Birthday Cake Theme Ideas

Chocolate birthday cake

Decorating with a birthday cake theme in mind adds creativity to any confection. It's also a way to showcase a particular interest or talent of the birthday person, which is likely to make their celebration a great memory for years to come. If you have the opportunity to make a custom themed cake, grab it!

Birthday Cake Themes

Before you choose a final theme for a cake, brainstorm a list of ideas. Write down things like the birthday person's hobbies, interests, favorite TV shows and movies, and personality traits that make him or her unique. When you have a complete list, look it over and choose one idea that you think would be most fitting and fun to decorate. A few of the most popular birthday cake themes are sports, animals, and flowers.


Photo courtesy of Chris Hamilton.

Cakes with sports themes are well suited to athletes and aficionados of particular games. Sports cakes are also some of the easiest cakes to make. Try any of the following ideas:

  • Decorating a round cake to look like a basketball, baseball, tennis ball, soccer ball, or other sports ball.
  • Frosting a cake with a neutral background color and decorating it with a scene from a sports match, featuring small fondant figures.
  • Using the colors and logo of the birthday person's favorite sports team on top of the cake.
  • Making a shaped cake that looks like a piece of equipment from a sport, such as a tennis racket, golf club, or baseball bat.
  • Cover a square or round cake with white rolled fondant and use more fondant to fashion a motorcycle or sports car, which you can place on top of the white layer.


Animal cakes are especially popular with kids, but they can also be a special treat for adults. Before making an animal themed cake, it's a good idea to look through a few galleries of images, decide in what style you'd like to decorate, and sketch out a rough birthday cake design.

Photo courtesy of PJ Chmiel and Lindsay Rajt.
  • Making a shaped cake is a fun challenge. Begin by baking a 9 by 13 inch sheet cake and letting it cool completely. Brush the cake free of crumbs, and then use a sharp serrated knife to cut out a rough outline of the animal you want to create. Frost the cake, and fill in details with a pastry bag and decorating tip.
  • You can distort the shapes of most animals and make them especially comical by decorating their faces on a standard 8 or 9 inch round birthday cake. Don't forget to add ears, whiskers, or a tongue.
  • Create a menagerie cake for a true animal lover. Spend some time sculpting small animal figures out of fondant, let them dry, and "paste" them with buttercream on top of a normal round cake. You can also choose to frost outlines of the animals with buttercream on a larger cake.


Flower cakes are a perennial favorite because they are visually breathtaking and encompass so many different styles. A flower cake is an obvious choice for a gardener, but anyone who appreciates a bit of beauty may be glad to see a few flowers on his or her birthday.

  • Use a fondant flower cutter or another fondant tool to cut out and texturize icing flowers. "Paste" each flower onto the top of side of a cake with a dab of buttercream frosting or specialty fondant glue.
  • Order or buy fresh edible flowers for the birthday cake, and lay them on the frosting just prior to the party.
  • Choose big, dramatic, fresh flowers for decoration. Place one at the top of the cake and the others in a border at the bottom to add visual interest. Use a pastry bag and large star decorating tip to create a swirl or shell border around the top edge of the cake.
  • Adorn a delicate cake with pastel buttercream icing roses and an abundance of other sweet flowers.

Custom Cake Themes

Pink viola birthday cake

Common themes may be easier to research and decorate than more personalized ideas, but creativity is king when it comes to birthday cakes. Don't allow yourself to be limited by conventional confections. If you know a juggler, consider making a cake in the shape of a club. If your friend is musically inclined, create a viola cake or decorate so that a rectangular cake resembles a piano. A card shark might appreciate a sheet cake that looks like the ace of spades.

Have fun with cake decorating possibilities, and don't be afraid to take on a bit of a challenge if you think it will produce an especially memorable cake.

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Birthday Cake Theme Ideas