Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Best Party Ideas For Your Soon-To-Be 3 Year Old Starts With An Amazing Cake

Keep the Party Simple for Your Three-Year-old 

Congratulations are in order if you’re planning your child’s third birthday party. Kids this age are usually more independent and able to participate in traditional party activities.

A well-planned party is the key to keeping the birthday kid happy - and out of trouble. Typically, a party of no more than 90 minutes is ideal for keeping kids this age entertained without any tantrums. Many kids will have outgrown tantrums by this age, but they are still learning how to be social.

Some ideas for important components of a three-year-old birthday party:

Theme: Most kids have favorite book or TV show characters that would make a great jumping-off point for a party theme. Among some favorites for kids in this age range: Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Train, Elmo and other Sesame Street characters, Bob the Builder, the Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba. If you prefer a party that isn’t based on a character, you can build a whole theme out of a favorite color, hobby or activity. For example, perhaps the birthday kid loves going to the zoo. You could build your party around a zoo theme, complete with little zoo animals and jungle decor.

Cake: This plays center stage in a three-year-old’s birthday party. Your little one is bound to remember this cake for a long time. At Ontario Bakery, we’ve got plenty of options like the photos on this post or in the Galleries on our Facebook Page.

Decorations: Balloons and streamers still go a long way for kids this age and add a colorful touch to your party. Use your theme to build mini-scenes around the party area. Be prepared for kids to want to touch and maybe even play with some of these.

Games: Musical chairs, pin the tail (or a different variation of this game), Simon Says and mini scavenger hunts are good games for kids this age. You can also create your own game based on your theme. For example, a Dora party could feature three different game challenges

Entertainment: Hiring entertainers for kids this age is not really necessary since kids most enjoy playing with other kids during parties, but you could consider having a face painter or a puppet show. A small bounce house is also a great way for kids to burn up some energy before sitting down for the opening of gifts.

Food: Simple finger food is best as kids this age still have difficulty wanting to sit still long enough for a meal. Half sandwiches or wraps with vegetable and fruit kebabs are healthy choices for a small meal. Consider serving the cake outdoors if you can for minimal worries about accidental spills.

Treat bags: You can usually find inexpensive toys, crafts items and small books at the dollar section of your local Target or dollar store. You’ll often be fortunate to find items that tie in well with your theme, but it’s best to try shopping for these as far in advance as possible for best selection and pricing.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Six Steps to Choosing a Wedding Cake Vendor

It Takes More Than a Taste Test 

Choosing a wedding cake vendor can be a stressful chore, but it doesn’t have to be. Unlike choosing bridesmaid dresses, this is one task that both you and your spouse-to-be can tackle together - with joy.

That’s right, joy. After all, it’s not everyday that you’ll get to sample free cake.

But before you get to that point, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you begin your search for a wedding cake vendor.

1. Don’t get overwhelmed. Forget for a bit that the cake is a highlight of your wedding. The truth of the matter is that the cake should be something that you and your spouse-to-be will remember fondly so it's important to choose wisely but cake is dessert, after all, so enjoy the process.

For starters, don’t let yourself get carried away with the task at hand. At its simplest, your job is to find a vendor who you feel is the most qualified to provide a tasty, great-looking cake at your wedding. Break the job down into several steps.

2. Get recommendations. First, ask friends, colleagues, relatives and other trusted wedding vendors for recommendations on cake vendors. The job may be easier for those who attend a lot of weddings and have a list in mind of favorite vendors. Otherwise, whittling the list down to a manageable size can easily be done by checking their online portfolio to look at other cakes they’ve done and calling them to figure out whether their prices are in line with your budget.

3. Determine whether they’re the right fit. From the first phone call you make to them, you will begin to get a feel for whether you’ll be able to work with them to discuss your vision of your wedding cake. Friendliness and professionalism go hand-in-hand on this front.

4. Taste test. Set up appointments with your top three choices to taste some of their cake samples and view their portfolio in person. This visit will you a first-hand look at how they run their business and whether this is consistent with the image they portray online and in their advertising. Of course, it goes without saying that you should love eating their cake samples. This meeting is also an opportunity for you to discuss how you want your cake to look and whether the wedding cake vendor can accommodate this.

5. Choose your vendor. Oftentimes, choosing your wedding vendors is really just a matter of doing your homework and then following your instinct on which one best fits your needs. If you've taken all of the above steps, this last part should now be easy.

6. Sign the contract. Make sure the contract spells out the basics, including how many people the cake will serve, when and where the vendor will deliver the cake, etc. Also make sure it includes wording that describes how the vendor will reimburse you if he or she is unable to provide the cake as promised.

Enjoy your cake!

Remember that Ontario Bakery is happy to provide you a quote for a wedding cake and discuss your wedding cake needs. You can check out some of the wedding cakes we've done in the past in our online gallery of wedding cakes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tips to Avoid DIY Wedding Burnout

You May Need to Just Say "No"

DIY weddings are all the rage these days.

Check out Pinterest and type in “DIY wedding.” You’ll get hundreds of images for projects.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by so many ideas and the notion that, with a little elbow grease and ingenuity, you can create a wedding that you and your guests will remember for years to come.  

And why would you not want to spend some time cozying up with DIY projects?  It’s the best way to ensure that your wedding has those handcrafted touches that add personality and custom touches throughout your wedding.

DIY is Budget-Friendly

Twenty years ago, Do It Yourself often meant you were on a budget.  Today going the DIY route is still the best way to ensure that you keep wedding costs in check.

But strangely, it also has become a new way of keeping up with the Joneses. The propagation of social media has meant that brides are easily exposed to wedding images almost everywhere they go.  So many brides are choosing the DIY route that it may be hard for brides to just say no to spending countless hours with crafting supplies in preparation for their wedding.

Or maybe you’re not a reluctant crafter but a bride who realizes midway through the engagement that you put too many projects on your plate. You have so many projects in the works that that you're having difficulty enjoying all the pre-wedding fun because you've turned into bridezilla.

Solutions for the DIY-Stressed Bride

What to do? We’ve got four solutions.

Just say no. Resist the call to go the DIY route. Just ignore all those wedding magazine pages, blogs, Pinterest and other social media that’s oozing with wedding DIY ideas. If you don’t like crafting to begin with, this step may be very easy for you. If you love to craft, then this step will be difficult but try to remember that every hour you are not crafting is time you can be enjoying with your fiance or other friends and family.

Prioritize. OK, so maybe completely ignoring all the social media isn’t working for you. You really do want to include DIY elements throughout your wedding. In this case, you may want to prioritize and choose only those projects that are truly meaningful to you instead of taking on so much that you burn out or feel stressed out because you don’t have enough time to do it all.

For example, wrapping small bottles of bubbles with decorative paper is a nice touch but isn’t likely to be the detail that people will remember about your wedding. Perhaps you want to create a nice guest book for guests to sign and include wedding advice. This is a book that you will likely keep forever and look through occasionally.

Delegate. Your bridesmaids may want to help you out with a couple projects. You could also buy handcrafted design elements from Etsy, which has ample supplies to suit all tastes. Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. You already hire other people such as Ontario Bakery for your wedding cake. DIY elements can be something else that you source out if you really want to include handcrafted elements in your wedding but don't have the time to do it yourself.

Make crafting part of the celebration. Crafting is not something that always needs to be done alone. You may want to reel in your bridesmaids or other wedding guests for  a crafting party.

As with anything else, planning and preparing for your wedding should be a journey that you enjoy and look back upon with joy in years to come. When going the DIY route, we suggest you take on only what truly matters.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Celebrating Everyday Milestones

Job Promotions, Athletic Achievements and Other Accomplishments

At Ontario Bakery, we are often asked to create cakes for weddings and birthdays. You know, the big celebrations.

Less requested are cakes for the less recognized milestones like new jobs, good grades, athletic achievement or other professional accomplishments. But we feel these everyday occasions are just as important and just as much of a reason to celebrate.

Celebrating the Smaller Milestones 

Here are some ways to mark these occasions:

Have a big party! We’re the cake people so, of course, this tops our list but what better way to honor someone’s achievement than by having a party with friends, family and others who helped the honoree. If you’re searching for cake ideas, you may want to look at graduation cakes for some fun suggestions.

Go out to a restaurant with close family and friends to celebrate. This is perhaps the simplest way to celebrate, with the hardest job being to notify people about the gathering. It might also be an opportunity for the honoree to show his gratitude to all those who helped him succeed by buying everyone a drink.

Indulge. By this, we mean that people celebrating an accomplishment should do something special to pamper themselves. Depending on their preferences, they could go to an amusement park, go on a mini-shopping spree, spend a day golfing, or maybe just get a massage.

Shout it out! Share your news with the world. In this day and age, sharing your good news is as easy as taking out your phone and posting your news for the world to hear via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Take advantage of whichever medium is best for the people with whom you want to share your news.

Write it down. You may want to memorialize your success in a journal, scrapbook
or album so you can always go back, whether it’s to re-live your moment of success or to motivate you at a time when you’re not feeling so confident about yourself.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kids’ Birthday Cakes That Are Always in Style

Many Kids Favor the Classics

When it comes to cakes for kids’ birthday parties, we at Ontario Bakery are always looking for the latest trend to incorporate into our cake designs. This means keeping up with the latest kids’ shows, movies and toys that kids might want as part of the design on their birthday cake.

But there are some classics that never go out of style. These are the cakes that kids ask for year after year after year. These are the cakes that you might have asked for when you were a kid.

Here are some all-time favorites that always seem to be making the rounds:

Mickey Mouse

This one shouldn’t be a surprise since we’re just a short drive away from Disneyland. This famous mouse, one of the world’s most popular cartoon characters, continues to be a favorite for kids of all ages. He’s been around for decades so he easily tops the list of all-time favorites.


Owning one of America’s most popular dolls is almost a rite of passage for many young girls, who enjoy playing with the dolls’ countless accessories. Barbie’s parent company claims that three Barbie dolls are sold every second so it’s no wonder that we get frequent requests for cakes featuring this iconic doll. Barbie, which has also been around for several generations, is not without its controversy over unattainable images of perfection but none of it eclipses the doll’s worldwide popularity.

Hello Kitty

We need to issue a cuteness overload alert when it comes to Hello Kitty. There is something about this cute kitty invented by a Japanese company that attracts girls and some adults. Hello Kitty has been in the United States since the mid-1970s in the form of plush animals and highly detailed stationery items. She is featured in a few TV series and is also the main character of two Japanese Sanrio theme parks.

Sesame Street

This is a favorite for the preschool set. This PBS show has been around since 1969, inspiring young kids from several generations to learn their ABCs and other basics to prepare them for school. This is perhaps one of the few unisex themes for kids’ birthday cakes, often featuring Elmo or the Cookie Monster.

Disney Princesses

Of course, princesses like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella are perennial favorites for girls. Contemporary movies like “Little Mermaid” and “The Princess and the Frog”  have added Ariel and Tiana to the mix.

Superman, Batman, Spiderman

All kinds of superheroes always figure prominently in cakes for boys. Topping the list are Superman, Batman and Spiderman. These are sometimes edged out by other comic book heroes such as Ironman.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Essentials to Have on Hand for Easy Entertaining

No Need to Panic With These Ingredients At Hand

Summer conjures up images of easy, breezy fun.

But for many people easy isn’t what comes to mind when they think of summer entertaining. Some may even break out into a cold sweat, imagining a crowd of people on their doorstep just waiting to be entertained - and fed.

We think summer entertaining should be as simple as throwing open your pantry and perhaps making a quick trip to the grocery store. Yes, we think it can be done if you always have a few essentials on hand for spur-of-the-moment entertaining.

Here are the simple basics that will carry you through an impromptu gathering with your friends or family:

Extra plates and other serveware. First of all, you should make sure you have enough glasses, utensils and plates on hand for your guests and the food. You can opt for paper plates or the longer lasting melamine, though you will want to consider how much time you want to expend on cleaning up. Many people have ceramic dishes just for guests, but the best part of summer entertaining is that casual is the name of the game, so most guests won’t mind having a meal on a paper plate in the summer.  

Drinks. On your next shopping trip to the wholesale store, stock up on some of your favorite party drinks and water. You could keep these in your pantry, ready for your next party. Be sure to include a mix of drinks to suit various tastes.

Appetizer-type food. This can be as simple as crackers with ham and cheese, or chips and dip. You can easily amp the food with a few staples on hand, depending on your tastes. For example, French bread toasted with Brie and a honey glaze is simple yet easy to whip up. You can search for super-easy recipes on the Food Network. Just make sure you specify the easy level, if that's what you prefer.

Main meal. If you plan on serving a bigger meal, you will likely need to go to the store unless you have a very well stocked pantry and freezer. Again, you could go super easy with a classic summer meal of hotdogs and hamburgers with a side of potato salad and some fruit. Or you could make it a more sophisticated meal if you choose.

Dessert. Of course, we know where you can go for the best dessert in town. Ontario Bakery can provide you with a range of sweet treats for your guests.

Simple decor. You can go outside and snip some greenery or flowers if you have any. Don’t worry if you don’t have any vases. Any glass vessel will work, like a cleaned out spaghetti sauce jar adorned with a pretty ribbon. You could also get some fresh flowers or a potted plant at your local gorcery store.

Remember, you want your event to be fun, but it’s not much fun for your guests to see you running around stressed out over the details. If you really want to go for super easy, you could always get take out. Your guests won't care whether the food is homemade or not if the meal is delicious. As long as it’s great company and the food is good, your guests are apt to remember the event fondly.