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Cupcakes make a fun alternative to large cakes for a kid party. You can avoid the panic of breaking the cake getting it out of the pan to decorate it. For small children, cupcakes are probably a bit easier to eat than messing around with a fork. You can easily put some decorations such as sprinkles or candy on top. They're generally much less messy than dealing with a cake at a kid party.
If you do want a cake and want to bake it yourself, consider making an ice cream cake so you can avoid the sticky mess of dishing up ice cream. If your kids don't like cake, consider buying some small ice cream treats, sandwiches or popsicles or small dishes of ice cream. This limits the amount of work you have to do when all the kids are clamoring for dessert and makes the cleanup much easier.