Cupcake Wars birthday party tip: figure out themes for each challenge and then think about toppings

My oldest turned eleven a week ago and we had the most awesome Cupcake Wars birthday party to celebrate. My kids love watching Cupcake Wars on Food Network and, apparently, their friends do too—which is the perfect recipe for a really fun party (see what I did there? #momjokes).

Samantha has actually been throwing the idea of a Cupcake Wars party around for at least a year now. For me, it always seemed like a big challenge. How would we do it? Where would we put all of the kids? Would my kitchen ever recover?

After surviving a wildly successful party of our own, I’m ready to give out some solid tips that will make your life a thousand times easier if you’re looking to host your own Cupcake Wars party for tweens.

Cupcake Wars birthday party for tweens

How to throw a Cupcake Wars birthday party

Before you even start, sit your kid down and talk to them about what they really want. Some kids might have their hearts set on doing the actual cupcake baking. Others might only really care about decorating the coolest cupcakes ever. Samantha would have loved to have a full-on baking party, but that would have taken a lot more time and kitchen space. It’s definitely doable if you’re hosting a big sleepover (…or you’re not in the middle of a heat wave), but for our purposes it would have been a bit much. She was okay with just battling it out over decorations. If your kid has his or her heart set on baking, I’ll have more tips for you later.

Now let’s get to it…

how to throw a Cupcake Wars birthday party for kids

Find an awesome local spot to do it for you

Obviously, this won’t be doable for everyone, but it’s a huge help if you luck out like we did and find an affordable local spot that hosts Cupcake Wars parties. A simple Google search for “Cupcake Wars party + [your town or county]” is a good start. I was thrilled to find that a local indie bookstore (a spot I never would have thought to check on my own!) offers parties and has done quite a few Cupcake Wars parties for tweens.

This was huge for me as we were incredibly busy with life and end-of-the-school year stuff. I was able to hand over the reins to someone I trusted. Also, I didn’t have to clean my kitchen. Score.

Cupcake Wars birthday party how-to

Come up with themes

Before you get all crazy with any of the specifics, have the birthday girl or boy come up with a few themes for each of the challenges. These are best if they’re not too specific so that the kids have some room to interpret them in different ways and get really creative. Our themes were: Magical Medley, Superheroes and Summer Breeze. If you want to get crazy, you can also incorporate challenges into each round (ie in one round they have to decorate their cupcakes without a knife or they have to incorporate something crazy into their design, like LEGOs or Shopkins).

Once you have themes nailed down, it will be much easier to hone in on the types of toppings and colors you want to use.

Cupcake Wars birthday party tip: figure out themes for each challenge and then think about toppings

Split kids into teams as they arrive

The best thing to do to avoid tears and hurt feelings or any sort of drama is to split the teams randomly and by yourself. This was a great tip from Laura, the woman who ran our party. As the kids came in, we tied a colored ribbon around their wrists. With a total of nine kids, Laura broke them into three different teams: turquoise, purple and blue (the birthday girl’s favorite colors).

Cupcake Wars birthday party battle

Decorate aprons and chef hats to get started

To get kids into the party spirit (and to keep their clothes from getting too messy), we started the party by giving the girls chef hats and aprons that were generously provided by Oriental Trading Company. Since the girls are at that in-between age, we ordered both adult and children’s aprons to be sure they fit and just knotted the tops of the adult aprons so that they weren’t too long. The kids used fabric markers and sticky jewels and embellishments to personalize their aprons and get into the team spirit.

Cupcake Wars birthday party: decorate aprons to get the kids pumped and into the team spiritCupcake Wars birthday party tip: decorate aprons before you get startedCupcake Wars birthday party: have your mini bakers dress the part

Start your Cupcake Wars!

For a party like this, you definitely need someone to play the “host.” For us, it was Laura. Once each team gathered around their table, Laura told them the rules and showed them where they could find all of the ingredients (this included different color cupcakes, a variety of different toppings and different colored frostings). She then told them the first round’s challenge and rang a little bell to start the time. During each round, she would ring the bell and have everyone freeze so that she could interview one of the teams about their creation. The kids absolutely loved this. Also, to make the third and final round extra special, each team had to decorate three cupcakes instead of one and they were encouraged to get creative in the way they presented them.

Cupcake Wars birthday party: teamwork is importantCupcake Wars birthday party challengethrowing a Cupcake Wars birthday partyCupcake Wars birthday party for kids

Bonus tips

  • If the kids really want to bake and you only have one oven, have them make the batter together. Explain that they can create their own unique flavors later by doing things like cutting the cupcakes in half and adding a filling. This will save a lot of time.
    • While they wait for the cupcakes to bake, have them clean their work space (like real chefs have to!) and have another activity planned like decorating cupcake boxes, display stands or oven mitts.
  • A party like this is great to throw at an off-time when you don’t need to serve the kids a full meal. They’ll be eating the toppings the whole time they decorate anyway.

Cupcake Wars birthday party

PS Samantha also made her own party invitations using Canva. First, we found a cupcakes coloring page online. She colored it in and we scanned it and added text for the front of the card. She was thrilled with how they came out. To see a similar DIY invitation she’s done in the past, check out my DIY Kid-Made Birthday Party Invitations post.

We received product from Oriental Trading Company, but opinions are all my own.

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.