How to Save Money on Kids' Party Cakes and Activities

Girls decorating cupcakes
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Do you ever feel like you're spending a lot of money on cakes and activities for your child's parties? It can add up. You can't have a party without a cake and the kids need something to do at the party. Why not find a way to combine the two and save some money? Having the kids create their own cupcakes in place of buying a cake will save you money on a cake and provide a fun and creative activity for the kids.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Bake the cupcakes.
    If you use a cake mix, this won't take much time at all. Use your favorite brand and your child's desired flavor. If you want to bake cupcakes from scratch, just use your favorite recipe. Use cupcake tin liners to make handling the cupcakes easier for the kids and to make cleanup easier for you. You can make the cupcakes a day in advance, but if you do, keep them covered and store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.
  2. Make the icing
    You can use canned icing if you want to, but it might be cheaper to make your own icing. Diana Rattray has an excellent recipe for quick and easy creamy butter frosting if you're looking for a recipe. Otherwise, just use your favorite cake icing. If you need to, you can make the icing the day before, but you may want to leave it a little thicker than it should be for icing cupcakes and then before the party, add milk and beat it until it reaches a consistency that will allow kids to easily ice their cupcakes. Store the icing, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
  1. Put the Decorations in Bowls
    If you have a small number of kids, one bowl for each type of decoration should be enough. Remember, though, the kids will need to be able to reach and use all the decorations. If you have a small table and a lazy susan, you could use that for the decorations. The kids can easily turn it to get the decorations they want.
  1. Set up the Table for Cupcake Decorating
    If the kids are little and you're concerned about the mess on the table, you might want to  use a disposable plastic tablecloth. If not, just place the necessary items on the table within easy reach of the kids:
    • plates for kids to put their cupcakes on
    • cupcakes
    • icing
    • plastic knives for icing the cupcakes
    • bowls of cake decorations
    • any other items for decorating
    • spoons for the decorations
  2. Call the kids to the table and let them decorate!
    When everything is in place, the kids can come to the table and start decorating their very own cupcake. They can then eat their cupcake, but some of them are going to want to take it home to show their parents!


  1. Buy decorations that are appropriate to the kind of party you are planning. For example, if it's a Halloween party, buy black and orange sprinkles, candy corn, pumpkin-shaped candy, candy spiders, and other Halloween themed decorations.
  2. If the kids are older and you want to splurge a little, buy some tubes of gel icing or cans of decorator icing so that the kids can also squirt some designs.

    What You Need:

    • Boxed cake mix or ingredients for your favorite cake
    • Icing for cupcakes, either canned or homemade
    • cupcake tins
    • cupcake liners for the cupcake tins
    • plastic knives
    • plates for the cupcakes
    • cupcake decorations (see tip #1)
    • bowls for the decorations
    • spoons for the decorations
    • disposable plastic tablecloth (optional, see step 4)

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