Even if you're new to cake decorating or an engaged couple on a budget, all you need are some basic cake decorating skills or a little time to shop online. You'll soon have a cake that has everyone wanting to take a picture!

The quickest way to gather ideas for creating a cake topper or to find the perfect one to purchase is to window shop the Internet. Search with phrases such as "funny wedding cake topper," "wedding anniversary cake topper," etc. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few examples:

· Hand-blown and spun glass cake toppers. Gold highlighted and sparkly or smooth and sleek, many of these are incredibly beautiful. A cake topper depicting a bride and groom ice-skating on top of a snowflake wedding cake is one of our favorites!

· Silver, gold or Swarovski crystal monograms (and numbers for birthdays and anniversaries)

· Sporty cake toppers can depict a bride and groom aboard a sailboat, riding horseback, roaring away in his and her race cars, and… well you get the picture.

· Humorous cake toppers include figures made in cartoonish likenesses of the betrothed and the popular resin figurines with bride and groom in formal wear acting out titles such as "The Tiff" and "Now I Have You."

· Vintage cake toppers can be quite lovely - and interesting! Check out the reviews of Penny Henderson's book, "Vintage Cake Toppers" at Amazon.com to get an idea of the possibilities.

· Character cake toppers are big hits with young children and brides and grooms. Mickey and Minnie at the altar, Winnie the Pooh and Friends on a child's honey pot, sculpted birthday cake are a couple of examples.

· Fresh fruit (grapes, kumquats, etc.) or sugar-crystallized fruit arranged in an extravagant display can make a pretty picture! (Use whole fruit so there's no danger of juice running into your icing).

· Castles - the sky's the limit here! Your castle cake topper can be the top of a sculpted castle cake or a glass, fairy castle. Castle cake toppers are often requested for wedding and birthday cakes, as well as special theme cakes such as renaissance.

· Here's a real attention grabber - a topsy-turvy cake with a cake topper that teeters over the edge. For example, a teapot with dormouse on a Mad Hatter cake or two figurines depicting mountain climbing bride and groom.

· Miniature toys. Here's another simple way to make an amazing cake topper. One idea is to place a rotating doll stand on top of a tiered or stacked birthday cake. Then add a cute toy train, such as Thomas, or a carousel with pretty white horses in pink halters, and your cake will be a big hit

· Polymer clay cake toppers can add a great deal of meaning, fun or both to a cake. You can find companies online that create them in realistic likenesses of the bride and groom sharing an activity (ballroom dancing, golfing, you name it!) You can also find generic but adorable ones, such as the hula bride and groom at in Rebecca Russell's "Round Head" collection at http://www.rebeccarusselltoppers.com/brides_and_groom.htm

· Flowers - place a bouquet of white lilies, beautifully molded with gum paste or a bouquet of real orchids on top of the cake and then add a few around the cake (using flower spikes), some pretty borders, and you'll have an amazingly beautiful cake.

Here's a tip for using flowers as a cake topper. Take into consideration the size of the cake. Tiny flowers can be used on a large cake, but if used on their own, they'll be lost. Conversely, large flowers like bird-of-paradise will dwarf a smaller cake. Also, as with any cake topper, consider the style and formality of the event. Daisies are more casual than roses, while stephanotis can swing either way.

Here are a few ideas for flower cake toppers:

· With a bouquet of flowers on top of the cake, arrange a few clusters of flowers here and there on the lower tiers as if a few blossoms have gracefully fallen from the bouquet.

· A gum paste plumeria or orchid lei encircling bride and groom figurines.

· Adorn your cake only with edible (non-poisonous) flowers, being sure that the flowers are also pesticide-free.

Many of these cake topper tips come from "Cake Decorating Made Easy!" Here's what one reader said about our Video Books:

"I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys baking, decorating and the feeling of accomplishment when everyone crowds around your cakes for a closer look."

Joanne Robitaille, Windsor, Ontario, Canad

If you've enjoyed learning about the visual and symbolic effects of cake toppers, check out our article on Decorated Cakes!

And here's one more cake topper tip: Be sure that your cake topper is positioned well on the cake. Use an ornament base or a plate underneath a cake topper so it won't sink into the cake. Attach small decorations to the cake or plate with royal icing and/or flower spikes.