Ages: 1 and up

By the editors of Parents magazine
October 05, 2005

Invitations, Decorations & Activities

Make your child's birthday a day to remember with this crafty gathering. Keep it as a simple celebration for little tots and roll-out the arts and crafts projects for older kids.

"Frame Me" Invitation

To spruce up an invitation, create a homemade frame using pinking shears or craft shears with funny edges (scallops, half circles, triangles) and place your favorite photo in the center.

"All About Me" Activity

For children ages 4 and under, let each make an "all about me" book with handprints, drawings, and a Polaroid photo from the party. Older kids can personalize a scrapbook using stickers, fabric, makers and other baby photos. To assemble the scrapbook, use a three-hole punch to make holes in a stack of construction paper. Weave twine through holes and tie.

Reader's Tip: Birthday-Girl Game

"For my daughter Lauren's first birthday, I created a multiple-choice questionnaire about her first-year development -- when she started smiling, how many diapers she went through a day, etc. The highest-scoring adult won a gift certificate, and everyone enjoyed the fun." --Carol

Larger-Than-Life Decorations

Glue color copies of your child's photo onto the tablecloth. Add colored paper triangles at the corners to look like photo corners.

Reader's Tip: Big Birthday Greetings

"For my daughter's first birthday, I wanted a special memento. So I took my favorite photo of Hannah, blew it up to 11x14, and attached it to the middle of a standard-size poster board. I put the board in a frame and removed the glass cover. As the guests came in, I had them write my daughter a birthday note on the poster board and sign it. Everyone loved doing this." --Krista

Snow Globe Favors

Give each child a single snow-globe that has a slot for a photo. Slip a Polaroid photo of the child taken during the party into the slot, and you're done.

Thank You Notes

"Every year at my daughter's birthday party, I make simple frames from poster board and let the children decorate them with stickers and markers. I then take each child's photo at the party. When I get the film developed, I put the picture in the frame that the child made and send it with the thank you note. The child remembers the party, and they have a cute party favor and picture from the event." --Dawn

Scrapbook Cake

This unique cake, personalized with your child's name, photo, and mementos, is designed to look like an open book. It's so realistic, guests will be tempted to turn the pages.

Prep and decorating time: 1½ hours

Bake time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

  • 1 box (18.25 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1 can (16 ounces) plus 1 cup vanilla frosting
  • 3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup canned chocolate frosting
  • 6 red LifeSavers fruit chews
  • 5 green LifeSavers fruit chews plus one for each letter in child's name
  • 1 large black gumdrop
  • 2 yellow LifeSavers fruit chews
  • 5" piece of strawberry Fruit by the Foot
  • 3 edible candy bracelets
  • 18" black string licorice laces, cut into six 3" pieces 1 Tbs. star confetti sprinkles
  • 6 conversation hearts
  • 3 large sweet tart hearts
  • 1 lollipop, stick removed
  • 1 candy ring

Special equipment:

  • Making Memories Maxicuts ZigZag scissors
  • Alphabet cookie cutters
  • Colored cardboard (16"x11")
  • Jelly-roll pan (15"x10")
  • 3"x3½" color photo of birthday child
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 15"x10" jelly-roll pan. Prepare cake mix according to package directions; pour into pan and spread evenly. Bake 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and cool 10 minutes; invert and cool completely.
  2. Cut cooled cake in half crosswise. Trim each side to look like an open album by beveling bottom edge. Cover each half with vanilla frosting. Carefully transfer halves to cardboard, spacing them 1" apart. To make pages, dip tines of a fork into cocoa powder and press into sides of cake.
  3. To make base for photo, microwave unwrapped red fruit chews 5 seconds to soften. Roll out to form a 3 ½" square; trim edges. Place on one cake half. Use 5 green fruit chews to form a smaller square; lay green square over red one. Place child's photo on top of green square. Trim the black gumdrop into 4 small triangles; place one on each corner of the photo. Use remaining green fruit chews to cut out letters of birthday child's name with alphabet cookie cutters or freehand. Place on other cake half.
  4. To make badge, soften yellow fruit chews, as above, roll out, and cut into a 1 ½" circle. Trim Fruit by the Foot to look like a ribbon and place under the circle. Spoon chocolate frosting into a resealable bag and snip off a small corner. Pipe a caption under the photo, and pipe "1st Prize" on the yellow circle; pipe a border along top and bottom of cake.
  5. Pull apart 2 candy bracelets and pick out 12 candies of the same color. Place 6 on each cake, ¾" from edge. Insert licorice pieces into candies to look like a ring binder. Place remaining candies and sprinkles around cake.

Copyright© 2004. Reprinted with permission from the April 2002 issue of Parents magazine.

Parents Magazine


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