Cake Toppers Aren’t Just for Weddings
One of the best things about preparing your own cake is that you get to pick the decorations. When it comes to birthday cakes, most people decorate with loads of icing and candles, but rarely with cake toppers! Why not? Maybe it’s because cake toppers seem to be most closely associated with weddings. Making a custom cake topper might also seem like unnecessary extra work! With all the birthday party planning underway, coming up with ideas to decorate a birthday cake with that unique cake topper every year might just make those milestone birthday cakes a little less special. That’s what I think anyways.
Birthday cake toppers are a fantastic and easy way to intertwine the cake decor and the theme of the birthday party. With a little creativity and research, you can create the illusion of an extravagant cake with minimal effort. Think of it this way, since most people only have a lonely cake with the frilly white icing and basic birthday candles, adding toppers to that celebratory dessert will seem monumental in comparison to those “boring’ plain old sheet cakes from your neighborhood supermarket.
Cake Toppers Gone Mini
Let’s start with baby-steps: if you’re not prepared to go with the bigger toppers for your birthday cake, you can start small with birthday cupcakes! In fact, I would even say that you could decorate your cupcake the way you envision your cake to look. Extra practice never hurts—especially when you can enjoy that practice with coffee or tea afterwards!
Cupcake toppers should generally be small and simple since you don’t have much room to work with. It might look weird if you had a big DIY decoration looming over a small pastry (although, if anyone asks, you could just call it abstract art). Now, there are two routes you could take with these toppers: you could either have edible toppers or the obvious alternative of toppers that are not edible. For edible cake toppers, in my opinion the easiest route you could take is to create it out of fondant or marzipan—you can buy either one of these at either your chain grocery store (bakery aisle) or a cake decorating store.
Now that you’ve decided whether you want to be able to eat the topping or not, when it comes to cupcake decorations, you only need to put in minimal effort to make your cupcakes wow your guests. For the edible topping, mold that fondant into your desired shape or creature. Make sure you add some cute eyes and a smile to any little critters. Try using cookie cutters on your fondant or marzipan, and stick a colored toothpick into the simple creation to make your topper display ready. Maybe there is another purpose for those Christmas cookie cutters.
For the non-edible approach, again, I once again recommend using those always versatile toothpicks—just find a few easy, printable designs, some craft paper and glue the lot together. There are many printable cupcake toppers online or you can go and purchase some from your local craft store. Maybe scavenge a few items from around your home for cake toppers that are unique or nostalgic to make—use your imagination and the internet!
The Difference between Marzipan and Fondant
Many people are confused over the difference between marzipan and fondant; so just to clear things up, marzipan is made of almond paste whereas fondant is basically moldable icing.
Both cake decor options are easy to make with fondant easier, in my opinion, as you can create a workable version with just marshmallows and powdered sugar. You may hear that fondant is flavorless, so if you want to make the little, edible decoration tasty then just add a couple drops of an extract of your choice to the fondant before rolling it into your desired shape! Peppermint or almond anyone? How about something more exotic like hazelnut or licorice?
Choosing the Right Cake Toppers
Birthday cake toppers might require a bit more work if you’re planning on making them yourself. You want that labor of love to be an impressive presentation piece since most of your guests will be eyeing it and snapping pictures for a long time before you cut the cake. For a foolproof birthday cake topper that won’t be a generic one from Target, head over to Etsy.com for handmade, unique, and one-of-a-kind cake toppers that will impress everyone! The good part about online shopping is that you get to see what the topper looks like, and you have dozens—if not hundreds—to choose from.
Most people who do go for these stand-up cake decorations have monogram cake toppers; these are usually in the form of a pop-up name of the birthday honoree or their age. While these cake decorations are neat (in that they really are better than nothing), I think these are best reserved for the milestone birthday years (i.e. 16, 18, 21, 40, etc) rather than as a yearly decoration. However, for younger children, it would be cute to have a figurine topper—like their favorite Disney character or a Winnie the Pooh character—holding their age. Themed toppers, in general, are a great way to tie in your cake to your cake in more ways than just the color.
All-in-all, toppers should be added to your list of birthday cake decorations, because they’re just so easy to make, buy, and add! You can liven up the entire cake with a funky, unique topper; for example, you can have a “hip” cake by adding a jeweled crystal ball to the top of it or elegant by adding edible rosebuds and pearls. In fact, you can even be as lazy as adding Christmas ornaments to your cake for a beautiful, winter-themed cake. How about adding cocktail umbrellas to your cupcakes for summer-themed cupcakes? When in doubt with what to have as your cake toppers, choose a small aspect from your party’s theme, whether it’s the season, the color, or the place…and run with it!
written by Rebecca, birthday December 3rd