How to Make a Cupcake Tower

A couple of months ago I posted about the Dr. Seuss-themed party I threw for my little man’s second birthday.  In that post, I included pictures of a cupcake tower I constructed for the event.  Then I posted about the wedding cake I made and included a picture of the cupcake towers at the reception.  I have had many requests for instructions on how to make a cupcake tower since these posts appeared.  I apologize for the delay in sharing but I wanted to be sure I had a method that really worked well before sharing it with others.

Let me say right off the bat that this method is simply a rough guideline.  You can adapt this any way you would like to have more tiers, different sizes, different colors of ribbon and paper, etc.  Now I feel happy with my method so here you go – let’s make a cupcake tower!

First, let’s talk about what we need:

  • Something wide and fairly low to act as a base – I use a few styrofoam discs
  • Soup cans to act as supports between the layers – I chose the ones that I think may have been in my pantry since college 🙂 (You can also use styrofoam cylinders as seen in the top left corner, but I prefer the cans for a sturdier end result)
  • Cardboard cake circles, two of each size – I used 12, 10 and 8-inch circles for a three-tiered tower
  • Card stock, for covering the top of each tier (optional), the base and dividing pillars (You could also use fabric or ribbon to cover the base and pillars.)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Ribbon for edging the tiers
  • Ruler
  • Paper cutter (optional – just a ruler and pen is sufficient)
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • About 30 minutes of your time (or 45 if you take pictures along the way 🙂 )

First, I prepare the base by hot gluing the styrofoam discs together in an even column.

I glue together both cardboard circles of the same size, unfinished sides inward…

To end up with a double layer.

Repeat with the remaining sizes until all the cardboard circles are doubled up.

I trace around each of the cardboard circles onto the card stock that will cover them and cut out the corresponding circle.

Hot glue the card stock circle onto the cardboard circle to cover it and give it a finished look.  (I have also cut around the edges of these circles with decorative scissors to create a scalloped border, adding another detail to the overall look.)

Three pretty covered circles 🙂

Now I use additional card stock to cover the soup cans that will act as the pillars.  I mark the length of the can and cut a strip on the paper cutter.

Use the hot glue gun to secure the card stock as a tight band around the soup can.  Repeat for the other can.

Do the same for the base.  The glue can be very hot – too hot to touch – so I use a ruler to press the card stock tightly to the surface until the glue has set.

You should have two covered pillars and a base.

Now that all the pieces are put together, we’re ready to assemble the tower.  I’m sure there is some more accurate way to be sure that the base and pillars are perfectly centered, but I don’t have time or patience to worry about that.  For me, it’s more of a Gestalt and I use a few hatch marks in the region of the center to give some guidance.

One thing to keep in mind while assembling all the components is to keep the seams of the card stock covering the base, pillars, and the seams of the ribbon all in the same direction so that they can be the “back” of the tower and stay out of sight, giving it a more finished appearance.

So, hot glue the base in the center of the bottom tier (be sure to glue on the bottom, uncovered side of the cardboard circle).

Then, glue a soup can pillar in the center of that circle.  Again, I just use an eyeball approach to center it and make sure it is balanced.

Glue the next cardboard circle on top of the pillar, making sure to keep the finished side up.  (Since the lid of the soup can is not an even surface, you need to glue around the edges to ensure that the can has firm contact with the cardboard circle.)

And repeat once more until all the pieces are in place.

Cut a piece of ribbon long enough to edge each of the tiers.

Hot glue along the edge of the cardboard circle and press on the ribbon, being careful to keep the top edge even with the surface.  (You do not need to glue along the entire perimeter, just small dabs every few inches or so is fine.)  If your ribbon is somewhat translucent, you may want to consider doing a second layer so that it has a more opaque appearance.  I only used one layer here but I have used double layers in the past depending on the look I am going for.

Repeat with the middle tier, and then the top until…

You have a finished cupcake tower!  And then of course all you need to do is…

Fill it with delicious cupcakes!

86 Responses

  1. That’s awesome, Annie! It looks so professional, but sounds pretty easy. I’m going to have to try this out!

  2. I was SO waiting for this post!
    Annie, you are a very, very talented person. You are also a very good teacher – explaining things very well and very clearly.
    I need to go get myself a hot glue gun(never used one before). Besides that, I think I have everything I need to make myself a cupcake tower next week – including a very special occasion!
    Thanks Annie!

  3. Hi there,

    thank you so much for the “How to make …” !
    I will try it for my sons birthday this saturday !

    Have a nice day 🙂

  4. Hi,

    thank you so much for the “How to …” !
    I will try it for my sons birthday on saturday !

    Thanks 🙂

  5. Love it! One question though – is there anyway to save some of the pieces (or the whole tower) for another user later on? I’m guessing not with all the hot glue, but figured it was worth asking.

    Another great post. 🙂

  6. I will definitely be trying this for my son’s train themed party in September. Thank you, Annie!

  7. Hi,

    it´s me again,

    can you tell me please , how much yards from the ribbon i need?
    and, how wide is your ribbon?

    thanks 🙂

    • You can use any width ribbon you like. The length depends on the size tiers you use. As I mentioned in the post, this is a rough guideline you can easily change for needs and supplies.

      • Annie,

        Can you tell me how many cupcakes this stand held. Trying to do a 30 cupcake stand.

        thank you

      • It all depends on how tightly you place them. I think it would hold close to 30, but I’m not sure. I didn’t have copious amounts of cupcakes to test it with. You can always use larger tiers if necessary.

  8. Awesome! This will be on my to-do list for my little man’s birthday. 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing this simple way of doing a cupcake tower.

  10. ummm LOVE
    and darling

  11. You are so incredibly resourceful… love it!

  12. I just built a cupcake tower yesterday! I used foam core that my husband cut into circles for me, and PVC fitting for the spacers that I then painted. So much easier (and cheaper!) than buying one online.

  13. This is awesome, thanks for sharing!!

  14. Great step-by-step instructions. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Wonderful job on the tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

    Carmen of Baking is my Zen

  16. I love these homemade how to posts! You did awesome!

  17. Thanks Annie! What a wonderful post. All of your “how-tos” are clear, descriptive, and fun to read! Thanks for being one of my favorite blog writers!

  18. I LOVE it!!! Thanks so much for sharing, I will definitely be using this!!

  19. hey girl! you read my mind!! this is awesome!! I have an upcoming wedding, and was wondering how on earth I could get those towers here, in paraguay! now problem solved!! thanks thanks thanks

  20. Adorable!! And does look very simple once all the supplies are purchased and gathered:) It would be very fun for my co-worker’s 40th birthday next month! I bet I could find “40” ribbon or I could just use black (ha,ha)!!

  21. This is wonderful!! I love your idea and will do that today, thanks so much for sharing:)

  22. This seems fairly easy to make. Thanks for sharing! It looks awesome once it is all put together. 🙂

  23. Thank you so much for sharing! This is very nice of you to do. I could definitely do this now.

  24. Thanks for posting. I’ve book marked for use at the baby shower I’m planning for my SIL. I love the idea of being able to change the ribbon for a different look every time.

  25. Great guide for the DIY baker! Thanks for the great idea.

  26. Just like others have said, i too have been waiting for this post and I can’t thank you enough!!! I’m definitely going to try making this for my nephew’s birthday party. You made it seem easy enough that even I couldn’t mess it up! Thanks Annie!!

  27. Great tutorial. I will try this out for my next party!

  28. Oh this is great! Incredibly innovative and I can tailor to match theme, decor, cupcakes, whatever. Thanks!

  29. LOVE this idea! Thanks for the “How to” 🙂

  30. It’s the perfect how-to! Thanks, Annie — great idea to have stored away 🙂

  31. this is a great way to make different color tiers … it…!!! thanks for the post !!

  32. I always wondered how they did these, thank you!

  33. Oh how neat!! I would have never thought about using those items to make a tower. Thanks so much for taking the time to show those of us who aren’t so creative … :)~

  34. Wow!! You are so awesome! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  35. So cool! Thanks for sharing the instructions.

  36. It’s so delightfully simple, yet easy to do! Thanks for sharing!

  37. so simple and cute!

  38. Wow that’s awesome!!

  39. This is adorable – I will definitely be trying it at some point!

  40. Thanks for sharing Annie

  41. I am another one that has not used a glue gun before, but this is a project that I want to perfect before my little’s girl’s b-day party! Do they hold up pretty well, like if I was wanting to use it again?

  42. I love this!! Thank you so much for sharing. Crafty and good in the kitchen – your mother in law must love you 🙂

  43. Annie, thank you so much for posting this … your timing could not have been more perfect! A friend and I are hosting a baby shower next weekend and we’re serving cupcakes … I haven’t found an affordable cupcake stand but didn’t know how to make a nice one myself. Now I do! So I’ll make it this weekend … picked up all the supplies I didn’t already have, and can’t wait to see the final result … thanks again!!!

  44. LOVE it, I am throwing a baby shower next week and I think I am going to make one of these! Thanks so much!

  45. This cupcake tower is too cute and looks sooo easy! I will have to try making one for some up coming baby and bridal showers that I am hosting.

  46. I ♥ this idea, and featured it over at my place today!
    You can find it here:

    ♥ {DavesWife}

  47. I’m so happy that you posted this tutorial! This cupcake stand makes decorations for different parties so much more versatile and creative. I appreciate the time you took to show this to the world. :]

  48. Wow…so helpful! You can do EVERYTHING!!!

  49. You rock, girl! This tutorial is awesome. Thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to share it with us. 🙂

  50. Wow! Very cute and your ribbon matches your cupcakes perfectly!

  51. This is so useful! Thanks for sharing. Also, I just did a post on my blog about your margarita cupcake recipe and sadly mine did not come out near as cute as yours 😦

  52. These are so so cool! I always wondered how one made them at home :). Thanks for sharing!

  53. Love this method and I will definitely be using it to make my own cupcake tower or cake stand! I am esp glad you showed the step-by-step instructions, so helpful! 🙂

  54. I am not a crafty person by any means, but I am bookmarking this. Seems like the perfect thing to concur my fears of crafting!

  55. This tute came just in time for my best friend’s daughter’s first birthday. I will be making carrot cake cupcakes and vanilla cupcakes, and this is perfect for the party. Thank you! Can I ask how many cupcakes it will hold?

    • That totally depends on what size tiers you use, how tightly you pack them, etc. etc. I don’t know an exact number.

  56. That is absolutely brilliant! I love the idea of crafting something instead of buying it. The homemade look compliments the handmade cupcakes. It’s perfect. And the step-by-step photos make it seem completely do-able. Thanks!

  57. Brilliant!!! loved this idea so much. I will most certainly try it for my twin’s birthday.

  58. This is *so* happening at my house sometime soon! Thanks for the great step by step.

  59. I CANNOT wait to try this. Looks like fun! When you are a mom, there are so many opportunities to bake cupcakes! Now, a nice way to display than…much better than putting them in one of those aluminum disposable pans, like I have done in the past!

  60. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this (I commented earlier) and I made one for a baby shower this week. I wanted to link to it so you can see how good your tutorial is. (although I took the picture from the wrong angle). Thanks again.

  61. You have absolutely *no* idea how happy you made me! 🙂 I’m invited to a weding party tomorrow and I was planning for ages to make cupcakes but for the life of me couldn’t think of anything to present them. Thanks so much for the tutorial!
    I’m thrilled.

  62. OMG –thank you!

  63. I just came by to let you know that I used your tutorial to make a USC Gamecocks cupcake tower and it turned out GREAT! Thank you so much for taking the time to share the tutorial with us.

  64. Great tutorial!

  65. Thank you so much for such a great tutorial. I made it for my friend who is having a birthday party for her daughter this weekend. Please check it out on my blog when you have a chance. Thanks again!

  66. Hi there, thanks so much for posting this, i’ve attempting to make one tomorrow, fingers crossed they turn out like your one, hehe. Just a question though, on your sons cupcake tower it looks like you used a larger can between the bottom and middle tier, is that right? Or am i safe to use 2 normal cans?? Keep up the awesome work =)

  67. Thank you so much for this post. I am hosting a baby shower this Sunday and this will make it all look so much nicer (:

  68. This is exactly what I have been looking for, thanks. I plan to use cupcake towers as centerpieces at a baby shower. The choice of ribbon should help it to look festive. Thanks.

  69. Thank you for the post! I am throwing a baby shower for my best friend this Sunday and I wanted to make it more personalized than just buying a cupcake stand. I used colored/patterned card stock and instead of hiding the seams in the back, I put a bow on them. It’s so, so cute! I will use it again in about a year for my daughter’s 1st birthday (:

    You are now my “go to woman.” Whenever I need to know how to make something or need ideas, I think Annie! You really should start charging people! Thank you again.

  70. Hey Annie,
    I love your blog and your cupcake tower. How did you make the support system for the marshmallow pops and strawberry pops you had at your son’s 2nd birthday party. I am throwing a baby shower and will be making pops and am trying to figure out how I want to display them.

  71. Thanks for this idea!! I just made a cupcake tower to chowcase some cupcakes in my latest post:

    I so appreciate this tutorial! 🙂

  72. Hi,

    First and foremost, I am a huge fan of your website. You appear to be a modern day superwoman and I envy you! I have a quick question about your wonderful cupcake tower. I constructed my first one last night, well started to. Everything is finished but I am having a hard time getting the hot glue to hold the can to the cake discs. Did it work with ease for you? Any suggestions? Do you think crazy glue will work?


    • I just make sure that the glue is around the rim of the can, not in the center since it is recessed from the lid edge. This is one reason soup cans aren’t ideal, but they do provide a sturdiness that the styrofoam cores can’t.

  73. Hi! I found this page after a painstaking search of how to construct a cupcake tower. Last night I made three for a wedding I am doing next week, and they came out fantastic! Thank you for enlightening us with your knowledge, I know the bride is going to be super happy, and I saved a lot of money to boot.

  74. THANK YOU! Just made this for my nephew’s football banquet tonight- you rock!

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