costco sheet cake decorated

Rachel Schneider / Cheapism

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Are you still spending half of your kid's birthday party budget on the Spiderman cake you had to order a month in advance from a bakery? If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, take it from me: Costco's sheet cakes are not to be slept on. They are cheap, delicious, and gigantic. 

And while you might steer clear of the Costco bakery because they won't decorate the cake to look like Spiderman like that local bakery will, there are ways to transform that glorious Costco cake yourself — and you don't have to be an artistic genius to do so.

I have four kids with stacked birthdays: January, February, and March, a short break in April and May to catch our breath, and then our son's birthday comes in June. It's a lot of party planning clogged up at the beginning of the year, every year. So, I like to find new ways to make the process cheaper and easier — you know, so I don't pull my hair out and mumble, "I am NOT doing this ever again" while blowing up balloons, hanging streamers, cooking five different dishes at once, and putting together the perfect party punch. 

Does Costco still make custom sheet cakes?

One of my favorite ways to take some of the hassles out of birthday parties is ordering a sheet cake from Costco (which you can once again do) and decorating it myself ... sort of. I still ask Costco to write "Happy Birthday [insert one of my many children's name's here]" on the cake and still ask for colored piping. 

Sometimes I'll even get balloons or a Flag on the cake if it goes with the party theme (one year, my son wanted a red, white, and blue/American Flag theme). This year, my June boy wanted a fishing-themed party, so I grabbed a bag of two-toned Swedish Fish (they looked a little more realistic than the plain red ones) and some bigger-sized red-and-white bobbers and got to work. I requested the balloon design and in some of the balloons, I nestled the bobbers in. Then, I went in with the fish and filled in some of the blank spaces. I added some candles, lit them, sang "Happy Birthday," told my son to make a wish, and that was it. 

It was as easy as filling out an order form at Costco, picking the cake up the next day, and spending less than $5 on top of the $25 cake (up from the $19 pre-pandemic price tag) to wind up with an on-theme cake that tasted great and served all of our guests with plenty left over.

(Just be sure to not order any licensed images on the cake or you may be surprised by what the Costco bakery gives you.)

How I Customize Costco's Sheet Cake

  1. Determine the party theme and head to Pinterest or TikTok for cake inspiration
  2. Decide whether you want a white or brown background is best for the design and let that be the compass in deciding whether you want a chocolate or vanilla-flavored cake (the two options that Costco offers)
  3. Head to Costco and order the cake (it's recommended that you order the cake 2-3 days in advance)
  4. Gather supplies that fit with the theme (and were likely inspired by the aforementioned TikTok and Pinterest browsing)
  5. Pick the cake up
  6. Decorate it!

Braver parents than I can also go the blank canvas route and order their sheet cake with no decorations at all, giving them a clean slate to fill to their heart's content. Whether you turn the cake into a race track or you grab a bunch of piping bags and go to town, the choice is yours. 

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