23 Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas to Try This Year

Need a new Christmas cookie decorating idea? Try these stunning techniques that will make your cookie tray merry and bright.

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Easy Shaped Cutout Cookies

If you’re baking up a batch of Christmas cookies this year, start with our easy recipe for Decorated Christmas Cutout Cookies. The six-ingredient dough is our go-to for cutout designs like candy canes, stars and trees. Once cooled, try your hand at royal icing by piping on festive colors.

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Santa Star Cookies

See your star-shaped cutter in a whole new light with this cookie decoration idea inspired by Kris Kringle himself.
Pipe red icing with a #3 round pastry tip to form Santa’s hat and suit. Once the red icing is dry, use black icing with a #1 round tip for eyes, mittens, belt and boots. With white frosting and a #2 round tip, add the trim for the hat and suit. Use the same tip for his beard. If desired, use sprinkles for the belt buckle and mouth.

Before you start, check out these cookie decorating tips.

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Letter-Stamped Butter Cookies

Perfect for the holidays (and birthday parties, too!), these plastic letter stamps let you string together any name, word or phrase and stamp it directly into cookie dough. Use a simple butter cookie recipe to get the best design.
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Flocking cookie decorating
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For this classic decoration, start with our easy buttercream frosting recipe. Combine 1 cup frosting and 1-1/2 teaspoons water; stir until smooth. Place in a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag; cut a small hole in corner of bag. Pipe desired designs onto cookies. Immediately sprinkle with colored sugar. Gently shake off excess sugar. Let dry.

Learn how to make colored sugar.

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Colorful Coconut

Coconut adds flavor and panache to simple slice-and-bake cookies. To tint coconut, add 10-15 drops of food coloring to 1 cup of coconut in a medium bowl. Cover and shake or toss to coat.
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Sweet and Salty Chocolate Reindeer

These sweet cookies honor Rudolph and his pals—and they could not be easier to make! Press miniature pretzels, mini M&Ms and small red gumdrops into a chocolate cookie dough and bake.
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Dipping cookie decorating
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This quick Christmas cookie decorating idea adds a flash of flavor. Melt candy melts or prepare confectioners’ sugar glaze and stir in 1 teaspoon water until smooth. Dip cookies halfway into the glaze, allowing excess to drip off.

For a special effect, coat with chopped nuts, sprinkles or crushed candies. Place on a wire rack over waxed paper and let dry completely. Practice the technique with our recipe for Classic Italian Sandwich Butter Cookies.

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Edible Ink

Skip piping and draw your favorite design or pattern instead. Simply coat cookies with an even layer of royal icing, allow to dry, and sketch a holiday scene with edible ink markers.

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Color Mist

For an artsy look, consider color mist. Cover cookies in an even layer of royal icing, let dry. Spray color mist over cookies; either in a single layer, overlapping colors or blend several colors.

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3D Designs

To create the interlocking design of these festive cookies, cut dough using a five-point star-shaped cookie cutter. Cut a vertical slit between two points on each star so it reaches just above the center of the shape. Spread dough apart to form a 1/4-in. opening. Once baked, assemble the cookies together.

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Marshmallow Fondant

Traditional fondant creates a stunning finish, however, it can be quite fussy to make. Luckily, our Test Kitchen has developed an easy fondant recipe that relies on marshmallows, shortening and confectioner’s sugar. Best part: it tastes amazing!

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Place cookies on a wire rack over wax paper. Prepare our confectioners’ sugar glaze; stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons water until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle over cookies. Let dry completely.

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Elfish Cookies

Assorted candies, sprinkles and a bit of colored icing is all you need to make these wacky elf designs. Have the kids help out by giving each of their cookies a unique personality.

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Elegant Icing

Less is more! Instead of globbing on an entire layer of icing, decorate the edges of your cutout with a thin line of frosting. We used Wilton #3 round decorating tip for our wintery design.

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Stenciling cookie decorations
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Spread buttercream frosting over cutout cookies, then place a stencil over top and sprinkle colored sugar over the cutout area. Carefully lift off the stencil.

Make a stencil by tracing your chosen shape or design on a piece of parchment and cutting it out. Or utilize a craft lever punch of your favorite shape.

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Taste of Home

The easiest way to decorate cookies with royal icing is to dip them. This method serves as a great base for all kinds of embellishments. And dipping cookies is just as easy as it sounds: Prep a thin royal icing, place it in a shallow bowl, then dip the top of your cutout cookies into the icing—done!

Get more ideas for how to decorate with royal icing.

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Swirled Royal Icing

This wet-on-wet royal icing decoration is a simple way to wow your guests. Apply a base layer of white royal icing. While the icing is still wet, add a few drops of colored icing, then swirl with a toothpick.

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Yeti Cookies
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White sprinkles create the fur, coat and teeth of this adorable yeti cookie. Pipe on blue icing for his face, fingers and toes. And don’t miss our other creative ways to transform your gingerbread men.

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Your rubber stamps aren’t just for crafting anymore. After flooding your cutout cookie with a flat layer of white icing, use food coloring and a (clean!) stamp to create your stunning design.

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Elf on the Shelf

The Elf is in the house! Create these next-level helpers using royal icing, sprinkles and edible markers. No one will resist his cheery grin. What Is Elf on the Shelf, Anyway?

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Marbling cookie decorating
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Spread confectioners’ sugar glaze over cookies; let dry. For each desired color, stir 1/2 teaspoon water into 1/4 cup glaze until smooth; tint with food coloring. Tightly crumble a 12-inch square piece of waxed paper into a ball; lightly dip into colored glaze. Press onto cookies; repeat until the desired pattern is achieved. Let dry completely.

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Cookie Cutters

Make your gingerbread man cookie cutter do double-duty this season. Use the cookie cutter as normal, bake cookies and allow to cool. To decorate, pipe antlers with royal icing along the arms and legs, create eyes with mini chocolate chips and nose with a Red Hots candy.

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Gingerbread Star Tree

Christmas Tree Centerpiece

Surprise your family with this epic Christmas cookie tree that acts as a centerpiece for your table. Bake up star-shaped cookies of varying sizes and stack them together using frosting as the “glue.”

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