Simple birthday cake decoration: use a real toy


Kim-Anh's no-pressure hack for a delightful birthday cake your kid will love:

Instead of spending countless hours trying to figure out how to frost a cake to look like your toddler's latest obsession, go with a basic cake and top with a store-bought toy. This year, I made a Cars-themed cake for my son. To make sure the toys didn't sit directly on the frosting, I used a small plate and some Arrowroot cookies as the base. After the cake's been devoured, the toy continues to be enjoyed.

Related: Special event coming up? Try a "practice run" beforehand


  1. L says

    My parents did this when I was a child. I wanted a Star Wars birthday so they got three Star Wars figures (that I wanted anyway) and put them on top of a homemade cake. Perfect!

  2. Celeste says

    I’ve also used a small piece of saran wrap under the toy, or wrapped the saran wrap around the legs of an action figure and shoved that part of the figure in the cake before frosting. Works great!

  3. says

    My wife’s done a number of these. Couple ideas:

    – Thomas the train works real well. Lay a ‘track’ of icing on a green icing background, choc chips as ‘gravel’. SIt a train on top

    – Use a barbie and stick her into a big verticle hump-shaped cake as a ‘skirt’

  4. Tracy says

    Playmobile sets also work well. I use brand new ones that I’ve handwashed in warm, soapy water. You can split up sets between cupcakes to do double duty as favors or let the birthday child keep the set on a cake.

  5. Keeley says

    I made a farm cake for my son’s 2nd birthday in December. I bought new farm animals and a new tractor toy, iced the cake green, had a third of it covered in broken flakes for ‘soil’, put chocolate fingers all round the outside for fencing and put the animals on top (washed first). He adored it and although he’s got a few tractors, his birthday cake one is still his favourite!

  6. says

    A few weeks ago my daughter made two number 5 cakes for twin boys and the only decorations she added were toy sports cars and licorice shoestring cut into pieces to indicate two lanes for the road. The boys loved it!