Birthday cake on the cheap


This is a cake I made for my grandson for his first birthday. Now, don’t look too close, because it’s far from perfect😉. He just turned one. I can’t believe how time has flown. I used Dollar store candy, after Christmas clearance Disney ornaments, homemade frosting, and stickers to decorate. I put the ornament hangers back on to hang them on the tree for Christmas this year……re-purpose, right?

Have you noticed the trend of  expensive, extravagant birthday, baby shower, etc. cakes? It used to be these fancy cakes were only for weddings. What was simple, delicious, homemade birthday cake is now fancy edible art. I think fancy cakes are super fun and make great pictures. However, the price is hard to justify for something that will be..pardon me….turned into poo later😃.

I like to make cakes for friends and family, when I can, for birthdays. I think birthdays are important and something prepared at home is thoughtful..


Birthday cakes can be as simple or as extravagant as you want. I have never had any classes on cake decorating, but I do make my kids and my grandson character cakes on the cheap. I have been mostly successful. I have never spent over $15 making a cake. I spend time thinking about the design then usually end up with something similar, except for tweaks  to camouflage mistakes😉.

Below is a picture of the Hatchimal cake I made for my middle daughter. I’m not sure I pulled off it looking exactly like a Hatchimal, but it’s pretty cute. My family doesn’t mind imperfections and enjoy whatever I can come up with.

IMG_4356I am not saying everyone should try to make a super intricate, character cake.  I think making a nice homemade cake is certainly doable for most people.

Consider these frugal cake ideas for your next birthday event:


1. Hello?…Cupcakes….these don’t even require a fork or plate! These are a great minimal waste, no-fuss option and are probably the most inexpensive to make. To be honest, most people don’t care about a fancy cake. They take a few pictures, Ooh and Ahh for a second, and this moment in time will have passed. Kids and adults alike, love these tiny little pieces of heaven in the paper cup. Cakes aren’t necessary, unless you are like me, and enjoy making them.


2. Make a simple sheet cake with white frosting and add candy embellishments from the Dollar store for decorations. What would be more fun than a cake full of multicolored candy pieces(easy to chew!!)or completely covered in suckers for each guest!?

pexels-photo-557662.jpegfruit-fruits-heart-blueberries-442408.jpeg3. One easy way to personalize a cake that actually looks like it was professionally done is to use a stencil. Make a stencil of the birthday recipient’s name, a number, or a simple design… then lay gently over the frosting,  fill the open spaces with sprinkles or colored sugar.


4. Another idea that I think is neat is to skip the cake and do something different. Make your own rules! Make a cake shaped tower of donuts, rice crispy treats, or homemade brownies. Or maybe you don’t even like about making a tower of some other food you enjoy and placing a candle on top? Maybe a cake-shaped arrangement of cheese cubes or some type of fruit cut into stackable pieces. How about a stack of pancakes or even a pie, instead? Now some of these things can certainly add up in price depending on the food and quantity you use, so choose wisely.

5.  If you are not a baker and its just not happening, you can always purchase a store bought cake or cupcakes then dress up with some of these same ideas for far less than a fancy bakery cake. Remember to check the bakery clearance section😉.


6. If you really want that fancy bakery cake, and you have a type of special skill or service, you could offer to barter with the bakery in exchange for, or get a reduced price. It never hurts to ask! At our business, we have done work for an endodontist in exchange for my root canal, so I am proof this can be done….. Ouch!….We have also bartered our services in exchange for window washing. Bartering goods or services is a great way to cut costs. It’s also somewhat of a dying art so let’s bring it back! Just striking up a conversation with someone can make good things happen….☺️Be brave!


There are so many ways to save on birthday cake, and birthdays in general. My plan starts with deciding how much I want to spend, brainstorming the best ways to stay within budget, and then make a detailed list. I plan to share more fun, frugal, party and entertainment ideas in the future so please check back in ☺️.

6 thoughts on “Birthday cake on the cheap

  1. Your cakes are beautiful! I have other talents than cake decorating, so most of my cakes are simple iced cakes with a very simple decoration. Still, I agree with you, and if I can come up with a cake good enough for an occasion, anyone can. Yours are much more intricate than anything I’ve ever made, and I like them a lot.


  2. Thank you so much! One thing I failed to mention, no matter what a cake looks like, it always tastes better when it’s homemade. I think people generally appreciate the love and time put in to making a homemade cake of any skill level. I have always made my kids cakes, and my oldest daughter is 21, so I have had many birthdays to practice. None have been perfect and I didn’t post any pictures of the especially bad looking ones😂. Thanks for checking in!


  3. Your cakes look awesome! I do enjoy baking cakes, although mine are quite simple in comparison. Thanks for the good ideas.


    1. Your welcome. ..I know your family enjoys your cakes! Simple is simply delicious! I make simple ones also. The chocolate one pictured is a boxed chocolate cake mix with homemade chocolate frosting😉. Thanks for taking a look!


  4. I love your cakes. Homemade also tastes so much better. I always make cake, pie, cheesecake or brownies for birthdays around here. We have a birthday morning tradition with pancakes, whipped cream and a candle.


    1. Thank you for taking time to comment! I love your tradition. Lots of people don’t even like cake, hard to believe…I know…so they do a special meal or something else. I’m thinking I would love a cheesecake for my own birthday, yum.


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