I wanted Alexis’ first birthday party to be simple and sweet. As a fan of pinterest and DIY, I wanted to make as much for Alexis’ party on my own as I could. Some of the over-the-top first birthday parties I’ve seen online, although gorgeous, are insane. They aren’t for the birthday girl at all. They are for the parents. Admittedly, much of a first birthday party is for the parents (Hooray! We survived a year!), but I don’t see the need to go crazy. We had the basics: cake, party favors, play time, and presents, and I think we all enjoyed it.
My initial plan was to make Alexis a rainbow cake. I’ve seen them all over the internet, and they look so fun. Thank goodness I made a practice cake! Six layers of cake makes for one huge cake. Slices had to be served on dinner plates. The recipe I used for the cake and the frosting also resulted in a cloyingly sweet cake which, when combined with the massive size of the thing, made it completely impossible to finish. This may have been the only time I’ve ever had to throw leftover cake away. (This cake could probably be fixed with a different basic recipe, better frosting, and trimming the layers to make them flat. But it would still be huge. And also, it’s probably a bad idea to give a baby cake filled with so much food dye to smear everywhere.)
The solution: A simple white funfetti cake, made by mixing some sprinkles into the classic Better Homes and Gardens white cake recipe. I used this delicious butter cream frosting recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff. I had never made my own butter cream frosting before, and until I made this, I didn’t know what a void there was in my life. Seriously, I need to bake another cake just so I can have a reason to make this frosting again. I never knew how good butter cream frosting could be. Make it. As a bonus, one batch of frosting actually made exactly enough for one regular cake and one smash cake, as long as you don’t want lots of frosting in between each layer of cake.
When I first learned about smash cakes, I thought they were silly. Curmudgeon that I am, I said to myself, “When I was a kid, we didn’t have smash cakes, and we turned out fine. How silly. Just give the kid a piece of the same cake everybody else gets!” I don’t even know if it’s true that smash cakes weren’t a thing when I was a kid, seeing as I can’t remember being 1 at all. And more importantly, when did I turn into such an old lady anyway? Either way, one too many adorable pictures of smash cakes and babies smashing said cakes changed my mind. So I bought a tiny cake pan and I made a tiny cake.
A simple little trick for when it’s time to stop displaying your adorable tiny cake on your fancy cake stand and let your adorable child destroy the cake: put a circle of parchment paper the same size as the cake underneath the cake as you assemble it on the cake stand. Then you can just slip a spatula under the cake and transfer it off your cake stand and over to your little one.
At first, Alexis delicately nibbled at her frosting. Then she figured out there was a whole cake waiting for her underneath the delicious, delicious frosting, and she went to town.
To round out the food, I served strawberry lemonade and made sugar cookies using Alexis’ great grandma’s recipe. (I also made some rainbow m&m cookies, but they weren’t amazing, and I’ll keep looking for a better recipe.)
For party favors, I wanted to make sure it was something that would actually be enjoyed by one year olds. So I printed up sets of Earth Vocabulary Flash Cards from Mr. Printables, and I made happy cloud toys from a tutorial at Refabulous.
And that is how we celebrated Alexis’ first birthday.