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homemade vs. store-bought vs professionally custom made

Hello again! Rachel here from RV Parties with the latest installment of Parties in a Pinch. Today we’re looking at my favorite thing: SUGAR. Really, no party is complete without it!

When planning a party, every hostess has a limited amount of time and money. Savvy decisions must be made about where to spend them to make the biggest impact. We’re going to look at a few different treats today and compare how much time and money each option takes homemade, store-bought or custom ordered. Prices for all items are estimates for a dozen.


homemade versus bought cupcakes


Option #1: Homemade – $3 to 5

Homemade cupcakes are a great economical option, and if you are handy with a piping bag, you’re in pretty good shape. You should budget at least an hour and a half to bake and frost the cupcakes, plus more time if you are planning on doing any more extensive decorating. I’m terrible at frosting cupcakes and they always sink in the middle when I bake them, so I leave this one to the pros!

Best for: The budget-savvy hostess who is skilled with a piping bag and has extra time to bake.

Option #2: Store-bought – $6 to 8

Many grocery stores sell cupcakes at prices much more reasonable than the cupcake shops that have popped up everywhere. While they’ll probably do a better job frosting than the average person, it may be a struggle finding ones that match the theme. Your best bet may be to find some plain white ones to dress up!

Best for: The less crafty hostess who needs cupcakes quickly and doesn’t mind if they don’t match perfectly.

Option #3: Custom – $36 to 48

Chances are, there’s an adorable cupcakery just a few miles from you. If so, it’s likely you can walk in and find something that fits your color theme quickly. You can also place an order to get something in your exact colors and theme.

Best for: The hostess who needs treats that are perfectly coordinated to the party and doesn’t mind paying for them. 

Any way you get cupcakes, you can always dress them up with cupcake wrappers and toppers. Our Etsy shop sells a wide variety of printable decor and we love to have custom made fondant toppers made to match our theme!


homemade versus bought cake pops


Option #1: Homemade – $4 to 6

Let me tell you the truth — I’m not going to make cake pops for a party unless the theme of the party is “Ugly Baked Goods.” I can’t roll the cake into perfect balls and I certainly can’t get the chocolate to cover evenly. It’s a disaster, every time. But, if you are a skilled roller and dipper — this is the way for you! It’s much cheaper than purchasing them premade.

Best for: The patient, DIY hostess looking to keep costs to a minimum.

Option #2: Store-bought – $20 to 30

It might be hard to find cake pops on hand in a local store (I know Starbucks carries them and my grocery store does) so this may not be the best option. But keep your eyes open when you are around town, you never know when you’ll find some.

Best for: A hostess who doesn’t mind paying a little more in order to save a little time.

Option #3: Custom – $36 to 48

You can custom order cake pops on Etsy or from a local bakery. I’m always blown away by the talent on Etsy — there are some AMAZING ones out there for any theme you can dream up. The sculpted cake pops truly are a work of art and will definitely impress your guests!

Best for: The hostess with a very specific vision for the party who is looking to make a huge impact. 

It’s easy to be creative with cake pops, by tying a ribbon on the stick or adding a flag you can transform them into a custom treat. Displaying them in a creative way can take a basic cake pop and make it look amazing!


homemade versus bought macarons


Option #1: Homemade – varies

Macarons are notoriously a finicky treat. I’ve made a dozen or so batches and while they are all delicious, sometimes they don’t quite look right. This isn’t always the cheapest option unless you have the ingredients and supplies on hand — almond meal can get pricey! Not to mention the equipment needed (piping bags and tips, food processor, thermometer…)

Best for: A meticulous, skilled baker with a stocked kitchen and lots of time to perfect their technique.

Option #2: Store-bought – $15 to 20

Much to my surprise, I can think of at least six places I can get macarons in my small Southeast Texas town. Prices are good here — I can get a nice looking set of macarons for a little over a dollar a piece! You may find colors you need on hand, but it’s never a sure bet. Call local bakeries ahead of time to see what flavors they’ll have in the days leading up to the event so that you can score the colors you need.

Best for: The hostess who wants to have an on-trend dessert table and isn’t committed to a certain color.

Option #3: Custom – $30 – 40

I’m completely amazed by the creative macarons I’ve seen lately! They can be made in lots of shapes as well as topped with sprinkles or piped icing. You’ll pay more to get macarons specific to your theme, but if you go the custom route you’ll definitely end up with macarons that are almost too pretty to eat!

Best for: The hostess looking for the perfectly smooth, round macarons in a specific shade and color — or looking for a unique shape.

Macarons have become a dessert table staple and they are sure to be delicious, no matter which way you go!



After comparing the time and money that goes into making all of these different treats, you really can’t go wrong with your choice as long as you know your limits. Whether you’re limited in baking skill, budget or time, you’ll be able to put together an array of sweets that will be as delicious as they look.

If you go the homemade route, make sure you do a test run to ensure your skills are adequate. And if you go custom, contact your vendor as early as you can! I like to do a mix of all three options when planning the sweets for a party, that way I’m able to stick to a budget and not spend too much time in the kitchen. We always say that the most important rule is that parties should be fun — and a little planning ahead will make sure they stay that way!