Dec 11


Staying Organized While Decorating Cookies – 10 Tips

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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.

I also have my Top 10 Practical Tips for Decorating here if you’d like to check them out.  A Cookie Decorating Tutorial can be found here and my Top 10 Decorating Tips can be found here.


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.

6) Cover your decorating area with a plastic table cloth.  Easy to clean!

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!

Happy decorating!*




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.

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  1. December 11, 2010 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    LOVE your ideas here! Very helpful hints. I can’t get enough of your cookies! They are the best looking holiday cookies I’ve seen! So much fun!

  2. hanady
    December 11, 2010 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    you r the best thank you 🙂

  3. December 11, 2010 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    thanks a bunch!!! 🙂
    i’ll be taking note of these tips because i’m so much a mess when i decorate my cookies. hihi 😀

    happy holidays!

  4. December 11, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Excellent as usual. Looking at your cookies makes getting through the day at the office easier. 🙂

  5. December 11, 2010 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Marian. Love all of your tips.. Sounds like I do things much like you do right down to the toothpicks and the soapy cup of water to clean tips. My kids think it looks scary ESP when the water turns black ;). Love all of your cookie designs!!! You always inspire me!!

  6. December 11, 2010 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Marian! Your cookies are utterly gorgeous and perfect! So inspiring!

  7. December 11, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  8. December 11, 2010 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I might suggest large heavy plastic cups to hold the bags, it’s not very fun picking up broken glass. You’ll only do it once. You can also use plastic trays to decorate and store the cookies on, they won’t mark up your table or tablecloth like metal trays.

  9. December 11, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Great tips! And the glass next to me while I’m decorating is always filled with Wine 🙂

  10. December 11, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Great tips and SUPER adorable set of cookies!! I have that gingerbread ribbon from Michael’s too.. now I just need to make cookies as cute as these to go with it!

  11. December 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos. You inspired me to start baking cookies right now!

  12. December 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I always love your cookie designs! Thanks for the tips! =)

  13. Brittney
    December 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate your advice for keeping the kitchen clean while decorating cookies. I especially loved tip #10, it holds true to me. Whether I am preparing dinner or baking I have to have a large glass of fresh brewed iced tea and my iTunes playing in the background. 🙂

  14. December 11, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great tips! You and your work are simply amazing!!

  15. December 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Ohhh They are so cutes. I have a love-hate relations with cookies, cupcakes and everything about confectionery :(. Each time that I do something is worst that other, can you believe it? Even some of them are worth of some pictures, but not like yours, if not because they are so ugly.
    Well I say that guilty is my oven he he he.

  16. December 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    FABULOUS tips!!! I think organization way ahead of time is the key for me. Your cookies are ALWAYS so inspiring!!

  17. December 11, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Great “tips” on tips Marian. Loved your post as usual! I’ve always said the key to being successful is being organized and you certainly are both!

  18. linda
    December 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    this is SO VERY HELPFUL!!!
    thank you…
    i love the way you decorate!
    in the new year i plan on mastering the art of cookie decorating!!
    you truly do inspire!

  19. Kimmie
    December 11, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Perfection, absolute perfection. Three snow days and look what you come up with. What a great tutorial….I needed a few of those cookies for Maya’s ballet recital today.

  20. December 11, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    those are so cute. love how you got the idea from a sticker package. great idea for inspiration!

  21. Claudell
    December 11, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Really, your THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks a lot for sharing all with us… really aprecciate!


  22. December 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Marian, first of all your cookies are beautiful. So colorful and fun. Love them!! Second, great tips! Decorating cookies IS messy. I laughed when I saw your Kopykake projector next to your china cabinet. It looks like my house! Thanks for another great post! 🙂

  23. marian
    December 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Lol – thanks for all the encouragement and comments!
    Laura, I’m sure everyone will appreciate the tips! I haven’t broken a glass yet, but will start using plastic ones from now on I think!

  24. December 11, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    I love this. Once again, I feel like you did all the work for me!!! I USE several of these tips, but even Bernie and I found a fave. PLASTIC tablecloth! I will get one today, that way my sheets dont mark my counter, AND I can clean up easily!!!! You are AMAZING! I hope it snows for weeks! I am really enjoying this!

  25. December 11, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tips!

    My suggestion for quick clean up is to not hand wash all your tips and couplers. I put them in one of those dishwasher baskets with a lid (meant for baby spoons, nipples and smaller items) and let the dishwasher do all the hard work! Make sure you dry the metal tips right away so they don’t rust! :o)

  26. Shimmering
    December 12, 2010 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Wow awesome tips…….That was a really helpful post. I am not so much into cookies, but I love cake decorating and yup my table is always spilling with decorating stuff. I could definitely use some of your tips. Thanks a lot.

  27. December 12, 2010 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    wow Marian,again a very special helpful post!
    I love your idees and colors you pick each time.
    Beautiful hard work. thank you for sharing.

  28. Courtney
    December 12, 2010 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for the post!! This will really help me out so so much!

  29. December 12, 2010 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    These are amazing!!! I am going to try my hand at royal icing for the first time this week . . . we’ll see how it goes!

  30. December 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    These cookies are amazing! Do you just take inspiration from the stickers or do you use the kopykake for it as well? That thing is SO on our list, but we have to wait till we move to a bigger space, can’t wait!!

  31. Anna
    December 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely love your blog and all your creations.
    Whish I could get my hands on all this decorating equipment you can get in Canada and States.
    I have a question – how can you get really black icing? I have used some powder colors but never got actual black. Where I live you can hardly get any food colors, but we do have Wilton ones. Would that give me black icing made from egg whites?

    • marian
      December 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Anna; Yes, using LOTS of Wilton black will work (make sure to buy a few small containers because you might have to use half of a container or more if you need a lot of black icing).
      If you ever see them, my favorite brand is Americolor; I find they bleed less.

  32. marian
    December 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Loren; thank you for the great tips!
    Martine; yes I used the projector for the gingerbread man outline.
    Thank you so much for the lovely comments everyone!

  33. Tiffany
    December 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tips!
    Just wondering what’s the name of the green you used for your trees? They all look great!

  34. marian
    December 12, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    @ Tiffany: I used Americolor Electric Green.

  35. Leanne
    December 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Brand new fan! Bakerella brought me here – loved your post on her visit! Your cookies are beyond gorgeous! I’d love that cookie pic as wallpaper over the holidays! I have those stickers somewhere in the pile of scrapbooking supplies I haven’t touched in forever!

  36. Mary Sanavia
    December 13, 2010 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing all your tips and your cookies look so beautiful!!! They make me want to bake right away!!! (now I have to make some time for that!)

  37. December 13, 2010 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Great decorating tips and great decorated cookies! I’m a clean as you go freak with everything and find that it does keep the stress levels down and stops the feeling of being over-whelmed from creeping up on me.

  38. Anna
    December 13, 2010 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you. I think one container should do – I only have a few dots to make (for snowmen of course 🙂 ) but I need to ask if it won’t change the flavor though, because the color I used changed the icing so bad that for me it was inedible. Not to mention that it colored my tongue too. What do you do to prevent things like that when you need strong colors?

  39. December 13, 2010 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    haha! I love that you put a picture of your iTunes on here! 🙂 Love these tips. Thank you!

  40. Nani
    December 13, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian! Thanks for sharing all of your tips. I have a question, how long can I store the icing? Is it necessary to re-beat before use it? Thank you so much.

    • marian
      December 13, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Hi Nani,
      If you’re making icing with meringue powder I keep it for about a week. It is necessary to remix really well whenever you go to use it again. Then let it sit for a bit to let the bubbles rise, stir gently and then make your piping bags.

  41. Winnie
    December 13, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian,
    Love your 10 tips and lovely cookies. As usual, they look great!
    I see you used disco dust on your cookies. I want to start decorate my cookies w/ disco dust, what colours would you recommend me to get?

  42. marian
    December 13, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    @ Winnie:
    My favorite is ‘rainbow’, which actually looks kind of white. I love it because you can use it with ANY color. Here’s a post on disco dust in case you haven’t seen it:

  43. Nani
    December 13, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much!!
    Have a nice holidays!!!

  44. December 14, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I love your site 🙂

  45. December 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I am just starting to make cookies and your tips and tricks are very halpful. Thanks!

  46. December 15, 2010 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Que blog tan maravilloso!!
    Y este post es genial!
    Gracias por compartir tanto, he aprendido muchisimo de ti

  47. Wendy
    December 15, 2010 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    ADORABLE! I’m going to make these tn why I’ll try to recreate these crazy gingerbread homes lol

  48. December 16, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Marian….GREAT tips….and the LOVELIEST cookies. Seriously, your cookie are always breathtaking!

  49. December 18, 2010 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I just ADORE your cookies, especially the gingerbread boys, and the cottage! Thanks for the great tips!

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