10 Christmas and Holiday Cookie Decorating Ideas
Want to make simple cookies truly showstopping for the holidays? Combine festive decorations with clever how-tos. Start with basic shapes, like a snowflake, tree, or snowman, and we’ll show you how to transform them into beautiful, edible works of art that are almost too pretty to eat. You don’t need to be a cake or pastry decorating expert, either; these techniques are all easy enough for beginners to master on their own at home. All you’ll need is a few cookie decorating supplies, a relatively steady hand, and a little imagination. We’ve even included a few how-to videos with step-by-step instructions, so you can get a first-hand tutorial of how to make each cookie. We’ve also thrown in some cookie ideas that allow you to get more creative on our own, like our simple gingerbread men and lollipop cookies. You can assemble your favorite edible decorations and icings and let your inner artist come out. (They’re great projects for kids, too.) And just in case you’re short on time, there’s one cookie decorating idea just for you—our super-easy Chocolate-Peppermint Wafers. There’s no piping or sprinkles involved, just melted chocolate and crushed peppermint candies. So choose a cookie design, and let the fun begin!
Warm Woolen Mitten Cookies
What’s more comforting on a cold winter day than a mug of hot chocolate and a cozy mitten cookie to dunk into it? It’s a cinch to make this cute design: Using a tube of red cookie icing, outline and fill in the mitten. Smooth out the icing with an offset spatula. Carefully place large sugar snowflakes across the bottom (a pair of tweezers makes the job much easier). Sprinkle with red coarse sanding sugar, which adds a pretty shine and fun texture—your mittens now look fuzzy! Let the cookie dry. Of course, you can change up the look by using different icing colors or various edible candies to dress up the cuffs.
Get the recipe: Warm Woolen Mitten Cookies
Let It Snow Cookies
Give a simple snowflake cookie a touch of glamour with a little frosting and elegant nonpareils. Here’s how to do it: Using a tube of white cookie icing, draw lines on the snowflake—three long ones, three short ones through the center, and small v’s to create the flourishes. (Straight Lines 101: Hold the tip of the tube ¼ inch above the cookie and let the icing drop straight down down.) Sprinkle with nonpareils, making sure to cover all the icing, and shake off the excess. Let dry. We’ve used white nonpareils here, but silver or gold would make these cookies extra glamorous.
Get the recipe: Let it Snow Cookies
O Tannenbaum Cookies
A special sprinkle mix with red holly berries mixed right in makes this adorable Christmas tree cookie extra festive. First, using a tube of green icing, outline the tree (skipping the trunk) and fill it in with icing. Use an offset spatula to spread the icing evenly over the cookie. Sprinkle the cookie with the holly sprinkle mix and shake off the excess. Use a tweezer to add any extra holly berries to the tree to really spruce it up. When the tree is to your liking, outline the trunk with a bottle of red icing and fill it in. Use a toothpick to gently smooth out the icing.
Get the recipe: O Tannenbaum Cookies
Frosty the Snowman Cookies
A jolly snowman brings plenty of holiday cheer to any cookie tray. Here’s how to create him: Using a bottle of white icing, outline and fill in the hat. Use a toothpick to spread the icing and pop any air bubbles. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles and shake off the excess. Outline and fill in the rest of the cookie with the icing, then smooth with an offset spatula. Use tweezers to add blue sugar pearls for eyes, an orange sprinkle for the carrot nose, and yellow sugar pearls for the buttons. Once your snowman is dry, he’s guaranteed not to melt away...unless you dunk him in a mug of hot cocoa, of course.
Get the recipe: Frosty the Snowman Cookies
Blue Christmas Cookies
Using a tube of white cookie icing, draw lines on the snowflake. Place a white sugar pearl on the tip of each line and at the snowflake’s center. Sprinkle with blue pastel fine sanding sugar. Let dry.
Watch the video to learn how to make Blue Christmas Cookie.
Winter Wonderland Cookies
There are lots of winter wonderland decorating ideas out there, but this adorable cookie ornament is one of our favorites. First things first: Before you bake the cookies, use a straw to punch a hole in the dough (this is where you’ll thread the ribbon for hanging). Once the cookies have cooled, you’re ready to begin. Using a tube of white cookie icing, outline the ornament, then draw in two branches. Gently place a sugar cardinal on each branch; again, tweezers are a big help here. Add dots of icing all over the cookie to resemble snow, then place a small sugar snowflake on top of each dot. Let dry completely and tie with a ribbon.
Get the recipe: Winter Wonderland Cookies
Painted Candy Cane Cookies
Using a tube of white cookie icing, outline and fill in the candy cane. Alternate red and green sugar disks (fancy name: quins) down the center of the cookie, then sprinkle with white nonpareils. Let dry.
Get the recipe: Painted Candy Cane Cookies
Old-fashioned gingerbread men bring holiday cheer wherever they go. To create these little guys, start with our foolproof dough (made in a food processor instead of a standard electric mixture). Once the cookies are ready, use a tube of white icing to outline the shape, then add dots for the eyes and buttons. Draw on a big smile for the finishing touch. Feel free to dress up your men (or women!) by piping on embellishments using different colored icing: a bow-tie, belt, shoes, even a dress. Play around with edible decorations, like shiny dragées and holiday-shaped sugar decorations, to give them even more personality.
Get the recipe: Gingerbread Men
Go wild with these whimsical lollipop cookies, which are as fun to eat as they are to decorate. They’re ideal for any celebration, because you can adjust the toppings to suit any occasion and make them as freeform as you like. You’ll start by mixing up our simple dough recipe and inserting lollipop or ice-pop sticks in each cookie before baking. To create an easy icing, combine powdered sugar with a little water and a drop or two of food coloring. Assemble your decorations—red and green sprinkles, candies, sugar snowflakes, whatever suits your fancy—and let your imagination take over. This is a great activity for kids, too.
Get the recipe: Lollipop Cookies
Chocolate Peppermint Wafers
If you don’t feel like piping icing or playing around with candy decorations but still want to dress up cookies for the holidays, here’s an extra-easy way to create festive treats. Start with some plain sugar cookies. (For our recipe, we’ve cut them into squares but any shape will do.) To decorate, dip one end in melted chocolate, then sprinkle on some crushed peppermint candies. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set—about 30 minutes—and they’re ready to go. If you’re really short on time, you can even start with store-bought sugar cookies instead of baking your own (we won’t tell!).
Get the recipe: Chocolate-Peppermint Wafers