When I was still in Highschool, we have home economics class. That class thought us mostly hand crafting, cooking, sewing and cake decorating.
I was only 16 when I learned how to decorate a cake. When I was 18, I put my skills to test by decorating my own debutante's cake. I also prepared my cousin's debutante cake a month after.
The first thing that needs to be considered when decorating a cake is the motif. What colors are going to be used during the celebration and the materials?
Second will be the theme of the celebration. This actually depends on the age and the personality of the celebrant.
Third will be what type of cake does the celebrant want at the same time how many layers, what shapes the cakes will be and what flavor.
Now that you have all the necessary information, next will be the decorations you will be placing on the cake.
The first thing you need to prepare is the cake foundation or the where you will be placing your cake. I do not usually use ready made foundations as they make your cake very common. Most of the time, I rely on my "out of the box" ideas. I once used a small stool and then decorated them with pink feathers for my daughter's second birthday.
Consider the design then the materials. Basic materials consist of scissors, ribbons, long nose pliers and paper covered wires. The best part of considering the design is you have lots of fun imagining how the cake would look and it will be more rewarding once the cake you envisioned will come to life.
The most tedious part will be forming the ribbons as this will take you days or even weeks to make and a little painful in the fingers too since you would be twisting and turning the paper covered wires to suit the kind of ribbons you would want to place in your cake.
Once you are done with the ribbons you have to option to buy ready made icing flowers or you can make yourself. There are tons of recipes for making icing flowers and it is also fun to do but in my case I usually buy ready made icing flowers to save time and also everytime I go to a party needs shop there will be stuff that you can use for the cake.
Form the base of your cake and lay it in your foundation, apply icing on your cake or a gum paste and form or trim in accordance to your design. After that you can then lay the flowers, the ribbons that you made. All you just need is a touch of imagination and innovation.