A few years ago, several of my friends started their families. It seemed as if each month I was attending another baby shower. With showers for little girls, there does not seem to be any shortage of cute things to buy. But what can you do for a little boy? Try a diaper cake. It is a perfect way to give a custom, personalized gift that stands out from the sea of little T-shirts. It is also a great way to be eco-friendly, in that everything you use can either be reused or is a part of the actual gift.
Set the Budget
The first thing you need to do is set your budget. It is very easy to wind up spending much more than you anticipated so write down your ideas. Shop at inexpensive locations such as Wal-mart or Target. Often they will have great deals on toys and clothing for babies and it is good quality. Here as an example for a medium sized, 3 layer “cake.”
- 24-48 diapers (size newborn and/or size one), $8-10
- Curling ribbon, $2
- Receiving blanket (or tulle), $1-4
- Baby powder (large bottle), $1
- Baby travel kit (shampoo, lotion, etc.), $2-3
- Link-a-doos (plastic links for play, etc.), $2
- Wet Ones (individually wrapped), $1
- Scratch mitts, $2-3
- Socks (package of 3 or 6), $4
- Spoons, $3
- Rattle, varies
- Teething ring, $1
- Pacifiers, $2-3
- Baby toothbrush, $1-2
- Comb/Brush set, varies
- Baby medical kit, $8
One (or more) things off their registry, varies
Adjust the list as needed based on how much you want to spend and what you want to buy. The beauty of the cake is that it is truly customized. But before you shop, design the cake first so you know about how it is going to look.
Design your Cake
Note: Directions given are for a medium sized, three layer diaper cake.
Designing your cake needs to incorporate your budget and theme. If the parents-to-be have already let everyone know the name of the baby or the theme of the baby’s room, you can design around that. Keep in mind that a big cake will get expensive because of all the diapers. One or two layer cakes are just as cute and appropriate. You can also google diaper cakes online and glean ideas from websites devoted to diaper cakes.
Begin with a base for your cake. What are you going to put in on or will you be able to wrap it tightly enough that nothing will fall through? Personally, I like to slip a book under the cake as a “tray.” It is a useful way of transporting the gift and then when opened it is part of the gift. Some friends who have made cakes like to use the decorative cardboard similar to what is used with actual wedding cakes.
Next work with the core of the cake. Take a large, cylindrical item, such as a bottle of baby powder or a bottle (for small cakes) or an outfit or towel (for larger cakes.) Using a core also helps you save a little money on diapers since that part can get expensive. Anything that can be made cylindrical will work. If you can find the giant plastic baby bottle shaped jars, these will work best for large cakes. You can use it as the core and fill up the jar with all the essentials.
Now you are ready to begin making the cake. Take your diapers and start wrapping them around the base. Put the white side (usually the back of the diaper) to the outside. You may need more than one pair of hands to hold them in place. Once you have a good sized bottom layer (about as wide as your hand), tie it off tightly with ribbon. Then proceed to the second layer making it slightly smaller than the first. The top layer will be small, only about three or four diapers are needed. If the core does not reach the top, take one diaper and tie it tightly into a tube shape and curl the rest of the diapers around that. If you are concerned the top layer will fall, take one of the gifts, such as a few baby spoons, and use it to anchor the top layer to the middle. Variation: You can take each individual diaper and curl it into a tight cylinder shape and tie with ribbon. Using the tied diapers you can then shape into the layers of the cake. You may use fewer diapers but spend more time on the cake. It can also be frustrating to the mother-to-be to have to unroll each diaper to use.
Decorate the Cake
Once you have your cake made, decorating will be the fun part. This is where you can be as creative as you like. If you want to keep the cake simple and sophisticated, use a jar as the core of the cake and fill it with essentials such as nail clippers, thermometers, socks, et cetera.
But if you really want a fun, boy themed cake, try these suggestions:
-If you used the bottle of powder as a base, you may have a little extra room to tuck a stuffed animal or a rattle at the top- makes a fun cake “topper.”
-Keep the cake small and fit a little teddy bear cap over the top layer of the cake and use the socks and scratch mitts for hands and feet. Link-a-doos are great for hooking gifts to the ribbon or even using as “ribbon” decoration.
-Make an Eric Carle Caterpillar cake. Use The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle as a tray and have a stuffed caterpillar coming out of the top layer. If you can find the Hungry Caterpillar line of clothing, use the onesie as a core.
-If the daddy-to-be (or mommy) is a sports fan, use a ball cap on the top layer and a baby bat for the core. Or use a football as the base and top with a tiny helmet.
-A lollypop cake is a fun hide-and-seek gift. Take the gifts and tuck into the layers on the cake. Over each gift, fit a sock or scratch mitt.
-A train themed cake is easily accomplished by using a train book as the tray and tucking trains in the cake layers. Top it with a small train bank or toy.
-Teddy bear themes are easy to find and can be adorable. Take a stuffed bear and use it for the core (this can be tricky) and only make one or two layers of cake. Leave the bear’s arms and head free to “pop” out of the top of the cake. Tuck a bear story, such as Corduroy by Don Freeman, underneath as the base tray.
-Bath time ducky is a great themed cake for a little boy (or even a gender neutral) cake. Use a hooded duck towel as the core and tuck bath time essentials like nail clippers, soap, shampoo, washcloths, etc. in the layers of the cake. Top with a rubber duck and serve on a baby bathtub tray.
Once you have completed your creation, finish the cake with flair. You can use a baby blanket to wrap the cake in for a completely user-friendly cake or use tulle. Wal-mart sells tulle by the yard and it is very inexpensive wrapping. Wrapping paper does not work well because of the dimensions of a cake which is why I recommend fabric. Tie it off with ribbon and for a nice additional touch, tie a small toy in with the ribbon. For example, for your rubber duck cake, tie it off with a tiny, plastic duck or use ducky ribbon.
Another idea is to tie it off with an ornament. A baby’s first Christmas ornament is a special way to welcome the new addition and creative gift tag.
Be sure to include a personal note explaining that everything in the cake is “fresh.” You will have removed most of the original packaging and tags for aesthetic purposes. Here is an example of what you can say: “This Diaper Cake is baked with love amp; fresh ingredients especially for your new little one. Be sure to take it apart and find all the hidden treasures. Congratulations on the newest family member!” Or include this note: All items used in the cake are brand new but unwashed. They were removed from original packaging for aesthetic purposes.
The receiver of your amazing creation will not only enjoy the unique gift but be honored that you expended so much effort to be creative.