If your family is very large, then you probably have a birthday to celebrate at least once a month. I know we do.
When my children were little and birthday parties were always called for, I decided to take a few cake decorating classes to see if I could create "happy cakes" for them that would not cost too much. What I discovered when I took classes for beginners at the local community center, is that you can stop at just a few classes and be able to create very nice cakes that easily compare with a store bought version, OR you can go on with lessons and learn to achieve wondrous works of art in sugar! Cake decorating can be a great outlet for creative energy.
What started out for me as just wanting to learn a few tricks in order to produce presentable birthday cakes turned into a home business that allowed me to earn a little money while still staying at home with my children while they were very young. Anyone with the desire to learn to decorate cakes will find plenty of qualified teachers and abundant class opportunities in their community.
Mind you, though, you will be tempted to spend a lot of money on supplies and tools because there are so many goodies available in the local craft stores to tempt you. Stick to basics at first until you know what it is you really need.
Once you have learned the basics and have a few of the necessary tools, you can find many cake design ideas on the internet by just typing in a search. There are some very simple cakes that are very pleasing to the eye and will make that special someone very happy. Or you can make up your mind to challenge yourself and find a more complicated design. Maybe you have your own ideas about a special theme cake and your own creativity will guide you as you build and decorate it to completion.
There are specialty magazines available as well that have complete instructions and also useful recipes. These can be saved from month to month to reference later when the need arises.
Another great resource for you if you want to continue to grow is to join a local cake club. Here you will meet decorators that know the ropes and all the tricks and you may be surprised to learn how generous they are with their knowledge. I still have some of my best recipes that I acquired in this manner.
Besides self gratification, this is a hobby that is pleasing to those you make cakes for. It can also become a business if you want to take it that far.
Update On Aug 24, 2010: This cake is not really very fancy, but it was my grandson's senior project and it really took a lot of work to make the figures out of gumpaste. It was so fun to spend that time with him. He wrote his report about the Beatles and their last concert on the rooftop and received high praise from his teacher, and especially from his classmates who got to indulge in his project at the end of class.