This year, skip the bakery birthday cake and take matters into your own hands. Even if you aren’t blessed in the culinary department, we’ve rounded up a bunch of cake hacks and DIY tricks that will help you pull off a Pinterest-worthy masterpiece. Box cake mix is about to get a serious upgrade—read on for all the sweet deets.

Warm Up Your Icing Tools

If you've decided to make your own cake at home, a warm spatula or knife will make spreading frosting easier. Head over to the Kitchn for the details, and their preferred tools! 

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photo: iStock

Give It a Crumb Coat

Once your cake is completely cool, it’s time to get frosting! We swear by the crumb coat trick—spread a thin first layer of frosting over the whole cake to catch the crumbs before you do the rest of the decorating.

Get a Perfect Sprinkled Look

Go wild with sprinkles inspired by Beki Cook’s Cake Blog. She’s got a hack to make decorating a cinch (it involves a plate and some careful maneuvering). Click here to find out how this colorful confection is made.

Easy Gumdrop Cake

Sometimes basic is best when it comes to cake decorating! It doesn’t get much easier than this idea from Lyndsay Sung via You Are My Fave. Just buy a bunch of chocolates or gummies and pop them on the frosted cake. Click here to see two more simple ideas that look just as delicious.

Whip Up an Easy Name Topper

Feeling crafty? This cute idea from Paper & Stitch is easier than you’d think—just spell out your kiddo’s age with a few supplies that you might already have at home. To get all the details on how it’s done, click here.

Add Cookies for Crunch

If your kid loves circus animal cookies, they’ll adore this cute creation from Studio DIY. Best of all, the starting point is a basic cake from the grocery store. Music to our ears! To get the details (plus five more ways to jazz up store-bought cakes), click here.

Use Toys for Cake Toppers

We love this sweet idea from Butterlust, especially for kids who are obsessed with all things prehistoric. The recipe includes a rich chocolate frosting and ganache, but you can also simplify it with a store-bought cake if you’re short on time. Click here to learn more.

Icing Letters Letters You Can Actually Read

It’s pretty tricky to pipe words with icing, which is why we love this tip from the Food Network. Use a toothpick to make dots where the letters should go, then pipe them on when you’re happy with how they look. Click here for more helpful hacks.

Make an Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Keep it cool with this amazing ice cream cake from Sprinkle Bakes. Ice cream sandwiches form the base, and it’s topped off with even more ice cream, sprinkles and sugar cones. Click here to get the step-by-step instructions.

Craft an Easy Donut Cake

Take inspiration from A Subtle Revelry and make a supersized donut for the birthday kiddo. The pink frosting and sprinkles on top are essential! To grab the recipe, click here.

Make a Layer Cake without Making Lots of Cakes

Perfect for summer parties, all you need for this recipe from The Kitchen McCabe is a big batch of berries. Plus, there’s a way to make a layer cake without actually having to make multiple cakes—yes, please! Get the scoop by clicking here.

Make a Candy Cake

This Kit Kat cake is actually a single layer cake lined with Kit Kat bars and topped with M&Ms. Not only does it look super cool, but it's easy to transport, too. Get the recipe from Mom Loves Baking

—Susie Foresman

 

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