Children’s birthdays these days are often a really big deal. Many times they involve elaborate parties with lots of interesting décor, guests, food, sugar, entertainment, and great goodie bags. Big parties—sometimes stressful for the hosts and/or the child—can be nice and a lot of fun, but I find I tend to gravitate towards the idea of simple birthday celebrations, with family and close friends.
I believe birthdays for children are really what you make of them. Big party, small party, or no party, they’re all great. What I think is really important is that the child feels celebrated, special and loved.
When my little love recently turned two years old, I decided to keep it simple. We didn’t have a party, but still tried to make him feel special in a variety of other ways. Perhaps next year we’ll have a party for his birthday, or not, but one thing is for sure, we’ll celebrate it. Because, doesn’t everyone need at least one day in the year when they feel special and their existence is celebrated?
What’s your family’s approach to celebrating children’s birthdays? Any lessons you’d like to share from parties that turned out well, or not so well?
Watermelon Birthday Cake
Earlier this summer a friend hosted a small birthday party for her three year old. She made a wonderful cake out of watermelon and fruits. As soon as I saw it I knew I’d try my own version one day. This is a perfect cake to be eaten in or outdoors, on a hot summer day.
1 small seedless watermelon
An assortment of fruits in contrasting colors. (I used cantaloupe, honeydew, kiwi, seedless green grapes, blueberries, and mango.)
3 round cutters in varying sizes, (I used 4”, 2.5”. 1.5”)
Cookie/candy cutters, (I used cutters for the heart, star, crescent, and triangle shapes)
Slice the top and bottom ends of a small watermelon. Set sliced side down onto a cutting board and begin to cut the rind off the sides of the watermelon.
Slice watermelon horizontally to make the tiers. Slice 3 tiers of equal height, each about 2-3 inches high. Use different-sized round cutters to form and cut out three circles. Use one round cutter for each tier.
Stack tiers on top of each other and insert a skewer from the top down to secure the layers together. Trim skewer.
Cut fruits into ¼-inch (larger if decorating a larger cake) slices and use small cookie and/or candy cutters to create shapes. Artfully place fruit and berries on and around the layers. You can use toothpicks to secure decorations in place, but since my cake was so small and I wasn’t transporting it far, I didn’t feel it was necessary to secure each piece of fruit. Also, I wanted to let my son have fun with his cake without worrying that he might hurt himself with a toothpick.
Notes: My cake was quite small. The bottom layer was only about 4-inches in diameter. I sliced blueberries and grapes to keep them a little smaller for such a small cake. If you’d like a larger cake, use a large watermelon. The watermelon cake my friend had made was large and beautifully decorated with pineapple cut-outs, whole grapes, and berries. A larger cake provides opportunities to embellish the cake with a lot of fruit.
If you don’t have cutters, you can still make this cake simply by carving the layers to your preferred size. Don’t worry if the circles (or any other shape) layers are not perfect. The uneven sides will show that it’s homemade and it will still look beautiful and taste refreshing on a summer day!