You don’t have to be a professional baker to take some inspiration from these holiday cookie decorations.

Holiday Cookie Decorating

Jessica Yoon

We love beautiful cookies, and we bet you do too. (That’s why you’re reading this, right?) These holiday cookie designs we spotted on Instagram go beyond the traditional sugar cookie with precise icing, unexpected color palettes, and even brilliantly simple designs. While a few of these decoration ideas are for experienced bakers, others are easy and doable for beginners or people short on time. Either way, they’ll get you inspired for your next baking adventure.

Bring new life to the Advent calendar tradition by creating a calendar with doors and prizes, all made out of cookies. Create your dream Christmas tree cookie by decorating with icing to make it flocked with snow, covered in lights, or strung with colorful garland. Combine winter and spring by making cookies in the shape of classic holiday items colored with delicate pastel icing. Or create a cookie for everyone with vegan and gluten-free almond butter gingerbread people. These examples are, of course, just that—examples. Think of them as a stepping-off point, not the final destination for your creativity and inspiration.

Whichever recipe you land on, the decorations all allow you to experiment with your artistic side and still end up with a delicious cookie. And if your cookies don’t turn out looking exactly like these Instagram-fabulous examples? Try not to stress too much about it. Remember, in real time, you don’t have Photoshop or a team of stylists at your disposal. Have fun with it, and unleash your creative side, not your inner critic. The bottom line: Even ugly cookies taste good!

Advent Calendar

If you have time on your hands over the holidays, consider making this truly impressive cookie advent calendar.

Cactus Snow Globe

Take inspiration from snow-covered Joshua Tree with these desert snow globes.

Snow-Frosted Christmas Tree

Be the star of this year’s cookie swap with tree cookies topped with thick green icing and detailed fluffs of snow.

A Not-So-Ugly Sweater

Get creative with a sweater-shaped cutter and make your cookie as adorable or purposely tacky as you want.

Holiday Mickey Mouse Cookies

If you already have a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter in the house, add a Christmas touch with mistletoe frosting.

The Easiest Gingerbread Cookies Ever

A few details with white icing turn these plain gingerbread citizens into cookies with character.

Pastel Cookies

Try a pastel palette for an unexpected take on the usual batch of holiday cookies.

Tie-Dye Cookies

Use this swirly glazed design on Christmas trees, snowflakes, mittens, or regular circle cookies.

Santa’s Milk and Cookies

Spend Christmas Eve making these simple treats, or just make the cookie-shaped ones if you don’t have a cutter in the shape of a milk jug.

Christmas Tree Lights

Choose your favorite colors for these Christmas tree light cookies or stick to off-white lights for a classic look.


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