Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Princess Birthday Party

My daughter, Claire, turned 4 last Saturday. She informed me that she expected friends to come over, to have a princess cake, and to receive every girly item she has seen on commercials. For months I have been hearing, "I want that for my birthday!" coming from the vicinity of the television.

So this puts me in a tough spot....I am lacking in the party-planning department and in the artistic department as well. On the other hand, I'm not about to spend a lot of money on a fancy princess cake or on out-sourcing the party.

When I turned 8 or so, my mom made me a doll cake--one of my fondest birthday memories. So, I searched for instructions on google and landed on Family Fun.

Princess Cake


2 baked 9-inch round cakes
1 baked dome cake (baked in a 2 1/2-quart bowl)
4 cups white frosting
Red food coloring
Gel icing
Cake doll

1. Stack and lightly frost the two round cakes and then the dome cake (flat side down) on a serving plate to form a skirt.
2. After the frosting on the cake firms up (you may have to chill the cake for a while), tint the remaining frosting with food coloring and spread it on the upper two thirds of the skirt.
3. Pipe on decorative gel icing trim. Then press the waist of the cake doll into the center of the cake.
4. Dress her in a frosting bodice, and she's ready to make her debut at the party.

Serves 16 to 18

Round one failure...
This is what happened when I poured the cake out of my 4 qt Pampered Chef batter bowl. The middle of the cake never cooked.

Round two: I decided to follow the instructions more closely and cook the cake in layers.

Cake in progress...

My older daughter designed the dress and helped me ice it. I was quite pleased with the outcome, moreso because Claire loved it!


Bargain hunting is essential for birthdays, especially with 5 kids. I believe in spending less when they are younger (and won't really remember), because the older they get, the more expensive their wish lists get. Might as well save up for when $10 dollar light-sabers turn into $400 iphones.

Claire's gifts from us included:
little girl's mummy sleeping bag: $10 @ Academy Sports
ballerina leotard: on clearance for $3 @ Academy Sports

the Dora Jr. Roller Skate set (@Academy Sports...can you tell I was in a time crunch?)
This set retails at most stores for close to $20. Here's my story, though. I saw this set up on the top shelf without a pricetag, so I asked an employee to find the price for me. She quoted me $7.44. That sounded like a decent price, so I took it up front where it rang up at $19.99. I explained to the clerk what I had been told, and she was nice enough to talk to the manager and get me the price I was quoted. Apparently, the first employee made a mistake.


I called a few of her friends to come over for a casual birthday party. Friends...check!

My two-year-old enjoying the princess cake

The bounty

And that's how you do a princess party for less!


  • If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I was tempted to give up and buy a $20 cake from a bakery after the first try failed. I decided to give it one more go (giving myself the option to outsource if round two failed).
  • Build memories and relationships. Claire's cake may not have looked like a pro's, but my older daughter (Meredith) and I had a great time working together to create something special for Claire. Hopefully Meredith and Claire will look back on the experience fondly as I remember fondly the doll cake my mother made for me.
  • Speak up! I had 3 choices when the roller skates rang up at $19.99: pay full price, not buy them, or explain what happened. By speaking up, I got a great deal.


  1. Thomas had a great time at the party :) Very cool cake!

  2. Claire can have whatever cake she wants--I just don't want her to get any older!

  3. Ok, looking at that cake makes me nostalgic. I will definitely be making that for Sydney for her next birthday...more for me, but we'll say it's for her.

  4. Just a hint from a mother of three, grandmother of many....if you bake something in a deep bowl, put a tall skinny glass in the center and it will bake evenly. I even do this with meatloaf to cut down the cooking time in the oven. Hopefully it will work for you too! Great job, I love the way you and your daughter decorated the cake.

  5. I LOVE that cake - I will remember that for Sydney's bday next year. She loves Princess everything and I am not crafty at all...I generally just opt to go buy one but this is so cute! You've inspired me! I love that you have such special memories with Meredith & Claire too because of it. Good idea, thanks!!!!