You may be thinking that cookie decorating is too hard or too messy. And, yes, without these handy tips, you’d be right! Of course, any activity you do with your kids is going to be just a little bit messy, but with these 3 steps, you can make cookie decorating as quick and simple or as long and messy as you’d like!
Step 1 – Baking Your Cookies
For cookie decorating, you’re going to need a sturdy cookie that can hold up against mounds of toppings. If you want to go the store-bought route, go with the classic shortbread cookie! It’s firm and plain, so you can really pile on the flavor. See if they have the holiday shortbread cookies in stock, too! That way, you’ll get a variety of shapes to work with.
If you’ve got some extra time and want to make your own, try this recipe for “perfect every time cut-out cookies”. Experts say that starting with a shaped cookie will give kids a good starting point as they think about decorating. Since it’s the holiday season, try shapes like Christmas trees, candy canes, stars, and more like that. Plus, getting your kids in the kitchen and letting them use the cookie cutters is a fun way to kick start your afternoon of decorating!
Step 2 – Icing Your Cookies
Once you’ve baked and cooled your cookies, you can start icing them! Royal Icing has been unanimously chosen as the BEST icing to use for cookie decorating. Before you go googling, know that most recipes for this particular kind of icing require meringue powder, which can be tricky to find. We suggest trying this recipe for royal icing from the Pioneer Woman, who’s found a workaround to that ingredient!
Now, if you want to go with a classic white base icing, you’re all set! But, if you’re looking to add a little color variety, it’s time to dye your icing. While you could use food coloring to make it easy, this creative chef chose to use pureed fruit to dye her icing. It’s all natural, very colorful, and even adds a little flavor! See how Sweet Peas & ABCs makes her naturally colored icing here. Bonus – let your kids pick the fruits and help you mix the puree into your icing to make the perfect Christmas cookie colors!
Step 3 – Decorating Time!!!
Finally! This is the part the kids will love most! Before you seat them around your (hopefully covered) table, get all their decorating tools prepped and ready for them. It’s always easy for kids (and, for your clean up) to set out small bowls filled with a variety of toppings, rather than the full sized bottles. This way, they can grab small portions at a time and won’t end up using your entire bottle of sprinkles on one candy cane cookie! Here are some decorating toppings to consider:
- Sprinkles (DUH!) – Try different colors and shapes to let them mix it up.
- Edible Glitter – This will add a touch of sparkle to your cookies and is totally safe to eat!
- Candies – Try some Christmas colored M&Ms! Or revert to the classics, like marshmallows, gummy drops, and candy cane bits.
- Food-Safe Pens – These are GREAT for parents who don’t want a big mess! Grab a pack in a variety of colors and let kids draw right on the cookie. You’d be surprised by how detailed little ones can get with the precision of these pens.
Well, there you have it! Make cookie decorating a family activity this holiday season, but make sure to save a few to leave out for Santa. Happy Holidays!