Under the Sea Birthday Cake & Party

Day 89 - Project 365 - 29th Mar 08: The Girl's 1st Birthday Cake (Mosaic)

‘been meaning to share the story behind my girl’s first birthday. You see, ever since I shared the photo of the cake on Flickr, I’ve had a few questions about it. So, I thought why not make a blog post about the whole party?

After all, I did turn to the web a lot when I did my research. And, I found a lot of useful information and tips in other people’s blogs and websites. Maybe someone will find some ideas in this post.

Under The Sea Birthday Theme

From The Girl's PartyWhen I was brainstorming for a birthday theme, I ended up choosing “Under the Sea” because the girl loves water. And when I say love, I mean, crazy about it. She just enjoys baths and showers. She’s nuts about the beach. Even tries to go in to the sea on her own. And, when she started swimming lessons a couple of months ago, she took to it like… well, like a fish. 😉 So, I thought “Under the Sea” was the right theme. I’m really all for choosing birthday themes that say something about the celebrant.

Anyway, in order to keep with the theme, I bought an “Under the Sea” craft box from The Reject Shop ($2). Used all the bits and pieces from it to create a frieze and other party decor. And, even a mini pull piñata.

Also bought an assortment of Under The Sea theme-related stuff from TRS and Cheap as Chips: serviettes, paper plates, books (for prizes), sea creature toys (to be used for the cake + goody bag stuffers).

We also ordered Under the Sea-themed helium balloons from a nearby party shop.

Party Food and Games:

From The Girl's PartySince it was also pretty much a grown-up party, I catered for over 20 adults and over 10 kids. The menu included: Pakistani Chicken Curry, Basmati Rice, Plain Steamed Jasmine Rice, Chicken & Beef Kebabs, Beef Party Pies, Sausage Rolls, Vege Salad, Mini Pizzas, Bread Rolls + an assortment of drinks. Oh, and yeah, I also made a platter of chocolate-dipped fruits (strawberries, grapes, apples, bananas), with tiny sea creatures-shaped sprinkles.

There were 3 games: Pass the Parcel (with a twist), Pin the Tail on the Fish (my version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey), and the Mini Pull Piñata. All the games were handmade by me.

For Pass the Parcel, I used an old nappy box and decorated it. Then, put little prizes inside that kids picked when the music stopped. This way, everyone had a gift and no one left empty handed.

For Pin the Tail on the Fish (pictured), I used an old cardboard as the base, drew a picture of a fish with a Sharpie, then pasted half circles as scales. The half circles were made by using a circle punch with coloured scrap papers, then cutting them in half. For the tails, I punched circles in red cardstock, then cut a small bit, to make them look like tails. I numbered all the ‘tails’ and put tape at the back. I also used an elastic headband as blindfold.

For the Mini Pull Piñata, I used the main Under The Sea cardboard from the $2 craft kit as my base. I basically just taped the two edges to create a cylinder. Then, I used a small paper plate as a top and added a string for hanging later. I then filled the piñata with small toys and recycled confetti. I sealed the bottom with layers of coloured tissue paper, with ribbons (for pulling it open). There was a bit snafu with this pulling thing, so the kids ended up bashing the piñata with a toy racket in the end. It was fun.

Under the Sea Cake:

The Girl's 1st Birthday Cake - TopAh. The cake. My (supposedly) Pièce de résistance. Why supposedly? Well, more on that later.

Anyway, I didn’t actually “make” this cake, truth be told. I got the idea from somewhere (not sure where now), that one way to save some time in coming up with a birthday cake is to order a cake pre-iced from a bakery. My husband remembered an acquaintance recommending a local baker, Twisted Treats, for a good sponge cake with fresh cream. So, that was where we got the base for the birthday cake.

I collected the following things to use as decorations: M&Ms (both the regular and mini sizes), candy rocks, sour belts (2 colours/flavours), Jelly beans (a regular sized one and a mini sized one), sea creature shaped chocolates, and toy sea creatures.

On the day of the party, I just took out all these things and started decorating. Pretty much using the M&Ms, jelly beans, and candy rocks as the bottom of the sea. I used the sour belts as sea weeds (2 complimentary colours are good to provide visual depth). And, arranged the sea creatures randomly around the cake to complete the picture.

Also added a small Happy Birthday sign + a musical candle in the middle.

So, now comes the supposed part. You see… after I decorated the whole thing, my husband took it out of the fridge to put some party food and drinks in. And, well, the four-year-old didn’t see the cake box on the floor and ended up stamping on the box… 5 minutes before the guests arrived. The bottom bit was ruined. Arrrgggh. I can’t tell you how devastated I was. I was in tears. But, ah well… I had to shake it off quickly. And, I was just happy that the party turned out well. All the food disappeared. Really. Every last bit. People went back for seconds, thirds… or more. Everyone loved the cake. Even if it didn’t look at its best. Folks devoured the whole thing anyway.

So yeah, never mind the mini disaster that will surely go down as part of the family lore. We had a fab time.

Day 78 - Project 365 - 18th Mar 08: Handmade Birthday Party Invites (Mosaic)Oh, and yes, The Invitation:

I actually blogged about this Under the Sea invite at Chrysalis Creativity. So, I won’t do it here in full.

But, the general idea is: This was handmade using gocco printing + gouache painting + stamping + embellishing.

Check out the other blog post if you want to see a step-by-step description.

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  1. says

    Great theme. But more than that, how you brought it life is soooo commendable! It’s obvious how much hard work you put into it. I’m sorry to hear about the cake! It must have been heartbreaking. It looks gorgeous. But good for you for carrying on and not letting it spoil your day. :)

    • says

      Hsien: Heh. I was not trying to put anyone to shame. Maybe I’m just trying to overcompensate. Haha. :-) Thanks for the Stumble. I appreciate it!

  2. says

    What a gorgeous cake! Making kids cakes is great fun isn’t it? My African savannah cake wasn’t quite as elaborate as your Under the Sea but Daisy is still talking about it so that’s all that counts. Of course once you set a precedent you just have to keep going one better – I’ve got until July to dream up and create my next cake, how about you? :)

    • says

      Melissa: Hey – nice to see you here! :) Yeah, it’s fun. Especially when I didn’t have to bake it. LOL. Kidding. I do enjoy it. And no, I don’t have that ‘rule’ of doing one better every year. The next birthday party won’t be up ’til next year in Jan. We’ve got birthdays straight in a row for the first half of the year in our household. Now, it’s a break from all the party/birthday season. Good luck with your next cake. Sounds like your girl really loved hers.

  3. says

    Argh, what a shame about the cake. I just can’t imagne putting that much effort into a party. Lazy, aren’t I? Good on ya. I hope your kids appreciate it. 😉

    • says

      Heather: I know. :) But, well, at least I have the pictures to prove the kids. Good for future use! 😉 And no, I don’t call that lazy. I call it wise. Heh.

  4. says

    Hi, Shai–I’m always happy to drop by every weekend, because I get a lot of ideas in your site. I was planning to do the same decorate-your-own cake for my son’s party this July after I attended this Jelly Beans launch a month ago, in which they demonstrated many uses of the candy brand.

    Here’s the link:

    I think it’s a great creative challenge, decorating a cake by yourself–not to mention planning the entire party. I can just imagine all the efforts and energies put into this project. You must have slept in the day after the party!

    I’ve discovered in the last six years of putting together parties for my young boy that children really don’t care about presentation–as long as it’s sweet, they’d love it.

    Hmm. Now I’m thinking, to save my energy, maybe I should just order some iced cupcakes and let them decorate their own cupcakes!

    P.S. My boy and I started shopping for party stuff the other day at the Ikea stall at a bazaar in Rockwell. We got some Kalas colorful utensils, and we’re buying some plates and cups soon. At least that part of the party list is off. :)

    Happy weekend!

    • says

      Karla: Sounds like you’ve already started off planning a great party. Good luck with it! And I’m glad to know that you enjoy visiting here every weekend. Thanks so much!

  5. says

    Shai, this is just EXCELLENT!

    and i cant believe you little girl is now 1 year old… grabe!

    Happy Birthday Hali :)

  6. sandy says

    I love that cake! My son is turning one very soon and I have been having trouble finding an already made cake to go with the underwater theme that wasn’t geared toward girls. Now thanks to you, I have inspiration to make my own cake. I never would have thought to just buy a plain cake and decorate it myself. Guess I was over thinking it and making it difficult on myself. Thank you for opening my eyes to new possibilities! I will be back frequently for more inspiration!