Tag Archives: Babycakes Donut Maker

Thinking outside the birthday party box

21 May

Birthday parties for kids can have a tendency to take on a life of their own.

Our family is full of rules.

We more often say no than yes, it seems, and we have a rule for everything.

We can’t help it, that’s just how we are and it works for us, at least for now. That being said, we have birthday party rules at our house. I know I’ve talked about it before, but I’ll tell again just so I can get on with my story for today.

Our rules are as follows: You can’t have a “friend party” until you are five and when you do, you can have it at the house with five kids. At six, seven, eight and nine, you can have your birthday party out of the house, with more people (within reason, and we never invite the entire class or grade, or even “all the girls”).

At ten you’re back to having it at the house with just a few people. We like the “Almost Sleepover” or “Mock Sleepover” (come in pj’s stay late, go home to bed) at ten because many people (ourselves included) do not allow their kids to sleep at someone else’s house and our kids tend to turn ten before other people’s kids are ten. At 11 and beyond they can have a sleepover if they want, with a few kids (our house is not huge and there are already five of us in it at all times, so space constraints are an issue) or we can discuss another inexpensive, small outing option if desired.

Now that you have the back story on our birthday party rules, here’s where I was going with all of that.

We have to give Alex all the credit for thinking out of the box for this party.

Our youngest daughter turned seven at the end of the month a couple of months ago. We opted to hold off on the friend party until after the Easter holidays and after school vacation, which led us to the end of April. However, way back in October, she already knew what kind of party she wanted: a cooking party and she wanted it to be at home. She planned the entire thing out herself. It would be a Hello Kitty theme. They would make homemade pizza (we do that a lot here) and decorate cupcakes (which turned into decorating donuts when we got the Babycakes Donut Maker as a Christmas gift) and decorate aprons.

We were thrilled. Birthday parties out of the house tend to be expensive: $10 per kid on the low end and as much as $17 per kid or more on the higher end, with some having a minimum of paying for ten kids whether they are there or not. Some include food, some do not. Some include invitations, some do not. However, “everyone does it” so we have tried to keep up while establishing what we feel are fair rules and reasonable budgets for our parties, and having had to say no to some party options our kids have thrown out at us as suggestions in the past.

But I can’t lie: we were jumping for joy in our heads when she explained what she wanted for her party.

The day of the party came, and she had invited seven kids to come. They all were able to come except one, so there were seven little girls plus my two older daughters who served as the helpers.

First activity: making a variety of homemade pizzas.

We bought enough dough that every pair could make one pizza (and Elizabeth helped out when the seventh friend didn’t arrive). We had two cheese and sauce pizzas, one mushroom, olive and cheese pizza, and one cheese and pepperoni pizza.

That week, I found a “20% off your whole purchase” coupon for Michael’s Crafts, so I went and got 8 aprons. I already had fabric markers here, but I bought a set just in case mine were dried out, but I didn’t need them so I returned them along with an extra apron.

I made the donuts from scratch with Caroline ahead of time, along with the chocolate frosting with Elizabeth while the kids were making their aprons, and each child was able to decorate and eat four donuts. I had purchased one Hello Kitty cake decorating kit which contained sprinkles, cupcake wrappers, candies and tooth pick decorations, and I split it for use between the family party and the friend party. I bought all my paper goods at the dollar store in time for the family party and used what was left for the friend party.

And no, I didn’t care that the paper goods weren’t Hello Kitty. Apparently no one else cared either.

Second activity: decorating aprons.

The kids had a blast.

Alex had a blast.

The moms that stayed, loved it.

We had fun, and it was an easy party. I was relaxed at the end, not exhausted and not broke. It was as much fun (maybe more so) than any party we’ve had out of the house, and best of all, she was happy.

The entire party cost us $32.

We didn’t figure that part out until the end, as we weren’t trying to keep it that low on purpose, but when the party was over and we sat back and realized all we’d been able to do at such a low price, we were amazed.

It just goes to show that even though we sometimes live in a “top this” kind of world and there’s lots of keeping up to be done, that it doesn’t always have to be that way. You can think out of the box, as Alex did back in October, and do something different and still have fun.

It may not always be this way. She may want to have her next party somewhere else, and we’re more than willing to oblige, as long as it stays within the parameters we’ve set, but for now, we’re celebrating the success of this year’s party and remembering more often than not, that it can be done.


Donut Maker Update

2 Mar
Babyckaes Donut Maker

My new toy!

Back in January I posted on my blog about our New Year’s Eve Donut Wars. At the time we’d just received our Babycakes Donut Maker and it was our very first time using it. Now that we’ve had it a couple of months, I thought I’d put out a quick update letting you know what we’ve tried since then.

First of all, I am still a huge fan of the donut maker. It’s so much fun to use. To date we have used it three more times since that first time.

We used it in January with a pumpkin spice donut mix that my mother-in-law brought with her when she visited. Before making them that time though, we went to AC Moore and I bought a pastry bag with a tip to use when filling the donut wells. MUCH easier than using a ziploc bag. Caroline has become a pro at filling the wells. I use that time to make the frosting so that we can frost them while they’re slightly warm.

Everyone had their own donuts to frost, their own bowl of frosting and their own spoon.

The next time we used it was for a triple playdate after school. Once the word about us having a donut maker got out, “everyone” wanted to come over and try it out. I decided to bite the bullet and let each kid have one friend over after school all in one day. We’d make the donuts and let the six kids frost them. So later on in January that’s what we did. Although I wasn’t sure if it’d be too much for me to keep organized, it worked out fine. I mixed up the batter and while Caroline filled the wells, her friend helped me make the frosting (a double batch of frosting seems to be enough for all the donuts that one recipe yields.) Then when we were ready to frost, I gave each girl a plate, four donuts to frost, and a bowl of frosting with a spoon. They could do whatever they wanted with their four but couldn’t share with each other (I didn’t want to share germs if they’d been licking their spoons, fingers etc.) I put a common area in the center of the table for sprinkles and decorations. It worked out great. They could then eat their donuts when they were done, or save them to take home, or whatever they wished. It worked out great.

The kids like being able to decorate their donuts however they want to. I try to have plenty of sprinkles out.

Another thing I did differently for the playdate this time from other times, was I used the recipe that came in the box for the Sour Cream Donuts rather than a cake mix, and the recipe for their Chocolate Frosting instead of a tub of frosting. Both were very, very good and easy to make. It made the donuts truly taste like donuts, rather than like cupcakes, which is what happens if you use a cake mix. Both work fine, but if you’re looking for that donut taste, definitely try out their recipes.

Separate work stations for each kid seems to work out great; no cross contamination!

The next time we used it was for a cousins sleepover. We had one of our cousins sleep over during February Vacation Week and we thought it would be fun to make donuts with her for our movie night, and we were right, it was fun!

I used the exact same two recipes and did it the same way, with Caroline filling the wells while I made the frosting. I still kept it to four donuts per kid and we had more leftover, which I sent home with our cousin for her brothers.

Overall, we’ve really enjoyed the Babycakes Donut Maker! We’ve got Alex’s birthday coming up soon and she’s already said that she’d like donuts instead of cupcakes this year, so I’ll take it out again for that, if not sooner. I’m also anxious to try out the other recipes in their booklet. There’s a chocolate donut recipe, a maple donut recipe as well as vanilla glaze and maple glaze frosting recipes. Grandma Rose loves maple glazed donuts so we might just surprise her one day with some.

Now…if I could just get the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker……:)

Here are a couple of other “finished product” photos from our donut making experiences.

The "after" shot.

If you run out of or don't like frosting, there's always powdered sugar on top which is yummy!

Donut Wars: New Year’s Eve 2011

3 Jan
Babyckaes Donut Maker

My new toy!

This year for Christmas I received a Babycakes Donut Maker from my mother-in-law in Virginia. I don’t know how she could’ve known that I had looked at this longingly in EVERY store I went to, but it’s not something I’d splurge on myself. I thought it would be a fun gift; fun for playdates and birthday parties, things like that.

My sister-in-law, Jessica in Virginia received one from her as well, and we spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Virginia with them, staying at my sister-in-law’s house. Between us we have five girls ranging in age from 6 to 12, so we look for fun activities, crafts and special things to do when we’re together, but especially on New Year’s Eve when we have a long night ahead of us.

Since we both got the same gift and my sister-in-law has a large kitchen space, we decided to create a Donut Wars event for the kids on New Year’s Eve, to christen our new Babycakes Donut Makers and to make yet another unforgettable New Year’s Eve for our kids, three of whom made it to midnight this year.

The Festivus Christmas Team, I was their team captain.

The Pinkalicious Team, Grandma was their team captain.

To start our Donut Wars, we came up with two teams based on the cake mixes we were going to use for our donuts. You can use the recipes included in the box or cake mixes. For our first time we opted for cake mixes, although I do plan to eventually try out some of the recipes that come with the maker. My sister-in-law had a Funfetti Christmas cake mix and a Strawberry Cake mix, so we named our two teams the Festivus Christmas Team and the Pinkalicious Team. We paired the kids up into two teams of two and each team had one adult captain. (Jessica’s youngest wanted to be a judge, the two daddies were judges and Jess was a floater.) To make it even more fun, the kids dressed up in funky clothes and accessories.

Common Ingredients for all to use

The two teams were each given their cake mix and a vanilla frosting, all the mixing bowls and measuring cups they needed, a Babycakes Donut Maker, and a counter full of Common Ingredients that they could use for their decorating no matter what team they were on. We set one team up on the island and one team up at the kitchen table with the Common Ingredients between them on the end of the island.

Once we got the teams set up with their captains, judges waiting in the wings, the teams got started.

Here’s what followed:

Some egg cracking,

Some egg separating,

Some oil measuring,

They took turns mixing,

had frequent visits from our primary judge, Abbey,

And the Festivus Team had technical difficulties with some faulty ziploc bags.

but overall, things were going well!

The kit came with its own cooling rack and fork for taking the donuts out of the machine, both of which were very important.

Aunty Jessie helped both teams.

While *some* of us took the opportunity to get a nap in before the big ball dropping later on.

Soon the donuts were done for the Festivus Team

and for the Pinkalicious Team, who actually finished first.

and it was time....

...to judge...

...the donuts!

The judges were each given an index card with the team’s name on top. Each team had picked three donuts or sets of donuts to showcase for the judges. The judges had to go to each team and critique the donuts on taste, creativity, presentation and then give and overall score (just like that show we watch, Four Weddings, on TLC!) Jess and I had prizes for both teams as well as for both captains, so no matter what it would all work out. (We love our respective Dollar Tree dollar stores for things like that!)

Christmas Wreath and Snowman face from the Festivus Team- creative!

Presentation: the 3D Festivus Donut on a spackled frosting dish

Hand-chopped candy canes top the Festivus Teams third set of donuts for judging.

Pinkalicious's VERY pink donuts with marshmallow centers for judging.

Hand-shaved chocolate, shaved by team captain Grandma, for the Pinkalicious team's presentation table.

Beautiful pink and white candy cane donuts from the Pinkalicious Team for the judges to eat.

Overall, a grand time was had by all! We found the Babycakes Donut Maker to be easy to use, to include all of the items we needed, and we loved that we had the option to use cake mixes instead of making the donuts from scratch. With that many kids, it was much easier using the mix than working from scratch, especially for the first time.

A few things to note:
1) The donuts are tiny (so you can eat a whole bunch!)

2) The donut maker gets HOT and the directions say so several times in several different places, but even still we had a burn victim no less. Caroline accidentally leaned against one of them to get a common ingredient and burned her stomach. Hello Neosporin. She still finished out the entire competition, with an ice pack on her stomach.

3) Overall it took about an hour to go from start to finish and that’s with captains and floaters. If I were doing this for a playdate I’d make the donuts ahead and let them decorate them. This would help with time, space and less of a chance of anyone getting burned.

4) One cake mix makes about 42 donuts from our count (so we had almost 100 donuts by the end!)

5) The donut maker has a very short cord, perfect for my tiny kitchen corner that has an outlet right there, but depending on your space you might need to plug into an extension cord first.

I’m glad we have the Babycakes Donut Maker and I can’t wait to use it again (neither can the kids) and to try out some of the “from scratch” recipes. There’s also a zillion different cake mix flavors out there, so no matter what our hearts desire, we can have donuts in any flavor we want as time goes on. Alex was already planning on a baking party for her March birthday, which she’s been planning since October, so this just added to her plans. I see aprons and chef’s hats as possible craft ideas!

I definitely recommend this product if you’re considering it, and so do our Donut Wars Team Participants!

All of the Donut Wars contestants and their judge, Abbey