Believe me, I have been known to decorate cookies amidst a table cluttered with everything from my zillions of piping tips to 10 different colors of disco dust.
And it can turn a fun experience into a somewhat messy/stressful one.
That’s why I’ve developed a few key organizational habits which help keep me happy while decorating.
These are just a few things I’ve learned over time which work for me; they’re by no means groundbreaking or right for everyone, but I hope you find them helpful.
How to Stay Organized When Decorating Cookies
1a) I don’t have pretty, see-through Tupperware for my royal icing; I keep the icing in re-usable yogurt containers. To save me time in labelling and forever opening the containers to find a color, I put a dollop of the icing on the lid so I can easily see what color I’m looking for.
I keep my icing containers neatly stacked or sitting on a baking sheet on the counter while I’m using them.
1b) Always open your lids over the sink, or, as I do, over the baking sheet just mentioned, as small bits of dried icing usually fall off the container when opening (Even if you don’t have the dollop of icing on top. That bit of icing usually stays put actually!).
It saves lots of clean up for later.
2) Try as I might to avoid it, crumbs and icing messes still happen. Clean as you go. (Tough sometimes when you just want to decorate, but worth it in the long run).
Having lots of damp cloths ready to go really helps. Expect them to get stained from the darker food gel/paste coloring.
3) Prepare piping bags ahead of time. Having them ready with the couplers and some piping tips (I like #2′s), makes everything go a lot smoother.
I’m not a fan of the parchment triangles, but they could be prepared ahead as well. Whatever type you end up using; the canvas, polyurethane or plastic can be washed and re-used.
4) Keep your tips in some sort of easy organizable container. I use a container originally meant for beads.
5) My exception to the ‘clean as you go’ rule: When refilling piping bags or changing tips, place the spoons and tips into a glass of hot, soapy water. The hot water melts off the icing, so when you go to wash your utensils and tips, most of the work is already done for you.
I keep this glass by the sink to minimize mess as well. Not very pretty (especially with dark colors), but it works.
7) Keep a container of toothpicks near your decorating area. I use them all the time to marble, correct mistakes and help unclog tips.
8) Keep your piping bags upright in a glass (or glasses), with a damp cloth or paper towel at the bottom of it. Alternatively, keep a plastic Tupperware lid with a damp cloth nearby so that you can lay your piping bags and toothpicks on it.
9) Place your decorated cookies out of the way on a baking sheet to dry. I’ve made the mistake of keeping them on the table I’m decorating at, and have ruined a few cookies that way.
10) These ones are not necessarily about organization, but I find they help keep me happy and calm so that I’m not rushing around making a mess.
Keep a cup of water, juice or whatever you like… maybe wine? nearby. If you can, play some of your favorite music while you’re decorating. I love my iTunes on my laptop!
Hope these tips help make your decorating experience an enjoyable one. I’d love to hear some of your tips if you’d like to share in the comment section below!
p.s. Thanks to Samlyn Studios for taking the gingerbread man cookie in a glass photo!
p.s.s. The designs for these Christmas cookies are from these stickers here.
p.s.s.s. Found this fun ribbon at Micheal’s craft store.