Whether a child is just finishing kindergarten, a young adult has completed the four-year journey of high school, or an older adult has made his or her way through the rigors of acquiring a college degree, graduations call for big celebrations.

This year will be much different, however, as big celebrations have been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic. Families will be having much smaller get-togethers for their graduates' big days, so smaller desserts might be the way to go.

Non-traditional desserts are becoming a norm for graduation celebrations. Sheet cakes remain popular for these events, but many bakery customers are thinking smaller.

“People are doing less or smaller cakes and then serving cupcakes, cookies, or donuts,” says Lynn Schurman, owner of Cold Spring Bakery in Cold Spring, Minnesota.

It’s clear that alternative forms of graduation cakes are on the rise. There are plenty of non-traditional options at your disposal. Offering alternatives such as cake pops or cupcakes at your bakery allows your customers to pick something that will stand out at their planned celebration.

Houston’s Three Brothers Bakery suggests going with a cupcake tower to show off smaller bites. “Imagine small bite-sized cupcakes decorated with either vanilla or chocolate icing and displayed on a tiered stand? Cupcakes are the perfect sized dessert to give all of your party guests a small sweet infusion,” the bakery says.

Cupcakes can be arranged in a special pattern, or can be combined with a sheet cake for a stunning design. “We’re also trying to figure out if there are other kinds of desserts that can be incorporated,” Schurman says. “Not all graduation parties are doing cakes anymore. They’re looking for other options.”

Cake pops are another fun play on the format. Full cakes can sometimes be too much for a group, may not be completely eaten, and can occasionally go to waste. Cake pops can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, and they’re more easily stored for future eating.

You can offer a variety of flavors for cake pops (including popular options like red velvet and funfetti) and still display a wealth of creativity. For instance, at Guanajuato Bakery in Fort Worth, Texas, cake pops are dipped in chocolate, drizzled with bright colors, and covered in BakeMark’s unicorn sprinkles, creating an exciting treat for customers.

Another cute option for cake pops is to top them with miniature decorations. Customize these treats with little edible graduation caps or scrolls. These decorations can be showcased as part of larger displays.