Holidays, birthdays, season changes, family gatherings, bake sales and even weddings are perfect excuses for cupcakes. Instead of throwing away money for pre-made cupcakes, decorate your own this year, tailoring them to your family and the occasion. Whether you bake yours from scratch or use cake mixes and pre-made icing, you will save money and have cupcakes perfect for every occasion.


If you want to make animal cupcakes, for a fundraiser or a zoo-themed birthday party, you can use the cupcake as the face of the animal, the body or the landscape for the animal. Decorate the cupcakes with icing and use candy and cookies to make the details of the face. Use smaller cupcakes as the head, while the rest is the body. Form the face with chocolate chips, candies and icing. Use licorice for the tail and wafers for the ears. Mold the animals out of fondant or marzipan and place it on top of the iced cupcakes. Use piping tools to make details out the icing and candies to mimic the animals’ features. If decorating with icing is not your forte, buy some icing toppers (in the baking isle of the grocery store) and frost the cupcakes with sky blue and grass green icing for the background.


Make heart-shaped cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, bunnies for Easter and spiders for Halloween. Pumpkins and turkey cupcakes fit into every Thanksgiving dinner, while Rudolf and wreaths work for Christmas. Top the cupcakes with seasonal candies and cookies if you are strapped for time. Decorate the tops as flowers for spring, the sun for summer, leaves for fall and snowflakes for winter.


For barbecues make cupcakes that look like corn on the cob. Ice three cupcakes in white or yellow icing and top with rows or white and yellow jelly beans. Set the cupcakes side by side, put corn holders on the ends and a square of yellow taffy on top as a slice of butter. Create hamburger cupcakes with vanilla wafers for the buns, chocolate-cover cookie for the patty, green-tinted coconut for lettuce and red and yellow icing for ketchup and mustard. Nestle the “hamburger” with sesame seeds on top of a frosted cupcake, add some colorful sprinkles and treat the kids to the meal and dessert in one. Split a circus peanut for a hot dog bun, shape a caramel square into a hot dog shape and top with yellow icing piping for mustard and chopped up green gumdrop for relish.


For sporting events, make cupcakes that reflect the sport. Decorate the top of the cupcakes as the balls, with brown icing and white piping for a football, white icing and red piping stitches for a baseball, white icing and black designs for a soccer ball and orange icing and black piping for a basketball. Top plain cupcakes with sugar or plastic toppers of sports images if you don’t have much time or patience with the icing. Decorate the cupcake as the basketball goal, position a basketball candy on top of the rim and attach a cookie, piped with icing for the lines, for the backboard.