There’s certainly nothing wrong with picking up a cake at the bakery or grocery store. The year after Mom died, I just couldn’t bring myself to bake birthday cakes because I’d made one for her just a few days earlier. The kids all got grocery store cakes that year, and it was OK! Whether you want to save a bit of money, or you just like the taste of home-baked cakes better, you don’t have to be a professional baker to turn out something cute!

I actually do enjoy cake decorating. I’ve never done anything with fondant or sculpted flowers, but I do love my shaped cake pans, decorating tips, and icing bags! Even so, I don’t always have the time or energy to make an extra-special cake. What’s my fast and cute solution then? Cupcakes!


Kids love cupcakes. They also take less baking time and significantly less decorating time than a full-blown cake. Just three easy steps and you’re done!

  1. Bake the cupcakes.

    Grab your favorite recipe or boxed cake mix. Bake them up using paper or foil cupcake liners. Not only do the liners make clean-up that much easier, they also add to the cuteness factor.

  2. Everyone’s favorite part… frosting!

    A couple of cans of icing will work fine. If you’ve never tried making your own frosting, I highly recommend you give it a try! (Here’s a great recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.) Also, consider buying the extra-large decorating tips for cupcakes. I found a set of three at Walmart for just a few dollars. It’s so much faster than icing them with a knife! Not to mention how awesome cupcakes look with big swirls of icing on them. It does tend to use up more frosting, so you may need a double batch to cover 24 cupcakes.IMG_1520[1]

  3. Top it all off.

    There are a couple of quick and easy decorating options. You can just grab some sprinkles, colored sugar, or candy and go with that. Or, you can use some cupcake picks that go with the party theme. I usually print off my own cupcake toppers, rather than buying them. Just do a search for free printable cupcake toppers and you’ll find plenty of options. I got mine at HaleGrafx. A number of sites suggest using a 2 ½ inch round paper punch to punch out the toppers. I thought $15 was a bit much to shell out for a paper punch, so my solution was to trace around a half-used roll of electrical tape and cut them out with scissors. Then just use a little tape to attach a toothpick to the back of the paper. I had my minions children help me with this part. IMG_1476[1] IMG_1521[1]Grab a number candle for the birthday child’s cupcake and you’re done!

Fun parties don’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Simple doesn’t have to mean not cute either! Figure out how much you want to do, and then let the rest go. Focus on spending some time having fun with the kids, and you’ll all have a wonderful day.


What are your best cake or cupcake tips and tricks?