1. Swallow hard and buy a Barbie, even if your feminist mores make you morally opposed to Barbies. A Barbie of any ethnicity will do—I have used every single kind.
2. Strip her naked, raise her arms above her head as if in abject surrender, hold her upside down so her hair flops above her head and wrap her head and hair in plastic wrap, making sure her hair is completely covered. You can put her hair in a top-of-the-head ponytail if you like. She will look like the fantasy object of masochists and all the grown men walking through your kitchen will make comments to that effect, to which your toddler daughters will ask many questions.
3. Do not answer the questions.
4. Buy or find an 8 cup Pyrex bowl, the kind that’s round and looks like a hoop skirt if you turn it upside down.
5. Buy a cake mix, any cake mix you like, follow it’s directions, pour it in the Pyrex bowl and bake it until a long skewer poked in the middle comes out clean generally between 1.5- 2 hours. (Use a cake mix because after baking for 2 hours, any homemade cake recipe is hopelessly ruined so you might as well just go for ease)
6. After the cake is cooled, turn upside down on a platter and spear Barbie’s legs through the top so that she’s now standing in the middle of the cake. You will see that the cake only comes up to the top of her thighs.
7. If this distresses you, you could also bake a whole other sheet cake, cut it to the circumference of the bowl and give her skirt a little more height. Or you can just fill in a lot of frosting around her thighs and butt—a visual metaphor for the saying, “I might as well paste this donut straight to my thighs.”
9. Either make or buy frosting (I used a buttercream recipe I found). Make different pots of differently colored frosting.
10. Frost Barbie’s skirt with one color, adding large lumps around her butt and hips so it looks like a skirt
11. Pipe little stars all over her breasts and waist and back to create a bodice. You will once again get all sorts of comments from the older male contingent about licking, frosting and breasts. Do what you will with those comments.
12. Pipe decorations and designs over the hoop skirt
13. Let Barbie dry for awhile
14. Carefully lower her arms so she doesn’t knock off her top
15. Unwrap her head and hair. Hopefully you let her dry long enough that her hair doesn’t stick to her clothing
16. Put candles wherever you think are appropriate, light them,
Present the cake to your little princess while everyone sings “Happy Birthday” and bask in the glory of what you’ll lower yourself to do in this adventure called parenting.