My daughter has adored Elmo since she was about 4 months old so I knew that would be the 'theme' for her 1st birthday. Being a busy working mom, I had originally planned to buy a cake until my sister-in-law pointed out that baking was half the fun. So I started planning the Elmo cake in July for her August 31st birthday celebration.
I found this site and thanks to ALL of the awesome tips, I was able to make what I thought was a pretty decent cake for someone who hasn't decorated a cake beyond writing "Happy Birthday."
I used 4 boxed yellow cake mixes for the cake in my Wilton half sheet pan (hindsight, I would have used only 3). Then frosted with classic white frosting. I had traced my Elmo onto a wax paper stencil and then traced that figure in the icing with a toothpick. I filled in the drawing with black decorator gel. I decorated the cake as portrait rather than landscape so my daughter wouldn't be able to destroy Elmo and get the red and black all over. With the greeting on top in pink icing, we could get good pictures and less mess.
I got the writing out of the way before I filled in my Elmo at the bottom of the cake. Like so many others on this site, I used the star tip to make him "fuzzy;" however, I chose not to make my own frosting because it takes time, is messy and difficult to get the deep red color. Betty Crocker's "Easy Squeeze" Red icing was the BEST - making the fur was so smooth and quick with that. I remembered another subscriber saying she frosted a chocolate Easter egg for the nose but in August, you can't find them around. About a month after reading that, my aunt had a bunch of old plastic eggs for my daughter and her cousins to play with. There I found the perfect orange egg! I don't know how I would have created one so this really set the cake.
I thank all of the subscribers for their awesome pointers and tips. The cake was a real hit at our party and with Charlotte.