Foolproof Children’s Birthday Cake Decorating

Over the weekend a very happy little girl turned the big 0-2. It has really been a joy for me seeing Leila go from tiny little conehead in the hospital, to the free spirited, adventurous girl she is today. As I know with my own nieces and nephews, kids only get better with age (well, until maybe teenage years, but we’ll see) I’m excited to see how she grows over this next year, and to watch Jen and Val learn how much better kids get too! 0-2 will be a big year for her as she’ll become a big sister in the spring!

As per usual, I volunteered to make her birthday cake. This year I decided to adopt the tried and true method of cake decorating my mom used to employ when my brother’s and I were growing up. As many of you know, I’m a TERRIBLE cake decorator. Its really not my forte, but this method is pretty foolproof, as you will see.  Each year my mom would ask us what we wanted on our cake. We would always say whatever our favorite thing was at the time whether it was a doll, He-Man, my little pony or what have you. She always made it happen using her typical ingenius problem solving methods, and I have to say, our cakes were always the best in the neighborhood.

For Leila I decided to make a Muno (from the show Yo Gabba Gabba) cake. Its her favorite, and I thought it would be an easy starting off point since there wasn’t a lot of different colors involved. First you have to find a picture of the character you’re using that’s the right size for the cake. Its a lot easier these days with computers, but my mom used to trace the picture off the box. Cut out the picture, and lay it on top of the cake. (NOTE: you need to use a buttercream frosting or something that hardens on top. Anything too sticky and the image will not come off cleanly)

Next, using a toothpick, trace the outline of the image. Remove the paper, and voila! A perfect outline.

Mix up your frosting color and outline the whole image. Begin to fill in the outline. If you’re using lots of different colors, or there’s a lot of detail work, do one color at a time, then put the cake in the fridge for a while in between colors to let each color harden. This will prevent any muddying of the color.

Add in some script if you have a steady hand (as you can see, my script can use some work) and clean up any mistakes using a toothpick to scrape away excess. That’s it! No more guesswork, and you’ll always be the coolest mom (or non-blood related aunt) on the block!

Here’s some gems from my childhood

Betsy age, 1. This was my favorite rattle at the time. You can see I’m totally stoked.

Strawberry Shortcake, age 2. I love this one because it looks like I’m drinking wine

These were my favorite 2 dolls, Beth and Mary (I still have them) I guess I wasn’t too happy being 3.

My brother John’s 6 year old He-Man cake. My mom did an awesome Star Wars cake one year that I wish I had a picture of.

My little Pony, age 5.

The moral of the story is, kids birthday parties call for wine. Just kidding! Hope other decorating challenged people out there try this method. Let me know how it turns out!


  1. says

    I love this trick! Hopefully I will never have to use it, thanks to you 😉 Those pictures of you, especially the wine one, crack me up. Thanks for an awesome birthday cake for Leila.

  2. says

    Wow, so glad I came across your site! I am planning on making a Muno cake for my son’s 2nd birthday this week. Just his face, but was worried about getting his eye a perfect circle. What a great tip, thank you so much for sharing!!!

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