Simple birthday cake decorating ideas

Updated April 13, 2018

Celebrating birthdays is a wonderful family tradition that creates lasting memories for everyone. But sometimes with hectic and full schedules, simplicity needs to take priority. Luckily, there are many ways to simplify decorating birthday cakes that still allow for personal touches that the birthday boy or girl will enjoy.

Icing Decorations

Simple graphic shapes such as lines, dots and zigzags are easy to make, and can really dress up a cake if they are repeated on the top and sides of the cake. You can add short, simple messages and drawings that reflect personalities or interests, such as a soccer ball and the message, "Have a ball on your birthday!" or a book with squiggles for lines of text with the message, "You're #1 in our book!"


A quick trip to the local craft store or to the toy section of a chemist provides small figurines that could work for either children or adults. You can find plastic animals, cars, horses, ballerinas, balls and monsters in a few minutes and simply place them in a curved line at the edge of the cake or centred in the middle of the cake. Fill in the open spaces on the cake with icing roads for the cars or green grass icing for animals. Tip: use food colouring to colour the icing.

Decorative Objects

If the birthday girl collects butterflies or cartoon characters, borrow small objects from her collection to use in decorating. Girls might also enjoy flowers from your yard if you grow edible varieties. Be careful to use only flowers that have never been sprayed with chemicals and only those that you know are edible such as roses, nasturtiums or pansies. Other edible objects that you can use to decorate include chocolate kisses, M&M's, orange slices, strawberries or banana slices.

Shaped Cakes

If you're making the cake yourself, it is simple to bake a rectangular sheet cake and cut it into shapes. For example, cut a rectangular cake into an oval football shape and decorate with icing accordingly. Try cutting out various shapes from paper to help you find the right design. Another easy idea is to cut shapes--a square and a triangle will form a house with a roof and a circle and a triangle can work as a round face for a clown with a triangular hat. Use the left over pieces for house stepping stones or a bow-tie underneath the clown face. Finish decorating with coloured icing.

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About the Author

Susan Lundman began writing about her passions of cooking, gardening, entertaining and recreation after working for a nonprofit agency, writing grants and researching child development issues. She has written professionally for six years since then. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.