Making a cake as a present

Making a cake as a present

I saw a recent post on a forum asking  – what to do about relatives asking you to make a cake for a party you are also invited to.   

So what exactly can you do when making a cake as a present?

Here are my thoughts….

Your Aunt has asked you if you would be up to making a cake for a present for a cousins birthday as a gift. You know you will be expected to attend the party too.

What do you do?

Make it gladly, regardless of cost?

At least it saves thinking and shopping for a gift.

You love baking anyway. You’ve never charged, so you are happy.

But what of the time and the cost of ingredients?

If you sold the cake to a paying customer, wouldn’t the true charge for the cake be 5x to 10x higher than the value of a birthday gift? (Depending upon how generous your budget for birthday presents for relatives is). So everyone else gets away with buying something and wrapping it. You get stuck with a least four hours work plus the bill for the ingredients.

If you have to shop for ingredients and start baking and designing – it’s your time that is in question too.

So what is your time and expertise worth? What of all the hours you spent learning your craft? Is there a value to that?

Is it really worth the aggravation of making a cake as a present?

You could give Auntie the list of ingredients.

Then ask her to go and buy them. Whilst telling her you will gift the 4 hours of time. Admit your time is worth x and point out that this is what one of your customers would pay. Most of the time relatives have zero clue how much ingredients would cost. Nor how long it takes to achieve a gorgeous cake.

Imagine you had an uncle who was a professional locksmith

That is what he does. All day every day. You need the two locks on your front door changed. Would you expect Uncle to turn up, gift you the cost of the two locks and keys and spend his time fitting them for free. No. You would pay a going rate. You would ask for a price before he purchased the locks so you could be prepared to pay. Maybe he would offer family discount. But just because you know him and trust him, you wouldn’t expect not to pay. He may, just may, offer mates rates and give a little discount.

But is a relative actually asks for your service expecting to pay zero?

I would say, think very carefully.

So when making a cake as a present…

What will the ingredients cost?

How long will the design take?

Are they asking for a specific design?

Are they going to ask for your design to be changed to their idea – taking hours? (Trust me – I got caught with that one 🙁 )

Have I got time?

Is this order stopping me taking on work where I could get paid?

Is that fair to be expected to pay 10x more than other relatives for a gift? Most turn up with a bottle of bubbles. You can’t make a cake for the price of a bottle of champagne.

So potential responses are

I am booked out that week – so sadly no.

No thanks I already bought a present but will give you my price list if you want a cake still

As a rule I don’t gift cakes – sorry.

No I don’t even do mates rates any more, let alone free.


Or you could say yes…

Yes. Let me show you some recent cake designs and chose what you would like. (Make sure the aunt knows what you charged paying customers for their designs). At that point she could realise its a too bigger ask. Or maybe she would be delighted to be grabbing such a huge gift for your cousin. So this might backfire!! Depends upon honesty.

You could say honestly my budget for a gift is x amount, so would you be prepared to pay the balance?

Yes I can do it.

But the response of actually I have my time already booked that week, shows you are a business. Plus it also means you are booking in a freebie, and losing the chance to charge a paying customer for that cake. Thus not only losing an order – but actually now out of pocket in ingredients to be purchased – not to mention your time.

So it’s your call.

But a price list being available is a big help. Plus an honest discussion on how much it would really cost.

Just some thoughts to help you when making a cake as a present.


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