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Easy Christmas Cupcakes (to decorate with kids)

Here at Out of the Box Baking we’re okay with admitting that we usually start with a boxed cake mix. Such is the case with these amazing Christmas cupcakes. They’re bright, colorful, and loaded with Christmas cheer. And, like so many of our other offerings, they start with the boxed mix of your choice.

Different people have different ideas about holiday flavors.

Red Velvet, Italian Cream Cake, Chocolate, Funfetti

And that’s why we’re going to skip right over the cupcake-making part of this tutorial and let you decide what flavors to go with. In my case, I baked four different flavors: red velvet, Italian Cream Cake, chocolate, and Funfetti.

Different flavors, different decorations!

Do you sense a holiday theme coming?

I happened to be baking for a crowd (as you probably noticed from the photo above) so coming up with multiple options for the various decorations just made sense. A different cupcake flavor for each new decoration seemed perfect to me!

Here are the Four Designs I Chose:

My four choices: Santa’s hat, melting snowman, reindeer, Christmas tree

How I decorated the cupcakes:

I started with a batch of my favorite buttercream icing. Here’s what you’ll need for that part:

Ingredients for my creamy, dreamy buttercream:

  • 1 cup salted butter, (room temperature)
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbl Italian Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer (optional)

How I make my creamy, dreamy buttercream:

  • Beat cream cheese until smooth and silky.
  • Add butter and whip until light in color.
  • Add Crisco (for stability) and whip until incorporated.
  • Add vanilla and powdered sugar.
  • Continue to mix until the frosting is light and as fluffy as a cloud.
  • Use creamer to thin or flavor, if needed/wanted.

Now let’s talk about how I decorated my cupcakes:

Decorating the Santa’s Cap Cupcake:

What you’ll need:

  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • Red icing
  • 8b open star tip
  • miniature marshmallows

How to Decorate a Santa’s Cap Cupcake:

Place an 8B piping tip in a piping bag and filled the bag with red icing. Pipe a circle around the outer edges of the cupcake and work your way up, getting narrower as you go. Take your time and make it pretty! Now add miniature marshmallows like you see in the picture. You’ll need to add one mini-marshmallow on top to represent the tassel and more white marshmallows around the bottom edge of the cap. Voila! Santa has entered the room!

Decorating the Melting Snowman Cupcake:

Sparkly and fun!

What you’ll need:

  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • White icing
  • regular-sized marshmallow
  • Black icing for eyes, mouth, and arms
  • Orange icing for nose
  • Mini M&Ms for buttons

How to Decorate a Melting Snowman Cupcake:

Swirl on some white buttercream and roll in sanding sugar.

“Glue” a full-sized marshmallow onto the cupcake and dab on some eyes and lips using a little of my creamy, dreamy buttercream (dyed black). It’s also fun to add stick arms in black. Make up a tiny bit of bright orange buttercream and place in a tipless back. Squeeze on a tiny bit for the nose. Now add a few tiny M&Ms for buttons and. . .voila! All done!

Decorating the Reindeer Cupcake:

What You’ll Need:

  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • chocolate frosting
  • Add’l chocolate frosting in a slightly darker shade
  • mini pretzel twists
  • Red M&Ms (regular sized)
  • Candy eyes (or buttercream in white and black)

How to Decorate a Reindeer Cupcake:

This is a fun and easy one to do with the kids. Add cocoa powder to the traditional buttercream. Pipe it on using a 1M tip.

Add eyes. If you don’t have candy eyes, you can use a dab of white buttercream with a dot of black in the center. Add two “ears” made of mini pretzels. Use brown buttercream for the snout and a regular red M&M for the nose. Voila! A darling reindeer!

Decorating the Christmas Tree Cupcake:

What You’ll Need:

  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • green frosting
  • yellow frosting
  • Mini M&Ms

This one’s easy breezy! Start by coloring some of the icing in a pretty shade of green. Using the 1M tip, swirl wide at the bottom and narrower as you go up. Sprinkle on mini M&Ms and add a dab of yellow buttercream to the top for a star.

That’s it, folks!

You’ve got four delightful Christmas cupcakes, guaranteed to wow your guests and bring plenty of smiles to the faces of those you love.

If you like decorating sweet treats for the holidays you’ll love my Holiday Sugar Cookies, which are soft, tasty, and ready for some of my yummy royal icing! (For more tips on sugar cookie decorating, see my tips and tricks page.)

Another holiday favorite is this yummy Mint Oreo Trifle. It’s perfect for a mid-winter dessert!

Oh! And since we’re talking about fun holiday things you can do with the kids, why not check out this family-friendly recipe from South Your Mouth called White Chocolate Trash! Definitely something my grandkids would love to make!

Oh, and check out this amazing Rocky Road Fudge from my new friend, Miz Helen!

No matter what you’re nibbling on this holiday season, don’t be afraid to start with a box.

Enjoy a few pictures of some of my holiday favorites while you decide which of these yummy things to bake!

Sweet Christmas Treats from Out of the Box Baking
Christmas Cupcake Decorating

Christmas Cupcake Decorating

These colorful Christmas cupcakes are easy to decorate and fun to share with your friends and family.

Ingredients

  • Ingredients for my creamy, dreamy buttercream:
  • 1 cup salted butter, (room temperature)
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 bag (7-8 cups) powdered sugar
  • How I make my creamy, dreamy buttercream:
  • FOR THE SANTA'S CAP:
  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • Red icing
  • 8b open star tip
  • miniature marshmallows
  • Color 1/4 of the icing in red and place into a piping bag with an 8b open star tip
  • FOR THE MELTING SNOWMAN:
  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • White icing
  • regular-sized marshmallow
  • Black icing for eyes, mouth, and arms
  • Orange icing for nose
  • Mini M&Ms for buttons
  • FOR THE REINDEER CUPCAKE:
  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • chocolate frosting
  • Add’l chocolate frosting in a slightly darker shade
  • mini pretzel twists
  • Red M&Ms (regular sized)
  • Candy eyes (or buttercream in white and black)
  • FOR THE CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKE:
  • cupcakes in any flavor (baked and cooled)
  • green frosting
  • yellow frosting
  • Mini M&Ms

Instructions

  1. FOR THE BUTTERCREAM:
  2. Beat cream cheese until smooth and silky.
    Add butter and whip until light in color.
    Add Crisco (for stability) and whip until incorporated.
    Add vanilla and powdered sugar.
    Continue to mix until the frosting is light and as fluffy as a cloud.
    Now let’s talk about how I decorated my cupcakes:

    FOR THE SANTA'S CAP:

    Pipe a circle around the outer edges of the cupcake and work your way up, getting narrower as you go. Take your time and make it pretty! Now add miniature marshmallows like you see in the picture. You’ll need to add one mini-marshmallow on top to represent the tassel and more white marshmallows around the bottom edge of the cap. Voila! Santa has entered the room!

    FOR THE MELTNIG SNOWMAN:

    Swirl on some white buttercream and roll in sanding sugar. “Glue” a full-sized marshmallow onto the cupcake and dab on some eyes and lips using a little of my creamy, dreamy buttercream (died black). It’s also fun to add stick arms in black. Make up a tiny bit of bright orange buttercream and place in a tipless back. Squeeze on a tiny bit for the nose. Now add a few tiny M&Ms for buttons and. . .voila! All done!

    FOR THE REINDEER:

    This is a fun and easy one to do with the kids. Add cocoa powder to the traditional buttercream. (How much you add will depend on the quantity of icing you're using. For a full batch of buttercream I use 1/2 cup cocoa powder.) Pipe it on using a 1M tip. Add candy eyes. If you don’t have candy eyes, you can use a dab of white buttercream with a dot of black in the center. Add two “ears” made of mini pretzels. Use brown buttercream for the snout and a regular red M&M for the nose. Voila! A darling reindeer!

    FOR THE CHRISTMAS TREE:

    This one’s easy breezy! Start by coloring some of the icing in a pretty shade of green. Using the 1M tip, swirl wide at the bottom and narrower as you go up. Sprinkle on mini M&Ms and add a dab of yellow buttercream to the top for a star.

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