Holiday Floral Buttercream Cake Tutorial

holiday floral pattern cake by sugar and sparrow

I’ve been in the Holiday spirit since before Thanksgiving, which is about the time all the cute decorations hit the shelves and the Christmas music started flooding the radio stations. I can’t help but have hundreds of ideas for festive cake decorating this time of year, especially because creative prints and fun color schemes are everywhere I look! It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

One of my favorite cake decorating techniques I learned over the last year is how to to use icing spatulas and piping tips to create floral print patterns on buttercream cakes. So when my friends over at Wilton asked me to create a cake for their Holiday campaign, (after squealing) I instantly thought of recreating the buttercream floral print look with a Holiday theme! It’s easier than it looks with the right tools, a great color scheme, and some inspiration from your favorite Holiday florals and foliage (think Poinsettias, pine sprigs, snowberries, holly, and all the flowers that make you think of this festive season).

christmas floral cake by sugar and sparrow

buttercream cake with holiday flowers by sugar and sparrow

Although I already had the essential Wilton piping tips and icing spatula on hand, Wilton was kind enough to send me the perfect Icing Color Gels and decorating brush set to create the ultimate festive cake!

wilton cake decorating supplies

Here’s a video to see the techniques and step-by-step in action, and I’ll walk you through every detail below:

You Will Need:

Step 1: Chill Your Buttercream Cake  

It’s essential that you begin this technique with a cold buttercream cake as your canvas. That way, you won’t have to worry about accidentally smudging your smooth buttercream as you create the floral patterns.

how to frost smooth buttercream cake

After frosting (I’ve used a tiny amount of Wilton’s Creamy Peach to get this subtle cream shade for my backdrop), chill the cake for at least 30 minutes, or until the buttercream is firm to the touch.

Step 2: Prepare Your Buttercream Color Palette

While your cake is chilling, divide your buttercream into separate bowls (one for each color). Dip a toothpick into the Wilton Icing Color Gel of your choice and apply it to the first bowl of buttercream. Mix with a spoon and continue adding color until it’s the perfect shade, then repeat with the other colors. The color palette for this specific cake is Creamy Peach, Christmas Red, Juniper Green, Moss Green, Brown, Burgundy, White (non-colored vanilla buttercream), and Black.

wilton tip 2 piping on buttercream

When your icing color palette is looking perfect, prepare your piping bags by snipping off the end and fitting each one with a Wilton Tip 2. This will give you a small, perfectly circular opening for more precise piping. Fill each piping bag with your buttercream colors and marvel at how pretty they look all together!

Step 3: Create Floral Pattern Tracings (optional)

Since I am an ultra-perfectionist, I like to know what my floral patterns are going to look like on the cake and give myself a guide by tracing the patterns on prior to piping. I created and printed out templates of simple floral patterns and traced them onto wax paper, then used the dull end of a wooden skewer to imprint the patterns onto my cold buttercream cake.

how to create floral patterns for cakes

how to trace patterns onto buttercream cakes

For the tracings, you could also use floral designs from wrapping paper or doing an online search for Holiday floral patterns. If you’re more of a go-with-the-flow type of cake decorator, feel free to improvise the patterns as you go!

Step 4: Pipe Your Patterns Onto The Cake

Now for the fun part – piping the designs! Using your piping bags, outline the floral pattern tracings one by one. You’ll find that some designs (like the fir tree branches) will only require outlines, while other designs (like pinecones and snowberries) require dots. The Wilton Tip 2 is perfect for either of these techniques, as it allows you to drag the buttercream in precise lines or dot the buttercream on for circular textures.

how to pipe flowers onto buttercream cakes

For the flower designs, pipe the outline of the flower before filling a little bit of buttercream inside the petals. Use a small icing spatula to swipe the buttercream inward and create the look of petals.

how to make buttercream poinsettia

Repeat the process of piping and spatula painting until your entire cake is patterned with holiday florals.

how to paint flowers onto buttercream

Depending on the look you’re going for, you can have as many or as little designs as you’d like!

Step 5: Smooth With Paint Brushes

After all of your piping is complete, it’s time to do a tiny bit of finish work to make everything look smooth and uniform. It’s essential to have a few paintbrushes handy (I’m using Wilton’s 5 Piece Decorating Brush Set) and a small bowl of water for this part. 

how to smooth buttercream piping paintbrush

Dip your paintbrush into a tiny bit of water and gently press down on any places on the cake where sharp peaks have formed. This technique helps flatten and smooth designs like branches, berries, and anywhere your piping is peaking.

I couldn’t be happier with how this Holiday Floral Cake turned out! Wilton had the perfect paint brushes and Icing Color Gels for this palette and I am so happy to add them to my already-vast collection of Wilton cake decorating products.

christmas cake by sugar and sparrow

What kind of festive cakes are you planning this season? There are a TON of brilliant Holiday cake ideas like this one over on Wilton’s Christmas Ideas page, so be sure to check it out for some inspiration! And if you try this buttercream floral pattern technique, be sure to tag me on Instagram so I can see your creativity in action. Happy Holiday season to you and yours!


  1. Annie Maier

    This is gorgeous, and I love that you didn’t use fondant! Your precise and detailed instructions make me think I could actually pull this off. 😀

  2. Splendid and thank you so much for your precise explanation. I really wish to bake something smilies for my daughter’s 10 th birthday .
    Thank you !!

    • Thank you, Sash! I hope you end up making something like this for your daughter’s birthday! This design would make an awesome birthday cake 🙂

  3. I love this so much! You inspired me to be able to tackle a similar cake today wish I could attach a photo. I especially appreciated the tips about 1)actually using a tip (I’m a tip less bag lover, but sometimes you just need a tip!) and 2) pulling “in” with the spatula. Thanks so much!

    • Yay, Sara! So happy to hear you found this tutorial helpful! I’d love to see your cake, if you’ve got Instagram try tagging me in a post or sending a pic to me there!

  4. […] Sugar and Sparrow’s love of baking is evident in this decadent and impressive Christmas cake with a buttercream floral print inspired by seasonal flowers and foliage! Find the Recipe Here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.