11 Christmas cake decoration ideas

  • By Natalie Hardwick - Reviews editor - bbcgoodfood.com

Wondering how to decorate your Christmas cake? We have plenty of videos, recipes and guides to provide inspiration for how to ice, top and finish off a traditional, festive fruitcake.

Christmas cake with gold icing topped with Amaretti biscuits

Making your own Christmas cake is only half the fun – you also have to decide how to decorate it. Whether you like snowy-white royal icing with a marzipan layer, a more contemporary look, a family-friendly topping or something super-quick and easy, we have all the inspiration you need.

Read on to discover some of our favourite ways to decorate a traditional Christmas cake, plus find recipe inspiration for fruitcake and marzipan.

Midwinter Christmas cake topped with bay leaves and rosemary

Midwinter candle cake

Cinnamon sticks add a simple but effective border to this botanical cake. Use a wreath of rosemary and bay leaves for winter green notes, then top with candles when serving. Beneath the foliage is classic icing and marzipan for a classic touch.

Midwinter candle cake recipe

Simple snow sparkle cake on a blue festive background

Simple snow sparkle cake

This crunchy sugar topping is a quick, easy way to bring snowy glamour to the humble fruitcake. You'll need white sugar cubes, preserving sugar and egg whites to achieve the look. Edible silver glitter, ribbon and shop-bought figures finish things off.

Simple snow sparkle cake recipe

Christmas cake topped with snowy icing and green Christmas trees

Enchanted forest Christmas cake

This beautiful forest scene requires patience and a skilled hand, so it's an ideal choice for baking enthusiasts looking for a showstopping centrepiece. The snowy finish is achieved with a meringue-style icing made with egg whites, liquid glucose, lemon juice and icing sugar. Pistachio paste gives the trees their green hue. Make you own by blitzing shelled pistachios in a food processor with egg yolk, ground nuts, sugar and almond extract.

Enchanted forest Christmas cake recipe

White Christmas cake topped with colourful baubles

Sparkling bauble cake

If you like all things kitsch and colourful, this bright cake will fit the bill. Food colouring gel is the secret to the vivid finish, and craft tweezers help you to neatly set the edible silver balls. 

Sparkling bauble cake recipe

Snowman cake served on a plate

Snowman cake

Kids will love this simple but effective snowman. The original recipe uses a sponge base, but the icing technique could be used to decorate a traditional fruitcake too. Children can help roll out the features and create the finishing touches.

Snowman cake recipe

Christmas cake decorated with green holly icing

Christmas wreath cake

If you want to make your fruitcake stretch further, try this idea: use a biscuit cutter to remove the centre of the cake for a festive wreath shape, then ice the removed centre to create a mini Christmas cake for gifting. The 'wreath' is brought to life with green royal and fondant icings.

Christmas wreath cake recipe

Sparkling snowfetti cake with sprinkles and snow globe topping

Sparkling snowfetti cake

Encourage children to help decorate this sprinkle-festooned cake in a classic colour combo. Kids can do the pouring while parents affix the sprinkles to the sides using a palette knife.

Sparkling snowfetti cake recipe

White iced Christmas cake topped with Rudolph figures

Rudolph Christmas cake

Budding sculptors will enjoy shaping these reindeer cake toppers. Perfectly smooth icing is the key to making this minimalist cake look picture-perfect. Achieve icing success by watching our video guide to topping a round fruitcake.

Rudolph cake recipe

Christmas cake topped with whole nuts

Crunchy nut topping

Swap traditional icing and marzipan for a crunchy, caramelised nut topping. Combine golden syrup, whole and flaked nuts and spoon the mixture over your fruitcake for a florentine-style effect. 

Crunchy nut cake decoration recipe

Christmas cake topped with icing and Amaretti biscuits

Golden amaretti Christmas cake

The gilded finish may give this cake a luxe look, but it's actually super-easy to achieve. Use edible gold spray to cover the icing and smooth royal icing to drip over the top of the cake. Amaretti biscuits bring out the marzipan flavours and provide plenty of texture.

Golden amaretti Christmas cake recipe

Christmas fruitcake covered in buttercream icing

Fruitcake with apricot butter icing

If you're not a fan of traditional icing, buttercream can be a light way to finish off your cake. This one is flecked with apricot jam and easy to make and apply, so it's a good last-minute option if you need to quickly decorate your cake. We've also added a holly sprig for colour.

Fruitcake with butter icing recipe

How to decorate a Christmas cake: video guides

Watch and learn how to finish off a cake in style with our video guides. We have step-by-step advice on basic icing and marzipan application, plus colourful decoration ideas. 

How to apply marzipan to a Christmas cake
How to ice a round fruit cake
How to decorate a shooting star Christmas cake
How to decorate a classic winter fruitcake
How to decorate a stacked star Christmas cake

Make and Mature Christmas cake in a cake tin with paper

Christmas cake recipes 

If you need ideas for how to make the cake itself, these Christmas cake recipes will do the trick – most use the faithful dried-fruit-and-booze combination, but we've also included lighter sponge cake options. Our make-and-mature Christmas cake is the most popular on the site, with thousands clicking on it every year.

Marzipan being placed over a Christmas cake

Make your own marzipan

If you're really committed and want to top your cake with a classic double layer, you could also try making your own marzipan. Choose from zesty orange or easy vanilla marzipan, then watch our video guide on how to apply marzipan to a cake to help you achieve smooth perfection.

Cake being covered with icing

How to ice a cake perfectly

Covering your cake in a blanket of bright white icing will ensure whatever decorations you add will be showcased perfectly. Watch our video guide to icing a round fruitcake and find handy tips on achieving a seamless finish, including kneading your icing to make it more pliable and rolling pin techniques. 

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How do you finish off your Christmas cake? Leave a comment below... 

Comments, questions and tips

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Be the first to comment...We'd love to hear how you got on with this recipe. Did you like it? Would you recommend others give it a try?
ajctracey
30th Nov, 2015
Re-posting this answered post from 2013! Still hoping for an answer. Please can we have a video on how to flat-ice a Christmas cake using the classic royal icing, rather than the fondant icing used here? Royal icing tastes different and in my family we love the crunchiness of the hardened outer layer. Fondant icing never hardens in the same way.
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