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Graduation Cupcake Decorating Ideas

I am a mom of two sweet boys with another one on the way. I worked in the financial world for five years before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

Graduation cupcakes for my son's kindergarten class.

Graduation cupcakes for my son's kindergarten class.

Graduation Cake Ideas

Graduation is a special day in every student's life that signifies many months or years of hard work and the completion of one's studies. This kind of accomplishment is certainly one that deserves a big celebration. If you have an upcoming graduate in your life, recognize this amazing achievement with cupcakes topped with one of the following fun and easy decorating ideas.

Whether your graduate has finished kindergarten, high school, or college, read further to discover several different decorating ideas for your graduation cupcakes.

How to Decorate Graduation Cupcakes

Wanting to do something special for my son's kindergarten class, I decided to make cupcakes to celebrate their upcoming graduation. These cupcakes were very easy to make and got the kids super excited for their closing ceremony, which was later that night. Below you will find a list of supplies and step-by-step directions for creating our graduation cupcakes.

Ingredients and Supplies

  • Yellow cake mix
  • Buttercream icing
  • Red and yellow food coloring
  • M&M's
  • Hershey's chocolate bars
  • Fruit Roll-Ups


  1. Bake cake mix according to directions on the box. Let cupcakes completely cool before icing.
  2. Add yellow food coloring to a batch of buttercream icing (see recipe below)and frost cupcakes. Leave a small amount of icing to be able to make the red mouths.
  3. Break the Hershey's chocolate bars into square shapes for the graduation caps. (I used the fun size and broke them in half.) Place the chocolate square arranging it to look like a diamond at the top part of the cupcake.
  4. Cut 3-4 small strips in a red Fruit Roll-Up to make the tassel. Attach the tassel to the cap with a small amount of icing.
  5. Use a small amount of icing to add your desired color of M&M to the top of the tassel. (My son's school colors are purple and gold, so I used purple M&M's.)
  6. To finish up the cupcakes, add 2 M&M's for the eyes and use red icing to create the mouth.

Buttercream Icing Recipe

I have never been a fan of store-bought icing, so I always use this buttercream icing recipe given to me by my mom.


  • 1 stick of butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 pound of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of milk (add more if too thick)
  • Dash of salt


Mix all above ingredients with a mixer for 1-2 minutes. If making a colored icing, add desired food coloring and mix again. Spread on top of cupcakes once they are completely cooled.

Candy Substitutions

You can also use these substitutes to make our graduation cupcakes.

  • Hershey's chocolate bars: Ghirardelli chocolate squares or chocolate-covered cookies
  • Fruit Roll-Ups: Twizzlers or fondant
  • M&M's: Reese's Pieces or Skittles

How to Make Graduation Cap and Diploma Cupcake Toppers

More Decorating Ideas for Graduation Cupcakes

If you are celebrating a high school or college graduation, here are a few more fun and easy decorating ideas for your graduation cupcakes.

  • Graduation Cap Cupcakes: Use a peanut butter cup for the bottom of the graduation cap. Add a small amount of icing to attach the chocolate square. Attach a candy tassel and button with icing to the top of the cap.
  • Diploma Cupcakes: Melt a vanilla-flavored Tootsie Roll in the microwave and flatten out. Cut into square and roll into diploma shape. Cut a long strip out of a Fruit Roll-Up and twist around the diploma.
  • Star Cupcakes: Cut star shapes out of fondant with star-shaped cookie cutters. If you are attaching multiple stars, use icing to glue the stars together.
  • Monogrammed Cupcakes: Use fondant or icing to create the graduate's initials. You could also use this same method to create the school's initials to top your cupcakes.
  • Chocolate Cupcakes: After baking chocolate-flavored cupcakes, tear off the cupcake liner. Turn the cupcake upside down to make it the base of the graduation cap. Use icing or melted chocolate to attach a chocolate square, candy tassel, and button to the top of the cupcake.

Graduation Party Poll

Graduation Party Ideas

If you are hosting a graduation party for your upcoming graduate, any of these cupcake design ideas would be the perfect dessert to serve your guests. Not only are cupcakes much easier for your guests to handle, but you also save yourself from standing at the cake table half the night handing out plates of cake. All you need is a cupcake stand in the middle of the food table and you are free to celebrate this special day with your graduate and loved ones.

I hope you have found some fun and easy decorating ideas for your graduation cupcakes. If you have any questions or comments about our cupcake design or any of the other decorating ideas, feel free to leave these in the comment section below. Congratulations to your special graduate!