16 easy Christmas cupcake ideas and decorations

Christmas cupcakes are great for parties, buffets, and presents, and the perfect activity to do with the kids over the holidays…

Christmas cupcake ideas
We've got Christmas cupcakes covered, from pudding cakes to gingerbread with clementine frosting
(Image credit: Rights Unknown)

In the mood for some festive baking? How about trying one of these Christmas cupcakes ideas. Whether you’re looking to make homemade food gifts, or you want to jazz up your favourite cupcake recipe, we’ve got you covered.

“Cupcakes are a wonderful idea at Christmas, they are simple to make, don't take much time and even the least competent baker can make them,” says Ruth Chubb who teaches children to bake at Three Bears Cookery Club.  “Children will love getting all creative with these festive cupcakes too.  Little ones can help mix the cake mixture and stamp out the festive shapes using fondant.  Older children could even make their own Christmas decorations. As well as using fondant, you can also mix your icing sugar with a little water and add some food gel colouring to jazz up your cupcakes and even some edible glitter to give them that festive twist.”

And it’s a good way to save money on costly gifts. “Pop them in a presentation box – you can either buy festive cupcake boxes or get the kids involved using stickers and stencils to design your own cupcake box. Don't forget your festive cupcake cases too!” says Ruth.

We've got everything from festive Rudolph cranberry cupcakes to impressive Christmas present cupcakes. If you're in the mood for a challenge, we've got snowflake or Christmas pud cupcakes or, for something quick and easy, try our starry chocolate or mini fruit cupcakes. Christmas baking has never been simpler. 

Easy Christmas cupcake ideas and decorations

Boozy Christmas cupcakes

Christmas fruit cake, but not as we know it

1. Boozy Christmas cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 15 min

Because what isn’t boozy at Christmas time, frankly? These fruitcakes are laced with a good dose of brandy (the mix will need a good overnight soaking) and topped with marzipan. The decor is simple and classy, you’ll just need a steady hand with a writing pen – so go easy on that brandy bottle while you're baking.

Get the recipe: Boozy Christmas cupcakes

Holly cupcakes

Learn how to make fondant holly, step by step

2. Holly cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr

These simple classic cupcakes are topped with vanilla buttercream. The skill is all in the edible fondant holly leaves, which can be created using this step-by-step picture recipe. Make sure you get your hands on some festive-feeling cupcake cases, too. A nice one for gifting in a display box wrapped with lovely seasonal ribbon.

Get the recipe: Holly cupcakes

Snowmen cupcakes

A cute one from kids baking queen Annabel Karmel

3. Snowmen cupcakes

Makes/serves: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 55 min

Children’s baking icon Annabel Karmel came up with this brilliant recipe to get the kids involved in the buffet preparation. Fizzy laces for scarves, marshmallow heads and icing pens to do their best decorating work, this is one to aim for rustic charm rather than finesse and perfection. 

Get the recipe: Snowmen cupcakes

Gingerbread cupcakes

Gingerbread cake, with gingerbread people

4. Gingerbread cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 min

Totally adorable, these ginger cakes have a delightful festive flavour, including cloves, cinnamon and clementine zest in the mix. Topped with clementine frosting and decorated with mini gingerbread people, who the kids can decorate in their finest festive get-up. 

Get the recipe: Gingerbread cupcakes

Christmad pud cupcakes

5. Christmas pud cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 50 min

If you can’t be faffed with all the steaming involved in a Christmas pud, this is a great alternative for all the flavour but none of the fuss. Topped with marzipan, icing and fondant holly, pop them on the dinner table after the turkey fest to give pudding lovers their annual fix of figgy pudding in a cupcake.

Get the recipe: Christmas pud cupcakes

Christmas star cupcakes

How very glamorous are these star cupcakes?

6. Christmas star cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr

The perfect foodie gift for Christmas, these posh cupcakes are covered in edible glitter (can there be a more celebratory creation than edible glitter?) and topped with a fondant star. A total joy, and terribly professional looking. 

Get the recipe: Christmas star cupcakes

Snowflake cupcakes

A good one for gifting, these snowflake cakes look uber professional

7. Snowflake cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 30 min

Top your cupcakes with fondant icing patterned like snowflakes to get this lovely effect – the icing underneath can be any colour you like – though, clearly we favour red and green at this time of year and  blue can work well too. A great gift, too, or to have on your best cake stand at a festive gathering.

Get the recipe: Christmas snowflake cupcakes

Mince pie cupcakes

Excellent pairing with a mulled wine, though what isn't?

8. Mince pie cupcakes

Makes/serves: 18 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 10 min

An American spin on a classic mince pie, these cakes have mincemeat in both the batter and the frosting, which is also laced with brandy. And the best news of all is that they go just beautifully with a large glass of mulled wine.

Get the recipe: Mince pie Christmas cupcakes

Christmas Rudolph cranberry cupcakes

9. Christmas Rudolph cranberry cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium |  Total time: 50 min

A classic sponge made festive with the addition of cranberries, do your best fondant work topped with these cute Rudolph toppers. A brilliant gift for the kid’s stockings, or to keep them happy when the grown ups have a gathering.

Get the recipe: Christmas Rudolph cranberry cupcakes

Cupcakes in a jar

A cupcake in a jam jar is a work of delicious genius

10. Cupcakes in a jar

Makes/serves: 10 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 50 min

Here's a unique idea: serve your cupcakes in a jar – that way, they're instantly transformed into presents, or, at the very least, a talking point at your party. Because we all love a quirky cake idea, and the fact there’s mulled wine in the batter, and the frosting is flavoured with Irish whiskey and chestnuts means it’s jolly festive too. 

Get the recipe: Christmas cupcakes in a jar

Present cupcakes

The most delicious of parcels

11. Present cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 30 min

Giving homemade gifts this year? Turn cupcakes into pressies by topping these cute carrot cakes with marshmallow icing, all wrapped up with a fizzy lace bow. The kids will go bonkers for them. Parcels of joy indeed. 

Get the recipe: Christmas present cupcakes

Christmas mini fruit cupcakes

Fruit cupcakes in Christmas tree form, simple and effective

12. Christmas mini fruit cupcakes

Makes/serves: 24 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 15 min

Make your Christmas cake in individual cupcake form this year, and it’ll get snaffled up far quicker – especially arranged in this easy tree-like display. Using ready-to-roll icing, you can decorate the tops however you fancy – fondant holly, colourful stars, sugar balls, anything festive goes.

Get the recipe: Mini fruit cakes

Sparkly Christmas cupcakes

We'd be thrilled with this gorgeous gift

13. Sparkly cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 50 min

We actually can’t stop looking at these enchanting cupcakes. Because who doesn't love a bit of sparkle at Christmas? Orange buttercream is sprinkled with edible glitter and stars. Place in a gift box for an affordable yet very thoughtful present.

Get the recipe: Sparkly Christmas cupcakes

Mincemeat cupcakes with coconut snow

Cute and colourful, and topped with a mini candle

14. Mincemeat cupcakes with coconut snow

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 35 min

Topped with clementine-infused icing, these mince pie cupcakes are super seasonal, and can be topped with whatever you fancy, like these poinsettias fashioned out of fondant. Instead of coconut, top them with grated white chocolate and sprinkles if that takes your fancy more.

Get the recipe: Christmas mincemeat cupcakes with coconut snow

Christmas jumper cupcakes

If there's one thing we love more than wearing a Christmas jumper, it's eating one

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

15. Christmas jumper cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 1 hr 30 min

Don’t just wear your Christmas jumper, eat it too. These cupcakes are seriously adorable (we’re particularly fond of the fondant polar bear)  and are made with a basic cupcake recipe – though the fondant work is anything but basic. This step-by-step guide makes it pretty easy though. You’re welcome. 

Get the recipe: Christmas jumper cupcakes

Peppermint cupcakes

(Image credit: Rights Unknown)

16. Peppermint creams cupcakes

Makes/serves: 12 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 50 min

A retro flavour, these peppermint cupcakes are quite the special treat, containing a surprise After Eight mint centre, buttercream, and topped with homemade peppermint creams. The festive toppers here are also homemade, but you could save time if your baking skill set isn’t quite high enough, by topping with After Eights. 

Get the recipe:  Peppermint creams cupcakes

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Lara Kilner
Food Writer

Lara Kilner is a writer and editor with two decades of experience in national newspapers, magazines, and websites. She writes about food, lifestyle, travel, health and wellness, and entertainment, and regularly interviews celebrities and people with interesting life stories and experiences. Her foodie content has included interviews with Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, the Hairy Bikers, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc, Andi Oliver, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and Nadiya Hussain.