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Birthday In a Box (Fun & Frugal Gift Idea)

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More Frugal Crafts and Gifts

Birthday in a box DIY

If you have boxed cake mixes and frosting in your stockpile, consider creating a Birthday in a Box! This fun and frugal gift idea is not only fun for birthdays but could also be created simply to brighten someone’s day! In fact, I have a friend who makes these boxes with her Girl Scout Troop and then donates the boxes to a local children’s shelter so this can be a fun service project as well.

celebration in a box

To make your own Birthday In A Box, just gather one boxed cake mix, a tub of frosting, greeting card, candles, sprinkles, cupcake liners, napkins, noise makers, and anything else birthday related. Many of these items can be found at your local dollar store.

hip2save birthday — collin with balloons

Is there anything else you would add?


 Lina (lina@hip2save.com) loves cooking new recipes, thrift store shopping, and DIY home decor projects. 
Join The Discussion

Comments 68

  1. Lynn L

    Lina, This is a great, fun and festive idea which many of us “good deal/couponers” have in our stockpile making it inexpensive. I few nice birthday related gifts like the candles and sprinkles and you have a beautiful and thoughtful gift! Thanks.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Yes I agree! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. meg

    Love this! Add some balloons too!

    • Yoli

      Love that addition idea 👍🏽

  3. Amy

    So are you giving this to someone for their birthday or someone else to make for someone else’s birthday? I love, love, LOVE the shelter idea, and the Girl Scouts. But to give this to someone on their birthday seems a bit odd to me.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      I think you can do whatever you’d like. It’s a thoughtful way to acknowledge someone’s birthday by sending a party in a box 🙂

      • Pat

        It would be a great gift for a single mother that is struggling with work and kids. I think she would really appreciate it.

      • Brandi

        Yeah, I’m not a fan either! To me this says “I’m too lazy to make you a cake!”.

    • Christina

      I have to agree with Amy. Very cute and festive, there are probably a lot of great occasions this could be used for, but giving it as the birthday gift seems a little odd. I love making homemade gift baskets from stockpile items though.

      • Christina

        Ok, have to amend my comment, just saw someone else’s comment about sending it to a kid at college and that does seem like a good idea.

    • Yoli

      I kinda agree and see what you mean. Nice idea, but I wouldn’t wanna be baking my own bday cake, though looking at it from a different view many kids will have a blast baking their own cake and then enjoying their master pieces with their family.

    • Angela

      I agree with Amy, a very odd gift to HAND to someone. As for sending, I don’t think it would be frugal to send. This would be heavy and expensive. As for a college gift, do dorms have ovens and cake pans now days!?

      • Sarah

        I could totally see mailing this to someone, mainly a kid or college student. I would have enjoyed getting this while in college. I lived in the dorm and we had a stove for the floor to share. I was probably the only one who used it! =) I was always making cinnamon rolls and smelling up the hall. Mmmm!

      • Katie

        You can use the mix to make cake in a cup cakes in the microwave!

      • rebecca

        my dorm did have a kitchen in the building. also a lot of students live in apartments.

      • llc

        If anyone is planning on doing this and mailing it – use USPS.com for shipping and use a flat rate box (one price regardless of weight.) You can get them at a local post office for free or order online shipped to your door. They have a medium for $11 and a large for under $15. OR, they also have regional boxes (those must be ordered online at no charge). Regionals are deeply discounted and based on distance only but are also cheaper than regular rates. Generally a Region A can be anywhere from $5.50 – $10. and a Region B is $8-$16. Buy postage online and save over going to the counter and waiting in line 🙁

    • Amanda

      I think any gift is a nice gift. I would love to receive one of these!

      • stephanie

        It’s a sweet thought. 🙂

  4. Crystal

    This is so cute!! Definitely going to keep this is mind for the future:)

  5. Tia

    Add someone to make the cake!

  6. amie

    I would have been happy with this as a gift last week 🙂

    • Selena

      Happy late Birthday to you!

  7. Priscilla

    This would be really cool to send to a friend or child away at college!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Yes I agree!

    • Brandi

      When I moved to Indiana when I was 18, my Mom sent me chocolate chip cookies, which was awesome! I probably would not have thought it was awesome if she sent a box of cookie mix.

  8. Carol

    What a neat idea; plus my Rite Aid in Tennessee has birthday party supplies 75% off right now.

  9. Katrina

    My daughter is going out of state with her dad for two weeks, during which time her birthday will occur. I’m going to expand on this idea and send it with instructions to wait until her bday to open. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      That is a very sweet idea!

    • Maile

      Super cute idea!!

  10. Amy

    Instead of a box cake mix make a cake in mason jar, that’s what I did for my husband while he was deployed, just send the icing separate so that it doesn’t spoil! Also I have found big things of sprinkles on clearance at target dollar spot after holidays then get little jars from the travel section to divide it up and last longer 🙂

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Oh good idea! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • angie

      Hi! What a great idea for the cake in a jar! How long do those last? We live far from family and friends and would love to do something like that.

  11. Yoli

    Great idea Amy. I would also like to know how long do they last. Wonderful idea to start with my niece (who I absolutely adore). Could be our yearly thing. Birthday in a box with cake in a jar ready to eat. 😋

  12. Yoli

    Thank you for the idea Lina. Super cute for kids. For adults I would take the box cake and actually bake it (in a jar as suggested by Amy) and add a bottle of wine along with a wine glass instead 😉

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      That’s a fun idea too! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Amanda

    My recommendation would be to donate the birthday in a box to your local food bank to give to families with young children or even to your PTO at your school.

  14. Angela

    We do this for our local food pantry. Love this idea!

  15. Tracy

    Cute idea. I especially like the idea of doing it as a service project and donating to a food bank.

    • Pat

      It would be great for a food bank. They can give one to a family that is having a birthday that month. I don’t like seeing people on food stamps purchasing bought cake (I know it is their right) when I can’t afford a bought cake myself and I am working 2-3 jobs. Just jealous I guess. LOL

      • bev

        exactly! we’ve done these for the domestic violence shelter and the food pantry so parents can celebrate their child’s birthday…especially at the
        DVS, they may have had to leave with very little.

  16. Charmel

    We have a local shelter that has “homes” with 12-15 kids with one couple that oversees the home. People adopt the whole house and provide a Christmas meal, stuff for a game night, etc. My kids and some friends have adopted one of the homes. I am thinking we can make 12 boxes (making sure all the mixes r good for a year) and add a $10 gift card to various places in each and wrap them. It will be a surprise what kind of cake, decorations, and gift card they get. Makes it stress free for the house parents. Thanks for the idea.

    • karen

      How thoughtful! A great idea to help out house parents.

  17. Tina

    Central Texans: If you’re interested in making birthday boxes for foster and homeless children in the Round Rock/Austin area, check out Happy Birthdays: http://sharinghappybirthdays.org/volunteer/

    The birthday boxes are SO much fun to put together and are such a blessing to the children who receive them.

    • Ashley

      Thanks! I live in Austin, I’ll check it out.

    • Leighton

      Awesome post-thanks!

  18. Ruthi

    There are so many things you can do with this. We sponsor a child in New York. We got her information shortly after she turned 10 and on her 11th birthday sent her a box with all the fixings for a birthday “party” and included a package of socks, tee shirt, a game, and a craft kit. We received a letter from her mom that it was the first time any of her 4 children had been able to have a “party” and gotten a cake. The following year we found packages of ice cream mix on clearance and sent them in her box. We have also done this for elderly people that live on a very limited budget and they had a great time getting to bake a cake.

  19. Joan

    Lina, This is a fun idea and for the right person it is a nice gift!! Of course it’s not going to work for everyone and some people wouldn’t appreciate it. This is a “to each their own” type of thing. There is no need to say this is “odd” when it’s really just a matter of your personal opinion. Let’s be nice everyone!!

    • Becks

      Agreed! Isn’t it the thought that counts?!? Thank you to all the fellow couponers who give these away to make someone else so happy!

  20. Kay

    My mom lives across the country- she sends me a birthday box similar to this every year. It definitely brings a smile go my face.

  21. Emilie

    Lina you are super creative! I love your posts 🙂

  22. lisa

    LOVE love LOVE this idea !!!!!!

  23. NJD

    Love this idea! I will be making one up for my little grandchildren.

  24. Angela

    I had never thought about doing this, but thank you for the idea. This would be a great service project for a kids’ Sunday School class to assemble and donate to a food pantry.

  25. Joy

    We did this when I was a boy scout leader. We gave them to our local food pantry. Each den was responsible for a box. We did a pirate theme. I had the boys decorate a box to look like a treasure chest. In the box, we put decorations, paper products,cake mix/frosting, and goodie bags, all following the pirate theme. It turned out really cool.

  26. cindy

    There are so many who would appreciate a gift like this. My daughter’s girl scout troop did this for several shelters in town. One for teen moms with young children, homeless shelters and the women/family shelter for abused. It was very well received. It opened my eyes as I never thought that a birthday cake would be a luxury to someone.

    • TW

      Did you include a cake mix or did you sub in some packaged treats?? I was just wondering how people at shelters could bake their cakes.

  27. Tammy

    Dollar stores often have sprinkles, candles, cupcake liners, etc

  28. Anne

    When I was still teaching (before kids), my second grade class and I would make these as a service project for Treehouse, a foster child service organization. As an adult, I would love to receive this gift a week or so before my birthday or for my husband or daughter. No running around for the thing we’re out of and paying more than I normally would!

  29. Vmv40831

    If you guys are planning on doing this and you have a FoodMaxx nearby you can get a great deal on cake and frosting. They have a sale until July 14th when you buy a pillsbury cake mix and frosting in same transaction you save instantly and your total will be $1.98 then you add the manufacture coupon $1 off wyb one pillsbury cake and one frosting you only pay .98 so .49 each. Limit is two per person tho so if you want to stock up or donate take someone with you.

  30. Brittany

    My grandmother lives in a different state and she loves getting things in the mail. I am definitely sending her this for her birthday. Last year she had knee surgery so I sent her a box of sunshine. Everything in the box was yellow, like.. Yellow candy, yellow coffee mug, yellow necklace and so on. She loved it.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Ah so nice! Love that idea 🙂

  31. Crystal S

    I think this would be a great idea for a kid ..just add a cute apron and let the fun begin!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Love that idea!

  32. Suzie Kevern

    I would add silly string and confetti. 🙂

  33. RoHolmes

    I think it’s a great idea for loved ones who are long distance. Since I can’t make them a cake, I can buy and send the ingredients for them to make a cake; everybody loves a cake.

  34. Amanda

    I spent 9 months in the hospital with my daughter due to a heart condition. You would be amazed how many children spend a birthday in the hospital, many of them their very first (and possibly their only). Most parents want it to be special but may not want to leave their child to shop or have the money to spend of festivities. A lot of nurses end up spending their own money to make birthdays special for their patients so to provide this would be helping them as well. Ronald McDonald House is also a fantastic charity where you can donate these boxes. They are located near most children’s hospitals in many cities around the country.
    This is a fantastic idea for that scenario and would bless families with a happy day in an unhappy season of life. I plan to do this in memory of my daughter on her birthday this year.😊💗

  35. Dee

    We made the birthday boxes for a local food pantry. They told us to choose the cake mixes that didn’t need eggs and to add in some applesauce pouches that could be used in place of the oil.

  36. Dustina

    I have Girl Scouts who have done this project as well.we included everything needed for a birthday party down to the aluminum baking pan and a small gift and donated to the food pantry. Everyone should be able to celebrate their birthday! The food pantry was very grateful!

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