Do-It-Yourself: Creating Amazing, Affordable Cakes (with Cookies of course!)

Everyone loves that  moment at a birthday party when it’s time to sing Happy Birthday.  And while the birthday girl or boy is the center of attention, the #2 spot goes to the cake.  This happens across most events: baptisms, showers, retirements.  Let’s not kid ourselves, if we all could, we’d call our favorites: Hoboken’s Cake Boss or  Charm City Cakes (Ace of Cakes).

But how much is a highly customized cake?  According to the Carlos Bakery website, a consultation and cake tasting is $100.  And according to Charm City, a 3D cake starts at $1,000!

Following are a few creative ideas for an amazing, affordable 3D Cake without spending hundreds of dollars.  You can make or buy as much of this as you want.  Time is money – so the more you do, the more you’ll save!

Once you have decided on a theme for your party, you will need:

  1. Cake
  2. Toothpicks
  3. Letter Shaped and/or Number Shaped Letter Candles (on a stick)
  4. Cookie Cutters to match your theme
  5. Sugar Cookie Recipe
  6. Royal Icing Recipe, Royal Icing Kit
  7. Construction Paper (Optional)
  8. Skewer Bamboo Sticks (Optional)

We will be using Sweet Dani B Cake Topper or Custom Decorated Cookies of course, but you can make or buy your own.  Local bakeries, even the supermarkets, sell very pretty cookies in different themes.

(1) Simple Backdrop – the Cake

First, start with a plain cake.  If you order from a local bakery, make sure you tell them you do NOT want any flowers OR writing on it.  Pipe dots (as shown above) are okay if you don’t know how to do it yourself.  The first time one of my clients did this they asked her three times if she was sure!

Below you will see cake pricing for supermarkets in the Hoboken/New York City area for a sheet cake that serves about 25 people.  This is for a whipped cream topping cake and a single fruit filling.  Delicious and simple.

At Home: About $12 for ingredients, depending on complexity

Shop Rite (Hoboken): $36

Whole Foods (NYC): $75

D’Agostino (NYC): $16 per quarter sheet cake (serves 12 – 16 people)

(2) Cake Topper Cookies

Use the cookies you baked to decorate your cake.  If you want a 3D effect, bake Cake Topper Cookies which use toothpicks to help them stand.

Sweet Dani B Cake Topper Cookies(3)  Additional Cake Decorating Effects

Layer your 3D masterpiece with a message board made from construction paper and bamboo skewer sticks.  Cut them to match the height that you want.  For this birthday cake, we made palm trees to match the jungle theme that my client used throughout the year for her son’s parties.  We even hung a cookie monkey from the tree!

Sweet Dani B Cake Decorating and Party Styling Ideas

Jungle Theme Cake

For this baptismal cake, we made a simple “God Bless” banner sign.  You can print the message on your home computer directly onto the paper to give it a more finished effect, or handwrite it for a personal touch.

Sweet Dani B Cake Topper Cookies and Party Styling Ideas

Baptism Cake Decorating Ideas

(4) Personalized Birthday Candles

The finishing touch!  Use personalized letter or number birthday candles (see Jungle Cake image).  You can cut the sticks so that the letters float right on top of the cake, or create a staircase effect by cutting the sticks different sizes.  If you want to get super creative and make your own personalized birthday candles, Martha Stewart has a how-to online.

Customized Birthday Candles

About Cost

As we mentioned earlier, a custom cake from a high-end bake shop could start at $500.  Depending on the base price of the cake and where you buy the cookies, one of the cakes that we have shown you here could cost as little as $50.

One of the most frustrating misconceptions about Sweet Dani B products is that we are too expensive.  But consider this:

Jungle Theme Cake:

Cake cost:  $30 (Shop Rite, Hoboken)

Animal Cookie cost: $7 each x  3 = $21

Heart Cookie Package: $35

DIY Palm Tree (mom did it): $3 supplies

Total cake cost:  $89!

So for less $100, we got an amazing centerpiece (we set this at the main table, and had people place the gifts around it).  I think this Jungle Theme 3D Cake got almost as much attention as the birthday boy did when he was blowing out his candles!

Contact us if you need help with party or event styling.  It’s one of our favorite things to do when we aren’t designing cookies!  A special thanks to Urban Girl Squad for inviting us to speak as a New York expert event stylist at their most recent Mommy Event!