Make your own children's birthday cakes...

While some of these boy's and girl's birthday cakes took a lot of time, they were all cheaply made - compared to store-bought ones.  You can use your imagination and make anything... Bake a cake and start cutting, arranging, and stacking until it's just how you want it. Freezing the cake will make it easier to frost (the crumbs will stick to the cake instead of coming off in your frosting).  Cover the entire thing with one layer of spreadable frosting.  Then recover it with your colored frosting (depending on the cake and the look you want to achieve you can either spread this second layer or use cake decorating tips).  Keep in mind that after two layers of frosting it will look much more rounded and big than the plain pieces of cake look. A board or large cookie sheet covered with tin foil work well for a cake base. Simple shapes from coloring books or online can be printed and cut out, placed on top of a baked cake and trimmed. Then decorate. After decorating several and experimenting with frosting types, this buttercream frosting recipe works well for decorating. It looks nice (not melty) and is easy to work with (but the taste... well, you have to be a kid to love that part!)  I usually make the first layer of frosting be cream cheese frosting... then people can scrape off the colored part and still have some frosting left that tastes good.

 The face for this Thomas' the Tank Engine birthday cake was printed out, covered with contact paper, and stuck on the front of the train to make it more realistic.

 Very easy dump truck birthday cake... take a clean dump truck and shovel, crumble chocolate cake and alternate with chocolate pudding.  Kids love scoop-serving this themselves.

 This Raggedy Anne birthday cake was made using an old "cut up cake" book. Coconut died red makes great hair.

 This badminton birthday cake was easy to make.  Cut a thin slice out of the center of a round cake and that becomes the handle.  Put the two resulting half moons together and you've got a perfect "oval" shape for the racket.  The ball ends of the birdies were made using rope licorice.

 This puppy dog birthday cake was made using a coloring book picture for the shape.  The eyes were too close together and the mouth should have been more well defined.

 This John Deere tractor and trailer birthday cake were fun to make.  Cut and stack pieces of cake and just push chocolate covered donuts to the sides for tires.  Dry Chinese noodles make great "hay".

 Here's a jet airplane birthday cake made from an old "cut out cake" book. It might have looked better with frosting smoothly spread on it instead of using a decorator tip...

 This hot air balloon birthday cake was made from an old "cut up cake" book. The "basket weave" is actually really easy and fun to do, yet looks like it was hard when you're all done.  There are a lot of cake decorating sites that explain how to do it.

 This caterpillar birthday cake was a very easy cake to make... bake several little cakes in a glass rounded liquid measuring container.  If yours isn't very round, you can bake a few cupcakes and place one of them top side down on top and, covered with frosting, will look great.

 Three little kittens birthday cake!  Ball of yarn is red string licorice. You want (I think) a "melty" frosting for this cake (use butter instead of crisco), so that you can use a toothpick to work in the color accents.

 Make your own log cabin birthday cake out of pretzels pressed into the sides of a frosted cake stack...  It has been my all time favorite birthday scene to make (and look at)!  The lake is melted blue jolly ranchers.  The canoe is made of marzipan.  The trees are small triangles of cake covered with green frosting.  The rocks are chocolate.  The brown "pine needle" ground cover is coconut died brown.  The logs are pretzel logs.  The windows are square pretzels stuck on with yellow frosting to make it look like light is shining inside.  The chimney is hooked to the top of the cake with skewers (or toothpicks).  The roof is that sour tape stuff.  Only the animals weren't edible!

 This butterfly birthday cake was easy to make... take a round cake, make two parallel cuts 1.5 - 2 inches apart from the middle of the cake (this becomes the butterfly's body), and flip the resulting half moons around to create the wings.

The proportions of this My Little Pony birthday cake made it tricky... I had to print it in a couple parts on the printer, tape them together and then trace the shape onto cake pieces.  Unless you're really good, before you decorate the mane and tail, lightly draw it on your first frosting layer with a toothpick. Then you can keep smoothing it out and trying again until it's how you like it.  

This digger / backhoe birthday cake was fun to make too.  Use long wooden barbecue skewers to affix the yellow licorice to the cake.  Can you see the blue head lights in front?  The dirt is crushed Oreos.  

An easy horse pasture birthday cake to make... green frosting, white yogurt covered pretzel fence, and flower sprinkles for flowers (yes I individually placed them).  

This fish (rainbow trout!) birthday cake was easy to make... just cut out the main shape and use pieces to make the fins.  The mouth is the trickiest part - make sure you freeze the cake good and frost the mouth first while it is still hard.  See the (real) fishing lure fly in front of its mouth?!

This Littlest Petshop Zoo birthday cake doesn't have one picture that "shows it all"... so here are 6 pictures, all of the same cake.  It is a sheet cake with some triangles of cake on top to create a couple mountains / hills.
oops, the seal's ball fell off his head, but frosting re-stuck it again!  See the bear in its cave?  The trees are made from green suckers with large green gumdrops cut and stuck on top.  
Top view of cake.  The walkway pavers were tiny mints, upside down.
Candy bananas were just what the monkeys needed!  See the cheetah peeking out of the trees on top of the one "mountain"?
Again, you can see where the seal's ball fell off its head and we didn't notice it until later!  
one turtle had a little "island" (it could also be used as a lily pad) to sit on in the middle of the pond.
The entrance/exit were made with candy sticks and a bit of frosting to write "Zoo" on some sour tape and "glue" the sour tape to the candy sticks.  

This robot guy birthday cake was fun to make.  If I did it again I would make the arms smaller.  Although, the largeness of them did make a great spot to place candles!  

This was a simple, colorful, fun cake to make.  It's a frosted round cake with gumballs of varying sizes stuck into the frosting.  The matching "curly-que" candles set it all off nicely!

This sandcastle birthday cake was fun to make and a lot easier than it looks.  I think the original idea was in a Family Fun magazine, or one similar.  Basically it's round cake layers stacked, with ice cream cones stuck on top of them.  I hooked the cones together with frosting and pushed crushed graham cracker crumbs onto the frosting to give it the "sand look".  I used a lot of toothpicks to keep things straight and in place.  As a bonus, I'm inserting the accompanying thank-you note from this birthday :)  The smudge in the bottom left was the child's name, and the smudge above the "years old" was the age.  It was printed at a 4x6 size and sent out with the thank you notes.

Bake a chocolate cake in a 9x13 pan and cut it up into various sizes of rectangles and squares... I used chocolate frosting between layers and green frosting on the tops only.  Some of the green is frosted directly on the cake platter (in this case I used a large cookie sheet covered with tin foil).  Thinly cut rice krispie squares worked great for sand blocks.  We printed a squid, covered it with clear packaging tape, placed it on the cake platter and covered it with blue gel frosting.  The tree trunks are kit-kats, the tops are green "painted" rice krispie bits.  The trees were actually a big pain... I had to re-do them several times.  I finally stuck bits of toothpicks in the kit-kats to get the top to stay on and get the bottom to stay somewhat straight in the ground.  So buy extra kit-kats!  I splintered a lot of them trying to get the toothpicks in.  The figures are little paper craft characters we printed out from online.