Christmas cookie decorating is a tradition that we started when my daughter was big enough to pull a chair up to the table and ‘help’.
While Christmas cookie decorating ideas are endless and offer possibilities limited only by time, patience and imagination, a few easy suggestions are in order when you get little hands and fingers in the mix!
Christmas cookie decorating should always be a fun and unhurried project. While older children enjoy the mixing/baking project as much as the Christmas cookie decorating, if you have children under the age of three they can also help with a simple Christmas cookie decorating project using cookies you have baked in advance.
For Christmas cookie decorating, the traditional shapes are of course always included. Cookie cutters in the shapes of stars, bells, Christmas trees and even reindeer and angels can be found in sets at most department stores for $5-$10. Don’t forget gingerbread men and even snowmen for the opportunity to decorate cookies in character with the artist!
Items you may want to use for decorations include:
Crystal sugar sprinkles in as many colors as possible
Small candies such as cinnamon hearts, mini m & ms, mini-chocolate chips
Raisins and other small bits of dried fruit
Crushed hard candies in assorted colors
Food colors and small dishes
Small new clean paint brushes
Cookie cutters in desired shapes
Mix sugar cookies and/or gingerbread cookie dough as directed in your favorite recipe. If you want a quick simple fix, store bought ready to bake sugar cookie dough can be purchased and rolled out to cut and decorate without distracting from the fun of the project and the hands on experience of your little helpers.
While thin crispy cookies are great for snacking, with young helpers they are a challenge to decorate and move to a cookie sheet without breaking. A slightly thicker cookie holds up better. Up to ¼ of an inch thickness works well. Use the cutters and cut out as many cookies as possible before gathering and re-rolling scrap dough as each subsequent rolling means a tougher cookie as a final product.
Transfer the cut cookies to the cookie sheets prior to decorating with candies and bits of fruit. Gingerbread men and snowmen can be ‘dressed-up’ to represent individuals in the household. Raisin eyes and candy buttons, small licorice strips for mouths and neckties.
By pressing crushed hard candies into the cookies prior to baking, the hard candies melt and run together creating interesting ‘one of a kind’ stained glass window effects. * USE EXTREME CAUTION – when removing these from the oven as the candies will be extremely hot! Keep little hands and fingers away until completely cool.
Another way to obtain a stained glass look is to bake the cookies without adding pressed on decorations, then place a few drops of food color into small bowls or shallow paper plates and use to ‘paint’ designs on the cool cookies. Tucking the painted cookies back into the warm but turned OFF oven for a few minutes dries the paint and helps re-crisp the cookies.
Frosting or icing can also be used to decorate Christmas cookies, but is not recommended if the cookies are going too used as ornaments as humidity and room temperature can cause the icings to melt and run off the cookies.
For a Christmas cookie decoration to use as a centerpiece, consider gingerbread cookie houses! They need not be an intimidating project as there are endless ‘kits’ that can be purchased in many department stores or bakeries that include everything you need including the pre-cooked pieces for assembling the house.
Christmas cookie decorating is a fun tradition to be enjoyed by everyone, the more the merrier.
Why not consider a cookie decorating party or get-together. Share favorite recipes and decorating tips and award prizes (to everyone of course) for prettiest, cutest, strangest, cookies made. Then wrap it all up with a taste test and glass of milk! You are sure to create Christmas memories everyone will talk about for years to come.