This year, my daughter wanted a "beach party" theme for her 11th birthday. We had chatted about already last summer, but at the time it seemed to early to decide. Then in the Fall I impose the "don't talk about birthdays until after Christmas" rule, so that by the time she decided on this theme, we couldn't find much "beach" stuff in stores in January! Fortunately, we were able to borrow some inflatable palm trees and beach balls, and found some sunglasses and what looked like mini beach towels in the dollar stores.
My daughter did some nice creative work on the props and decorations:
Then last year I discovered the joy of making my own birthday cakes. With a box of cake mix and a container of pre-made icing and some food colouring, it is pretty easy to whip up a pretty cool birthday cake within a few hours. Last year I made the campfire cake for my daughter's birthday, and the Pokemon cake for my son's. My son got to keep all the Pokemon figurines. This year he wants Pokemon cupcakes, and each friend will get to keep his own Pokemon figurine. That's pretty nice.
For the combined "family" birthday party which is tomorrow, we were going to just pick out a cake, but were very uninspired by the designs available, and there were none which both of them could agree upon. So we agreed that we would make our own, and I'd buy a small toy which they could keep. That seemed to convince them.
We chose a chocolate cake mix, and I made the two sizes of cake pan which I have, but then it looked a bit too short, so I made a second cake mix, and doubled the larger bottom layer and made some cupcakes too. With a bit of food colouring, we had green and pink icing.
At first, it was not going well. I guess I didn't really wait long enough for the cakes to fully cool and dry, so when I tried to spread the icing, bits of the chocolate cake peeled up. What a mess: