10 Unconventional Christmas Cake Ideas to Celebrate an Unconventional Year

A beautiful Christmas cake makes for a stunning display at just about any holiday gathering. From shimmery stars to elaborate winter wonderlands, Christmas cake designs can be anything from simple and clean to wildly elaborate. 

Here at Don’t Tell Charles, we love to approach design from outside the box. Sure, Christmas is traditional and nothing screams Christmas more than the traditional stars, snowflakes, wreaths etc. But once in a while, we like to shake things up a bit. Especially here in Australia, where Christmas occurs in the middle of summer, surrounded by pools, board shorts, beers, barbecues and lots of sun. 

So when it comes to the unconventional, we love to encourage you to think about what Christmas means to you. What do you actually do for Christmas? No snow? Well, no worries. No pine trees? That’s fine too. Draw inspirations from YOUR way of doing Christmas and you may just be surprised at what you can find.  

To give you a kickstart, here are some Christmas cake design inspirations ranging in just about every part of the traditional to unconventional spectrum.

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Christmas Tree Abstraction

Concrete buttercream cake with green watercolour and gold leafing with an edible golden chocolate sail by Don't Tell Charles

This gorgeous cake is a concrete buttercream design with swatches of green watercolour. The traditional Christmas green colouring is accented by touches of edible gold foil giving it a look reminiscent of a Christmas tree forest on the horizon. On top of the cake is a beautiful chocolate sail painted also with edible gold, almost like a star at the top of a Christmas tree. 


Flight of Sophistication

Black and gold buttercream cake with golden chocolate reindeer and baubles by Don't Tell Charles

Showstoppers don’t always have to be multiple tiers. This single tier black and gold cake can vouch for that. The black is achieved by painting a thin layer of edible paint over a dark chocolate ganache cover. You can say the gold paint splatter resembles glittering stars. And the rest, gold reindeer and baubles made out of chocolate plus a couple of sprigs of rosemary. These typical symbols of Christmas speak for themselves. 


Eclectic Ornaments

Pink and lime green watercolour cake with matching isomalt sails and chocolate ball ornaments by the Don't Tell Charles student workshops

Red and green are VERY Christmas. Here, we’ve opted for a slightly softer and dare I say more modern palette, deep pink and lime green instead. These watercolour buttercream beauties are students’ work from one of our previous Christmas workshops, and they sure make a statement. Topping the cakes are pink and green isomalt sails, as well as gold and silver chocolate balls for a fun and funky Christmas twist. Scattered pieces of crushed meringue for ‘snow’ complete the look. 


Hanukkah Holiday

Blue and white modern Hanukkah buttercream cake with black and gold accents, a white chocolate sail, and a green bouquet.

Perfect for either Christmas or Hanukkah, this vibrant blue and white watercolour buttercream cake would be the perfect centerpiece for a holiday get together. Spatters of edible black paint and touches of gold leaf give the cake a modern, artistic feel. The cake is topped with an elegant white chocolate sail and a beautiful bouquet of festive greenery. 


Playful and Festive

From the Don't Tell Charles student workshops, a concrete buttercream cake with painted pine trees and stars and colourful chocolate presents.

Another example of students work from one of our previous Christmas workshops, these cakes bring playful colours to this adorable Christmas design. Borrowing inspiration from Christmas presents and wrapping paper, we painted pine trees and stars all around a concrete buttercream cake. To add colours and inject colourful Christmas cheer, chocolate geometric shapes painted with edible paint to look like presents adorn the top of the cake and the base of the cake board. 


Learn how to create stunning concrete buttercream cakes like these with fresh floral arrangements, metallic and marbled chocolate sails, edible paint splashes and more in our A-Z, one-stop-shop Buttercream Cake Mastery online course.


An Elegant Christmas

A white and gold two-tiered buttercream cake with a gold chocolate sail and gold chocolate balls with a white and gold bouquet of fresh flowers.

White and gold is the peak of elegance and sophistication during the holidays. Featuring two tiers, the bottom gold and the top white. The gold in the bottom tier is achieved by painting a thin layer of edible gold paint over a dark chocolate ganache cover. The smooth white top tier is adorned with edible gold leaf panels. And can we take a moment to appreciate how crispy and classy this cake feels due to the accentuation of the sharp edges? The cake is topped with a gold chocolate sail and gold chocolate balls and adorned with a white and gold arrangement of fresh carnations and roses. To tie in with the colour scheme, some of the leaves were painted with gold lustre dust. 


Run-in with Rudolph

A signature DTC concrete buttercream cake designed like Rudolph with chocolate antlers, nose, and ears and white chocolate drip and caramel popcorn topping.

You can’t do Christmas without Rudolph. We kept with the DTC signature concrete buttercream finish, but you can dress up Rudolph in pretty much any colour you want. He’s guaranteed to put a smile on every guest’s face at the Christmas party. Wait, Rudolph is a he right? Rudolph has been playing in the snow here (we think), hence the white chocolate drip. His nose is made out of chocolate and so are his antlers, ears and eyes. His smirking smile is painted on with edible food paint using a thin paint brush, but you’ve got free reign (see what I did there) over his expression. Caramel popcorns adorn the top of the cake, partly to complete the look as you really don’t want Rudolph’s head to be flat, and partly to provide support and keep the antlers in place. Gold leaf always makes everything look better, so a touch of gold leaf completes Rudolph here.


Bad Santa

Buttercream Christmas cake designed as the Autrailian concept of "Bad Santa" by Don't Tell Charles

December means summer here in Australia, and it gets quite scorching. Every year, I feel sorry for all the Aussie Santa who have to don the whole Santa outfit, hat, beard and all. It gets so hot!  So, Santa is reimagined here in the Aussie Christmas wearing yep, chocolate sunnies. We did a series of Bad Santa workshops previously in which you can dress him up in all sorts of sunnies and beard styles. I’d recommend sticking with the Santa hat and the red colour scheme though, otherwise you risk your cake looking like just some random guy on the street. This cake has an ombre buttercream finish, but anything would look great here eg, smooth cover, watercolour etc as long as you stick to the red colour scheme. The beard, sunnies and hat are all made from chocolate. The cake is finished with scattered pieces of meringue and clear isomalt. 


Christmas in the Jungle

A white buttercream cake with a green watercolour design, gold painted chocolate bark and tropical leaves, and a golden chocolate sail.

For a tropical or jungle Christmas celebration, this cake is a beautiful, albeit unconventional Christmas design. Its base is white buttercream with green watercolour in the middle. Gold painted chocolate barks are attached to the center of the cake along with two small tropical leaves. A gold chocolate sail adorns the top of the cake and is surrounded by clear isomalt pieces to give it the icy finishing touches. More clear isomalt pieces decorate the bottom of the cake like a subtle, dewy frost creeping in. 


Summertime Christmas Cheer

An unconventional Christmas cake of concrete buttercream with a modern blue and white design and an ice cream cone of meringue and silver leaf and a pool of white chocolate ganache.

This cake makes for a truly unconventional Christmas celebration. As mentioned, Christmas means summer here in Australia. And you know what summer means. Ice cream! Using blue and white, a popular Christmas colour scheme, this concrete cake is painted with blue abstract buttercream and accented with white paint splashes. A puddle of white chocolate ganache pools at the bottom of the ice cream cone adorning the top of the cake. That ice-cream swirl that is covered in edible silver leaf? It’s made of baked meringue so that the ice-cream remains top-light. Because if it’s top heavy, yep, it falls over.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year and there’s so much that you can pull inspiration from. Anything from traditional snowflakes and pine trees to ice cream and Santa on a beach can make a wonderfully festive design for your holiday cake. 

If you’re interested in learning any of the techniques you see in the cakes shown above, check out our online courses. You’ll find everything you need to know from cake recipes, buttercream foundation, efficient techniques to decoration skills such as isomalt, chocolate sails etc.


If you’re wanting to but lack the foundation skills to do so, you may want to check out our Buttercream Cake Mastery online course. This course will show how to efficiently create stunning buttercream cakes from start to finish, including:

>>Baking and making buttercream from scratch

>>Filling and covering a straight, smooth and sharp buttercream cake

>>Achieving the DTC signature concrete and watercolour buttercream finishes

>>Stacking tiers and conquering square cakes

>>Creating modern cake decorations with chocolate

>>Working with fresh floral cake decorations and so much more.

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For the first 4 months of 2020, we donated $17,000 AUD to organisations that helped, and continue to help, those affected by the devastating bushfires that ravaged Australia:

Foodbank NSW – $4316

Wildlife Victoria – $4317

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal – $4316

National Bushfire Disaster Appeal – $2025

Vets for Compassion – $450

Foodbank Victoria – $1575

Between May 2020 and August 2021, we donated all proceeds to Foodbank Victoria who are doing incredible work to help with the COVID-19 Food Crisis.  To date (end of August 2021) we have donated a total of  $7251.00 to Foodbank Victoria. 

You can read more about the amazing work they’re doing here: Foodbank Victoria.


From October 2021, donations will also be made to Impact For Women, who are making a difference for women and children escaping extreme violence at home.

Impact For Women – $1587.55

Vinnies Flood Appeal – $777

Foodbank QLD – $663

Foodbank Victoria – $2506