How Much Cake Do You Really Need for Your Next Birthday Party?

Picking up a cake — be it for a birthday or other holiday — from the store is easy enough, but have you ever put much thought into how much cake you need? Probably not, and, honestly, we haven't either — until now.

Sure, having too much cake doesn't seem like a problem, but think about it: If it doesn't get gobbled up soon after the party ends, you're left with stale cake just sitting in the fridge for days on end, inevitably needing to be tossed. But what's worse is not having enough cake to go around, and, well, no one wants to be part of that party, right?

That's where these guidelines come into play. Follow them, and you'll have just enough slices for everyone at the party.

More: 2-Ingredient Dessert Recipes That Will Satiate Your Sweet Tooth

The guest list

Before all else, decide on the number of guests you are having at the party. Depending on this number, you may find yourself experimenting with different ingredients available in bulk or opting for a smaller, more elaborate cake. Write this number down or ensure that it is integrated into all of your birthday party planning.

The round cake

Round cakes can range in size from 5 inches to 12 inches and can be a single layer or many layers. If you are planning on making or buying a layered cake, you should realize that a single 12-inch cake will yield approximately 25 servings, while it will usually take about three 10-inch cakes for 50 people to each have a slice. However, if you are planning a big party of around 100 people, you will need at least six 10-inch cakes.

The sheet cake

Sheet cakes are readily available at most grocery stores and warehouse outlets. Here are some of the most common options for sheet cake. Keep in mind that serving sizes vary a bit depending on how big you cut the slices.

  • Quarter sheet cakes are, just as the name describes, approximately one quarter of the size of a full sheet cake. The dimensions are generally 9-by-13 inches and may come in single or multiple layers. Quarter sheet cakes are typically rectangular making them a great choice on which to add graphics or messages.
  • The half sheet cake is approximately 11-by-15 inches in size and typically one layer that serves 30 to 40 people. Half sheet cakes are great for any birthday celebration and are also easily decorated with creative messages or graphics.
  • The full sheet cake is approximately 18-by-24 inches in size and typically one layer. The full sheet can serve 70 to 80 people and is a wonderful centerpiece at any grand celebration.

More: 18 Unbelievably Tasty 3-Ingredient Dessert Recipes

Additional desserts

If you plan on serving any other desserts besides the cake, make sure to decrease the size you need accordingly. If you will be having cookies and ice cream in addition to the birthday cake, lower your cake size to reflect that most people will not come for seconds, or will prefer smaller pieces.

Take home

Consider investing in a few disposable take home boxes to put in leftover cake and desserts. This will not only keep the cake from winding up on your waistline, but ensure that everyone had a chance to sample of the delicious desserts.

Make any birthday party a sweet success and keep everyone one happy and satisfied by knowing how much cake to order.

A version of this article was originally published in October 2014.

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