20 Easy Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas That Only Look Complicated

I will admit it: I like a decorated cake. Something beyond just frosting. Sure, a frosted but undecorated cake tastes just as good as an undecorated cake but the festive and fun factor is so much better with a decorated one. But the time, the skills, the mess, the confusion of what exactly to do? It can be pretty frustrating when all you want is a party-ready cake. A while ago, I threw together a quick cake and decorated it like a champ. The cake part came out fine (I’m a pretty good baker), but the frosting was a little off. Like, too heavy, sagging down the sides. But I tell you what, no one noticed because the decoration stole the show.

This is exactly is why I’ve put together 20 cakes that are totally adorable and will make you look like a birthday goddess, but are easy enough to fudge if you are short on time (or short on skills). If you’re not a baker or on a time crunch, a store-bought cake with one of these decorative hacks will taste just as delicious and will win you just as much praise.

Here are my favorite easy birthday cake decorating ideas that look hard, but are simple enough that anyone (including you!) can do them. Check them out in the slideshow.

1/41. Balloons Make Everything Better
Balloons Make Everything Better
I love that all it takes to upgrade a white cake to magical and charming upgrade is a handful of small balloons and a few wooden dowels. Make sure the frosting is thick so the cake doesn’t float away!

Find the full details: Balloon Cake at Martha Stewart

2/41. Edible Flowers!
Edible Flowers!

Edible flowers are all the rage so why not use them on cake! They bring color and texture and healthiness. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Find the full details: Cake with Edible Flowers at Design Love Fest

3/41. A Cereal Lovers Dream (& Less Messy Than Sprinkles)
A Cereal Lovers Dream (& Less Messy Than Sprinkles)

I will finally be able to bring my child’s cereal dream to life: putting it on cake! And why not? It’s colorful and doesn’t require a whole lot of precision. Then you can sneak-eat the rest of the box after the children go to bed!

Find the full details: Funfetti Buttermilk Cake at A Beautiful Mess

4/41. Make a Pattern With Candy Pieces
Make a Pattern With Candy Pieces
Not into mixing frosting, coloring it, putting it in bags, decorating and then cleaning it all up? Me neither somedays. Use candy bits of different sizes to dress up a plain cake. Simple as that.

Find the full details: On the Dot at Parents

5/41. Petals of Frosting
Petals of Frosting
Rainbows are just the best. Rainbows on cakes are sublime. These rainbow petals looks so intimidating but in reality, they are just smooshed blobs of frosting done in the right order. You can do it, I just know it.

Find the full details: DIY Rainbow Petal Cake at The Cake Blog

6/41. A Splatter Cake!
A Splatter Cake!
My frosting doesn’t always have the right consistency but I’m really certain I can make frosting that is splatter-paint-able. This unique cake will be the talk of the party until it’s eaten all up.

Find the full details: Chocolate Chili Splatter Paint Cake at My Name Is Yeh

7/41. It Doesn’t Need to Be Exact for Abstract
It Doesn't Need to Be Exact for Abstract
Art can be edible. Of course this cake art piece itself won’t last long enough to be in a museum but that doesn’t mean it won’t be memorable. Upgrade that white cake!

Find the full details: Abstract Watercolor Cake at Sugar & Cloth

8/41. Dust on the Decoration
Dust on the Decoration
I realize this is a bow on a brownie but imagine a cake frosted in a darker tone, including chocolate, with a powder sugar design on top. It’s like skipping all the work of detailed frosting decoration. Win win! Blow your guest’s minds and make a brownie cake.

Brownie Bow at Martha Stewart

9/41. Go Naked, Cake Style!
Go Naked, Cake Style!
Naked cakes are appealing because they require less frosting skills. It’s easier. And who doesn’t like saying “naked cake”? Thankfully naked cakes are super pretty. Add some sugared berries to finish them off.

Find the full details: Naked Cake with Candied Sugared Berries at Ashlee Marie

10/41. Make a Shape
Make a Shape
I can admit that I too love sprinkles. They are celebratory all on their own. Instead of covering every last inch, use a stencil and make a sprinkle shape on a cake.

Find the full details: Sprinkle Heart Cake at DIY Network

11/41. Crush Chips Ahoy Cookies…
Crush Chips Ahoy Cookies...
…and let the dinosaurs rule the earth (or at least the cake).

Who knew all a cake needed was some crushed Chips Ahoy cookies for rocks and a little chocolate ganache for lava? Add some toy dinosaurs for a finishing touch.

Find the full details: Chocolate Chips Ahoy Dinosaur Cake at Butterlust Blog

12/41. Turn Everyday Pancakes Into Birthday Cake
Turn Everyday Pancakes Into Birthday Cake
Everybody knows pancakes can turn a regular morning into a Very Special Morning, so imagine what a stack of cake-batter pancakes can do. Add some sprinkles and a little glaze with more sprinkles, and you’ve got yourself a birthday treat worthy of candles.

Find the full details: Birthday Cake Batter Pancakes at How Sweet Eats

13/41. Add a Whole Lotta Candles
Add a Whole Lotta Candles
Okay, even I can stick a candle in a cake. So, pretty sure I could rock this super simple, over-the-top happy cake that sports a whole bunch of, you guessed it, different styles of candles.

Find the full details: Birthday Candle Cake at Studio DIY

14/41. Cover Every Square Inch With Candy
Cover Every Square Inch With Candy
This is definitely one of those cakes where more is more, so use up ALL the extra Easter candy and cover this sucker from head to toe.

Find the full details: Candy Birthday Cake at Lovely Indeed

15/41. Take It One Step Further With Chocolate Ganache
Take It One Step Further With Chocolate Ganache
The only thing that can make an adorable funfetti cake any better is adding a layer of chocolate – in this case, chocolate ganache made with dark chocolate and cream.

Find the full details: Sprinkle and Chocolate Cake at The Cake Blog

16/41. Cut up Fruit by the Foot for a cool fox cake.
Cut up Fruit by the Foot for a cool fox cake.
I tend to stay away from animal cakes because there seems like a lot of room for error. This fox-face cake keeps it super simple, though, and if you can cut up Fruit by the Foot and draw a triangle, you are good to decorate it.

Find the full details: Fox Face Birthday Cake at Betty Crocker

17/41. For Kids Who Prefer Ice Cream…
For Kids Who Prefer Ice Cream...
…skip the cake completely and pair ice cream sandwiches with upside down cones and sprinkles.

This cake only uses four ingredients (ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, sugar cones, and chocolate topping) and takes just minutes to put together, yet would be a hit at any birthday party and looks like you spent a lot more time on it.

Find the full details: Ice Cream Sandwich Cake at Sprinkle Bakes

18/41. Use candy molds for the ultimate Lego cake.
Use candy molds for the ultimate Lego cake.
The secret to this Lego cake is simple – candy molds, which you fill with colored, melted chocolate for a cake that only looks tough to construct.

Find the full details: Lego Block Cake at Makoodle

19/41. Go for the Drama With Extra Long Candles
Go for the Drama With Extra Long Candles
What kid wouldn’t love to blow out a set of candles almost as tall as they are? Plus, they have a very princess-y feel, perfect for a kid (or mom) who wants to go understated rather than animated.

Find the full details: Extra-Long Birthday Cake Toppers at Olive & Cocoa

20/41. Add Gelatin Bubbles to Cupcakes
Add Gelatin Bubbles to Cupcakes
Remember how you used to make papier-mâché piñatas with flour, water, and newspaper? These cupcakes use the same technique with gelatin and water for a pretty balloon effect that would be a hit at any princess party.

Find the full details: Bubble Gum Cupcakes with Gelatin Bubble at Sprinkle Bakes

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