A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo

Clara and Mateo’s birthdays’ are only ten days apart, so a combined party for them last Saturday was my eleventh-hour attempt to shortcut the birthday season this year.

It was a little helter-skelter, but still great fun, and a success, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t have to do it all over again in two weeks, so that is the definite bonus. Mateo was kind enough to share the spotlight and Clara is still young enough to go along with any plan, especially if it involves cake.

Montréal photography duo Tim and Angela Chin are more like family than friends now (we’ve been working hard on my upcoming cookbook together) and I was so thankful they captured our double party with their unique perspective. Goodness knows, I wouldn’t have had a single photo otherwise. Here are a few images from the special day.

Mateo is 6

Chess Cake | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

ALL Photos by Tim & Angela Chin

Mateo has been obsessed with the game of chess ever since Danny taught Noah this past summer. He listened in, watched them play, and was soon in on every second match, holding his own just fine.

A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

He studied strategy, memorized the rules (yes, at age five) and now routinely whups Noah and I. Occasionally he gets Danny in check-mate, too, fair and square.

Chess Cake | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

So he had to have a chess cake, which was fun (and pretty easy) to make. I prepared a chocolate cake on a baking sheet and cut it square. I covered it with frosting, and then rolled fondant. I attached 32 extra thin Lindt chocolate squares to get the checker board effect. Finally, I added chess pieces (real ones, I’m not crazy enough to attempt handmade, thankyouverymuch) and called it a cake!

Mateo loved his chess cake and he even had a quick match on top of the cake with his brother before the party started. (Which he won in eight moves.)

Chess Cake | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

Mateo stayed at the table to savour his cake after all his friends had scattered to play. He knows how to take in a moment and I love that about him.

Clara turns 2

Raspberry Shortcake | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

Clara fell hard for raspberries last summer, so I splurged and bought two pints for a decidedly unseasonal shortcake. It was a massive, towering hit, whipped cream and all.

Raspberry Shortcake | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

I made a sponge cake, baked it in four round pans, froze it, trimmed it, and split each round in half. Each layer had an ample helping of whipped cream, fresh raspberries and a bit of raspberry jam. A dusting of icing sugar finished it off.

A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

All in all, it was a simple cake, too, because there was no frosting to fiddle around with.

A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

She first watched Mateo blow out his candles. Later, when it was her turn, she blew out two tall red candles in a single breath. Hooray!

A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

She tucked right in, finished one piece, then stood up in her chair and shrieked “MORE CAKE”! Later that evening, when I had tucked her into bed, I heard her chattering to her ‘friends’ about “take” (cake). I guess it made an impression.

Raspberry Shortcake (iphone photo)

Raspberry Shortcake (iphone photo)

We’re in post-party recovery mode now, which is why this post will be short. The kids and I are still cleaning up the wrapping paper, Jenga blocks, LEGO, used paper straws and party decorations that little the house from stem to stern.

A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

In the laundry room I’m soaking raspberry-stains out of the tablecloths and a little girl’s party dress. The kitchen is still sticky from lemonade.

A birthday party mingle for Clara and Mateo | Simple Bites #birthdaycake #birthdayparty #kids #cake

But the party was more than worth the clean-up efforts. I have a theory about birthday’s and that is nothing is too much work or trouble for my children on their special day. I learned that lesson four years ago while sitting outside an OR all night wondering if Mateo would make it out alive…and to his next birthday. Of course he DID and is healthy and happy, which is what we celebrate everyday, and especially on his birthday. He had a perma-smile on the entire day!

It was a sweet day, with friends and family gathered to mark the occasion. I now have a brand new six-year-old and –oh my– a little girl who has officially entered the terrible twos. What’s next? Spring break!

Have you combined birthday parties before? What is your strategy when two birthdays are close on the calendar?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I have 2 boys who are 1 day less than 2 years apart. I’m happy we can get away with one party for now (they’re 3 and 5, and their birthdays are the week of Christmas!), but I’m not sure that will last forever. They always have their own cake and their own birthday song but present time gets crazy. 🙂 Thankfully, boy #3 was born in May!

    The marbled fondant chess board is awesome and the pictures are so cute!

  2. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    They are just tooooo cute! We haven’t had any birthday parties yet, but I can see this being an issue in future, as Evan and Ava’s birthdays are 4 days apart, and we’re planning to live very near each other. It will help that they’re 6 years apart in age, but I can see us having joint birthday parties for a few years. You’ve pulled this one off beautifully. That Clara is a girl after my own heart.

  3. Hi! What a wonderful cake! Could you share your sponge cake recipe? I have never made one, and don’t know what makes a good one!

  4. My mother routinely hosted a dual birthday for me and my father’s aunt. Her birthday was the day after mine. I’m 60 now so those were different times. There was no birthday extravaganza back then, just a delicious meal and one cake, lots of candles and a small girl sitting on the lap of her favorite auntie. (She always called me “Tooties”) I cherish the memories of those days!

    PS, Its hard to think of Clara as a two year old. People are still pinning my Pin of your wonderful post from from her birthday last year! Happy Birthday Clara!

  5. Growing up, I started the summer run of birthdays–I was born 5 hours early to be my grandmother’s birthday present, and then my cousin was born 3 days later hours before my uncle’s birthday.

    Every year, we got a big rectangular cake (half sheet?) with one name in each corner. When my cousin and I were school-age, we each had separate “friend parties”, but the family party was always combined. We each got to choose an ice cream flavor to go with the shared cake.

    I never minded, and now as an adult, my grandmother is deceased, and I always think of her on “our” (2-day) birthday. I haven’t had a cake the past few years, but I would still like to have her name on it if I did.

  6. What a beautiful celebration for them! I’m with Clara, that cake is gorgeous and I would still be talking about it with my friends.

    Looks like a love-filled, happy day!

  7. Wendy Lawrence says

    I had to reply because I just came off a double party weekend (6 and 3) as well! We did two, though, the first at a museum on Saturday morning (so all I had to do was bake a cake and bring decorations) and the second at home on Sunday afternoon (giving us enough time to recharge between the two. I was a little nervous, but it worked out and was a fun weekend. Plus, out of town grandparents were able to do both parties that way AND now I’m done for the year!!! 🙂

  8. Dena Norton says

    I love how Clara looks so very serious about that cake – a girl after my own heart! 🙂

  9. OMG – LOVE that raspberry cake! So festive and fun and beautiful (and I’m sure delicious!).

  10. Your kids are so lucky! Both cakes so individualized and sweet. Happy Birthday to them!

  11. Elizabeth says

    It looks like your kids had a great time!

    I am 2 years and 2 days older than my sister (my only sibling) and the first time I had a birthday party with just my friends I was 16 (11th grade). While it was fun when I was younger, I must say, the shine wore off joint birthday parties once I got to middle school.

    We had a joint party for our children once – they are 5 1/2 years apart, and it was a going away party before we moved. We handled it by having 2 separate, back to back events with a few hours between. We got a bouncy jump and one set of kids got it at the end of the party, the next group got it at the beginning of the party. To further the insanity, each party was a sleepover. It was an exhausting weekend (probably would have been less so if the adults hadn’t jumped in the jump between parties LOL), but both my son and daughter had their very own party.

  12. First off, I can’t believe Clara is 2! Man, time flies. My sister and I are 3 years apart and our birthdays are only 2 weeks apart. We had joint parties all the way up into my middle school years. They were a blast and I don’t think the 7th graders were worried about the 4th graders and vice versa. As long as there was fun to be had and cake to be served everyone was happy.

    I love your chess cake-you are so creative with their bday cakes. 🙂

  13. Stephanie says

    Our two are 23 months apart but what makes it worse is our anniversary, father’s day and a niece’s birthday all fall at the same time. So this year I talked mt husband into being okay with a joint family birthday party for our two. The paties for thier frienda will be seperate still though. Lord, help me!

  14. That sponge cake sure looks heavenly and perfectly light!

  15. Margaret says

    My mom and youngest brother actually share a birthday. I will never forget coming downstairs to wish mom Happy Birthday and finding my grandparents. She was already at the hospital. Last year, my mom was out of town during her birthday and my brother requested we wait until she return so they could celebrate together. My birthday is 6 days after my son’s and we tend to have a big family party between them. He has cake; I have pie. It is August so we have it outside in the shade. I enjoy spending my special day with him.

  16. Aimee, I always look forward to seeing what you dream up for birthday cakes. They’re always so gorgeous and creative, and I think you may have outdone yourself here! How fun that both cakes are so personal for Mateo and for Clara, and they are both stunning! Would you mind coming to Massachusetts with a cake sometime? You know, for a middle-aged woman’s birthday? Just curious! 😉

  17. Your cakes look great and I would have shouted for more of that raspberry cake too 😉

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this blog with us. I agree with you that we all using different different kinds of cleaning agent which uses in cleaning of kitchen, home and etc. The tip or cleaning agent that you shared here with us looks good and easy to make also. I’ll try this for sure and thank you again. Keep posting in future.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this blog with us. I agree with you that we all using different different kinds of cleaning agent which uses in cleaning of kitchen, home and etc. The tip or cleaning agent that you shared here with us looks good and easy to make also. I’ll try this for sure and thank you again……………

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