Food & Drink

10 Easy Ways to Dress Up a Store-Bought Birthday Cake

written by LAUREN BLUE
birthday cake ideas"
birthday cake ideas
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

Every celebration I have attended in the past year has featured an absolutely gorgeous cake. Birthdays, graduations, showers—no matter the occasion, the cake is the unexpected star of the show. Until recently, I thought everyone had either picked up some killer baking skills from watching The Great British Baking Show or simply shelled out the cash for a custom cake at a local bakery. Imagine my surprise when I found out people were buying store-bought birthday cakes and giving them a makeover at home. This hack is the secret to getting Pinterest-worthy cakes without the skills to bake them from scratch or the cost of an expensive custom cake. Keep scrolling for the 10 best (and easiest) birthday cake ideas to level up your store-bought cake.

1. Use hot glue and toothpicks to add bows

This birthday cake idea is for all the coquette, bow-loving girlies out there. Head to the store to pick up a premade cake, a spool of ribbon, and some toothpicks. Then, all you have to do is tie a bow with your ribbon, dab a bit of hot glue on the back, and attach the toothpick. Once the glue sets, you can insert the bows into the cake without disturbing the frosting or worrying about them falling off. If you want to make your cake extra pretty and girly, sprinkle some edible glitter and pearls on top.

2. Tie the perfect bow every time

If you love the idea of a bow-adorned cake but your bow-tying skills are a little lacking, this hack is for you. Instead of starting with a knot or two “bunny ears,” create one small loop with your ribbon, wrap the loose end around the loop, then create a second loop and thread it through the opening. This leaves you with a perfect, symmetrical bow every time.

3. Decorate with fruit


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♬ origineel geluid – hanna

You may recognize this viral cake from Pinterest, but I bet you didn’t realize you could make your own version without even turning on your oven. Either start with a plain frosted cake from the store or scrape off the current toppings and re-smooth the frosting. Then, stick on blueberries in clusters of three and add some mint leaves for garnish. You can use this hack with whatever fruit you want and customize the pattern to your liking.

4. Create a metallic cake with edible glitter


Giving this store bought cake a disco glow up 🪩 how’d we do?

♬ Golden Hour: Piano Version – Andy Morris

If you can’t find a store-bought cake in your desired color, consider using edible glitter to transform it. In this TikTok, the creator mixes two different edible glitter sprays to create a disco-themed cake complete with silver pearls and metallic chocolate lettering, but you can easily re-create this look with other metallics. A gold cake to celebrate your golden birthday? I’m sold.

5. Use icing to add a pattern of hearts

No fancy piping skills needed: If you’ve ever doodled hearts in the margins of your notebook, you can pull off this hack. Purchase a cake with plain white frosting, or grab a cheap can of white frosting from the store and re-frost it to your liking. Using a tube of icing in a contrasting color like black, draw on some simple hearts across the top and sides of the cake. If you don’t have a piping bag like the creator of this video, put some frosting in a plastic zip-top bag and cut off a small part of the corner to make one at home.

6. Layer two cakes for extra height


Store bought cake ✨ glow up ✨ for Galentine’s day 🎀🍓💕

♬ La vie en rose (Cover Edith Piaf) – 田东昱

There’s something about a tall, layered cake that looks so lavish. If you want the luxurious look without the price tag, it’s as simple as grabbing two cakes from the store and putting one on top of the other. To ensure the cake is stable, poke large straws or wooden dowels through the middle of the cakes and cover them up with frosting. To blend the two cakes seamlessly, add another layer of frosting to the whole cake, focusing specifically on the cracks where the two cakes meet, and smooth it all out. Then, add some decorations, and you’ll have a cake that’s sure to impress your guests.

7. Add some edible pearls and piping


I absolutely LOVE how this came out. Who says a $5 birthday cake from walmart cant be cute!? #birthdaycake #cakediy #cakedecorating #cakedesign #birthdaycakediy #diybirthdaycake

♬ Icytwat X Ethereal Type Beat “Stars” – Bvtter

The absolute easiest way to zhuzh up a store-bought cake is to find a basic design you like, and then add a few tweaks to make it even better. In this example, the addition of some edible pearls and glitter and accent piping with white frosting gave this cake a stunning transformation without scrapping the original design. It only takes a few minutes and completely changes the look.

8. Garnish with flowers


How to transform a grocery store cake when you’re in a pinch or on a budget 🌸 STEP 1: Remove the colorful frosting when frozen. This keeps all the colors from spreading and as the frosting thaws, you can smooth it all out. STEP 2: Garnish with flowers. Be sure to rinse and dry florals prior to adding to cake. I also like to wrap the stems in plastic wrap. This acts a a vase for the flowers, keeps all the water in the stem. Definitely give this DIY cake a try for your next birthday party, baby shower, bridal shower or even for Easter! #birthdaycakeideas #babyshowerideas #bridalshowerideas #diycake #cakedecorating #floralcakes #bridalshower #babyshower #birthdaypartyideas

♬ Bejeweled – Taylor Swift

Fresh flowers are always a good idea, and that includes on cakes, too. To easily remove any colored frosting on your cake, freeze the cake beforehand. Then, you can simply scrape it off, and you’ll be left with a blank canvas. To help the flowers last longer on your cake, wrap the stems in plastic wrap, which helps keep moisture in the stem. Then, simply poke the stems into the cake for an elevated, classy look. Just be sure to remove the flowers before eating, as not all are safe to ingest.

9. Remove icing and mix it for a new look

If you love a sprinkled cake but want to class it up a bit, try this birthday cake idea. Start by scraping off all frosting and sprinkles, mix it all together, and then re-frost the cake. This will give it a confetti look with the sprinkles dispersed throughout, and you can use leftover frosting to create some rainbow swirls on top. Finish the cake off with a “Happy Birthday” topper, and you’re all set.


Follow us for more ways to transform store bought sweets! #fyp #cake #dessert

♬ Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift

This hack takes less than a minute, and all you need is a cookie cutter and some sprinkles. Gently set your cookie cutter on top of the cake, then use it as a stencil while you pour on some sprinkles. You can also add sprinkles to the entire cake except where the stencil is for a different cutout look. If you don’t have a cookie cutter on hand, try printing and cutting out your stencil at home with paper. We recommend sticking to a simple shape instead of something too intricate so the design is clear when you add sprinkles.