Our daughter turned 16 over the weekend … I can’t believe it (she was only 5 when I started this blog)! And with it being her “Sweet 16,” we wanted to do something a little extra special to surprise her since we weren’t buying her a car as a gift. She is getting her license though, so we decided to hide money in her cake that she can use for gas money. What a fun way to get it rather than just finding it inside a card!
As you can see in this video, she was pretty surprised! I love when she stops after the first bill and says “yay” like that was it. As you can hear in the background (on the restaurant patio that, by the way, was completely open air on one side … we are trying to play it safe during the pandemic!), a couple of her friends had seen money cakes before, presumably on TikTok. But it was a new concept to our daughter so she was super surprised, and it was so darn fun to watch. :)
After sharing this on social media, quite a few commenters requested a tutorial on how we did it … so I’m excited to share the details in today’s post! Things do exist like “cake money boxes” on Amazon, but that is not what we used. We did a DIY method, and you can see all the steps below.
How We Hid a Roll of Money Inside Our Daughter’s Cake
I can assure you, the final outcome is worth going through these steps. It really is like a magic trick watching it happen, and the recipient’s surprise is just priceless! The first step is to gather your supplies…this is what you’ll need:
- Treat Bags
We used fifteen 4″X9″ treat bags, but a tad smaller (closer to the size of the dollar bills) would be even better if you can find them. We do not recommend zip lock bags.
- Money (or notes)
We put a variety of bills in the bags (from $1 to $20) sort of building up to the bigger amounts, and at the very end, we put in a check to help her cover car insurance for the first year. Any sort of bill, check, paper note, etc. would fit in the bags. A few commenters said they were expecting her to get a car key at the very end. Haha! That would’ve been fun, but nooo! She already knew she has use of our third/older car until she can help pay for her own car, so she definitely was not expecting that. (But that would be fun if you are gifting a car and the key is slim enough to fit!)
- Cardboard Tube
This can be from a paper towel or wrapping paper roll or, better yet, something sturdier. I used a pretty solid one from a Cricut vinyl roll. You can also buy cardboard tubes online.
- Plastic Wrap
To wrap around the filled tube so the cake doesn’t get all over it.
- Tape and Scissors
- Hole Punch
If you don’t have one, scissors will probably work. It’s to cut a hole in the first bag so you can tie the string.
The type we used did get a little covered in chocolate. Probably the plastic-type typically used for balloons would’ve been better/cleaner.
- A Cake (of course!)
I used this recipe for the cake and this recipe for the icing.
And here are the exact instructions on how to make it work! My husband has an engineering degree so I knew I could count on him to make this work without fail. These instructions include all of his very precise tips so you can have your very own no-fail money cake as well!
Step-by-Step Instructions for a No-Fail Money Cake
- Gather supplies.
- Insert bills/notes into fifteen 4×9 treat bags.
- Tape bags together securely (completely covering any overlap, including folding the tape over the sides).
- Cut a slit in the top of the tube about 1/4″ wider than the short side of the bag (leaving at least 1/2″ of the tube intact on each side for structural integrity). My husband used a knife to do this since our tube was pretty sturdy.
- Roll up money as tightly as possible.
NOTE: The first attempt was too big to fit, so it had to be rolled a little tighter (next step).
- Hold the center of the roll on the sides, pull the end to tighten, roll up the slack you create, and repeat until the roll will fit in the tube.
- Punch (or cut) a hole in the middle of the top of the last bag (we folded over and taped the end first to ensure it would’t rip when pulled), securely tie the string, and insert into the tube.
- Wrap the tube in plastic wrap and put tape around both edges.
- Keeping scissors flat against the tube, cut a slit for the opening.
- Pull out about 1/2″ of the first bag.
- Hold roll above the cake to figure out what size hole to cut.
- Cut a piece out of the cake to fit the tube and place the money holder into the hole. Slice off the bottom of the piece removed and place into back into the cake on top of the tube to weigh it down (otherwise the tube might get pulled out).
- Carefully make a slit down the center of the cake piece for the bags to come out of, cover with icing (while holding the string up), and hide with a berry.
- Continue decorating as you normally would and then tell the recipient to pull on the string carefully and slowly (after blowing out the candles)! As you can see, I carefully put the candles around the edge of the cake to avoid the cut part over the tube in the middle.
Here is a collage view of all the steps:
And that’s how you make a no-fail money cake! Do you think this is something you’ll attempt for a birthday coming up? It really is a fun surprise … especially for our kids who’ve had to give up so much over the last year. Let us know how it goes! :)