Birthday Cake Barmie

This is a picture of Mr and Mrs Barmie from my book, The Barmies. As you probably aspire to creating something just a leetle bit more generous than a digestive biscuit with a candle stuck down with chewing gum, here are some more edible looking cakes and money saving tips for parties I promised you last time. 

My own baking is pretty basic. Shortcrust pastry, the (very) odd loaf and Victoria sponge. So when I ask my son what sort of cake he wants for his birthday, he knows we’re not talking about the filling.

I don’t remember much about my own childhood birthday cakes. There might have been a train covered in smarties once, and maybe there was a gingerbread cottage. My parents have always gone on holiday by themselves for a fortnight just before my birthday every year. In fact they’ve just set off once more. You can sort of understand it as the winters are damp and cold in the UK, though my sister and I probably wished we were going along too. They’d try and ring from their sunny resort and sing ‘Happy Birthday to You!’ down the phone from the other side of the world. If they got through, I’d hear it twice as there was always an echo on the line in those days. My sister says I’d be very upset they weren’t with me, but as I say, I can’t remember much about it.

Maybe that’s why I’ve tried really hard to do something special for my small family.

So here are the birthday cakes I’ve made over the years from my son’s 4th Birthday onwards. (To spare his blushes, I’ve Photoshopped out his name).

4th Birthday – ELMER


5th Birthday – LEGO


6th Birthday – TINTIN


7th Birthday – STAR WARS


8th Birthday – THE HOBBIT


9th Birthday – MINECRAFT


*(The first three years I was playing catch up and have Sainsbury’s to thank for their Thomas the Tank Engine blue tongue-dyed sponge cake, and whatever else it was that has leaked through the gaps in my milk-sodden brain).

So, now for the MONEY SAVING TIPS for birthday parties.

For present wrapping paper, colour supplements are good, though iron them first between sheets of plain brown paper to get the ink dry. You can also use old maps from charity shops – though I regret doing this with some old maps from my travelling days.

Have an afternoon party so the children will arrive already full. This way you can cut down on catering by just serving cake and juice.

Goody bags: These can be done quite cheaply.

  1. Buy 25 white C5 envelopes from The Works for 99p    …  =   4p each
  2. Put inside a Fun to Grow seed pot made by Suttons ..  …  = 99p each
  3. The Works also sells packets of 20 felt tip pens for 99p   =   5p each
  4. 12 pack sticky notes for …   …   …   …   …   …   … ..     =  30p each
  5. One lemon sherbert fountain. In bulk they cost  …   …    =  40p each

Write each child’s name in colour lettering on the white envelope, then fill with goodies and seal ready for the party.
(If things are a bit tight, you can always leave out the seed pot this year and put in a couple of balloons to blow up later).

Our straw poll of kids’ favourite parties have been a watching a video and eating pizzas with friends, so it’s really not necessary to spend much. If you haven’t got one, try borrowing a Wii and letting them take turns with in a Table Tennis or Bowling competition.
For other games, I covered these in my last post and they worked VERY well.

Musical chairs -make a compilation of fun dance music and get the kids to shake their sillies out. If you can get hold of a Raffi CD, all the better! We played ‘Singable Songs for the very Young’ on our road trip across the Rockies as well as for this game. I’m word perfect. ‘The More we get Together’; ‘I wonder if I’m growing’ as well as the brilliant ‘Willoughby Wallaby Woo’ are all on the album and really get those little feet stamping up and down!

Grandmother’s Footsteps and Pass the Parcel for smaller children – make sure there’s a small prize (wrapped sweetie) for everyone.

Lastly, RELAX!

What’s the worst that can happen?


And if you can’t enjoy it, know that you are building some good love foundations for your child. If not now, they’ll appreciate it one day …





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  1. Loving the cakes as the years go by, especially the Tin Tin one, and the heffalump is great!
    Keep at it. You’ll have fun trying new ones 🙂
    I’ve only really just become serious with mine, as I want to sell them, but before I only ever wanted to put a smile on the kids faces

    1. Just the sort of thing I need for a headstone. Perhaps if you don’t mind I’ll just change it to the past tense and have it carved in advance 😉 X

  2. My favourite is the Elmer cake 🙂 I started out making cakes for my older kids, the first one was a Thomas The Tank Engine one for my son’s 2nd birthday, he’s just turned 26!! Where does the time go? Love your party tips too 🙂

    1. Do you know I think it’s my favourite too. Well that and the Tintin one. But there was something about Elmer I identified with – feeling a bit different and not knowing if I’d fit in, so really loved reading the books with my son. Those early years are irreplaceable aren’t they? Well done for doing a Thomas The Tank Engine – wouldn’t know where to start with that one, hope you still have the photos too ! x

    1. Ta very much 🙂 I really think anyone can do it. The hard thing is getting up the next morning after working on them so late. But anything for love hey? Glad you like the goody bags. Have seen some that are a teeny tiny bit competitive, it’s just not necessary IMO x

    1. That’s so sweet of you. The Elmer one was as far as i remember my first, though I do have a degree in Fine Art, so that might have helped! The insides are REALLY basic – sponge or if I’m feeling like Mary Berry, will do a carrot cake. That’s it though – but baked with love x

    1. I do try my best, though have been known to raise my voice (normally getting out the door in the morning!) not infrequently! But, thank you very much:)

    1. Thanks for the thumbs up! If I had twins, it would probably be off to the nearest cake shop or supermarket myself but as you saw from the post, alot of it is a reaction to my own childhood … x

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