photo of white cake with candles on top

This Birthday Cake Hack a Bit of a Letdown

photo of white cake with candles on top
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

One of my social media feeds recently presented me with some birthday cake related videos. One promised a “life changing” birthday cake hack. As my loyal readers can well imagine, I couldn’t click fast enough. I love cake. And I’m not against a good hack either.

Yet what made this birthday cake hack video into a blog? My disappointment.

The most appealing part is at the beginning when the person offering the hack (I assume I can’t call her a hacker, that’s got bad cybersecurity connotations) cuts the middle out of the cake using a tall water glass. After pushing the glass through the center of the layered cake, she is able to pull the glass out with a little yummy round cake-let. Loved this idea. I’m thinking I could layer a sheet cake but then use a glass to give everyone a nice little individual cake to enjoy solo. That’s an ingenious hack. Yum!

But she keeps on going. She takes this gaping hole in the middle of the cake and shoves it full of not one, not two, not three, but five different kinds of store bought sprinkles. She just dumps the containers on in there, then lathers the top with frosting.

I thought she might mix the icing and the sprinkles, but no. It’s all just sitting in the hole in the cake’s center. She then puts more sprinkles on to the top of the cake to cover the fact that the frosting‘s no longer match.

“I’m turning this $5 cake into a $500 cake!”

Image from: Google, Allie Sparks Cake Hack

She and her camera person* agree this hack is making the cake so much better. But what she’s really done is built a sugar bomb. And she’s taken away the delicious CAKE!

This is all about the image of the cake. The idea of cutting into a cake that will explode with colorful sprinkles and look amazing on social media feed slo-mo videos or in your Instagram story. Even if you like sprinkles, you don’t actually get that many more of them. Only a few actually affix to the cake because there is no icing used other than to seal the top for the surprise effect.

This birthday cake hack totally throws off the cake to icing to toppings ratio! It has rendered the scrumptious birthday treat into a social media phenomenon. Boo.

Other Ideas for this Birthday Cake Hack

This hack could be really useful for a kid’s party if you, say, built a volcano-like cake. The kid cutting into it could have orange and red icing spew out like lava. Cool. Or maybe you could make it a lucrative surprise by putting coins inside. That would be fun too. Especially in countries where coins actually add up quite quickly to a good chunk of dough.

But as this cake hack works currently, I am not impressed. Too little cake. Too much mess. It’s not meant to be eaten but rather make a visual feast for your followers. So, if you’re going to serve up this particular birthday cake, may I suggest you also get another cake to actually let the dessert lovers at your party enjoy?

* Btw, if you watch the video it’s worth doing so with the volume on rather than the captions. That way you can enjoy the camera person’s cake porn oohs and aahs.

Best Birthday Gift Ever: Survey Says

christmas gifts and ornaments
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

I have a survey live on Surveymonkey that asks people to share their thoughts on birthdays. It is really fun to see what people have to say. Plus, it gives me fresh insights to write about for you, my loyal readers. I know you’ve been dying to know what my 40 random people who have answered my poll have to say about their best birthday gift. How could you not?

So, to keep you in suspense no longer, I hereby share the range of responses I have received to the question: “What is the best birthday gift you have ever been given?”

Best Birthday Gift: Technology

Laptops came up a lot as a favorite birthday gift. Though someone did pair their laptop and their Kindle together as the best gift. Getting both in one birthday? I bet that was a good year!

A Nintendo Switch made the grade for another of my respondents. An iPhone and an iPad made the list too. Plus, another person was happiest about a Smart Watch. That’s someone who might like to read about the people who go to the gym or do a specialized birthday workout on their big day.

Best Birthday Gift: Personalized

One respondent was happier with a “chain with my initial on it.” Me, I’m always thrilled to find something cool with a Q, so I can relate. Then, someone was most pleased with a Bible from her Dad. Another person was pleased to get a surprise party. I’m counting that as personal since it would be all that person’s family and friends who made the effort.

Someone else said “love.” Sappy but true. But a good answer because it’s a safe guess you’ll get some birthday love from someone every year. Even if it is from your momma!

Best Birthday Gift: Money

Show me the money! Of course this one came up more than once. Three times in fact. That’s as many times as I got a variation of “I don’t know.” So really, we can probably double that money number. You know those IDK folks just weren’t brave enough to put down money. As if we can judge anonymous users for being greedy!

I’m also going to put the “car” answer in this section. C’mon, a car? That’s the equivalent of a lot of moolah.

Best Birthday Gift: Miscellaneous

Then, there were the ones that are harder to categorize. Options included:

There was the gift recipient we all want to have in our lives who said, “I appreciate all types of gifts.” Another person responded “nothing yet.” But I’m going to take the positive perspective on this one. At least the person was optimistic enough to say “yet.” They remain hopeful a best birthday gift is on the horizon.

How People Feel About Bdays: Totally Reliable Birthday Statistics

flat lay photography of desserts
Photo by Karley Saagi on Pexels.com

Years ago I was surprised by the lack of scientific rigor (or would it be mathematical rigor) that went into some of the research I was finding about birthdays. Now, I changed my major in college to avoid taking statistics (no joke). But, I still can recognize a small sample size or faulty reasoning. So, at the time, I decided to make my own contribution to birthday science by posting a survey on this biggest of days online. I invited my readers to respond, so I could generate some birthday statistics. They did. What surprises me now, though? People are still responding.

Apparently there are people who go on Surveymonkey and just fill out random surveys. Weirdly, I’ve had a bump in responses to the survey since November of 2020. So maybe COVID-19 lockdown had something to do with it? 

Or maybe Surveymonkey itself has people do it so that I’ll be driven to pay the fee to “go pro” and see all the answers. As it is, I can only see 40 people’s answers and the rest are deleted if left too long. Since I don’t want to pay $25 a month (or more!) for what was a lark anyway, I can’t tell you how many responses I’ve lost since opening the survey in 2016. However, I do know I don’t want the kindness of strangers who have taken the time to answer to go unappreciated. 

Thus, forthwith, and with great fanfare, I will now share my highly reliable, uber-scientific/mathematic, rigorously tested answers to pressing questions about birthdays.

Completely Reliable Birthday Statistics

To my initial surprise, 9 of my 40 friendly respondents (or 23.08%) said they do not “actively celebrate” their own birthdays. What an opportunity missed, I say! But at least it makes my birthday statistics more credible.

However, the majority of respondents do make the biggest deal about their own birthday (41.03%) with a “family member’s birthday (not furry)” coming second (23.08%) and a friend’s birthday a close third (20.51%).

Parties and cake were tied for top way to celebrate, but dinner with family or friends was a really close second (the difference between 22 responses and 21). No one in the survey went for spending their birthday in “quiet introspection.” But those who picked other and shared their ideas suggested they would want to celebrate with:

  • A fake ID
  • Sleepover with friends
  • Get money
  • Gifts
  • A drive-by sweet 16 (obviously a COVID response, unless they really meant that they wanted a car to drive!)

When asked to rank what they’d prefer to receive, gifts were no. 1 with phone calls and a surprise party next on the list. Social media greetings was fourth…so that tells me you should just pick up the phone and share some birthday love next time around!

The birthday statistic that made me happiest? The vast majority (61.54%) said the time to stop celebrating birthdays was “never!” I couldn’t agree more. 

Next time I write, I’ll share what people responded when asked what their best birthday gifts were!

What’s wrong with getting gift suggestions?

gift box
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking lately about asking for gift suggestions first. A friend recently told me about her oh-so-thoughtful gift of a washer and dryer. Apparently, there’s a phone connection that lets her use the Internet of Things to start her dryer if she’s forgotten. Did she need a new washer and dryer? Nope. Does she care that it works with her phone? Nope. Much like the clothes steamer that is bigger and better than the one she already had, and consequently takes up more space in her closet, she’s forced to focus on the “it’s the thought that counts” mantra.

My mother shared a similar story of a sewing machine. It was a top-of-the-line sewing machine with all the bells and whistles. Just not any bells or whistles she would actually use in her sewing practice. So, more money was spent on stuff she didn’t need to “surprise” her with something she didn’t actually need.

I am guessing many women have anecdotes like this. My most recent comparable is asking for a weighted blanket after discovering at a massage the relaxation they can bring. I got jewelry instead. I know, who can complain about jewelry. But I spend a lot more time on my couch looking to de-stress than I do out in the world wearing a glitzy necklace.

Thoughtfulness is asking for gift suggestions

To give the givers of these gifts credit:

  • They’re trying to be thoughtful.
  • They wanted their gifts to be a surprise.
  • They are making the effort to get a gift.

OK, that said. I’m going to take this blog to suggest that what’s really thoughtful is asking the receiver for gift suggestions: “Hey, honey, your birthday‘s coming up…what do you want?”

Especially when it comes to something that’s going to take up space in the home. Something that the giver is going to expect the recipient to use day in and day out. Like an office chair, which makes sense during #WFH days, but sucks as a gift if the recipient finds it really uncomfortable.

I come from a family of practical gift givers who exchange gift suggestions of what we want from one another. Of course, I probably actually annoy the others because I tend to go off book (literally, since that is what all of them want) and try to also add something thoughtful. Yep, I guess I’m a hypocrite. (I typed that as hippocrite and wanted to leave it because of the fun image it brings to mind, but I don’t want you all envisioning me as a hippo). But, I do stick to the list and give them some of what they asked for; I only go AWOL for one item.

I know the ask for gift suggestions first perspective isn’t going to be popular with everyone. I’d love to hear the counter arguments. In the meantime, if you must go out on a limb and buy expensive gifts that don’t appeal to the actual recipient, can we at least agree you’ll be better tempered about exchanges and returns?

Birthday Joy & the COVID Vaccine

COVID Vaccine birthday
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/50383691178

Birthdays are Best is Back

Yep, you read that correctly. I am, perhaps insanely, adding to my writing life again by returning to my birthdays blog. I don’t promise to write as regularly, but I plan to take this next year to share some of the things I’ve encountered about birthdays since my hiatus in 2019. Gulp, has it really been that long? It’s not as if I needed the COVID vaccine to be online, right?

First, what’s prompted the return? Honestly, many things over the past two years that have made me think “oh, that would be fun for the blog.” But, volunteering at a vaccine health clinic here recently made up my mind. I was the parking lot attendant. That means a bright orange vest, moving pylons, and smiling and saying hello a lot. The clinic was said to be serving 1,100 people a day. So that meant many, many happy people streaming in and out of the location I was at in Charlotte, NC. 

One of the other volunteers said to me that it was his favorite volunteering experience ever. Because everyone was so cheerful. I was all the more cheerful when my name was called as a lucky volunteer to receive one of the doses that would have gone to waste otherwise. I felt even better at the end of the night when I saw the last of the volunteers who had put their name in box for a chance at the vaccine in the observation room. That means all volunteers who put their names in that shift were able to walk out with a vaccine. Some of the people who had come to wait in the parking lot for hours hoping to be called also were getting their shots. 

COVID Vaccine Means More Birthdays

But, you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with birthdays. Well, I was at a Novant clinic. The entire building they had taken over for this event was branded with their purple messaging. 

Note to self: if I ever wanted to be in medicine I would have to work for them so I could wear the vibrant purple scrubs everyone was wearing. Note to self #2: Don’t be insane. Your shaky hands and quickness to faint are not meant for medical career. 

My favorite of the signs was an arrow on the floor pointing to the exit. On a purple background the white words read: “I got my shot.” Then, the reasons were given: to “play sports,” “have a birthday party,” and “attend a concert.”

Of course the second one is what inspired me most. I loved that birthday parties made the list of top three reasons someone might get the COVID vaccine. And I wanted to share this with you, my fellow birthday enthusiasts.

More Birthday Fun to Come

Look for future blogs sharing the results of that simple birthday survey I so unscientifically posted years ago. More celebrity birthday gawking and other fun stuff around the beauty of birthdays. A birthday makes us feel special and brings us all together to show our love for friends and family.

Birthday Anxiety & A Birthday Break

 

There is such a thing as birthday anxiety. It is not something I suffer from. Uhm..about 363 days every year I suffer from birthday anticipation. There’s one day also of birthday aftermath. 

Nevertheless, there are those who don’t want to draw attention to their birthday, fail to mention the date, shy away from big plans, and are overwhelmed by the thought of everyone spoiling them.

One 24-year-old British lifestyle blogger recently posted on her own birthday in solidarity with those who meet the day with dread or sadness. The influencer, who gained fame for YouTube beauty tutorials, tied her birthday with feelings of loneliness and expectation, as well as pressure, guilt and disappointment.

Her post inspired others to share their own stresses around birthdays and prompted an article on the issue from Xpose with psychologists chiming in with observations along familiar lines:

“Birthdays are landmark events,” one counsellor said. “They act as triggers… where people are forced to evaluate themselves and what they’ve achieved.”

“A surprisingly large percentage of my clients come into therapy before a ‘zero’ birthday,” agreed another therapist. “Usually on their 30th or 40th, or even 50th or 60th, as its those birthdays [when they’re on] the threshold of another new decade, that bring up existential anxiety about their past life and what their future may hold for them.”

We’ve discussed this before. Also, there are people who share their birthdays with anniversaries of loss. So, of course, there’s such a thing as birthday anxiety. I only hope this blog isn’t making people feel worse — although I doubt the birthday worriers are the ones following my blog.

Speaking of following this blog…

And anxiety, for that matter….

I’ve decided to take a hiatus from weekly publishing. I love writing this blog. It entertains me, and I hope it does you too. However, it has also become one more pressing item on my “to do” list. And, as I’m doing this for fun, I have decided to take a break from this obligation for a little while. At least until I can come back to it with a level of excitement like I had when I first started writing.

Thanks for your support in the meantime. I’ve appreciated your eyes on my words!

birthdays

Image source

Birthday Expenses and 50 Presents Each!

 

This week I went to two different birthday events. First was a surprise party for a 40-year-old. My husband, at the adult party, shared a vent with the milestone birthday man about December birthdays and how they only get “half” the presents/attention. 

The next night we went to a gathering at a pizza place on a kids’ night for a 10-year-old who “didn’t want a party.” I wondered if his parents would be able to remind him later on (say, when’s he 40 and complaining about getting shafted) that he was the one to say “no” to an official party!

Not that his parents were complaining, I’m sure. Especially at this time of year, it was probably a treat to save some money. Research from Barclays in the U.K. recently found that “the average parent will spend nearly £5,000 on celebrating birthdays during the ages of four and 11. Typically, adults spend £433.39 on birthday parties and another £164.65 on presidents.” (Yeah, I had to direct quote that because I love the typo in presents. I would have thought presidents would cost more!).

The top five party expenses were:

  • Catering
  • Entertainment
  • Party bags
  • Activities 
  • Cake.

You’d think some money could be saved hosting the party at home. That may be true, but this was the survey’s “most stressful venue for a birthday party.”

But some parents also buy as many as 50 presents per birthday, the study revealed. 

Barclay’s, being a financial institution, took the opportunity in reporting on the study to remind people, “the money you spend on presents and parties adds up and ultimately can end up having quite an impact on the savings you might have otherwise put aside for your child’s future.” Clare Francis, savings and investments director at Barclays, said: “The sooner you start saving, the better your financial trajectory will be.”

Starting at Year One

A Pop Sugar columnist would likely argue to start saving that money at year one. After all, her article is entitled, “Why You Honestly Shouldn’t Even Bother Throwing a Big First Birthday Party.”

She described the relaxed approach to her second child’s first birthday party: “It was a no-muss, no-fuss kind of party, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” But this was a far cry from the stress of the first child’s first birthday party with “an intricate fondant-covered cake, blanketing the house in expensive decorations, and spending most of the party bouncing around the house making sure everyone had everything they needed.”

Looking back, recognizing that neither child will remember the event, she suggests “throw the rules out the window and do your kid’s birthday the way YOU want to.”

That likely means 50 presents and hundreds of dollars for some and low-pomp but lots of family fun for others. 

Finally, while we’re talking about birthday expenses, I’ll also share this article from Bustle on how millennial women deal with splitting the bill at birthday dinners. The more you know, right?

Sharing A Birthday With Your Spouse

share birthday

Image source: Globe and Mail

 

Here is something that would be a recipe for divorce at my house — sharing my birthday. I know I’m a little (OK, a lot) birthday crazed. But I can’t be the only person who would NOT want to share her birthday with her significant other. Ugh! Worse would be having to share with your child…then, you’d have to be the grown up about it and all that kind of stuff.

Canadian John Beattie recently provided a personal essay to The Globe and Mail with the title “What it’s like to share everything – even your birthday – with your wife.” Of course, this first person account read like a horror story to me.

Beattie and his wife Zuraidah on July 30th each year compare themselves to a Hollywood power couple that share the same birthday too. They “wake up asking each other ‘what would Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones do?’” Since Christo and Jean Claude, the artists that wrap buildings and parks also share a birthday, I’m not sure why they don’t ask about them (although perhaps the answer there is too obvious — wrap something).

Statistics for Sharing

Beattie guesses there are other couples that are not so famous that are also “birthday sharers” but comments there is no special word to describe this occurrence. Yet, he writes, “there really should be. There are at least seven billion people on Earth. If everyone’s birthdays are spread out evenly that would mean each of us shares a birthday with more than 19-million people. That merits a word.”

It would have to a romantic one, apparently, since “just about everyone who knows [Beattie and his wife] as a couple thinks it’s really romantic.”

But as you can already guess, I do not agree. There is no romance in having to spoil my significant other on the day I want to be spoiled. Even my husband, who already has had to endure a December 30th birthday all of his life, would probably stick with his winter doldrums bday over having to share the birthday spotlight with yours truly.

Nevertheless, at least those who share a birthday don’t have to worry about forgetting their spouse’s birthdays. Yes, apparently it’s an issue. One third of those in an evite poll of 2,000 had done so. Men were twice as likely to space, and 9/10 of them were in serious relationships when they did so. Unsurprisingly, 12% of their relationships hit the skids because of the birthday gaffe.

Party like it’s your birthday

“We gonna party like it’s your birthday.” — 50 Cent, ‘In Da Club’

Yeah, you know you know that song. In fact the 50 cent birthday song was a quick international hit when it was released in 1993. A Source columnist even suggested the song challenged Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” as “the birthday song” of the Black community.

The song, with “Dr. Dre and his beastly beat making over calmly accurate handclaps and driving synths,” saw 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson, making way more than his moniker in profits off of the celebratory song’s success.

The central hook, “Go shorty, it’s your birthday/ We gonna party like it’s your birthday…” doesn’t even require it to be a birthday for fun to be had. After all, regardless, “we gonna party LIKE it’s your birthday.”

So, its a hit on your big day and whatever other day you want to rock the house.

It’s the Simple Things: 50 Cent Birthday Song

The Source writer in the article, “How 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ influenced birthday themes all over the world,” further noted the song glorifies life. Noting, “This is only logical, with the rapper’s prior near death experience due to nine bullets including one to the face.”

Yet it may be the song’s simplicity that truly drove it to becoming a top birthday song. “Simplicity is a big key to hit music,” said 50 via People. “Don’t overthink things, just organically see what you feel when the production comes in. Like, ‘Go shorty, it’s your birthday.’ It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple statement.”

The song’s simple statement earned it a spot atop the Billboard Hot 100 and several other charts, including internationally in countries like Greece, Switzerland, and Austria.

Today, whether you’re in the Black community or not, if you’re a certain age, there’s a very good chance “In da Club” is on your birthday playlist.

Help With Your Birthday Message

Want to stand out from the others saying “Happy Birthday” or, if really creative, “Hope you have a Happy Birthday” on someone’s social media? You could add a birthday bitmoji! I personally prefer the unicorn one:

birthday greetings

If you don’t have that app, the Internet has your back. You can easily grab a birthday gif or meme from google. This is a fun one…

giphy.gif

Then there’s the need to draw attention to ourselves on our birthdays. But what is the perfect thing to say when posting our selfies? 

Seventeen magazine weighed in recently with a list of “35 Birthday Instagram Captions Perfect To Celebrate Your Big Day.” Some of my faves from the list included:

  • “Surround yourself with people who are more excited for your birthday than you are.”
  • “It’s not the years that count, it’s the memories you make over these years.”
  • “Hold on to your inner child as you grow older.”
  • “Live your life and forget your age.”
  • “This is my year of dreams coming true.”
  • “Birthdays are good for me. The more I have, the longer I live.”
  • “Of course, I don’t know how to act my age. I’ve never been this age before!”

To me, some of Seventeen’s suggestions work better as a social media post you’d share with someone celebrating their birthday:

  • “It’s your birthday you don’t have to do nothin’.” – Destiny’s Child, ‘Birthday’
  • “Birthdays are nature’s way of telling you to eat more cake.” — Jo Brand
  • “Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.” Walt Disney
  • “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”Dr. Seuss

Still need some ideas? Try some birthday jokes. The ones I found on this site are pretty awful, but they sent me to this video with some funny ones:

birthday greetings