Whatever the occasion, cake brings people together. It’s a centerpiece at graduations and birthday parties. It’s a symbol of partnership during wedding receptions. And it’s the anticipated end to any special event. With cake as such an important part to any event, you might find yourself wondering, “Should I do a homemade or catered cake?”
Sophie B., a Senior Account Manager at Eventective, has been faced with that question many times. Sophie is a mom of two, and has made her share of cakes—although cupcakes are her specialty!—and purchased her share of them, too:
“As a mom, you feel like you should make a homemade cake because it’s the ‘right thing to do’ but it’s always easier to buy a cake.”
There’s no wrong answer to the homemade or catered cake dilemma—but we’re going to help you choose the best option for you.
Homemade cakes are a really nice gesture. But before committing to one, consider what other contributions you’re making. Is a cake the only task on your list? If so, you’ll really be able to focus on the project. On the other hand, if a cake is only one of thirty things you’re doing, someone else might be able to take the reins.
PRO: Personal Touch
No matter how it comes out, a homemade cake always adds a personal touch. This is especially nice for special celebrations, like birthday parties, where you know the guest of honor. Taking the extra time to make the dessert–and customize it for the event—shows how much you care. The cake and cupcakes that Sophie made (pictured below) definitely brought a personal touch that no catered cake could!
PRO: Control Over Ingredients
With food allergies, picky eaters, and lifestyle choices, one size doesn’t fit all for dessert. Making your own cake allows you to control all the variables—so you know exactly what’s in your cake. Sophie enjoys this freedom when she bakes the tasty treats:
“The nice thing about making them myself is that I can make some dairy-free for me. But you have to set aside several hours to do that.”
CON: Takes Extra Time
One of the biggest differences between a homemade or catered cake is the time investment. Making a cake by hand takes a long time—both in the preparing, and the baking. You’ll likely need to get an early start on the day of, or set aside time the day before, to bake the cake.
CON: Makes a Mess
Strongly consider a catered cake if you’re hosting the event at your house. Not only does it take a long time to bake a cake—it makes a big mess, too. Unless you have the time and help to clean the house up before guests arrive, ordering a cake might be your best option.
For some, choosing between a homemade or catered cake is easy. If you don’t enjoy baking—or simply don’t have the time—a catered cake is your best friend. Plus, you can be confident that the cake will look polished; you won’t need to practice piping or frosting on your own. Any local Maine readers might be familiar with one of Sophie’s favorite shops:
“Pineland Farms makes beautiful, and delicious cakes! They made a Pikachu cake for my son’s 8th birthday that was a huge hit!”
PRO: Flavor Variety
When you let the professionals handle the cake-making, you get more options. They not only have a wider selection of ingredients to use, they’ve also made the desserts before. You have more flavors to choose from—even some you wouldn’t be able to make on your own.
PRO: Shorter To-Do List
If you’re not making the cake, that’s one less thing to worry about. This is especially helpful if you’re heavily involved in the event—you can even have someone else pick it up to save extra time.
The longer the guest list, the more cake you’ll need. A typical cake you’d find in a grocery store might not cost that much. But if you’re having a large event like a graduation party, you’ll need a much larger cake—making the cost larger, too.
CON: Planning Ahead
If you’re ordering a cake from a local bakery, they’ll require advance notice. Each business will ask for a different amount of time—so call around before you decide on one place. They will also ask head count, so they know how big to make the cake, which can be tricky if you haven’t received all your RSVPs yet.
Choosing between a homemade or catered cake isn’t an easy decision! There are a lot of elements to consider. When Sophie started making homemade goodies, she ended up enjoying it:
“Now we do Easter cupcakes, and my husband likes cupcakes for his birthday. So it’s sort of a family thing now; I bring cupcakes for any family event.”
You might already know you’d enjoy baking—which makes the decision of homemade or catered cake that much easier! For those of you feeling bold enough to make your own cake, Sophie offers great advice for inspiration:
“Pinterest is super helpful for ideas!”
Which do you think is the better option: homemade or catered cake?