Design Ideas for Children's Birthday Cakes

Updated July 20, 2017

Birthday cake designs are limited only by your imagination, enthusiasm and the time, effort and money you are prepared to invest. Whatever design you choose, personalising your child's special day by making the cake yourself will ensure the birthday is a memorable one for both you and your child.

Choosing Your Design

Choose a cake design based on your child's interests, and use ingredients that suit the partygoers. Children generally prefer vanilla or chocolate cake. If you are planning for, transporting and supervising several children, your cake preparation time might be limited. If you need to move the cake to a venue or store and serve the cake where conditions will be hot or cold, such as at an arena or a poolside, this might affect your design choices. Elaborate designs with several icing colours could mean more equipment and more cost.

Animal Cakes

Animal-shaped cakes are popular and perfect for the cat, dog, or even lizard lover in your house. Design and cut your own patterns or use three-dimensional cake pans to make cakes in the images of animals like elephants, horses, monkeys, lions, panda bears, rabbits and snakes. Choose your child's favourite animal and have fun.

Sports Cakes

For the sports lover, sports-themed cakes are a hit. Fashion a baseball or baseball diamond; a hockey stick, skates or a rink; a soccer ball or soccer cleats; or maybe golf clubs or a golf green. Keep your design simple. For example, cut your sports jersey from a flat sheet cake. You can also be more adventuresome and build an elaborate player or playing field.

Vehicle Cakes

For the child who is always on the go, consider a vehicle-themed cake. You can trace, cut out and decorate a boat, train or fire truck. If you have time, energy and inspiration, build a three-dimensional race car, merry-go-round, aeroplane, motorcycle or tractor.

Simpler Designs

Not all cake designs require speciality equipment. You can trace and cut designs from flat sheet or round cakes. For example, for an 8-year old, create a number eight with two round cakes positioned one above the other. Turn a small bowl into the centre of each circle to cut out the middles. Reposition and decorate round cakes to make a snowman or a bunch of balloons. Turn square cakes into cell phones, building blocks or soccer pitches with colourful icing and creative or edible decorations. Build a castle by stacking two or three different sized square cakes. Decorate upside-down ice cream cones for turrets to complete the vision.

Decorating Tools

If you are concerned about successfully cutting out your design, cake pans are available in countless shapes and sizes for flat as well as three-dimensional shapes. Bake your cake in the pan, remove it and decorate it any way you like. Cake pans can save you stress and mess. Cake toppers, such as plastic princesses or action figures, can be purchased to complete your theme. Simple to elaborate icing kits with speciality attachments for unique designs are also available for purchase.

Edible Decorations

Keep your decorations totally edible. Consider, for example, using liquorice whips, pretzels or puffed wheat to fashion hair. Animal-shaped gummy candies and crackers can fill fish bowls and zoo cages. Round chocolate cookies make excellent wheels, and fruit makes flavourful and healthy facial features. Marshmallows and coconut can be dyed with food colouring.

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About the Author

Based in Calgary, Canada, Lori Burke has been writing since 1993. She works as a contract technical writer/editor and also dabbles in creative writing. Burke holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Queen's University.