Cupcakes have become popular replacements for cakes at many events, including weddings, banquets, birthdays, showers, and other parties. If you plan to order cupcakes for an event, here are some things to keep in mind.
For regular-sized cupcakes, I recommend ordering a few more than the number of expected guests, just in case a cupcake gets dropped or an unexpected guest arrives. Mini cupcakes are a great option when complete meals are served, since many people cannot finish a whole, regular-sized cupcake after eating a meal. For mini cupcakes, 2 per person are adequate if other food will be served. If cupcakes are to be the main food, plan for 3-4 mini cupcakes per person. Also, the more flavors you offer, the more mini cupcakes people are likely to eat.
Too many flavors can be overwhelming for guests, so 3 or 4 varieties are a good option. A white or yellow cake and a chocolate cake are the most popular. For the other 1 or 2 flavors, consider a seasonal variety or something that matches the event’s theme. For example, pumpkin cupcakes are common in the fall, and margarita cupcakes are popular at bachelorette parties. Order fewer of the less common flavors and more of the ones that you expect to be popular. If ordering 100 cupcakes, this could mean 30 chocolate, 30 strawberry, 20 coconut, and 20 carrot cupcakes.
Consider having cupcake labels or a sign that describes the flavors. This is especially important for flavors that look similar–such as white cake and coconut cake–or for flavors that are unexpected. For example, a cherry-flavored cake is uncommon, and most guests would assume the pink cake to be strawberry.
Decorations and frosting colors need to complement each other and the theme of the event. Strawberry frosting may taste good, but the pink color will clash with an orange and black Halloween theme. Also, consider the color of the cake, since it often shows through the thin cupcake liners. Decorative cupcake wrappers are a good option if you want a particular flavor of cake that would clash with the theme.
There are more options for displaying cupcakes than there are for a cake. Cupcakes can be arranged on a tier or spread out on a table. If guests will be seated at tables, small groupings of cupcakes can be placed as the centerpieces. They can even be arranged to look like flowers in a vase. Cupcakes can form a shape or a design, such as a monogram. Another option is a cupcake cake, in which cupcakes are arranged in a rectangle and then frosted like a cake.
Plan in advance what will happen with leftover cupcakes. Many bakeries have to-go boxes available for guests to take leftovers home; otherwise, boxes can be ordered from restaurant suppliers or craft stores.
Good luck, and enjoy your cupcakes!
Source: Personal experience at a cupcake bakery