Yummy creations

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Molly Logan Anderson

Cakes, cookies and pies - oh my! When it comes to birthday celebrations, food of all kinds is taking center stage these days. Serve it up to eager taste buds, or take it to another level and consider getting kids in on the act of making it, too. Whether you're serving up the most amazing cake in town or making the food as entertainment, yummy creations as this year's party theme mean delicious birthday fun for all your guests.

When you're looking for birthday cake to round out your theme this year, check out Roeser's Bakery. As the oldest family-owned bakery in Chicago, Roeser's is a one-stop shop for all your party needs. The care and high quality ingredients that go into each confection from Roeser's remain the same as those used when they first opened in 1911. Providing cakes that exceed your imagination is just one facet of this establishment, whose owner, John Roeser III, has successfully competed in three Food Network cake competitions. Stop by Roeser's Party Palace next door to the Humbolt Park bakery, where you'll find paper products and décor coordinated to today's most popular themes.

Take your birthday party on the road and feed the kids what they really want: cake and ice cream! The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor in Forest Park serves up delectable treats with old fashioned charm every day, but hosts parties as well. When it comes to set up and clean up, they've got it covered, along with running the show. Brown Cow offers various packages, which include variances in party length or organized games, for up to 10 guests. Themes range from building your own sundae, waffle or cupcake, to the exciting "Trough Party", where party goes work together to demolish the ultimate sundae containing one scoop each of 21 flavors, whipped cream, sprinkles and cherries. All parties include party room décor, paper goods and refreshments, hats and a balloon. For the birthday child who selects the trough, they'll leave with a t-shirt announcing, "I tackled the trough!"

Another delicious option when you're looking for your child's cake to be the showpiece of your event is Deefields Bakery in Deerfield, Buffalo Grove and Schaumburg. They're up for the challenge of any theme, including 3D cakes. They also specialize in miniatures, one to two-bite sweets perfect for taste buds big and small. Don't miss their monthly cake pop flavors or their savory bacon donuts, sure to blow you away. Whether your child wants a giant dragon cake, the most beautiful princess cake or a cake of the United States, Deerfields will astonish you with their confectionary creations.

When hosting a party at home, don't feel limited to sweets and such; savory dishes can be just as much fun for kids to make. It's fun to dream up culinary creations that line up with other theme ideas. For a messy theme, work in an artsy craft, followed by slurping long spaghetti noodles and crunching garlic-y bread. Go Hawaiian with assembly of personal fruit salads, wearing Hawaiian garb and making fresh leis for guests to wear.

To keep things spectacularly simple, consider selecting "Do-it-Yourself" as your theme. There's nothing young kids like better than running the show themselves, so choose games, like Simon Says or Wii's Dance Revolution, that allow them to direct their own fun. When it comes to grub, take your DIY to the next level by letting them assemble personal pizzas, concoct the perfect tacos, select their favorite candy mix-ins for chunky shakes or decorate their own jumbo cupcakes. No matter how you weave deliciously creative food prep or eating into your next party, guests are sure to rave about it for years to come.

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