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Walking into a gathering with a beautiful cake in your hands immediately makes you a holiday hero. Cake decorating is a wonderful skill to possess, whether you’re a regular guest or more often a hostess. It can take time and patience to learn to decorate cakes, but there are tricks to making your next confection look as though you’ve been perfecting your skills for years!

Step 1: Use the Right Tools

Professional bakers and decorators invest in vast collections of tools to help them build beautiful cakes. You don’t need a ton of accessories to make pretty cakes your family, friends and neighbors will love. Start with a turntable and either a cake spatula or bench scraper. Piping bags and a few piping tips will help you add borders to your cakes.

Step 2: Take a Cake Decorating Class

There are lots of options when it comes to learning how to decorate cakes from a professional. You can find informal tutorials online along with regimented online classes. Local bakeries often have classes as well.

Step 3: Practice Decorating Techniques

Many beautiful cake decorating techniques build on simple piping and frosting skills. You don’t need to bake a cake every time you want to practice piping. Use wax paper or even paper towels as a base to become familiar with each piping tip, as well as how it feels to write with icing. Bake a batch of cupcakes to practice multiple cake decorating techniques – one for each cupcake!

Step 4: Learn Simple Decoration Ideas

There are lots of easy tricks to make it look like you spent hours decorating a cake. Start with frosting smoothed over the top and sides of a cake. From there, use any one of these simple cake decorating ideas for a big impact:

  • Poke chocolate chips (point side in) into a cake for polka dots that are all exactly the same size.
  • Create toppers by drizzling chocolate shapes onto wax paper and peeling them off after the chocolate hardens.
  • Top cakes with fruit (sugared for extra impact) or chocolate shavings. You could also combine the two!
  • Frost upside down ice cream cones for pine trees, party hats or castles.
  • Rather than using edible decorations, use simple toppers to make an impact. Small banners, paper flowers, miniature balloons, unique candles and small toys are all cute options.