Ideas for Decorating Birthday Cakes

Tina | April 2, 2013 | 22 Comments

Confession time: When my kids’ birthdays roll around each year, you’re much more likely to find me at the local Publix bakery ordering a cake than in the kitchen, donning an apron, putting my (non-existent) cake-decorating skills to the test. Sometimes I do like watching the cake-decorating challenges on the cooking channels, though, and occasionally they even inspire me to try my hand at decorating my own cake. While my creations thus far are not likely to end up anywhere other than in my kids’ tummies, they sometimes come out better than I’d expected. If you are not a cake decorator but would like to try your hand at making some confectionery creations, here are some places to find ideas.

  • Cable TV  Food Network and The Cooking Channels feature shows that concentrate on cake decorating. While what you see is likely to be too complicated for a novice to pull off, you can at least get some pointers. I didn’t know about fondant, for example, and that it’s more for decoration than for flavor. I’ve also seen some really cool hints on how to stack cakes without ending up with an avalanche, and to keep weight in mind when decorating.
  • YouTube  If you have some time to sit down at the computer, YouTube videos can be very helpful in showing you how to perform certain techniques, or even just to give you some ideas when it comes to decorating cakes. One caveat: Don’t let your kids roam around this video website unattended. Sometimes unrelated (and kid-unfriendly) videos pop up in the side margin. I learned this the hard way!
  • Magazines of All Kinds  I don’t subscribe to any magazines dedicated solely to cooking or cake decorating, but sometimes Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living have really pretty cakes within the pages. Of course, Family Fun is another one that has great cakes for kids!
  • Websites  A quick google search for cakes in just about any theme you can think of will bring up many web pages to walk you through the process. Some great ones to check out include cakecentral.com and marthastewart.com. For some comic relief and examples of what you shouldn’t do, you could also go look at cakewrecks.com! (Sometimes this site is less than child-safe, so tread cautiously, or take a peek after you tuck them in for the night!)
  • Your Child’s Imagination  Kids, especially little ones, don’t usually care how perfect their cake looks; they just want it to resemble their favorite character or go along with the theme of their party. Using copious amounts of food coloring and sticking some figurines on the cake can go a long way toward making your child’s cake dream come true.

Where do you usually get your children’s birthday cakes? If you make them yourself, where do you get your decorating ideas?

Comments (22)

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  1. Chrystal D says:

    There are a ton of places you can find ideas for themed cakes. Most of the time you don’t even need any special gadgets to make them!

  2. Paula V says:

    Thanks for the tips. I love the picture…three dimensional is always great.

  3. jennifer says:

    love such a variety of sources for ideas and tips! great list!

  4. Teresa M. says:

    I hate to admit this but I used to order most of Sara’s birthday cakes when she was little. One year we made one at home and we had such a good time decorating it! Now we have cupcakes and cake lollipops…who knew 🙂

  5. Christina Kelbel says:

    Great ideas! I actually took a cake decorating class with my mom when I was a kid but don’t remember much at all.

  6. lisa says:

    I’m pretty bad with cake decorating. I usually get a D.Q ice cream cake.

  7. Sam Dock says:

    Cute ideas, and they even sound doable with my horrible cake deocrating skills!

  8. Deanna says:

    too cute

  9. Karen Hand says:

    While my talents do not lie in the cake decorating department, any time I need a cake for a special occasion, I rely on my sister to make it. She has her own small cake decorating business and after conferring with her client as to what type of cake and size needed, she will draw up plans for the approval of her client, and then make the cake with any modifications that were requested. I envy her talents and the talents of those who can create such masterpieces.

  10. Maddie Klingaman says:

    I took a Wilson cake decorating class and learned a lot, sadly though I don’t decorate nearly enough cakes to get better or to even remember how to do the tecniques I learned. I do have fun in trying my hand with the decorating though. They will never pass for bakery done, but that’s ok and no one has ever said “please don’t make another.” LOL.

  11. Mitzi Fisher says:

    Thanks for the tips of cake decorating, I would love to be able to learn this!

  12. Ari says:

    I’ve seen some incredible youtube videos (not tutorials, though) that can give a lot of ideas on different ways to decorate cakes. A lot of them require knowing how to apply fondant and then obviously having the tools that come along with that process. I don’t know if I’m that artistically inclined to make and decorate every cake I need to get for an event. I’m sure though, with the right amount of practice and knowledge, knowing how to make such fine cakes would be a beneficial (both in pride and monetary) skill to have.

  13. Sarah p says:

    I’ve never actually tried watching youtube instructional videos. I have drawn inspiration from pinterest a lot, and things I’ve picked up watching The Food Network and Cake boss lol 🙂 Thanks for sharing!! I may just have to try Youtube next time

  14. lauren p says:

    These sound like great resources. I enjoy baking and would love to think that I could make a beautiful and tasty cake with a little guidance. Thanks

  15. Crystal W says:

    I have a friend I work with that can make anything you come up with. She’s never had any training and never consults the internet (I don’t even think she has it) just old school creativity!

  16. Magdalena Rangel-Berrum says:

    Thank you for these beautiful suggestions.

  17. md kennedy says:

    For sooo many years I have been making my “moist & fluffy” as we called it as kids and as our kids now call it: plain old chocolate cake fom a box, chocolate frosting from the can, tons of M&Ms in the middle and top and sides covered with the remainder of the bag of M&Ms and some mini-marshmallows. No birthday in our family would be a real birthday without it!

  18. Sherry J says:

    Thanks for the tips,love the pic.

  19. Charlene says:

    I’m not very artistic but making cakes sound like fun.

  20. Bobby Tarumi says:

    Thanks for the post. I use YouTube whenever I get stumped and want a bright new idea.

  21. Venus F. says:

    I’m always making cakes for my family and thse are great ideas for my next cake, thank you.

  22. Kayce says:

    Youtube is the best social media site that helped my daughter develop her skills in learning more about cake decorating. She loves imitating what she saw on the cake making video tutorials.

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