The holidays can be stressful, and sometimes it's hard to know how you can contribute to making December that much more merry (and manageable!) This year, we're prompting you—and sure, let the kids join in—to take up one important task: holiday cookie decorating. As a Core77 reader, it's likely you have a high design acumen—so what better way to celebrate the holidays than applying your own skills to making a holiday tradition that much better?
Here are a few design friendly methods you can use to elevate your holiday cookies, turn some heads, and of course, please the palette.
Gradient dough for cookies
Photo credit: Tastemade
Gradients have been on a design high the past couple of years, so why not impress your designer friends with these eye-catching cookies? These require a little bit of planning, but the effect is undeniably awesome. Tastemade has a great tutorial that shows you the easy way to get the effect. All you have to is swap the Valentine's color palette with something like white and blue for Hanukkah or green and red for Christmas, cut it into an appropriate shape, and you're ready to rock.
Make your own cookie molds
Dinara Kasko's amazing cake creations are made using custom molds
Feeling ambitious this year? Then go ahead and utilize your mold making skills to create your own cookie molds!
You can create a cookie mold using food-safe Composimold (this mold should not go in the oven, just use it to shape your cookie dough before placing in oven). Simply create a shape for the cookies using modeling clay such as Sculpey that's been set in the oven, and pour the Composimold in a container with the modeling clay piece for it to set. Here's a good tutorial:
For any designer with their hand in ceramics, this icebox cookie (aka something like the Pillsbury variety you find in the grocery store) technique that incorporates a graphic center may seem familiar, and is sure to wow. You can even add different flavors into one cookie!
This technique reminds us of the work of designer Cody Hoyt!
There are several recipes out there to get you started with trying out the technique, like these rainbow cookies, or this psychedelic "quilted" design. Once you get the idea from these instructions, you can freestyle with your own design ideas!
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Did you know you can airbrush food? Well, now you do! Make yourself a basic sugar cookie recipe with some royal icing and you've got yourself an airbrush canvas. There are some pretty wild effects you can achieve if you let yourself dream a little bit, like the clouds shown in the video above.
Pro tip: don't even try to recycle your art airbrush kit for this task, for food safety reasons. There are plenty of reasonably priced kits online meant for airbrushing food dyes, like this one.
Pro tip: use a toothpick to smooth out icing
We're only sort of including this tip as an excuse to show off one of many addictive cookie decorating videos you can find on Instagram nowadays. But these videos also illuminate an important decorating tip when it comes to royal icing, and that is the use of a pick (something like a toothpick or a scribe tool) to smooth on the icing. Something as easy as that can turn something from looking homemade to totally professional—but remember, you have to do it fast!
Look to social media for decoration design inspiration
A psychedelic cake by Alana Jones Mann
Want some fun ideas for how to take these techniques and make them unique? There are tons of fun artists out there who you can look to for inspiration. Here are a few places to get you started: