frugal birthday cakes and treats. Have something to share? Inspire others on how you celebrate without breaking the bank!