Inedible garnishes, designed for purely decorative or aesthetic purposes, are commonly served with birthday cakes or cocktails. Some examples include candles, paper parasols, cocktail picks, sparklers or straws.
The practice of decorating a cake with a candle dates to Ancient Greece, where cakes made in honor of the goddess Artemis were decorated with candles meant to symbolize the light of the moon. The first birthday cake is believed to have originated in Germany during the Middle Ages. Since then, the tradition of cake decoration has become increasingly elaborate. For example, cakes were once decorated with only one candle to symbolize moonlight or the light of life; it is now common to decorate cakes with a number of candles representing a person's age.
Inedible cocktail garnishes may serve a purpose in stirring mixed drinks, or supporting edible garnishes within the drink. Examples of these include swizzle sticks and olive-bearing toothpicks. However, garnishes are often purely decorative and can include small plastic animals and umbrellas with no further purpose.