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Dec 05


Christmas Tree Cookie Tutorial & a Holiday Cookie Exchange

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It’s Holiday Cookie Exchange time!


Just in time for the Holiday season, a few other bloggers and I have teamed up to bring you some favorite cookie recipes and pretty packaging ideas! I’m sharing a simple Christmas tree cookie tutorial and a Vanilla Sugar Cookie Recipe {below}.

Head on over to these links and enjoy some new inspiration!

Jenn | Hostess with the Mostess

Carrie | Half Baked :: The Cake Blog

Glory | Glorious Treats

Kim | The TomKat Studio

Jessica | Pen N’ Paperflowers


Christmas Tree Cookie Tutorial

You’ll Need:

*I found these sugar stars from FancyFlours.com but you could use candy stars, make fondant or gum paste stars with a small star cutter, or decorate with any candy of your choice.


Once you’ve made your icing, baked your cookies {recipe below} and let them cool to room temperature, they’re ready to be decorated.

Turn your cookie so that the tip of the tree is closest to you. Using a #18 star tip, start from the bottom of the Christmas tree and pipe a line of shells.  Note: Different sized star tips work as well (i.e. #’s 14-21). The larger the number, the larger the shell will be.

Piping a Basic Shell

To pipe a basic shell, hold the piping bag at about a 45-degree angle, at the 6:00 o’clock position, with the tip slightly above the surface of your cookie. Squeeze the icing out of your piping bag, then relax the pressure and pull the piping tip towards the surface of your cookie. Let go of the pressure completely, lift the piping bag away and repeat.

Pipe the shells in rows, staggering each line similar to the pattern of a brick wall.

Each new line of shells covers the tails of the line before it.  Cover the entire cookie.

Place a sugar star on top and enjoy!

Adhere some ribbon to the back of the cookie with royal icing to use your cookies as Christmas tree ornaments!

If you’d like to try a variety of ornament cookies, such as these marbled ones below, click here for a tutorial.

Happy holiday baking!



Vanilla Sugar Cookie Recipe


  • 2 cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed. (Use the paddle attachment). Mix until thoroughly incorporated - for about one minute.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs slowly and mix. Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.
  3. Sift your dry ingredients together. (Flour and salt).
  4. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix on low speed for 3o seconds. When the dough clumps around the paddle attachment it's ready. It's also important at this stage not to over mix the dough.
  5. Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
  6. Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and repeat.
  7. Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again. They will then hold their shape better when baked.
  8. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C.
  9. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.
  10. Let cookies cool to room temperature and decorate!

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  1. December 5, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Wow!! These are SO gorgeous Marian!! I can’t wait to try the shell piping technique – it’s lovely. Your photos of the hanging ornaments are amazing! I adore the pastel/vintage color scheme you chose too – such pretty colors!!
    What a great “packaging” idea – to actually use royal icing to adhere a ribbon to create an instant hanging gift – for eating or for decorating. Thrilled you participated in the Cookie Exchange – feeling so inspired this morning!!

  2. December 5, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Every time I see your Xmas tree cookies, I just love how clever it is!! Using the shell tip! Love this!!

  3. December 5, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I love these Christmas Tree Cookies! I loved getting to decorate them in your class at Mixedcon and it was so nice to finally get to meet you!

  4. Emily
    December 5, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I’d love to try your cookie recipe, 1 question, I see baking powder in the instructions, but not the ingredient list. Should I be using it?

  5. marian
    December 5, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    @ Jessica | Pen N’ Paperflowers, @ JulieD: Thank youuu!

    @ Angie @ Big Bears Wife: It was nice meeting you too, albeit short! xo

    @ Emily: Oh yes, I take it out if I want the cookies to hold their shape more. For circles and cutters which I don’t need to worry about shape, I leave the levening agent in. I’ll go take it out of the recipe instructions for the purpose of the tree cookies, thanks!

  6. December 5, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Oh Marian, these are just so pretty! I love pastel colors for Christmas, they’re just a litle extra magical!

  7. Mary Kay
    December 5, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    As usual…………gorgeous. Just breathtaking!!

  8. December 5, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Beautiful cookies!

  9. December 5, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I’ve decorated fondant cakes as a hobby for years, shying away from cookies because I thought I had poor piping skills. Since I started reading your blog over this last year my confidence in myself has dramatically improved and I now understand that my failures in cookie decoration were not because of my skills but because I didn’t know the techniques. Thank you,thank you, thank you for all of the tips and secrets, I love cookie decorating now and I can’t stop making them! I especially love that I can share my treats with friends that are far away…cookies ship a lot easier than cakes 🙂

  10. OhJulieta
    December 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I love your cookies!

    Would you consider doing a tutorial so we can learn how to add the ribbon?

    Merry Christmas!

  11. Kristie
    December 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Quickie perhaps silly question regarding the buttercream for these glorious cookies! If it is just a standard buttercream icing, does it get hard enough to decorate a cookie when dry? Or does it remain soft and easily will smash? Thanks~!

  12. December 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    oh those are so pretty I have no patience for piping shells, I get like 4 good ones then it’s just blobs, so I will just admire yours.

  13. marian
    December 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much, @ Glory/ Glorious Treats, @ Mary Kay, @ Eva @ Eva Bakes!

    Oh, @ Nikki, that makes me so happy to hear! Thanks for sharing and please feel free to share your pics with me somewhere on social media. 🙂

    Definitely, @ OhJulieta, that would probably be a good video one to do. For now, this is how you do it;
    -Pipe a blob of royal icing on the back of the cookie. Gently press one end of the ribbon into the icing. Pipe more icing on top of that and then stick the other end of the ribbon into the icing. Leave the cookies just like that for 24 hours, until the royal icing dries and it’s safe for the cookie ornament to be lifted.

    @ Kristie: The buttercream crusts over, but is not going to get as hard as royal icing. If you’d like to ship buttercream cookies, put them in a cute, clear box, sitting on sizzle or something pretty, so that they don’t get squished.

    Sounds like your hands are warming the icing quickly, @ sue @ cakeballs, cookies and more. If you’d like to try shells again, try filling your piping bag really full, so that the icing doesn’t warm up quickly. When it does get soft, stick the whole piping bag in the fridge for a bit. Hope you’re doing well!!

  14. December 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Love them! Thank you so much for sharing!

  15. Liz
    December 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Marian, these are just the most beautiful things I have ever seen! I am very new to cooking making and baking in general and your tutorials have just been wonderful, although it has been a very steep learning curve! Just wondering if the shells could be piped using a thicker royal icing?

  16. marian
    December 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, @ Desiree @The 36th AVENUE!

    Hi @ Liz: Yes, they can. I’ve done that here:

  17. trinette
    December 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I love these! The colors are so delicate and pretty! Your work is flawless!

  18. PEARSE
    December 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    I had been looking for ideas on how to decorate cookies with buttercream frosting by piping tips(don’t like the way most people do by slathering with a butter knife). finally found yours. gorgeous looking!. i also found on the web somebody doing it with the grass tip. anyhow do u have any ideas/tips on how to decorate other xmas themed cookies. thank you in advance and tanks for being such an inspiration to all of us.

  19. December 6, 2012 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    These are gorgeous marian, I love the soft colours! They are so wintery! I think the snowman is the very best! I love your detailed instructions too, thanks so much for sharing them! You are the best!

  20. Roshini
    December 6, 2012 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I love your cookies. They are so cool. I would have never imagined these colours for the Christmas. But you proved they are cool as well. Thanks Marian. & oh, this is the first time i visit your blog. & i’m going to come back for more 😉
    LOVE your work

  21. Cristina
    December 6, 2012 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    Lovely. Thanks for inspiring us.

  22. December 6, 2012 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    Sweeeetie, this post is SO cute!!!

    Your “HOW TO” pic us just amazing, because with that one, no one will “mess it up”, I am sure everyone can do that with your explanation, thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    Wonderful photos as usual. So happy to see a new post from you!!

    xoxo..niner <3

  23. December 6, 2012 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    Sweetest cookies ever Marian.
    You are MAGIC!

  24. December 6, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Hi, your cookies are ALWAYS so nice!

    December 6, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, thanks so much beauty and so well explained board. Thanks for sending me, always, your ideas so wonderful. I wish for you a Merry Christmas and a WONDERFUL HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013 … FULL OF PEACE, LOVE, HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND ENDLESS GIFTS OF GOD … from Caracas – Venezuela, with love …Rosa Mary Feijoo. P.S. I do not speak English but wanted to tell you what type it in Google translator and this is the result, if any mistake was google …. hee hee hee … ¡¡¡ FELIZ NAVIDAD ¡¡¡

  26. December 6, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Your trees are lovely with the shell design and your colour choices are beautiful.

  27. Lesley
    December 6, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    How do they taste? I’m always looking for a good sugar cookie recipe to make for Christmas cookies.

  28. Margaret
    December 6, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    These are ALL so lovely Marian! I especially love the snowman’s (or snow woman’s) pink hat! What tip did you use to make it?

  29. Sandra Forbes
    December 6, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Love em!

  30. Patti Ondash
    December 6, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    These are lovely and love the nontraditional Christmas colors. I have a question about the buttercream. After decorating, can these be put in plastic bags and tied with ribbon? Or will the buttercream “melt.”? Thanks again for all your wonderful ideas and tutorials! Happy holidays.

  31. December 6, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    So sweet, pretty & dainty. I just love the colours you used and the stars are lovely. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

  32. December 6, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Your cookies are always stunning! I can not wait to try making these at home after the tutorial you gave us at the Mixed Conference. It was such a pleasure meeting you there! You are as sweet as your beautiful treats 🙂

  33. December 6, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    These are absolutely stunning Marian! I love the pastels! Simply gorgeous!

  34. Marian N
    December 6, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Such a beautiful and delicate alternative to red and green. And, buttercream frosting as well, YUM!!!!!

  35. December 6, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Marian, I LOVE these cookies! They are so nice!! And pics are really cute too, it’s like a fairy tale!

  36. December 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous post in every way, Marian! You are so talented! I actually feel like I might be able pull off the basic shell technique after looking at this too… just in time for my daughter’s birthday party next weekend… thanks!! 🙂

  37. Courtney G
    December 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    These are amazing!! Do you think the can be staggered next to each other to display on a tray without the icing breaking? Or if I bag them after 24 hours if the icing will stay. I would love to make these but they would have to travel 60 miles.

  38. December 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I will bookmark this, so simple yet effective. Thanks for sharing these Christmas trees are beautiful.

  39. December 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    These are just soooo pretty!! I wouldn’t want to eat them!! Thanks for sharing the recipe and showing us how to use the piping technique!! Love your blog!! =)

  40. Maria Theresia
    December 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful cookies amazing technique and colours… thank’s for sharing all your talents and ideas with us.

  41. December 7, 2012 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Fantastic article but I have to say the pictures are stunning especially the baby mittens. 🙂

  42. Danielle
    December 7, 2012 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian,

    I was going to make your sugar cookies this weekend but I noticed that this post has a different recipe than your post with the polar bears- the main difference is the amount of butter in this post is 1/2 a cup less- is there any benefit to adding the extra half cup or does it just make it a richer, more butter flavor? I’ll be using shaped cooking cutters, not the basic round ones so I’d like them to hold their shape as much as possible!

  43. marian
    December 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, @ trinette!

    @ PEARSE: I like to combine buttercream and royal icing details…
    For example, the mitten above I the cuff is buttercream and the rest is RI. Honestly, just have fun with the designs and play around… Any ‘mistakes’ I’m sure will be welcomed by others (or you? 😉

    Thank you, @ Heidi @ Bits of Sunshine!

    @ Roshini: I’m so glad you’re here! Please come back and visit any time!

    Hi @ Cristina, @ niner bakes, @ teresa, @ cristallodizucchero: Many, many, sweet thanks!

    @ ROSA MARY FEIJOO: That’s great! I like using google translator too. 🙂 Many blessings to you this holiday season as well.

    @ Paula: I’m thankful for your regular visits! Happy holiday wishes and blessings to you! xo

    @ Lesley: I’m kind of biased of course, but I enjoy the taste. These are a little less buttery than my usual sugar cookie recipe. If you try it, let me know what you think.

    It was a #14 star tip, @ Margaret. 🙂

    Many thanks, @ Sandra Forbes!

    Hi @ Patti Ondash and @ Courtney G:: The buttercream will form a crust but I don’t like packaging them in cellophane bags… they do smush fairly easily, even with the ‘crust’. I like putting them in pretty, clear boxes, sitting on sizzle. Either that or a platter if serving them right away. Courtney, in box beside each other should be fine for the 60 miles you’re travelling.

    Thanks for visiting again, @ Brantcookies!

    Hi @ Lynda @Me and My Pink Mixer: It was so lovely meeting you at Mixed! You’re such a kind soul, is what I thought. Hope to ‘see you around’ the internet. xo

    @ Carrie (The Cake Blog): Thanks so much! 🙂

    I know, right, I like the taste of buttercream better than RI. Happy Holidays
    @ Marian N!

    Thanks @ IFeelCook!! Hope you are well.

    They’re great beginner cookies… Hope you try them @ Jenn @ HWTM!

    @ Sally – only gluten free baking, @ Jennay, @ Maria Theresia, @ Lucy: Sweet thanks!!

    @ Danielle: Yes, I actually like the buttery flavour of the other recipe a bit better, but since people seemed to be having trouble because it’s a wetter dough, I took 1/2 cup butter out. If you like a more buttery flavour, keep the extra butter in, and chill it periodically while you’re working with it. I also roll mine between parchment paper. For spreading, check this post out too 🙂


    Hope that helps!

  44. December 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Well, I am so happy I saw these before I started decorating my cookie trees! Was planning to use fondant, but that just went out the window – will use some leftover SMBC instead. These are lovely, Marian! Thanks!

  45. Caitlyn.
    December 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    These are gorgeous! Do you mind sharing the names of the food coloring you used? I love the pastels! It adds such a delicate touch.

  46. marian
    December 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Super, @ Jacquee, glad you like the idea!

    Absolutely, @ Caitlyn., I used Americolor soft pink, sky blue, and white. Just a little coloring goes a long way.

  47. December 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Amazing recipe, I have just decided to try to bake it, keep your fingers crossed!

  48. marian
    December 9, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Have fun, @ Heather Hadden!

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