While many families have their own traditions for celebrating birthdays, nearly everyone cuts a cake in honor of the occasion. It’s customary to have the birthday boy, girl, man or woman blow out the candles after everyone sings. As a result, the birthday cake is one of the most important parts of any party. This guide will provide some tips on how to choose a birthday cake.
Just follow these simple steps:
1. Get the Guest List Together
The very first thing that you need to do before you start shopping for a birthday cake is to figure out how many people will be eating the cake. You need to have a rough estimate of the maximum number of people that will be present to ensure that you buy a cake that is the right size.
Here are some general guidelines for thinking about cake size:
- For 8 to 12 guests, try a round cake or an eighth sheet cake.
- For 13 to 24 guests, try a quarter sheet cake.
- For 25 to 50 guests, try a half sheet cake or a two-tier cake.
- For more than 50 guests, try a full sheet cake or a three-tier cake.
The sizing information above is based on averages sizes of cakes offered at most bakeries. You should always go by the sizing recommendations of the bakery where you’re purchasing your cake to ensure that you have enough for everyone.
Consider what your cake is made of as well when you think up portions. Heavy chocolate cakes are more filling, and thus portions will likely be smaller. On the other hand, lighter cakes, with butterscotch frosting, or fruit, might not be as filling.
If you are considering a cupcake cake, you can start your estimations on one cupcake per person. This, of course, depends on the size of the cupcakes. If they are very small, you may also want to order a few separate cupcakes, or a second cupcake cake.
2. Establish a Budget
We’d all love to be able to treat the birthday boy or girl to something extravagant, but most of us need to stick to a certain budget when we shop. Decide upfront how much you’re willing to and can spend on a cake for the birthday party.
A reasonable budget will depend on where you live and what cake size you’re looking to purchase.
We recommend you focus more on the ingredients of the cake, rather than the decorations. Decorating a cake is usually the most expensive part of ordering a birthday cake. However, think about the fact that you’ll only be looking at the cake for a few minutes. Once it’s carved up, all that matters is the taste. And a good looking birthday cake with no flavor will impress your guests less than a simple cake that tastes delicious!
3. Consider the Person
Before you go any further with picking the perfect birthday cake, you should take the time to think about the guest of honor. After all, it’s their special day, and you want the cake to be just what they want. Answer the following questions:
- What’s the person’s gender?
- How old are they turning?
- Do they tend to like fancy things or simpler things?
- Do they have a special interest or hobby?
- Are they huge fans of a certain television show, movie or video game?
- What are their favorite colors?
- Do they have any allergies or dietary restrictions?
- Do they like cake or would they prefer something like ice cream cake, a cupcake cake or a cookie cake?
4. Think About the Party
After you have thought a bit about the person, it’s time to consider the party itself. Answer the following questions:
- Is there a theme for the party? If so, what is it?
- Is there a color scheme for the party?
- How important is it to you that the cake matches the decor of the room and the decorations for the party?
- Is the party casual or dressy?
- Is the party outdoors or indoors?
- Will you be able to refrigerate the cake until close to when you serve it if needed?
5. Decide What Type of Bakery to Choose
Now that you’ve answered some questions about the birthday guest of honor and the party, you can decide what category of bakery to start searching for cakes in from the following:
– Discount Bakeries. Walmart birthday cakes, Sam’s Club birthday cakes, and Costco birthday cakes are all considered discounted cakes because they are generally less expensive than the ones offered at other bakeries.
– Independent Bakeries. These small businesses offer gourmet cakes that are usually the most expensive but also the most customizable options. Examples of independent bakeries include Couture Cakes and Charm City Cakes.
– Grocery Store Bakeries. Grocery store bakeries fall in between discount and independent bakeries in terms of price. Examples include Publix birthday cakes, Kroger birthday cakes, Safeway birthday cakes and Target birthday cakes.
6. Compare Birthday Cake Designs
After you have decided which category to focus on, do a little research to find out which bakeries in your area fall into it. Then, go online or stop by the stores to see some examples of their birthday cake designs. Find one that appeals to you, fits your budget and matches the birthday guest of honor and the party.
7. Pick a Flavor
Now comes the tasty part in picking a birthday cake. Decide which flavor of cake is right for your dessert. One way to do this is to ask the birthday person what kind of cake they want. You may also want to decide yourself to make it a surprise or keep things simple.
Marble and half chocolate half vanilla cakes tend to be the most popular because they provide a little bit of the most beloved flavors of cake together.
8. Choose the Icing
Next, you can choose your icing. Most people go with buttercream because it has a delicious flavor, is inexpensive and is widely available. If you can’t refrigerate the cake and you’ll be outdoors, you may be better off with a bakery that offers fondant, which won’t melt.
Depending on the cake that you’re buying, you may also need to pick a filling.
9. Write a Greeting
Last but not least, choose the greeting for the cake if necessary. “Happy Birthday NAME” is the most popular option, but you can get creative and come up with something different or new. Just make sure to keep the greeting around 30 characters. Most cakes can’t fit more letters than that.
If you follow this simple process, you’ll be able to pick the perfect birthday cakes for people of all ages. To learn more about some of the bakeries in your area that offer birthday cakes, check out our articles about cake prices and delivery.
After you buy your next birthday cake, please stop back and tell us about what you picked and why. Telling your story in the Comments section can help make it easier for other people to find the right cakes for their own birthday celebrations.