Birthday Cupcakes: Adorable Toppers That Make Decorating Easy

Not a cupcake decorator? My friend Kerry found a fabulous solution that takes the cake (sorry, couldn’t resist) on For less than $13, you can order cupcake kits with wrappers and toppers in more than a dozen cute themes like trucks and magic fairies. Kerry baked vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, frosted them in orange and blue, and then added little truck toppers. The overall effect was polished and adorable, and the older kids got to keep the little trucks (they were affixed to toothpicks, which were too sharp for the little ones).

The bash took place at Kerry’s house last Saturday. She and her family have the kind of private outdoor space that most New Yorkers can only dream about–it’s a huge wraparound patio right off their family room with a toy shed, couches, and tables. It’s the perfect place to hang with friends and celebrate special moments.

The vibe was comfortable and low-key. In one area, the kids played in a sand box. Kerry also had lots of rideable toys out, as well as a mat with every kind of toy car and truck imaginable. And kids could get temporary tattoos (that’s Mason, looking tough, right). The kid-friendly eats were a hit with everyone–various hoagies, pasta salad, tossed salad, and chips with mango-pineapple salsaand I loved that snacks (pretzels, popcorn, and goldfish crackers) were on low tables so that the kids could just help themselves.

A fun afternoon for sure! And now I know where to look for cupcake decorations for Mason’s bash next year.

What are your favorite websites for birthday party-planning?


Easy Puppy Paw Print Cupcakes

Last April, I made an embarrassing confession to you guys. I revealed that I’d never baked a cake, and then later I realized I actually had baked a cake once. Apparently my efforts were pretty forgettable, even though the cake was for someone I loved very much at one time, so of course there’s a story there. However, getting into all of that, at 11:30 at night, is a bit more than I can handle, so let’s just move on.

My cake confession came about because I was stressing about my lack of cake-baking experience at a time when I was already beginning to think about what I was going to do to celebrate Mason’s second birthday this year.

Fast forward a few months and that time is here. Mason’s birthday is tomorrow. I was determined to make his cake this year (last year I purchased cupcakes), and guess what? I did it! Twice. And it was so simple I laughed at myself for being nervous about it.

My first batch of cupcakes was for his school birthday party, which took place last Friday. I made very easy puppy paw print cupcakes from cake mix and vanilla frosting. I used Necco wafers and smarties to create the paw prints. Decorating took 15 minutes, tops. And the cupcakes looked fabulous! (I can’t take credit for the idea–it was conceived of by Erica Policow, the Food editor of Parents, and featured in our May 2012 issue, along with several other easy cake decorating ideas.)

Tonight, after we got back from Mason’s first Yankee’s game, I cupcakes for his real birthday party. We’ve having a rooftop cookout with family and a handful of close friends tomorrow. (Pics to come in my next post.) I’m psyched we all get to celebrate on his actual birthday. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain.

Mason's 1st Birthday Cake + More Great Finger Foods

On Saturday, the day after Mason turned 1, we hosted a safari-theme cookout on our roof to celebrate his birthday. Sixteen of our friends, along with two babes Mason’s age, came over for the bash. We served burgers, classic potato salad, red coleslaw with grapes, heirloom tomato salad (fresh tomatoes with basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper), fresh fruit salad, and tortilla chips with tomato and pineapple salsas. Mason ate everything but the chips and salsa; bits of burger, potato salad, heirloom tomato salad, fruit salad, and grapes from the coleslaw all made excellent finger foods. But the cake was Bug’s favorite.

After weeks of debate, I chose traditional cupcakes. I’m not much of a cake baker so I ordered the cupcakes from Sprinkles, a cupcake bakery on New York City’s Upper East Side. I loved the idea of cupcakes because Mason could have his own personal cake and we could serve a variety of different flavors to our guests. I chose the classic Sprinkles design, which is very simple and elegant, but requested an M topper for Mason’s vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. In addition to vanilla, our guests enjoyed chocolate, strawberry, banana, chocolate-peanut butter, and red velvet. Chris documented Mason enjoying his cupcake, from the moment he first saw it to smashing it all over himself and his chair. Enjoy our photos — and share your memories of your babe’s 1st birthday here!

Mason gets his first look at his cupcake as the group sings “Happy Birthday” to him.

Bug takes a taste of frosting — so delish! Plus, I have an audience cheering me on.

The cake part is yummy too, especially with the frosting!

Best. Thing. Ever.

The cupcake tower from Sprinkles, sans the ribbon that matched our party colors (we forgot it!). The “G” on the cupcake in the middle (front) means that it’s gluten-free for mommy.