Planning Eleanor’s Second Birthday Party

I designed the invitations this weekend. We’re just having our family over, so no need to include the address (I’m pretty sure they know how to find us).

I want to make a rainbow cake for her. Last year, I ordered a chocolate cake from the local bakery. It tasted fine, but it was kind of expensive for a plain cake and I didn’t like the way they frosted it (I decorated the top myself with a chocolate silhouette). I remember thinking that I should have just made the whole thing myself, so this year I’m going to give it a try.

photo by Nicole Hill Gerulat

I’m thinking balloons and polka dots, in lots of bright colors for the decorations. I’m sure the party will come together, but I hope I’m not being overly ambitious with the cake.

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  • Johanna
    April 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I totally had that cake made for my birthday this past weekend! And I turned 26! It was a very simple cake, fun to make. I went to (Rainbow Cake) for the recipe. Good luck!

  • Gwendolyn
    April 18, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I think it’s perfect and will be a lot of fun!

  • Tara
    April 18, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Love the cake idea! I’ve started a tradition of making my son’s birthday cakes. So much cheaper and special that way :)

    Have fun!

  • Amanda
    April 18, 2011 at 11:42 am

    If you need, I have a friend who bakes great cakes in OP. She’s a very experienced baker & did our daughter’s baptism cake, to much praise from our guests:

  • dayle
    April 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Really cute invite! My friends recently made me a rainbow cake and it was a hit!

  • Tara Jane
    April 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

    My son loves rainbows and hockey. I think we are going to have a rainbow hockey party for his third b-day. I am totally going to make that cake!

  • Jillian
    April 18, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I’ve made a rainbow cake using this process (but not the recipe for the actual cake – I had my own family white cake recipe) It was super easy and a lot of fun. We made a cool colours layer and a warm colours layer.

  • niki
    April 18, 2011 at 11:47 am

    If the cake seems too intimidating these cupcakes on Spearmint Baby look great!

    • Danielle
      April 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

      I thought of these right away also!

  • chole
    April 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Great design! (as always)

    I love that you are making the cake. I have become “baker of the birthday cake” in our family. I love finding out what each person wants and then searching out the perfect recipe (I use a lot of Cake Mix dr. recipes… they never fail me) Home made cakes are so much more special!

  • Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife
    April 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Love the invite! I made a rainbow cake a couple months ago and I was surprised how easy it was. I hope it goes smoothly for you!!

  • Jessica
    April 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I made this cake for my husband’s work. Everyone was amazed. It really wasn’t that hard. I used boxed cakes and I bought 4 and only used 2. I made the layers really small – I think a 1/2 cup per layer? I didn’t want them too thin so it would lean. The hardest part for me was making the icing. Everyone loved it though.

  • Aud
    April 18, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Another option is to go with rainbow/tye-dyed cupcakes. Mix up your white cake batter and divide into bowls. Then, using a small cookie scoop, place one or two scoops each of 3 different colors into your cupcake liners and bake. The colors don’t mix, so you end up with this really great marbled/swirled effect. Not quite the same look as the rainbow cake, but possibly more manageable.

  • Marissa
    April 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    That rainbow cake looks precious! And there is no such thing as being overly ambitious for your kid’s birthday…they only come once a year :)

  • ShannonK
    April 18, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    My friend made this cake for her nieces’ 4th birthday. She flipped out she was so excited! It was hysterical!

  • Lydia
    April 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Don’t worry about the cake, super easy. It will be a hit!

  • Kayleigh
    April 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Stop on over to Bower Power ( — Katie just threw Will a rainbow themed first birthday party and has some adorable inspirations for you :)

  • Erika
    April 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    LOVE those invitations! I don’t think the cake is hard to make, just a little more time consuming.

    Here’s a nice tutorial from Tasty Kitchen.

  • Ash
    April 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I LOVE your invites. I did a similar theme for my little ones first bday and used these tablecloths from Crate & Barrel×108%22-tablecloth/s569448- Jonathon Adler had the EXACT same hanging paper lanterns at the time but I couldn’t find them for you online – they may no longer have them. The rainbow cake looks amazing – looking forward to seeing the photos!

  • Ash
    April 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I LOVE your invites. I did a similar theme for my little ones first bday and used these Marimekko Kimara tablecloths from Crate & Barrel×108%22-tablecloth/s569448- Jonathon Adler had the EXACT same hanging paper lanterns at the time but I couldn’t find them for you online – they may no longer have them. The rainbow cake looks amazing – looking forward to seeing the photos!

  • Paige
    April 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I agree that the rainbow cake looks more daunting than it really is. Once you have made your batter, split it into 6 bowls and colour in the bowls (not in the actual pans as I’ve seen some friends do). This will give you consistent colouring throughout. I’d also use a meringue in between layers to keep it from being too thick. That’s how I do it!

  • Erin
    April 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Cute invites! My daughter Elise was born just a few days before your Eleanor. And her 2nd birthday party is scheduled for the exact same date and time!

  • Brianne
    April 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    LOVE IT!! How fun!

  • Jill Browning
    April 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Cute idea! I think this would be a great idea for decorations:

    They look easy to make and very inexpensive!

  • Wyndi
    April 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I wish you all the luck with that cake and hope it turns out better than mine. I wanted to make it for my niece’s upcoming baby shower. I usually just wing everything last minute but decided to do a trial run using that same recipe. I am a good cook but the cake and icing were epic fails! So now I am going to make my own cheater version with mixes.

  • Wendy
    April 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    The cake is so easy!! I actually just did a rainbow party for my daughters 2nd birthday last month. You can view it here if you’d like to check it out:

    If you don’t mind cake mix – that’s how I make mine. Two white cake mixes (Duncan Hines). I add one extra egg & 1 tsp vanilla to mine. And I use milk instead of water. Then it’s about 1 1/4 cups of batter for 6 colors. 1 tsp of gel food color.

  • casey
    April 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    a rainbow cake is a must for the next party i plan. good luck! i am sure it will turn out great!

  • Emily
    April 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I made a rainbow cake for my daughter’s first birthday. It was a huge hit. I added fruit to each layer. It tasted fanstastic and got rave reviews from our family and friends. Here is the recipe that I used:

  • Alison
    April 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    So pretty — Eleanor is going to have the best 2nd birthday party ever!

    My first reaction was “I want that cake for my birthday!” — I’m glad to see in the comments that it isn’t just for kids.

    Really, I cannot get enough rainbow-colored or rainbow sprinkle-covered food. It just tastes BETTER!

  • Nicole
    April 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I made this cake for my parent’s anniversary. I used two white cake mixes (each split into three colors). The baking took the longest because I only had 1 pan I liked. Be sure to put the cake in the fridge after a crumb coat so the final icing layer stays white. Then everyone is amazed when the cake it cut open. It is so fun!

    For my daughter’s birthday I did this again with one mix and just 3 layers (pink, orange and red).

    Good luck!

  • Julie
    April 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I’ve made the rainbow cake 10-15 times (even last Wednesday for my seven year olds birthday, per her request)… It’s always a hit. I’ve found the cake is much more stable when baked in square pans. Calphalon makes ones with sharp corners, so the finished product looks gorgeous. Good luck! I’m allllll for the homemade birthday cake.

  • Mariesa
    April 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    That cake is awesome! I’m thinking it would take some time to make each layer, but it looks like it’s worth it.

  • tammy
    April 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I made a rainbow cake just like that last month for my daughter’s birthday! I am not at ALL a baker but it turned out great!

  • coucoumadame
    April 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    my mother-in-law and I made one for my daughter’s 2nd birthday this past weekend. it was a hit. it was a lot of work, but worth it, as it looked beautiful in the end and tasted very yummy. we used natural food coloring (vegetable-based) and it was good but does come out more pastel (unless you really use A LOT of food coloring). i still would prefer pastel though over non-natural food coloring, just personally. we also used maple syrup as a substitute for sugar in the recipe for both the cake and the frosting (cream cheese frosting) and it tasted delicious. oh, one tip…i would definitely bake the cake the day before and frost the day of. it’s very time-consuming. good luck and happy 2nd birthday to your daughter!!

  • Giulia
    April 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Love the rainbow theme! Can’t wait to see the details.
    I’m doing rainbow coloured decorations for my hubby’s birthday next week – maybe I should make the cake for him as well?

  • Jana
    April 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I have made this cake before…its a process, but the end result is SO worth it!

    I agree with the others that said bake and frost on separate days. One time when we made it all in one shot but we were so tired that when it came to stacking the cake we got two of the colors in the wrong order…it was all downhill from there. Also note I said “we” it helps to have a partner in crime on this one.

  • valerie
    April 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve been thinking about making that cake for my son’s 2nd birthday in June. I’ve seen one that they make out of pancakes… we are thinking of having a pancake pajama party so that would be ideal! love the invitation! :)

  • Beth
    April 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I did this cake last year for my daughter’s birthday. Not hard at all. I would recommend freezing the layers before layering/frosting. It helps to keep the whole thing level and makes it much easier to stack. Good luck – she will love it!

  • Becka @ life as an artistpreneur
    April 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I’m dying to make a rainbow cake. Since I don’t really have a party on the horizon, I’m going to make one for my business’ 3rd birthday. ;)

  • Erica
    April 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    For really detailed step-by-step instructions for a rainbow cake, check out this blog:

    She even went on Martha Stewart!!!

  • soisses
    April 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    wow – i love that card :) when the party will be beautiful like the card- everything is fine – no better than fine… perfect ;)

    have a nice day, dani

  • Loren
    April 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I made a similar cake for my boyfriend’s birthday a couple years ago. It was really simple but really messy. Instead of 7 layers one color each, I did two layers that were each rainbow. I had some leftover batter and did the cup cakes too, those were ADORABLE. If I did it again I would only make the cupcakes. Good luck.

  • Katrina
    April 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I adore the rainbow cake!! The invitations look pretty :)

  • Emily
    April 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I made this cake after seeing it on Martha Stewart and I did something (maybe a lot of things wrong) it was not pretty and I had to keep making more and more and more frosting. I think if I ever make it again I would use square pans, but honestly the thought of it exhausts me. It seems simple but true to anything Martha does there were a crazy amount of steps. I saw several links in the comments maybe they have easier way to do it.

  • Appletree
    April 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I just made this cake a few weeks ago and had a rainbow themed party.

    For favors I used sets of water colors tied to a balloon each in a color of the rainbow.

    I blogged about it here:

    Make twice as much frosting as you think you need. trust.

  • JC
    April 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Made this birthday cake last year for my 6 year old’s birthday! My advice: If you have a food scale, USE IT to ensure that bowl of UN colored cake batter weighs the same amount. Then color the bowls with GEL food coloring. You’ll have even layers. If you don’t have a food scale, GET ONE. I baked 3 layers at a time and had a six layer cake. It was beautiful!

    Also, tamp down each cake pan before putting them in the oven, and then use a serrated knife to even out the ones that dome.

  • Cara
    April 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    OK, now I want to make a rainbow cake! I made my own wedding cake (actually 2 because my husband also made one) and everyone kept telling us what a bad idea it was and how awful and stressful it was going to be. But it was totally manageable, and people loved that the cakes actually tasted good. So go for it!

  • Mandy of Kini Style
    April 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    How fun! I’ve been wanting to attempt a rainbow cake for some time. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  • Alicia
    April 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I made a rainbow cake for my son’s first birthday! It was sooo much fun and everyone loved it!
    Check it out here:

  • Renee
    April 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I made that cake last year for my daughter’s 6th birthday and it was super easy and a BIG hit! One little girl even told her mom the cake I made was better than the princess one she got for her own birthday!! lol
    Happy birthday to your special girl.

  • lindel
    April 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I made that cake for my son’s 1st birthday last year. To make it less ambitious, use a box cake mix (or 2) and make ahead and freeze the layers. Much easier to do it in parts like that than all at once with small children around.

  • Kristyne
    April 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I was going to be supermom too and make the most fabulous birthday cakes every year. But when my little one was diagnosed with Celiac at 2 yrs old, we’ve been condemned to ice cream cakes & banana cream pies (with gluten-free animal cracker crumb crusts). I miss cake. Sigh… Enjoy! And Happy Birthday to the little cutie ;)

    • Kristen
      June 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      My daughter was diagnosed at 2 as well. She is coming up on 5 and we have not missed out on cake yet! I love to bake, but haven’t really mastered GF baking. I have relied on mixes, but have modified them. We made cake pops for her party last year and everyone – celiac or not – loved them. Good luck!

  • Rachel Swan
    April 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    You are not being overly ambitious! I just made that cake for my daughter’s fourth birthday party, and I ended up just using 2 cake mixes because I was worried about the cake falling in the middle (a common problem with my from scratch cakes) and it worked out beautifully.

    I actually just posted the party today, and you’re welcome to check it out!

    I do recommend making your own frosting, it makes the cake taste homemade even if it isn’t. I used the Swiss Meringue buttercream recipe from Whisk Kid, and it was delicious + held all of the layers together really well.

    Here is her recipe for a rainbow cake + the frosting:

    Oh, and I also found that making 2 rounds everyday in the days before the party and freezing them made it a little more manageable, and it’s easier to frost cakes when they are frozen, too.

    Good Luck!

    • Ellen
      April 19, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      Also, freezing layers individually before layering allows the bottom layers to support the top layers. Very important!!

  • Sonja
    April 18, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I made that cake for St. Patrick’s Day with my daughter, just because making a rainbow cake was delightful.

    I used three Duncan Hines white cake mixes, four batches of frosting (from the back of the 1 pound box of powdered sugar), and gel food coloring to color each layer. Each mix made 3 layers of cake. I had borrowed an extra set of cake pans, but they were not the same size when measured with a ruler. I rotated each layer in the over after 6 minutes and checked them at 12 minutes – I could be wrong here, but I know they did not take long at all. After they cooled, I froze each layer in freezer paper overnight.

    I used a pastry bag without a tip to pipe a spiral of icing in between each layer, then smoothed out with a knife. These layers a small and I was worried about the layers breaking, so I found this to work well. The cake ends up being HUGE, so I would frost the cake the morning of the party (rather than the night before) to avoid any sliding of the layers. Also, I prefer not to trim the layers as they can get “crumb-y” when you frost them. Instead I measured the batter as I divided it into the three bowls so I started with even amounts of batter. Then on the two layer that were slightly rounded up more then the others, I just turned them so the rounded part was facing in toward the middle of the cake and the flat even side was on top.

    This cake turns out beautiful! Much better than store bought, and the guests were all surprised when we cut into the cake. I used salad/lunch plates to serve. Good Luck!

  • j.j.
    April 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I made this cake last year for my dauhter’s 5th birthday – she had a rainbow party! The kids were so amazed! I used 3 gluten-free white cake mixes and split each into two of the rainbow colors. Also used gel food coloring – much easier to get deep colors.

    My only suggestion would be to split two cake mixes into three colors each, because the layers I did still made for a very tall cake!

  • Carolyn
    April 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    HA! I used that recipe for my birthday cake this year. I used different colors (more bold) than the typical ‘rainbow’ colors and let me tell you…it was everything I wanted and more. My thoughts, for what they’re worth. I really hope you do this – I didn’t think it was that much work – especially for something so epic.

    I doubled the recipe so the cake was twice as big – which was perfect for the number of guests I had.

    For some reason, I couldn’t get the frosting to set (tried it twice), don’t know what was up with that because I’m pretty darn good at baking, but it wasn’t a huge loss – I’m not a fan of most frostings and realized my true love – cream cheese frosting – would be far more preferable. And it was.

    The cake was perfectly moist. I had a friend who just ate the ‘clippings’ in a bowl as I was shaping the layers and making them even.

    The lemon extract was far more preferable (I made test cakes the week before my birthday…tried it with white cake mix just to see how that might work (tasted lame, consistency was not as awesome), and also tried it with vanilla extract (just not right).

    I’m not kidding when I tell you I think of this cake often. I can’t wait until Easter when I can make it again in all its easy, yet decadent glory.

    Good luck!!

  • boldaslove
    April 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I made the rainbow cake (for my 26th birthday – oops!) last year, & it came out wonderfully. I doubled the recipe & the only thing i can say is remember to cut the top of each layer down so that it is even, because otherwise i had to fill the gap around the edge with a lot of icing.
    Good luck & have fun :)

  • Melissa
    April 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I made a rainbow cake just like that for a rainbow b-day party. I saw an easier version of rainbow cake where they only made three layers of cake(each a different color). They managed to work in all of the oclors of the rainbow by coloring the frosting between each of the layers a different color and then just frosted the outside in white.

  • Michelle
    April 19, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I made a rainbow cake for St. Patrick’s Day and it turned out beautiful. It’s more time consuming then difficult to make, so just make sure to allow yourself extra time. It takes forever to bake all those layers! :)

  • Diane V
    April 19, 2011 at 9:13 am

    How about rainbow cupcakes – I’ve made these for graduation parties and various holidays and they are wonderful.

  • Lori C.
    April 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I love your blog and am especially enjoying your house transformation. It has inspired my own.

    I just did a fun mother/daughter rainbow party and I made rainbow cupcakes. I was so excited by how they turned out. Top them with a cloud of whipped cream and they are perfect for spring.

    Lots of rainbow inspiration here:

  • Diane V
    April 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Forgot about mentioning “Color Block” jello – my mom made this a lot for parties when I was a kid.

    Found good instructions here:

    It would totally fit into your rainbow theme.

    • Jen
      April 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      I’ve never made this jello but have always wanted to. Thanks for the link (and it cracks me up because it looks like those fancy-gift-store soaps!

  • Sarah K
    April 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

    The cake will be amazing! Also, I spotted cute polka dot cocktail size napkins at World Market last night – in bright colors (not pastel easter colors) but on the easter shelves.

  • Miss B.
    April 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    This already looks like a HAPPY birthday, love the design and color scheme. Perfection as usual. BTW, blow me over with a feather, I can’t believe she’s turning TWO!

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  • erin godbey
    April 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    You can do it! I made rainbow cake for 200 people. Twice. I would advise against using a box mix, most of them are to lightweight for a tall layer cake. I used an easy sour cream pound cake (recipe here, if you’re interested: I’m sure the party and cake will be a smashing success!

    • Jen
      April 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      I agree, Erin. And a simple pound cake is so delicious and SIMPLE. And I don’t know if anyone mentioned this but I buy those aluminum pans from the dollar store to make this cake. All the same size, baking them all at once, and then you throw them in the recycling bin!

  • Janel
    April 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Someone may have already posted this, but when you mentioned Rainbow Cake, I remembered that I bookmarked this link a long time ago:

  • emma
    April 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    you should check out she has a great make a cake series and does something like the rainbow cake except it’s a flag inside. sooo cool. i made one last year for 4th of july. & if you have any ?’s she’s great about answering. she’s also got the BEST cream cheese icing recipe EVER. i mean ever. i could live in it. ;)

  • Jane
    April 20, 2011 at 3:26 am

    This is by far the coolest cake I have ever seen- I am going to try and bake it this weekend. I love the suggestion in one of the comments of making it double the size and using cream cheese frosting…. but perhaps I am getting a little bit carried away now!! I love your blog thanks for another great post.

  • Katarina
    April 20, 2011 at 6:04 am

    For the gluten-free folks out there, head over here:

  • Katie
    April 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Just saw this and thought of you….

    Cute stuff!

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  • Sarah Swartzentruber
    February 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Hi! I was just reading back in your archives and found this post. I LOVE the invitation you designed. It’s just darling. I love how bright and cheerful it is. Would you mind sharing what font you used for the body text? Please email me if you can. Thanks a million!

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