The Shop-bought vs Homemade Birthday Cake Dilemma

When I became a Mum I saw it as a rite of passage to make my kid’s birthday cakes.

I’d envisaged pulling out a Women’s Weekly cake decorating for kids book and creating a fantastic Hungry Caterpillar, a realistic Thomas the Tank Engine, or elegant Barbie/toilet roll holder style wonder.

Emily’s first birthday cake was okay. As a good sleeper, while she napped I had the time to bake and decorate a cake, and was quite chuffed with the simple white cake, with cute yellow cut out ready-made roll-out icing ducks. But by four years old, I discovered that she actually had an opinion on what cake she wanted. And this year it was a “sparkly rainbow” cake.

With two kids now, where I chose to spend my time and the endless inner battle of either a clean or tidy house but rarely both at the same time (anyone else?!), baking a “sparkly rainbow” cake seemed a bit more of a challenge, and I knew my local supermarket had a fantastic selection of ready-made birthday cakes.

The day before the party came and into my shopping trolley, along with fruit boxes and chicken nuggets, I added the wonderful shop bakery made multiple layer rainbow cake, covered with rainbow coloured 100’s and 1000’s. Job done.

Until I got home. And guilt overcame me.

Why wasn’t I making her birthday cake? I’d only be able to make so many before my little girl was grown up and didn’t want a party cake made by her Mummy. I could have bought the ingredients for less – actually I couldn’t but I’d convinced myself this. Would the other mums judge me for not baking it? Surely a cake whose expiry is a month from now can’t be full of very good things?

I know it’s ridiculous but I didn’t sleep well that night.

And by the next morning, with the party starting a 2pm, I was out the door at 8am returned the cake, bought eggs, flour and 5 gel colours and baked a cake, iced it and covered it with 100s and 1000s. My husband thought I was mad – I knew I was mad – but I couldn’t help myself!

But do you know what, Emily helped me make that cake. She chose the colours of the layers and we had a lovely morning baking.  So while she didn’t eat it, and most of the kids didn’t because it tasted like the proverbial – it looked great and I was proud that I’d made it.

Roll on next year!


Share your birthday party experiences with us, we love to hear your stories. However ridiculous or honest.


Author Deborah, is mum of two – Emily 4 and Jack 2. Living away from family – but not friends, and wracked by mum-guilt on a day to day basis. Loves getting creative with the kids, but doesn’t like the mess it creates. #saynotoglitter

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