Turn everyday household objects into clever cookie-decorating tools.
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a variety of decorated christmas cookies
Credit: Jackie Freeman

Many of us will be making a lot of cookies this time of year, whether it's a fun project to keep kids busy, a care package to send to family and friends near and far, or because we need some carb-loading and sugar-comas to deal with the celebrations (or lack thereof). Since we're making cookies en masse, we might need to up our decorating game, creativity, and efficiency. Here are seven easy ideas to make common kitchen tools and ingredients do the decorating for you, turning the same old cookies into works of Christmas art.

1. Slow Cooker Helper

slow cooker holding jars of chocolate in warm water to keep them melted
Credit: Jackie Freeman

If you're planning on dipping a lot of cookies in chocolate, let your slow cooker help you out. Add your chocolate pieces to glass canning jars, then place the jars in your pot. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides and turn the heat to high. Wait about 30 minutes, give the chocolate a good stir, then reduce the heat to low. Your chocolate will be kept warm and ready for dipping or drizzling.

Tip: Make sure you don't get any water in your jars – that will cause your chocolate to seize and get lumpy.

2. Homemade Snowflakes

decorating christmas cookies with homemade stencils and powdered sugar
Credit: Jackie Freeman

Have the kids help you cut out paper snowflakes, or grab a paper doily. Place on top of your baked and cooled cookies. Put some confectioners' sugar in a small sieve or fine strainer and sprinkle away. Carefully remove the paper, and you'll have a beautiful snowflake print left behind.

Tip: Don't have confectioner's sugar on hand? Make your own by pulsing granulated sugar in your food processor or blender until fine and fluffy.

3. Ace the Icing

using syringes to ice cookies
Credit: Jackie Freeman

Okay, this is going to sound odd, but hear me out. To help little kids ice Christmas cookie designs, use an infant syringe (from their liquid medication). Wash in hot water and dry it thoroughly inside and out (cotton swabs can help). Thin out the icing just a bit, so it's super easy to add fine details. Use a different syringe for each color, and don't forget to thoroughly wash and dry them after use. (You might also like this $10 squeeze bottle icing kit from Target.)

4. Make Impressions

using common household objects to impress designs on cookie dough
Credit: Jackie Freeman

Use different items from around your house to press designs into raw cookie dough before baking. Try a few of these fun ideas:

  • Press cookie dough into the center of Tupperware container tops (the "old school" kind you had growing up, that have ridges) to make seashells.
  • Press cocktail or juice glass bottoms (or sometimes the sides of the glass, if they have nice etchings) into raw dough for pretty designs.
  • Squish bubble wrap into cookie dough, then gently pull it away, for a honeycomb effect.
  • Using a bottle cap and a straw, gently press the cap into the center of the cookie dough, then cut out four holes with the straw to make adorable buttons.
  • Find your favorite crunchy foods to press into raw dough to make designs: bowtie pasta, pretzel rounds, etc. Just make sure to remove them before baking!
  • Gently press an apple corer into dough to make sunflowers. Don't cut all the way through, just make a mark, then pinch the end of the "petals" with the tips of your fingers.

Tip: you can really grab anything in your kitchen drawer to make designs – don't forget your (clean) meat mallet, cheese grater, cooling racks, whisks, and more.

5. Flower Power

making colored designs in cookie dough with a whisk dipped in freeze-dried strawberries
Credit: Jackie Freeman

Take your favorite colorful freeze-dried fruit (raspberries, strawberries, mangos, or blueberries) and grind it to a powder. Dip a small whisk into the mixture, then press it into raw cookie dough for a colorful flower imprint.

Tip: You can also use cocoa powder and fork tines!

6. Thumbprint Cookies, Minus the Thumb

using the tip of a juicer to make indentations in thumbprint cookie dough
Credit: Jackie Freeman

Using the pointy end of a juicer, gently press into your raw cookie dough, then fill the indent with your favorite jam. You can also flip the juicer over and press the cookie dough into the empty space underneath to make a fun mold.

7. Turn Cookie Cutters on Their Heads

decorating gingerbread man cutouts as reindeer
Credit: Jackie Freeman

Of course, we all know how to use cookies cutters, but try orienting them in different directions, or just using a portion of the cookie cutter to make new shapes. For example, turn you gingerbread men upside down to make adorable reindeer!

Here's a step-by-step guide showing how to turn gingerbread man cutouts into reindeer.