Press gummy letters ($19 for a 5-lb. bag; amazon.com) into the frosting in colorful rows or spell out your child's name. Top your cake with giant 15" tapers for a dramatic birthday wish. Birthday Cake Tapers, $28 for 12; oliveandcocoa.com
Unwrap and microwave five same-colored fruit-chew candies, like Starburst, for 5 seconds. Knead candies together with your hands, then use a rolling pin to flatten into a thin sheet. Cut out shapes of your choosing with cookie cutters and press candy into icing. Repeat with other colors.
Over the Rainbow
Starting in the center of the cake, overlap Necco Wafers to create a spiral pattern. Fill in the spaces between the spirals with confetti sprinkles.
Cakes A-B-Sweet, Super Stars, and Over the Rainbow are from Liza Jernow. Originally published in Parents Magazine in May 2014.
Mini Smash Cake
A mini layer cake for a first birthday is coated in frosting, edged in colorful sprinkles, and topped with the cutest little "cupcake." To make the topper, pipe a swirl of frosting onto a small peanut-butter cup and decorate with sprinkles and a nonpareil "cherry."
Birthday Buzz Cake
Create flowers on a sheet cake in seconds. Use a green food marker to transform the sticks of lollipops and adorn with gummy spearmint leaves. A yellow jelly-bean bee (flanked by two halves of a black jelly bean) gets its stripes from a black food marker and leaves a trail of chocolate sprinkles
Simply press jelly beans into a frosted layer cake for this showstopping effect.
Carefully cut Airheads into strips and twist them around your finger to form streamers. Arrange them on top of a tall layer cake. Create spirals from colorful licorice whips and press them into the sides of the cake. Finish it off with a smattering of star-shaped sprinkles.
Cover all surfaces with strips of rainbow sour belts pressed directly into the frosting. Use an over-under weave pattern to create the top layer.
Adorable animal tracks criss-cross this simple two-tier creation. Use colorful Necco Wafers and coordinating Smarties candies to make each print.
Cakes Mini Smash Cake, Birthday Buzz Cake, Rainbow Cake, Confetti Cake, Woven Cake, and Paw-Print Cake are from Amanda Kingloff, Taryn Mohrman, and Erica Clark. Originally published in Parents Magazine in May 2012.