First Birthday Insanity

I don't do many birthday cakes, but I did one recently that was really cute. It also had a smash cake that went with it, and it got me thinking about the entire first birthday experience, which has really gone nuts over the past 10-15 years.

When I turned one my mother made a chocolate cake in the hopes of getting super-cute photos of me with chocolate icing all over myself. For some unknown reason, I refused to touch the icing, so she ended up having to smear some on my face. This resulted in very fake-looking "smeared icing" photos, as you can see.

When my kids were little they got their birthday cake, but I didn't make them separate cakes of their own. I never saw anyone do that at the parties they went to, either. If I remember correctly, that is...

I had never heard of the concept of a formal smash cake until recently. It used to be that if the baby was given his own cake to ruin so that the adults could eat the regular cake it wasn't given its own name...It was just the cake for the baby. Or a cupcake. Or a slice of the birthday cake.

My theory is that as first birthdays have become more competitive (you know it's true, I saw it firsthand when my kids were little) and parents have started buying more complex custom cakes, they also don't want to ruin them with the traditional "baby's got icing all over him" photos. So they started getting a mini cake for the baby to crush and the main cake could avoid the destruction.

Then they can continue to show off the fancy cake that is designed to make their friends jealous that their cake is better than the ones that they got for their child. Which is totally how it should be.

The cute cake I did for a not-crazy client!
Now, competitive birthdays are one thing, but at some point it can start to get crazy. If you feel yourself getting into the crazy zone, pull it back! One of my decorator friends, who shall remain nameless, had a client who ventured waaaay too far into the crazy.

This is from the email that she received after the party: We are thinking of redoing her happy birthday ceremony because we didn't even have a video of her crying while we sang happy birthday. Then on top of it her 5 year old brother blew out the candle and I only knew after the fact, the following day when his grandma told me. I was none too happy. She never got to even blow the cake or at least be helped it with. We sang happy birthday with no flame on the candle because the fire kept being blown away. I thought it was the gust of the air conditioning or whatever. Anyways, I wanted to be consistent if we redo the singing and we give her plenty of rest, so I wanted to know how much for an exact replica of the smash cake?

Huh? Okay, breathe...When you think that you need to re-do the "birthday ceremony" you've wandered into crazytown. First of all, the baby is one. She won't remember and likely won't care. If I'm any indication, your first birthday cake has absolutely no long-terms effects on you. (Ask me how I feel about chocolate now.) The only thing that will affect her is knowing that her mother was loony enough to stage a fake birthday cake smashing when the first one didn't go according to fantasy.

So relax and let the baby smash the cake on his own terms. Or just give him a piece of the regular cake. It all looks the same when it's smeared all over the place.

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and