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DIY Tutorial: Cake Decorating with Paper

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Painted Paper Cake Flower Decor

{DIY Tutorial by Jessica Kirkland}
Offering gorgeous desserts to your guests is always fun.
However, being able to do it without slaving in the kitchen and using cake decorations that cost only pennies is the icing on the cake! I am so excited to be sharing with you a super fun DIY I created that’s a piece of cake!

Using a few different techniques, we are about to turn this plain $8 grocery store bakery cake into a custom creation that’ll WOW people. You yourself will be “wowed” at how simple the process really is, and I guarantee you’ll be inspired to try your hand at creating your own creative masterpieces!

$8 Basic White Cake from grocery store bakery

Cascading flowers

This DIY is perfect for anyone on a budget. (and who isn’t these days?) Think wedding, birthday, baby or bridal showers! And don’t think you can’t spruce up some cupcakes using the same techniques included here.

Keep reading for all of the details on how to recreate this gorgeous cake. You’ll be on your way from ordinary to extraordinary in no time.


• 5″ grocery store bakery cake (plain white frosting)

• 2″ scallop circle punch

• low-temp hot glue gun

• toothpicks

• one piece of plain 8.5 x 11 white paper or cardstock (makes 12 flowers)

• acrylic paint (I used three different colors)

• paint brushes (or even q-tips would work fine for this project)

Supplies needed


Create up to 12 circles (flowers) from your paper using your 2″ scallop circle punch.

Poke a toothpick through the center of your paper circle and slide the circle up to the tip of the toothpick – leaving approx. 1/4″ inch of the toothpick showing.

Pinch the underside of the paper circle against the toothpick causing the petals of the flower to form upward. (there’s no rhyme or reason to this…just keep pinching and pushing until you achieve something that resembles a small unopened flower).

Step-by-step process for creating paper flowers

Three dimensional flowers are created by pulling/folding/bending the flower petals down a bit and adjusting them until you like the way it looks.

If you prefer to work with flattened flowers, simply turn your toothpick flower upside down and push down on the underside of the flower petals against a hard surface.

Tip: Do not fret over flower petals being perfectly symmetrical. And be prepared for the outcome of each flower to be slightly different. That’s what you want.


Once you have your flowers formed, it’s time for the hot glue gun.

While spinning your toothpick, add a small amount of hot glue to the underside of the flower where the paper and toothpick meet. After the glue has cooled down but is still pliable, pinch and wrap the glue around the toothpick and flower with your fingertips to ensure they are secured together. (Be careful – you can easily burn your fingertips if your glue hasn’t cooled long enough).

Adding hot glue to secure flower to toothpick


It’s time to paint…

Select your color palette and get creative. By changing up a few simple details you’ll wind up with a variety of different looks:

• painted or unpainted centers

• Muli-colored or solid-colored flowers

•  painted edges only

Tip: Again, imperfect results is what you are going for here. Just have fun with this and see what you come up with. Acrylic paint is very forgiving. If you don’t like how something turns out – let it dry and paint over the top of it. *wink*

Next step: Painting

SMART TIP: Preserve your creations for reuse or as a keepsake to remember the special day! Simply add a coat or two of modpodge to the bottom and tops of your flower creations to protect them from soiling. Wipe them down following the celebration and you’ll be good to go!

Please note: If you don’t plan on saving your paper creations and decide to skip the modpodge technique mentioned above, the icing from the cake will soil the paper. Therefore, I suggest adding the cake decor just prior to the event, (maybe 20 or 30  minutes beforehand), to prevent them from soiling for as long as possible. Depending on the thickness of the paper and the weather conditions,  you should be good for a couple of hours.

Since this is really going to be a matter of preference, there are a number of techniques you can use to dress up your plain cake. You can have the flowers cascade from the center of the cake down to one side like this.

Cascading flowers

Create small or large groupings of flowers on one side of the cake.

Small and large groupings of painted paper flowers

Painted paper flower cake decorations

Or simply place some flowers along the very edge of the cake…

simple flowers around the edge

Don’t really want to have to get out the paints?

Find some coordinating decorative paper and use the same technique to create coordinating flowers with instant-color. (scrapbooking paper works well).

Handful of unfinished paper flowers

Scrapbooking paper flowers

I used a 1″ round circle punch on the scrapbooking paper pictured in some of these how-to photographs to create some simple round decorations. (I used stick pins to secure them into the cake but if you aren’t comfortable with that you can still use toothpicks.)

Using scrapbook paper punches and pins

I hope you are inspired to get creative. It’s amazing the difference a little bit of paper can make, isn’t it?



  1. staci @ lizard & ladybug April 28, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Jessica..those flowers are just gorgeous!!!

    • Jessica @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design April 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks Staci…I love how super easy they are and how you can customize them for ANY event!!

  2. Verdell Brown April 28, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Super chic & easy! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Jessica @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design April 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      I’m so glad you love them Verdell!!!

  3. HiLLjO April 28, 2011 at 10:01 am

    So genius!!! Love it!

  4. felicia coleman April 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Thats so wonderful,thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Mindy April 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

    ha, awesome way to pretty up those grocery store cakes!

  6. Tracy April 28, 2011 at 11:39 am

    So so so thrilled to have found your blog. yay!

    • jenn s. April 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks, Tracy! Happy you did too :)

  7. Gloria @ I Do Venues April 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    This is a perfect way for the DIY bride to have a more upscale cake with a polished look- Love it

  8. Nicole @ Tradewind Tiaras April 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Beautiful! If you’re putting them on a buttercream cake, you might want to consider ironing on some waxed paper or freezer wrap on the back of the pretty paper, to prevent the grease from the icing soaking through.

    • Frances April 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

      Made that mistake before…….

    • Jessica @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design April 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      The freezer paper is a GREAT alternative to the modpodge I suggested using! Thanks for sharing with everyone!!

  9. Tina April 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Just linked this to my Sweet Floweret facebook page. I love decorating cakes. This gives a nice look. My 5 year old will love this on her next cake! Thanks.

  10. Maria Soto April 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    love these – thank for sharing

  11. Tania April 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Awesome.. Can’t wait to try these out..

  12. Amber-Lee April 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Ah! How awesome! I need an excuse for a cake now!

  13. Latoya April 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Very cute, cant wait to try!

  14. Rock Paper Scissors April 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Owning a paper store and loving all things paper… This post makes me absolutely giddy!

  15. Sara April 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Totally fabulous idea!!!!! As an owner of scrapbook store…why didn’t I think of this lol?! You can do amazing things with your scrapbooking supplies! Thanks for sharing & I love following your blog ;)

  16. Naomi April 29, 2011 at 3:39 am

    I love this DIY what a difference it makes to a plain white cake. Also, much cheaper than sugar flowers!

    • Jessica @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design April 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      You’re right Naomi. And the creative possibilities are endless – not to mention the flowers can be kept as keepsakes from the event as well! *wink*

  17. Jessica @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design April 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I’m so glad you all enjoyed the DiY. I do hope you’ll try your hand at it and share your results.

  18. Loralee Lewis April 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    This is absolutely lovely and inspired. What an original way to use paper in decor? Thank you for sharing Jessica! Thank you for posting HWTM! -Loralee

  19. Jess April 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m really excited to try my hand at thishttp://notebookchallenge.blogspot.com/

  20. Chris Komine May 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    It was so exciting to see this particular post! I couldn’t believe it because the same day I saw it, I had just started working on designing some paper lace flower cake/food picks!

    Thanks for your inspiration to go out and do something beautiful each day!

  21. Mae May 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Great idea and to think they’re made of paper. Still, they look wonderful.

  22. Cheryl July 9, 2013 at 5:22 am

    They are beautiful and such a great idea! But people will want edible flowers. I was just wondering if this could be done with edible paper that is used for cake decorating and paint with food colours. Will try this and post my comments! Wish me luck!

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