Making cookies is a great way to spend some quality time with your children. They like to help and here are some ways to get them started with easy cookie decorating ideas. You can buy or make up a little icing beforehand. If you are making the icing, use meringue powder instead of raw eggs. Here is an easy icing that dries glossy and makes a little over a cup. Beat 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of meringue powder with 2 cups of powdered sugar. Add ¼ cup of warm water and ½ teaspoon of your favorite extract flavor. Avoid maple or vanilla unless you have the clear-colored extracts, or you will end up with brown icing. Mix on low for 4 minutes.
Separate your icing into several bowls. Let the kids add food coloring, but remember to keep some just plain white icing. Find some unused paint brushes if you have them for the little artists to dab on eyes or swirls of colored icing. Arrange all the different sprinkles, sugars, chips, coconut flakes and candies that can be used for easy cookie decorating ideas. If you have any straws they can come in handy, also.
If you are baking cut out cookies, you can make it easy on yourself by cutting some simple round shapes. Tell your children that they are faces, balloons, flowers, Christmas ornaments or balls from their favorite sport or any other round object. Add yellow, red or brown coloring (equal amounts of red, blue and yellow will make brown) with a little of the raw dough to make hair. Place the dough in a clean garlic press and squeeze it through the holes to make hair. Attach it to the top of the round cookies before baking, as if it is hair and bake. Mixing food coloring with coconut flakes is another way of making hair or beards and mustaches. You can create singers or Christmas carolers by using the end of your straw to cut out a hole for the mouth before baking the cookies. Cut small pieces off a colorful gumdrop and attach them with a little icing where the ears would be. They look like earmuffs. You can also place them into the dough before baking. Easy cooke decorating ideas can go on and on.
If you have graham crackers, you don’t have to bake any cookies at all. Just turn the square so the points are at the top and bottom and make a Santa Claus face. Put down a small layer of white icing on all but the top inch or so of the triangular point. Before it dries attach coconut flakes on the bottom point for a beard. With red icing spread the top inch triangular point for a hat. Attach more coconut across the bottom of the red triangle for the hat trim and at the very tip to complete Santa’s hat. A red cinnamon candy or red M&M-type candy or even a red sprinkle will do for the nose. You could even use the tip of a red licorice stick or a small piece cut from a red gum drop. Eyes can be any other tiny colored candies you may have on hand or just some green-colored icing or even a chip off a green and white candy cane. Cookie cutters come in enough shapes that you don’t have to wait for Christmas for some fun and easy cookie decorating ideas.
If you don’t have a lot of different-shaped cookie cutters (I once strung mine on a rope around my kitchen one Christmas), let the children paint a design on round cookies with different colors using a paintbrush. They can write their names or initials in icing. Two teaspoons of vodka with ½ teaspoon of luster dust allows you to paint sparkling designs on top of dried icing. The alcohol will evaporate. Cutting out the center of a round cookie before baking creates a wreath or doughnut or bagel shape that can be decorated. Placing a tiny cookie cutter in the center of an already iced cookie while the icing is still wet, allows you to add sprinkles or colored sugar on the inside of that tiny cookie cutter shape. The icing acts as the glue to keep them on. Add a little icing in the center of a cookie and place an animal cracker on top. Easy cookie decorating ideas are endless and only limited by you or your children’s imagination. Making cookies can be a craft that lets those creative juices flow, and it’s not just for kids.
If you are concerned about sugar, especially during the holidays, take a look at my cookie book, where I try to focus on less “goo” and more flavor.