Santa baby, if you hurry down the chimney, chances are you’re going to be here a while munching on cookies—and we certainly can’t blame you.
The holidays are a perfect time to get creative with baking, and the cookie options for your Christmas dessert plate are endless. If you’re looking to forgo a trip to the bakery and take on a festive DIY instead, here’s how to decorate your cookies like a pro. Pass the milk, please!
Tip 1: Be Delicate
Chances are if you’re whipping up a batch of sugar cookies, you’re looking forward to dousing them with icing and sprinkles. Be intricate with your planning and get the appropriate tools. A piping bag might channel your inner Betty Crocker, but there’s a good possibility that it’s difficult to manage and you’ll end up with a mess on the kitchen counter.
Related Reading: How to Pipe Icing Like a Pro
Check out some more pointers on making and applying royal icing below:
Or, opt for icing bottles so you can expertly place the icing on your snowflake cookies just so.
Grab a set of tweezers too (preferably one you don’t use to pluck your brows!) and place your sprinkles exactly where they’re meant to be.
4-Ounce Plastic Squeeze Bottles, 8 for $10.99 on Amazon
Great for the little details.
Tip 2: Let It Snow
If you’re hoping for a white Christmas, your sweets can definitely take on the snow treatment—in the form of sugar, that is. Roll chocolate crinkle cookies or red velvet crackle cookies in powdered sugar before baking, or use it to shower linzer cookies once cooled; roll other cookies in coarse sanding sugar before baking; or simply dust them (like the Candy Cane Cookies below) with fine, granulated sugar.
In any case, it not only gives them an extra pop and makes them sparkle, it makes them taste all the more delicious. And it’s the small touches you can’t forget.
Related Reading: 11 Ingredients That Level Up Your Baking Game
Tip 3: Don’t Rely On Typical Shapes
Linzer Sablés are a satisfying addition to your dessert table. The sweet, slightly spiced dough makes for a perfect treat on a cozy winter evening, but let’s face it: The cookie’s circle-in-circle shape is boring. Put a more festive spin on the treat with a cookie cutter set with Christmas shapes. Won’t you be more inclined to take a bite out of that jelly cookie with a candy cane or star shape in the center?
Jokumo 11-Piece Linzer Cookie Cutter Set, $23 on Amazon
This set has 11 interchangeable center shapes to cut out trees, stars, snowmen, and teddy bears.
Try new shapes for your sugar cookies too, like unicorns, dinosaurs, cats and dogs, and cacti. Decorate them with traditional red, white, and green colors if you think they need a little more Christmas spirit, and try your hand at little details like scarves and ornaments using royal icing and/or sprinkles and dragees.
Related Reading: 9 Holiday Baking Disasters to Avoid
Tip 4: Whip It Good
No sandwich is more satisfying than a cookie sandwich, right? These Chocolate Sandwich Cookies With Peppermint Buttercream Filling just scream “Merry Christmas!” But before squishing your filling between the cookies, make your whipped cream look enticing. A whipped cream dispenser will allow you to play around with designs and make a plate of these bad boys seem irresistible.
Tip 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Switch It Up
No December is complete without a plate of gingerbread cookies. But don’t make these tiny fellas all the same. Even if you don’t invest in a new set of cookie cutters, now that you have your icing bottles and tweezers, you can get super crafty. Make each cookie have a different personality, switch up the sprinkle colors, and decorate their cute gingerbread men suits differently. It’ll be a colorful family that’ll join yours at the holiday table.
Yunko Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters, 3 for $8.99 on Amazon
Of course, you can also switch up the shapes.
Related Reading: How to Make Keto Christmas Cookies
Tip 6: Pick a Different Color Scheme
View this post on Instagram
Fun fact: I squeaked into the deadline for joining my blogger pals in this year’s #christmascookiesquad by the skin of my teeth, but here we are! Holiday wreath macarons! 〰️ Apparently my running theme with cookies (and desserts in general) is putting allll the colorful things together 🤷♀️ At least my kids will always like them?! Double tap if you love sugar and color, lol! 〰️ What’s your go to holiday cookie tradition?! Share yours in our hashtag to spread the love! #sugarandclothloves #christmascookiesfordays #christmascookie #macaronstagram #macaronmonday #macaronlover #macaronart #holidaydessert #holidaydesserts #colorfuldesserts #abmlifeissweet #abmholidayspirit #bhgholiday #bhgstylemaker #southernlivingmag #southerncharm #houstonblogger #texasmonthly
A post shared by Ashley Rose | MOM DIY DECOR (@sugarandcloth) on
As delightful as the red-green color combo can be, sometimes you need a little break. If you’re thinking about making classic Pinwheel Cookies don’t feel as though you’re married to those shades. Same goes for sugar cookies. Spice things up with gold and silver food coloring and sprinkles, or go with wintry blue and white—or keep it monochrome. If you want to find another palette that works well for your winter-themed sweets, head to Pinterest for some inspiration.
Tip 7: Don’t Forget About the Finishing Touches
A little extra attention goes a long way. Topping off your Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies with salted peanuts not only looks lovely, but adds to the flavor. Bringing bling to your Pomegranate Macarons (or anything else) with edible gold is a baller move that’s also extra festive.
Related Reading: How to Use Edible Gold Leaf
Tip 8: Make the Presentation Count
Though I’m always inclined to take a bite out of a cookie, something about festive place sets gets me even more excited for sweets. Okay, since it is Christmas, I’ll have six gingerbread men instead of one.
Spode Christmas Tree Tiered Stand, $32.99 at Wayfair (normally $100)
A delightful way to display your Christmas cookies.
Happy holidays, everyone. Hope that glass of milk is ready for some serious dunking.
Related Video: How to Make Your Sugar Cookies Sparkle
Header image courtesy of YinYang / E+ / Getty Images