Birthday Cake Design Ideas

Updated March 13, 2018

The birthday cake serves as the centrepiece for the birthday party. The design for the cake should incorporate the interests and likes of the guest of honour. The creativity of birthday cakes has expanded significantly in recent years. Simple sheet cakes still highlight birthday parties, but tiered and three-dimensional cakes also have grown in popularity.

Consider Interests

The guest of honour likely has many interests or hobbies with the potential to serve as the theme for the birthday cake. Favourite characters, movies or television shows are popular choices when designing a birthday cake. Sports or other hobbies can be incorporated in the design, too.

Determine the Size

The size of the birthday cake may influence the final design. Determine the number of guests and amount of cake needed. If the chosen design will not feed all of your of guests, make an extra sheet cake or perhaps some cupcakes.

Sheet Cakes

Sheet cakes are a basic style for birthday parties. A sheet cake is one layer and is rectangular in shape. Sheet cakes often are iced smooth with a shell or star border around the top and bottom edge.

Sheet cakes can be decorated to fit any birthday party theme. Edible images can be placed directly on the iced cake. These are available in a variety of characters and themes.

New toys can be placed on top of a sheet cake to relate to the theme. This decorating technique requires little experience, since the toys are the main decoration. The toys on the cake can double as a gift for the birthday child.

Tiered Cakes

Tiered cakes offer height and more servings than a sheet cake. Tiered cakes are traditionally used for wedding cakes, but they are growing in popularity for birthday celebrations. They can range in size from two tiers to five or more. The most common shapes for the tiers are circles and squares.

Tiered cakes offer more flexibility for decorations. For a unified look, ice each tier in the same colour and decorate with the same accents. For a more colourful look, ice each layer with a different colour of frosting. Decorate each tier with a different but related element.

Themes for tiered cakes can range from a fun child's theme to an elegant floral design. Determine the interests of the guest of honour when selecting the theme for the tiered cake. Choose colours and decorations that fit with the overall design of the cake.

Three-Dimensional or Carved Cakes

A three-dimensional or carved cake is a fun design for a birthday cale. A cake can be carved to resemble nearly anything, but this style of cake requires more decorating experience. Cakes are layered with icing between and then carved into the desired shape. The cake is iced, and details are added to make the cake resemble its inspiration.

Basic cake shapes can be transformed into three-dimensional objects without carving. A square cake can be decorated to resemble a present or a round cake to resemble a hat box. A dome-shaped cake can be turned into the skirt of a dress or a hill.

Outdoor enthusiasts may appreciate a cake carved into the shape of a mountain, island, golf hole or farm. A three-dimensional cake for a child's party may be carved into a favourite animal or character. A carved cake for a sports fan could be made to resemble a piece of sporting equipment.


Cupcakes are another popular option for birthday parties. They allow for more flavour varieties and are easier to serve to the guests. Cupcakes are easy to decorate and require little decorating experience.

Cupcakes may be decorated in a variety of ways. A simple swirl of icing on top of the cupcakes will fit any birthday party theme. Sprinkles are a popular accompaniment to the swirl of icing. A small toy or favour can be placed on top of each cupcake, providing a souvenir for the party guests. Giant cupcake pans also are available to serve as the centrepiece of the party.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.