When my girls were little, I usually let them pick out a cake at the bakery, and I would buy that for their big parties (not really that big). As they got older, they wanted a birthday cookie, and I usually got that at some local store bakery.
Now, we might or might not have a birthday cake. Sometimes, I just pick up cupcakes from the store for just us.
My dgds usually ask for something specific. Younger dgd wants cheesecake for her birthday cake.
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