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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. Lisa
    December 20, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    These are great! My other cleaning tip is to re-use parchment sheets. After I bake and roll cookies, I put the used parchment sheets out to cover my table and countertop during the decorating process. Also use paper bowls for making flooded icing, they fold nicely for pouring into a bottle or parchment bag. Merry Christmas Marian! Thanks for all the help!

  2. February 1, 2011 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian,
    Love your site!
    I was wondering how long you keep coloured royal icing for?

    • marian
      February 1, 2011 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      Hi Cecillia, I’ll write a post on it and have it up by the morning!

  3. February 1, 2011 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    @ marian:
    Awesome. Thank you 🙂

  4. marian
    February 2, 2011 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    @ Cecilia:
    Here’s the info. (It applies to untinted and tinted icing):


    June 5, 2011 at 4:54 am | Permalink


  6. Georgia
    July 30, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Marian, I love the gingerbread/round cookie with the pink and white backgrounds. Do you have a tutorial that shows how to do that? Do you flood around the gingerbread boy after you’ve let it dry?

  7. marian
    July 30, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    @ LILLIAN: Aw, thanks!

    @ Georgia: I did the pink or white base first, let that dry, then piped the gingerbread man on top.

    I have some videos which might help (in terms of the right icing consistency etc.) on my youtube channel (click on you tube thing top right of blog) and I did use a projector to help me draw him. (kopykake tutorial in tutorial section.)

    Hope that helps!

  8. Georgia
    July 30, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Marian! See, I would have done it bass-ackwards. I am subscribed to your videos on YouTube.

  9. Casey
    August 8, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    @ bridget {bake at 350}:
    I am truly enjoying your tips and all of the items on your page! Thanks so much!

  10. September 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    SEriously organized. It is killing me not being able to see your playlist though. any good tunes? Also what is that gingerbread man floating in. You are a teaser!!

  11. September 28, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    @ Alanna:
    Hee hee!
    It changes all time time, but right now am bopping (and decorating soon hopefully) to Katy Perry, OneRepublic, David Guetta etc.

    The gingerbread man is sitting in coconut milk. =)
    Happy decorating!

  12. maryam
    December 20, 2011 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    it is really wonderful,i wish i were you, have these equipments and talent to make beautiful cookies like these

  13. marisela
    November 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink


  14. November 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian, Thanks so much for the tips! I see you have a kopycake… any idea where to get one in Canada? Thanks!

  15. miriam
    November 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    One tip about the drink :keep it away from the area ur working on so it doesn’t accidentally spill. Learnt that the hard way.

  16. The Cookie Lab - Marta Torres
    November 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m new into this cookie world and I’m loving it. I’ve been learning from my errors and less experience but with yours and some other cookie artists tips, which like you are willing to share, feel confident that I’ll be able to improve with lots of practice, trial and error. Well, every error is a new lesson. Many thanks indeed.

  17. December 13, 2012 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Love the candy cookie. Where could I find that cookie cutter?

  18. April
    December 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the wonderful tips. I must say I love your cookies! I have learned so much by following your blog. Thank you so much for sharing. Merry Christmas!

  19. Jen
    December 14, 2012 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    How do you store and organize your cookie cutters? I find I have to go through them all (pull out of the bag/box I’m storing in) to see which ones I want to use. There’s got to be a better way and I bet you’ve figured it out. 😉

    • Christine
      December 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      I keep mine in a big glass jar, displayed all year long on my baking center.

  20. December 14, 2012 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your good advice, you go on because it shows that you are very professional in what you do and also share it and that is very valuable. A big hug and happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year 2013. (Gracias por tus buenos consejos, te sigo porque se nota que eres muy profesional en lo que haces y además lo compartes y eso es muy valioso. Un gran abrazo y feliz Navidad yun estupendo Año nuevo 2013.)

  21. marian
    December 14, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    @ maryam: Thanks!

    @ Laura: I haven’t found any sold in Canada yet, sorry. When I find out if someone ever does, I’ll definitely write a pot about it.

    Lol, @ miriam, I hear you! Thanks 🙂

    My pleasure, @ The Cookie Lab – Marta Torres!

    Gosh, it’s been so long, @ Lynne, but I think it’s actually a Wilton cookie cutter.

    Thanks, @ April!

    Hi @ Jen, not perfect, but here’s how I do it now (see pic in this post); https://sweetopia.net/2012/03/50-secrets-of-a-cookie-decorator/

    Many thanks, @ Nancy!

  22. July 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I actually was exploring for recommendations for my personal blog
    site and found your own post, “Staying Organized While Decorating Cookies – 10
    Tips | Sweetopia”, will you care if perhaps I personally make
    use of a few of ur ideas? Appreciate it ,Charlene

  23. kellie waldrop
    July 6, 2013 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Hello!…I am hosting a tour of home this December…my theme in the kitchen is gingerbread men…I was wondering if I could order some of your gingerbread men cookies…I’m going to spray sealer on them to use as decorations (for now)…and closer to Christmas (before tour) order some for the guest to eat…I’m trying to get things organized now..please let me know if you can do them..I love your style!!! Thanks! Kellie

    • marian
      July 6, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

      Sure, that’s fine!

    • marian
      July 6, 2013 at 2:55 am | Permalink

      HI Kellie, I just realized you mentioned ‘order’ (sorry, read it quickly at first and thought you just wanted to use the design to make your own cookies). I don’t do orders but if you click on the box in the right hand banner which says, “Want to order some sweets?”, you’ll find some cookie decorators in a directory there.

  24. Janette
    November 12, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    These are really cute! I also have the wrapped candy cookie cutter. I love how you made the “pinching” on either side of the candy with the very light-coloured lilac icing. It looks recessed though – how did you get that effect?

    • marian
      November 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Hi Janette,
      The grey recessed icing is thicker (and heavier) than the icing I used below it, so it sinks. It was an accident actually!

  25. Donna
    November 12, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Hi Marian, I have been learning how to do this cookie thing and your website has been my number one resource, so thank you very much! I have a couple stupid questions. What do you find is the easiest to remove the couplers from the icing bag? It kind of drives me crazy and I would love to know your process. When you are making a batch of your white icing, how much americolor white gel should I put in? Also, if you make the icing too thin, what is the best way to thicken it? Can i just add powdered sugar to it? And last, but not least…how do you pipe dots so you don’t end up with a tip on them(looking like a Hershey kiss)? And if it does happen, how do I correct it? I just made starfish cookies that I used a damp brush to tap down the point and then the dots had holes in the middle. What am I doing wrong? I guess it was more than a couple questions…sorry. I would appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you!

    • marian
      November 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Hi Donna,
      Great questions!
      Getting the coupler out is one of my least favorite cookie decorating “things” 😉 I take off the outer part of the coupler and the tip, pinch the tip of the piping bag (with the coupler inside) between my thumb and index finger and apply pressure… essentially pushing the coupler up inside the piping bag and out.

      How much white… I honestly don’t have it down to an exact amount – I just add until I’m happy with the white color.

      You can thicken icing by adding icing sugar. I have a icing consistency video (10 second rule) if you like.

      The dot thing… happens to me quite a bit too, as I tend to use a thicker flood icing. I use a damp paintbrush (only used for cookie decorating) or a toothpick to pat them down. It’s a little more work though! You can make your icing a bit thinner as another option. If you like, I have a video where I pipe dots here; https://sweetopia.net/2011/04/video-how-to-make-daisy-cookies-with-a-little-help-from-a-kopykake-projector/
      Hope that helps!

  26. Donna
    November 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much…..that really helps!!! I appreciate your help!

  27. Jules
    November 13, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Could you please share the colors you used for these cookies? Thank you! I love your site! A tutorial for these cookies would be great, hint hint!

    • marian
      November 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jules,
      Gosh it’s been so long, but I generally use Americolor, so from what I can remember, Americolor soft pink, red, white, chocolate brown, lime green, orange and black. For the grey, just a hint of the black mixed with white colors.
      Can’t promise, but I’ll try to make a tutorial too!

  28. Jennifer
    November 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    I am in love with the trees. Would you mind sharing where you got the cutter?


  29. December 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian, love your posts!I know you get asked a lot about where to get the kopykake in Canada. I got mine from Golda’s Kitchen who special ordered it in for me. I also saw last time I was at the store they had one there!

    • marian
      January 2, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Oh that’s good to know, Laura! Thanks for sharing!

  30. December 14, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    These are great ideas and I use most of them, only thing I can really add would be instead of the yogurt containers I use the 1 or 2 pound clear plastic containers like you get from the deli. You can see the colors without the mess. (I use them for freezing soup ect. and buy bags of them from Gordon Foods Store ‘Indiana, and Michigan’) Also I use the little soft plastic tip covers from Wilton, but by the end of a large cookie week it is straight pins stuck into the tips and wet cloths and the glass trick with the wet paper. Isn’t our addiction wonderful?? lol

    • marian
      January 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Haha, I love it, Leah!

  31. Carolina
    August 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    How do you work when you have more that 1 type to decorate? I tried yesterday doing 3 types and did not work. Do you make one type at a time?

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