What about colors? Or style? I had a girl that I just did a 17th birthday cake for and all she said was, "I like patterns and bright colors." I had to draw some more out of her. Patterns? Do you like polka dots, stripes, diamonds, hearts, flowers, etc? And I got her to name specific colors like turquoise, lime green, orange, hot pink, etc and I just went from there.
Another thought is to make a 'food cake,' if the birthday boy has a particular favorite. I'm including a couple of examples of those, too. The spaghetti cake is fun and super simple to make.
You can make it as simple or as fancy as you want, use fondant or buttercream, etc. You can use any shape of pan, any configuration of "gifts" for tiered cakes. Here are examples from Wilton and an example of a sheet cake.
My second one I figured out how to make the 3D one work...definitely my favorite of the two.
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