Holiday Baking: Top 5 Cookie Decorating Ideas

Holiday baking! Have you made cookies yet this season? We are gearing up for a big cut-out cookie party this week and looking around for inspiring yet practical ideas for decorating. We love those gorgeous, intricately decorated cookies on the covers of magazines, but find that they take a little too much time, patience, and precision.

From snarky gingerbread men to pre-baking decorations to gingerbread house alternatives, here are a few inspiring ideas that have us excited to decorate holiday cookies.

How are you decorating cookies this year?

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  1. Witty: Chubby Hubby puts a wicked postmodern spin on the traditional gingerbread man with lines like Eat donuts Save the cookie. All this take is a fine tip and one or two colors of Royal Icing. What kind of lines would you give your gingerbread men?
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  3. Piped and flooded: These Five-Spice Gingersnaps from last year's Gourmet were displayed with this gorgeous piped and flooded icing decorations. To do this you need two thicknesses of Royal Icing: one thick to pipe and hold a border, and another liquid thin to flood, or spread. Then pipe thin lines of another color over top and quickly draw a knife through. Let dry.
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  5. Elegant gingerbread house alternative: Jocelyn at the amazing Kuidaore makes gorgeous cookies. These Snowflake Cookies are so inspiring. Also check out her version of Martha Stewart's gingerbread tree. (See original Martha Stewart recipe here.)
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  7. Brightly painted: This very popular Perfect Vegan Sugar Cookies post from John and Kristie has very clear and helpful instructions on the dipping method of icing cookies. Their method shows how to get that glossy, painted-on look. Their recipe has autumn leaves, but this could be easily adapted for stars and angels...
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  9. Decorated before baking: Egg yolk tempera like in this recipe lets you paint cookies before you bake them. You can't get too fancy with designs; this method is best for one-color floods. But it eliminates hassle and it's great for kids. We'd like to try painting a batch with a red or blue background then piping designs on after they bake with crisp white icing.

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Christmas, Hanukkah

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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