Christmas cookie ornaments are a fun and easy holiday project to share with kids and family. The ornaments can be personalized in many ways to reflect the person decorating the cookie or to fit with a specific theme. Hang them on Christmas trees or wood or metal ornament trees to create a festive display. You can also create ornaments to celebrate other holidays and they make great party favors for birthdays, wedding receptions and baby showers.
I helped a friend make a batch of these pretty cookies for her son’s preschool class as a holiday gift. We decorated the cookies with brightly colored sugars and added each child’s name. They were a huge hit with the kids!
These cookies are not really designed to be eaten as they are a bit hard and have a very mild flavor. However, their sturdy texture makes them perfect for decorations. You can modify the recipe to make them edible by reducing the flour by a 1/4 cup and adding a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract and then shorten the baking time. The cookies will be delicious, but softer, more fragile and subject to breakage when being handled.
You can use a variety of different shaped cookie cutters or make them all the same. After rolling out the dough and cutting out the cookies, carefully transfer them to a cookie sheet. Use a large plastic drinking straw to punch a hole in each cookie so you can add a ribbon or cord hanger after they are decorated. If the straw becomes clogged, use a wooden pick to dislodge the little dough pieces. After baking, check the cookies to make sure the hole did not close up partway during baking. If necessary, quickly re-cut the hole with the straw while the cookies are still hot.
Decorate the cookies to suit the holiday or event. After the decorations are completely dry, thread a thin ribbon or cord through the hole and tie to form an ornament hanger.
I am not a fan of canned frosting, but it is a quick, easy and inexpensive choice for these decorations. Don’t wait to decorate the cookies until after you have frosted them all. You want to add the candy sprinkles to each cookie right after you frost it while the frosting is still soft and moist so that the sprinkles will stick well to the frosting. If the top of the frosting forms a thin crust, the toppings will not stick and will fall right off when you pick up the cookies.
Christmas Ornament Cookies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 can ready-to-spread white frosting
Candy sprinkles or colored sugar
Festive ribbon or decorative cord
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until blended.
3. Divide the dough in half. Shape each portion of dough into a flat disk. Tightly wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
5. Lightly dust a pastry board or clean countertop and a rolling pin with flour. Working with one dough disk at a time, unwrap the dough and roll out to a uniform thickness of 1/4-inch. Halfway through rolling, rotate the dough a quarter turn and dust the board again to prevent the dough from sticking.
6. Dip shaped cookie cutters in flour and cut out as many cookies as possible from the first rolling of the dough. Carefully transfer the cookie cutouts to the prepared cookie sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather the dough remnants into a ball, reroll, cut out more cookies and transfer to the cookie sheets. Use a large straw to cut an ornament hanger hole in each cookie about 1/2 inch down from the top of the cookie.
7. Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 18 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, or until the edges turn lightly golden and the cookies are firm. If the cookies start to brown too much, loosely cover the cookies with a sheet of foil and add a couple minutes to the baking time. Remove the pan from the oven and re-cut the hole with the straw, if necessary.
8. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the parchment paper to a cooling rack and cool completely. The cookies should be crisp and sturdy.
9. When the cookies are completely cool, spread a 1/16- to 1/8-inch layer of frosting on each cookie and decorate with colored candy sprinkles or colored sugar immediately after frosting each cookie. Set decorated cookies on a clean board or large plates in a single layer. Let frosting set overnight before handling cookies.
10. After the frosting is dry, thread a thin ribbon or decorative cord through the hole and tie it to form an ornament hanger.
Makes about 2 to 4 dozen cookie ornaments, depending on the size of cookie cutters you use.