I was excited to make their cake, and they certainly were eager to guess their theme.
Skylanders, a very popular game right now where figures are placed on a portal. This makes you that character in the game, and you have special powers to then seek out the elements that help to restore order to the make-believe world, all while Chaos tries to destroy you and your efforts. That's how I describe it anyway much to Skipper's annoyance.
Both my sons and husband like this game. The Internet is filling up with party ideas. I kept it simple, but wanted to make a nicer cake this time around. I think it all turned out nice.
For decoration, we put up our traditional "happy birthday" sign, along with coloring pages of different Skylanders (done by the kids), a Skylanders poster (a Christmas gift), the cake setup, and various Skylander figures on top of portals.
All but one I looked at online were done in fondant, which I hate. It looks awesome, but I stick with a butter cream type of frosting. I was inspired by this cake and this cake.
The top, aka "the portal."
This was actually quite easy. I did a quick crumb layer and then filled up the top with white frosting. I colored some of the frosting gray (some blue with lots more red) and filled in the sides and then brought it up above the top to look like a stone ledge. I used toothpicks to line out the stones and the 8 vertical ridges where elements are shown on the actual game portal. I didn't want to go into that much detail so I simply made it pop up above the rest of the stone and used a single stripe up to set it apart. I think it worked well. I had extra frosting so I used grass to line the bottom of the portal and onto the top cupcake tier. I lined the other two tier ledges with grass too which hardened overnight in the fridge and allowed us to put on the sheep today. (Cake and icing recipe here.)
The sheep were incredibly easy. The cake was Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake ;and the frosting a whipped vanilla that my husband picked up (maybe Betty Crocker?). I did use butter and eggs but subbed coconut milk in for the water.
I used Wilton #1A icing tip (along with the large tip coupler) to make soft wooly bumps. And added a cut-out paper sheep face using this printable. By the way, I love this tip. It makes decorating cupcakes a walk in the park. I love frosting and when I use a plain knife I never get enough on a cupcake. Plus, it takes me forever. With this tip, I fill a bag and do up a dozen in a few short minutes. Really. It's awesome.
Miss Z loved the sheep. She was trying to eat one.
The element cupcakes were simply the leftover red velvet cake batter along with the icing swirled up using the #12. I cut out 12 element symbols and glued them to a blue cardstock (printable here). The kids taped them to toothpicks and placed them on the cupcakes.
I also had my husband pick up balloons in various colors and then I drew the element symbols on them. I hung them upside down over the table. Balloons are so festive. (Inspiration here.)
Each year on their birthday the kids receive a little picture book of the previous year. We bring them out on each birthday to have a look through. I love it. The kids do too.
Here's Skipper scaring his great-grandma with his Spyro mask. He received the costume at Christmas (I found them on clearance after Halloween for mere $$s!).
We had pizza. For us gluten-free folks, we had Udi's prepared pizzas , some raw veggies, and my mom made some yummy crockpot chicken wings (her own sauce, I have no idea - something about tabasco sauce, lemon rind and juice, basil...).
Then I had the boys go head to head in a Skylander's trivia game as entertainment for everyone (they tied) before they opened gifts.
Finally, cake time!
And to wrap up the night, they tried out their new Skylander figures and showed off the game to indulgent grandparents.
It all looks so pretty picture in pictures. In reality, the kids were incredibly energetic and it was loud, but fun. And it was so easy to do! Really. The kids helped. I did expect trouble with the cake but it was all done in under an hour, excluding bake time of course.