Holiday Cookie Decorating Ideas and Recipes

With the holiday season in full swing, I wanted to share some cookie decorating ideas that turn making holiday cookies into a family activity that’s unique, memorable, and affordable. People always ask me how to get their kids more involved in the kitchen and cookie decorating is a great way – baking, creating, and decorating festive sweet treats together is fantastic holiday fun for the whole family.

A couple tips, though, for when the kids are involved: Make cookie decorating an activity (i.e., Friday night fun, Sunday afternoon crafts, you get the idea) as opposed to having them help when you have 20 guests on the way for holiday dinner. This way it’s relaxed rather than stressful. It’s also helpful to give the kids specific tasks to master, which they can even teach each other. You may want to make a few examples of the finished products ahead of time, so they have visual cues and you can then walk them through each step – assigning one step to each child. Of course, you’ll also want to give them creative license to go glitter happy with at least one cookie, right?!

You can use your own cookie dough recipe or store-bought cookie dough for each these ideas.

  • Gingerbread Cookie Pops – This idea is simple but it makes an impressive display and a great gift too. All you have to do is buy lollipop sticks at your favorite craft store and insert one in each cut-out cookie, then bake, decorate and wrap in clear cellophane and tie them with a beautiful ribbon. You can create a centerpiece out of them as well: Simply place several cookie pops in a vase filled with sugar or into a foam base to keep them in place.
  • Cookie Placards – When you have your holiday party it’s always fun to use placards for each of your guests. This idea turns them into edible treats and favors as well. All you have to do is cut out rectangular shapes with a cutter and bake. This idea comes to life when you decorate each cookie with a guest’s name in piped frosting and edible glitter. You can stand them up with mini easels in front of your guest’s plate. It’s simple, elegant and edible!
  • Holiday Tree Ornaments – Get out your holiday cookie cutters for this one; snowflakes, stars, trees and snowmen are always fun. The secret to turning your holiday cookie into an ornament is to simply punch a hole through your cookie dough with a sipping straw before you pop them into the oven and then again right after they are cooked. The reason for the double punch is simple: When you bake them, the dough will rise and close up much of the hole. So the key to creating a perfect hole is to make sure you double punch. Pipe frosting and add edible glitter and you’ve created hand made and delicious ornaments. Now you’ll be able to string your ribbon and hang them up! You can decorate your tree with them or give them as thoughtful and unique gifts.

And here are some of my favorites cookie recipes – perfect for a holiday gathering, hostess gift, cookie swap, or just a nice treat for the family: