When my kids were younger, I spent the few months before their birthday thinking of "themes" and cakes and goody bags and more. This was sorta fun, but after a few years, it became obvious that all this work was about me and not the child. So, I started really watching and thinking about what it was that they loved about their birthdays, and began to focus on that.
This shift has been amazing! My work is diminished and the kids are in charge. We have a simple dinner with our 15-20 family members (it is usually some variation of Italian or Mexican), make and take cool cupcakes to our small homeschool coop and do some really fun event with just us (kids choice).
The biggest thing around here lately, is that the kids want to design their own cake. They love Cake Boss and have come up with some very elaborate ideas that have not quite been realized yet (moving parts, huge size etc.) I am actually really into the BIG ideas, but at this point pulling that off would be putting the project back in my realm and they really seem to love being in charge. So, I let them figure out what to do and what will work.
Earlier this year, my 7yo son made a moon crater cake with a Lego space vehicle he designed. He and the other kids spent a long afternoon creating aliens and space creatures out of fondant. The cake was great - all kid designed and constructed.
More recently, my 9yo daughter made a fairy cake with birds. She let her brothers make carnivorous plants to decorate the sides. And again, the planning, excitement, pride and love of this project made anything I have ever made or special ordered pale drastically in comparison.
My nearly 5yo is already planning his cake and the fever is spreading. For my birthday this year, I think I am going to spend a day making a special cake that speaks of who I am and what I am interested at this moment in my life. It might be something exotic in flavor, as I have been dreaming of some big adventures lately - maybe something fruity with an interesting herb/spice twist.....
What about you? Do you let your kids take a big part in celebration planning? What would your cake say about you this year?