Icing on a spoon.
Having been to my fair share of preschool birthday parties this year I've noticed that very few kids eat the cake when served to them. Sure, they are beyond excited when you take them away from their play with a call for cake. They eagerly sing Happy Birthday and watch the star blow out the candle. Then using fingers or fork or just their tongue all the icing disappears from the cake. All that's left is a soggy, messy pile of crumbs.
It doesn't matter that you stayed up until 2 am to make them the princess or pirate cake they begged for. It doesn't matter that you baked a gorgeous vanilla cherry cake with a recipe from Martha or Dorie Greenspan. All they want is the icing, or frosting, if that's what you call it. And then it doesn't matter if it is a gorgeous buttercream or from a can.
Instead of having wasted cake, get proactive. Just give them the icing on a spoon. Trust me, everyone is happy with this solution. Well, except maybe some parents who get worked up about sugar. But they are counterbalanced by those who are eager for a spoon of their own.
You might still need a cake because I haven't solved the problem of where to put the candles. Besides, they'll always be that one kid who hates icing.
With great thanks to some of my Twitter pals for the influence and egging on my icing only idea.
And Happy Birthday to my Mom, Brother, Brother-in-Law, and Sister-in-Law's Mum this week!