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Birthday Cake for Jesus


Christmas Cake (1) 500 wm

I am bad at baking. This is an established fact. How do you establish such a fact, you ask? You become a bonafide “Pinterest fail.” For proof, you can go here to see how I managed to ruin a fairly simple brownie recipe and turn it into a horrific Peep battlefield. So I want to give you an idea of something significant you could do this Christmas to help your kids understand why we celebrate this day, but I also want to not ruin it. So I have delegated.

If you knew Katrina, you would totally delegate all baking duties to her, too. You probably already know Katrina even if you don’t know you know her. She wrote a cookbook. She has had recipes featured. . . well, everywhere. She is going to be sharing a holiday recipe on the Today Show. Pretty much, if you’re clicking through some internet list of “best food bloggers” or “most awesome Super Bowl desserts” or “cookies that will make you rethink your life”, Katrina’s stuff is there. I knew Katrina before Katrina was cool. . . except she was cool then too because she was an RA in my dorm— super cool if you’re the rule following, responsibility loving type, which I am. So since I have a rockstar baker as my actual friend in my actual life, I asked if she would actually bake (and photograph) something for me that I could share with you.

I make this recipe every year. . . and by “recipe” I mean, I open boxes of cake mix and a can of frosting. This is easy enough for ANYONE, or else I wouldn’t do it. You can make this and make it work for your family without too much effort during an already stressed season. I’m going to go out on a limb and say if you are too busy to make Jesus a birthday cake for his birthday, you are TOO BUSY. If I can do it and I have six kids and one of them has a birthday on December 24th (which requires an entirely separate cake because apparently people with December birthdays are scarred if their birthday parties get combined with Christmas), you can do this.

Christmas Cake (5) wm 500

But WHY would you do this? Here’s the thing— Christmas is complicated. Kids don’t naturally just get it the way we want them too. Target and Walmart and Toys-R-Us have conspired to teach them that this holiday is about making a list of what they want and being nice (never naughty) and there’s reindeer for some reason and there are a thousand obligations that make their controlling mom slightly crazy (just me? okay then). So we have to do a little work to get through all that to the heart of things. What is Christmas? It’s a birthday party. Birthday parties have presents (check), a ritual song or two (check), and obviously they have cake. *If you have theologians in the family that get persnickety about the fact that this isn’t his actual birth day (not that there are any in my family. . . ), that’s fine. We say, “This is when we CELEBRATE his birthday, even though we don’t know exactly when he was born.” Done and done.

This cake is also a helpful object lesson. So here’s the rundown-

What you need:

– 1 white cake mix

-1 devil’s food cake mix (you can use any kind of chocolate, but we like to go literal)

-white frosting (a can or make your own)

-red and green food coloring


-a small nativity (optional)

What you do:

-Divide the white cake batter in half. Color one half red, one half green

-Bake the cakes according to the package directions (you’ll have an extra devil’s food layer you can freeze or eat or whatever)

-Put the devil’s food layer on the bottom, frost, then the red layer, frost, then the green layer

-Cover in white frosting

-Put a candle in the top and the nativity set

-Have enough candles for everybody

Christmas Cake (7) wm 500

What you say:

“This is our birthday cake for Jesus. The bottom layer is devil’s food to remind us of the sin we have in our hearts. The middle layer is red to remind us of the blood Jesus shed for us. The green reminds us of how we grow (just like green plants grow) when we know Jesus and his forgiveness. The cake is frosted white to remind us of how our hearts have been made whiter than snow. This candle is to represent the Holy Spirit. The fire of the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and we can let our light shine so other people see how God is working in us.” (Light the candle on the top of the cake, then light everybody’s individual candle from that one candle. Sing “Happy Birthday to You” to Jesus.) *Now, I am a little quirky about the chocolate vs. devil’s food layer. Chocolate is a word I use to describe my beautiful brown kids on occasion and I don’t like to equate it with sin or equate brown with sin in any way. Devil’s food works great for us because of the name. You do what works for your family.*

Now every year my husband cringes a little at the part where we blow out the Holy Spirit after we sing “Happy Birthday”, but other than that, we really love how this reinforces not only that this is a birthday party (where we give gifts just like the wise men gave gifts) but also becomes one more chance to give our kids the Gospel message at a time where their hearts are open to wonder and beauty and excitement in a special way.

If you decide to try this cake this year, let me know! I’d love to see your pictures. Here’s mine from last year, just so Katrina’s awesome shots don’t intimidating you out of trying it. Merry Christmas!



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  1. LOVE this. Explaining Christmas to our kids as Jesus’ birthday really does help focus them on the meaning of Christmas. Love the descriptions of the layers and frosting — wonderful! Great job Katrina!

  2. Beautiful—both the cakes and the ideas!

  3. We did this tonight! Only I made cupcakes since we’re leaving tomorrow and would never be able to finish a whole cake at 8:45pm (though it probably wouldn’t stop me from trying too). Thanks for another great post!

  4. Great idea! Do you know of any toy nativity sets that feature people of color (more than just a wiseman)? Thanks for all of your lovely writing!

  5. We have been celebrating Christmas with a birthday cake for a very long time. It is the perfect way to explain to children the real reason for the season. To be honest I usually made a plain cake or used a store bought one. I like your idea with the layers so much better. Merry Christmas.

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  7. I use to something like tbis with my son at Christmas! Wow. We use to do a potluck on New years eve ( We have what are called watch meeting services in the black community to bring in the new year) I did tbe same, but I made Kwanza cake. Which was red black and green. White chocolate, fude chocolate and I use to use a pound cake dyed red , but would use red velvet now. For frosting I made a simple frosting of orange juice confectioners suger and-God it has been a while! I forgot what else is in this very easy frosting. Anyway, I took gel decorating frosting and painted or tried to paint my cake to look like a kente cloth. But just the top. I actually got complimented on it. Each year. The one year I didn’t, I got pouts. So I guess folks liked it.

  8. Consider “changing the light” instead of “blowing out the candles” when the flame changes to smoke the light that was in only one time and one place can spread out into the whole room… Everywhere, for always. It’s a simple word game but my children love the concept and it symbolically works really well 🙂

  9. The red is for his blood he shed the white I think is the purity then bake little gifts inside when it cut explain that thats what happen when he was born gifts where given and life for us

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