Today we’re tackling Celebration Cakes. Those festive, elegant cakes that show up at birthdays, weddings, and “Hey, you quit your terrible job!” celebrations. Basically, if there’s a reason to party, there’s a reason to eat party cake.
I’ll be the first to admit that cake decorating is not my strong suit. I don’t have the patience nor the steady hand required for intricate cake decorations. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t make a cake worthy of a special anniversary or birthday, and you can too!
This post is jam packed with helpful tools and tricks for the not-so-confident cake decorator. Plus, I’ve included 20 awesome, approachable celebration cake recipes you can tackle today!
Easy Cake Decorating Tips for Celebration Cakes
You don’t have to be a wizard with a piping bag to make a beautiful cake. Here are some of my favorite easy cake decorating ideas:
- Pile a cake with fresh fruits, either whole or in slices, for a simple but beautiful decoration. Sliced fruits layered in concentric rings on a layer cake looks stunning and doesn’t require any special skills.
- I love the rustic elegance of fresh flowers on cakes. Frosting and Fettuccine has an excellent guide on how to safely decorate cakes with fresh flowers. You can see an example of this technique on this banana bread wedding cake.
- Try a bundt cake! Bundt cakes are naturally gorgeous and require no special techniques or equipment. The only decoration needed is a simple, glistening glaze or sprinkle of powdered sugar. You can buy bundt pans in a range of fun and beautiful patterns, including swirls, fleur de lis, hearts, and blossoms.
- Candies and sprinkles are perfect for party cakes and a great way to add pops of color and create fun designs easily. The rainbow cake featured below is an excellent example of this. Want to put a number on your cake? Place a stencil over the top, then fill it in with colorful sprinkles. It’s easy, fun, and cute!
- Naked cakes are having a moment right now, which is great news for all of us non-decorators. Here’s a tutorial for a simple DIY naked cake decoration.
- If you do want to try your hand at some piping, Beyond Frosting has a comprehensive tutorial on several different kinds of buttercream flowers.
- For more inspiration, check out my Cakes and Cupcakes Pinterest Board!
How to Store Special Occasion Cakes
I find it helpful to prepare layer cakes a day or two in advance, so I can spend party day celebrating, not stressing.
- Individual layers of cake can be popped out of their pans, cooled, and then wrapped in saran wrap. The layers will keep at room temperature for a day, in the fridge for 3-4 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.
- Most frosted cakes can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for 3-4 days (though a fresher cake is always better!). The exception to this rule is cakes with fresh whipped cream frosting or fresh fruits, which should always be refrigerated. To refrigerate a frosted cake, place it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to allow the frosting to harden slightly, then loosely tent with saran wrap.
- Once a cake is sliced, store it in the fridge. To keep it moist, I recommend either covering the exposed ends with additional frosting, or pressing saran wrap against them.
My Favorite Cake Baking Tools and Tips
- To ensure your cakes don’t stick to the pans, cut parchment paper circles in the size of your pan. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan, cover the bottom with parchment paper, then grease on top of the parchment paper and flour everything. You can use regular parchment paper or buy parchment paper circles in the size you need.
- Investing in a cake slicer can be really helpful for leveling out cakes that dome and ensuring all your layers are the same height. Otherwise, a serrated bread knife is your best bet.
- I prefer using light colored aluminum cake pans. If I had to pick just one size, I’d go with 8 inch. It’s a great standard cake size that will feed about 12 people. Here are my current favorite round baking pans.
- My indispensable decorating tools include an offset spatula, large piping bags, a cake icer tip, and an assortment of other decorating tips.
- My favorite food coloring is Wilton’s Gel Colors. They are SO vibrant and don’t have a strange taste.
Whether you’re attempting an intricately designed layer cake or a classically elegant bundt cake, I want you to know you CAN create a beautiful and special Celebration Cake for your next party. Take a deep breath and dive in to one of the recipes below!
The Best Chocolate Bundt Cake Ever
A rich, moist chocolate bundt cake covered in a dark chocolate glaze made with coffee and sour cream.
Easy Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This easy strawberry cake is bursting with fresh strawberry flavor and has a cream cheese frosting.
Pear Bundt Cake with Vanilla Brown Butter Glaze
Fresh seasonal pears delicately combined with autumnal spices and vanilla bourbon glaze. This bundt cake is perfect for any Fall gathering.
The BEST Lemon Poppy Seed Cake from Cake Mix
This easy cake recipe is frosted with a silky smooth lemon infused vanilla buttercream that pairs perfectly with the lemon cake!
Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Sprinkles
These double chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles are super rich, but still light and fluffy. Great for birthdays, so please share with the whole class.
Pistachio Layer Cake
This light and fluffy pistachio layer cake is flecked with ground pistachios and flavored with just the right amount of almond. It's absolutely divine!
Funfetti Cake in a Jar
It's party time! This Funfetti Cake in a Jar is made for celebrations. Plus, there's no massive tray of cake leftovers to hog your fridge space!
Strawberry Chocolate Banana Split Bundt Cake
Three separate cake batters swirl together to earn the "Banana Split" moniker. Flavored just like the iced cream classic all the way down to the hot fudge topping.
Unicorn Jello Poke Cake
Want a fresh take on the classic strawberry Jello cake recipe? This colorful unicorn Jello poke cake is perfect for bringing some magic to your party.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake
This cake is moist, rich and creamy. Four chocolate cake layers are alternated with creamy peanut butter filling, then topped with shiny ganache and chopped peanuts.
Pineapple Coconut Cake
This Pineapple Coconut Cake is loaded with fresh pineapple and covered in a super fluffy whipped coconut frosting. It'll take you right to the tropics!
Easy Rainbow Birthday Cake Using Skittles and Marshmallows
Adding skittles and mini marshmallows can easily turn any store bought or box mix cake into a show-stopping rainbow cake!
Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake
Deliciously moist and fluffy lemon infused cake frosted with a creamy raspberry buttercream, and topped with fresh raspberries and lemon slices!
Cherry Bakewell Cake
This cherry bakewell cake is light and fresh. Topped with some fresh sweet cherries, it is best enjoyed on a summery afternoon with tea.
Rainbow Cookie Cake
This rainbow cookie cake consists of three spongy, almond-flavored layers with chocolate raspberry frosting in between, and is topped with fluffy chocolate frosting.
Hazelnut Sponge with Nutella Cream Birthday Cake
Hazelnut sponge with Nutella cream is a perfect flavor combination for a cake. Rather impressive and makes a killer birthday cake, easy to make too.
Fresh Blueberry Cake
Fresh Blueberry Cake is a cake fit for any occasion! Fresh blueberries, sweet vanilla syrup, and a fabulous cream cheese frosting make this blueberry cake recipe an irresistible choice for any occasion!
Eggless Fresh Fruit Cake with Whipped Cream
A simple, moist sponge cake layered with fresh cream and seasonal fresh fruits for a timeless combo of flavors, adorned with a decorative fruit drip.
Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
This Ice Cream Sandwich Cake has thin layers of brownie cookie with thick chocolate chip ice cream layers. Topped with whipped cream and extra sprinkles!
Oreo Cake - An Easy Chocolate Cookies & Cream Layer Cake Recipe!
The Oreo Cake recipe is layers of moist chocolate sponge cake sandwiched with Oreo buttercream filling and decorated with whole Oreo biscuits. This step by step recipe makes a surprisingly simple show stopper of a cake!