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How to Make Packaging Cupcakes Individually a Learning Experience

cupcakes header packaging individually

How to Make Packaging Cupcakes Individually a Learning Experience

I’ve got a story about individually packaging of cupcakes for you today! And who doesn’t like looking at cupcakes? So let’s have some fun!

How did it happen that I needed to package a bunch of cupcakes individually?

Well, it comes down to a bake sale. Cupcakes that my kid needed. Today.

And I can’t just go and make the cupcakes without the kiddos helping! So it becomes a learning experience.

And I ask you – does that ever happen to you? When your plan for the day gets thrown out the window? When it happens to me, I like to seek out learning opportunities in unusual places.

How to turn chaos into learning opportunities

How many times does something come up that interrupts your homeschooling day – like your kids saying they need to bring a dozen cupcakes to their soccer team bake sale tomorrow – and so your day gets thrown into chaos!

Turn your chaos into learning.

Case Study: Cupcakes

In our case, we needed beautifully packaged individual cupcakes and brownies for the “Wheel of Sweets” (where you spin the wheel to win a treat). And frankly, we were encouraged to sacrifice the quality of the “food” in favor of the flashiness of the decoration! This really goes against my inclinations – I’m more of the “Bring the Healthy Cupcake” type of baker, than the “Buy a cheap-o cake mix junk food” baker, but in this case, my healthy cupcake would be disrespected. And I couldn’t do that to a cupcake.

So I bought the cheap-o box cupcake mix with the purple frosting and artificially flavored sprinkles including the cupcake papers for 89 cents. (Ok, I may be exaggerating on the 89 cents part. But these were full on Blue-dye #12, you-shouldn’t-eat-this-if-you-want-to-avoid-ill-health, kind of treats.)

Kids, don’t try this at home.

So, we will learn:

  • How to frost cupcakes with decorative tips
  • How to decorate with common junky candy or sprinkly things
  • How to package the cupcake individually in a beautiful, attractive way
  • And most importantly, what battles to choose

We already knew how to bake cupcakes albeit with healthy ingredients. And we could make and dye frosting, though we usually use homemade food coloring from natural dehydrated ingredients rather than normal food coloring.

What we actually learned:

  • If you use a lot of frosting, cupcakes look more desirable to the sugar-seeking addict.
  • Extra ribbon and bright colors are especially attractive.
  • Assembly-line techniques are valuable for cranking out the cupcakes which in turn keeps the workers focused on not eating the product.
  • The whole activity is enjoyable, especially in group settings.
  • You need to make extra for your little assembly line workers or they complain of inhumane working conditions. Or, as in this case, have a little special healthy treat they can put some leftover homemade almond-butter frosting on.
  • Cake mixes are not the cake mixes that your grandfather used.
  • If you are actually doing this activity with a group of moms and children that care about health, there are plenty of alternatives to the cake-mix box of SAD.

Packaging methods

While there are several methods of individually packaging cupcakes, we wanted to showcase the cupcake, so we needed to use the “clear cup method:” The frosted cupcake is placed in a clear plastic tumbler, and the whole cup is placed into a clear food bag tied off with a ribbon. You end up with a pretty product everyone wants when they win “Cupcake!” on the Wheel of Sweets.

We actually used mostly clear treat bags. And they were snazzy and colorful mostly-clear bags to enhance the desirability.

How we did it

  • Bake the cupcakes.
  • Make the frosting.
  • Gather all the decorations and the packaging materials, and the frosting tips and bowls of frosting in different colors.

Gathering materials

  • Frost the cupcakes using decorative tips. TIP on the tips: Watch a video on how to use these if you’ve never used frosting tips before. We found that starting in the middle and circling was a good method, but it depends on the tip you use.
How to Pipe Buttercream Frosting onto a Cupcake by Wilton
  • Gently place the cupcake in the clear plastic tumbler. TIP: Try not to tip the cupcake or it will mush the frosting against the cup’s side, thus rendering your beautiful packaging look stupid and messy.

Frosting: Messy and Fun

  • Gently place the cupcake/tumbler into the clear plastic food bag. AGAIN: Don’t tip the cupcake.

Final Touches

  • Tie off the bag with a ribbon and make curliques. Or use the little wire twist-tie that comes with the bag if you are pressed for time.
How to Curl Ribbon with Scissors


Final words on Cake mixes

Cake mixes are cheating you nowadays. They used to be bigger. And they were not full of as junky ingredients.

Here are the facts:

  • Cake mixes used to be 18+oz in a box. Good for 2 (two)!!! 9”round cakes. Or one two-layer cake. Or 24 cupcakes!!!
  • People now are healthier so we don’t make two-layer cakes because clearly, that’s too much cake to eat. So Cake mixes only make 1 (one) 8” round cake or 12 cupcakes.
    • And don’t ask me to explain the math because it doesn’t add up. But cake mixes come in 12-15 oz sizes now. It’s probably because we are so healthy that we can’t possibly eat a whole piece of cake – it’s like when they shrink the serving size so that you aren’t eating as many calories.
  • Cake mixes used to be made with semi-real ingredients, but they don’t exist anymore – you have to have your daily recommended allowance of food colors, artificial flavors and GMO ingredients. Embrace the now.
  • Did you know you can make your own cake mixes? Just like you can pre-package a brownie-in-a-jar, so too you can pre-package your own cake mix with healthy, real ingredients (although sugar is on the fence. But real cane sugar is better than other things. And you can adjust your recipe for lower-glycemic substitutes like applesauce. See below for ideas.


  • What can I use instead of a cupcake box?
    • My favorite way to showcase the cupcake individually is to use clear plastic tumblers inside of a clear plastic food bag. The cupcake is packaged individually, and yet you can see what it is and what it looks like.
  • How do you pack cupcakes for a bake sale?
    • A bake sale is ripe for packaging cupcakes individually in clear plastic tumblers. The pretty cupcake is highlighted and ready to be bought!
  • Besides bake sales, what can you do with an individually packaged cupcake?
    • Making a decorative cupcake and packaging it in a pretty package is great for giving a gift of cupcakes to your friends!

Final Learning Points

While it is rare to have your homeschool day plans interruppted by an unplanned need for packaging cupcakes individually, the take away here is to keep your sense of humor and keep your flexibility whenever something “interrupts” your plans.

It’s the journey as well as the destination.

Keep Learning