Holiday Sugar Cookies

Every year I love to plan what goodies I will include in my holiday packages.  In fact, I think about it basically all year long (sad, but true.)  Though I’m always thinking of many new ideas, and have ridiculous anxiety about narrowing it down to five or six treats, the one thing that will always be a constant in these gift bags are my favorite sugar cookies.  Now of course they’ll always be decorated with royal icing, which can make such a stunning presentation.  I can’t believe it’s been just one year since I first attempted using royal icing, and I feel like I have come so far with my decorating skills.  Here’s hoping I improve just as much next year!

This year I made and decorated the three shapes seen above.  The snowmen seemed to be the popular favorite of everyone who received the gift bags, but I loved the Christmas trees the best.  The “Joy” cookies really looked way too much like the Italian flag until I added the dots to the letters – haha!  In case you feel inspired to try your hand at royal icing, check out the recent royal icing tutorial I did.  Have a happy holiday, all my wonderful readers!

34 Responses

  1. These cookies were are as delicious as they were beautiful!

  2. THESE ARE THE BEST!!!!!! Thanks! :o)

  3. I’ve tried tons of sugar cookie recipies and this year made something really pretty and delicious using your recipe. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas!

  4. Beautiful cookies! Thanks for answering my reply on baking the cookies, I just tried a couple of different recipes for rolled cookies, and I think I might go try yours right now!

  5. They look beautiful Annie! I wish my turned out as nice, but I guess it will just take more practice. Have a Merry Christmas!

  6. Those cookies are absolutely beautiful! Your cookie selection process sounds quite a bit like mine…..I pour over every cookie recipe, narrow down the ones that sound promising, then select 5 “finalists” trying not to have too many chocolates or too many nutty cookies, etc. Glad to know I’m not the only one who does that!! 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  7. Annie these are amazing! I love them all but the trees are incredible. I really like the Joy ones too though!
    Merry Christmas!

  8. Happy holidays to you as well!! Those cookies are cute 🙂

  9. I used royal icing for the first time yesterday and it turned out beautifully thanks to all your posts! Thank you for putting all of that up- it was SO helpful 🙂

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  10. Hey Annie! So for the first time I tried to make sugar cookies with the royal icing….it was a LONG process. I thought I was doing a good job but some of the cookies did not turn out the way I wanted. Jared kept on comparing my cookies to your beautiful one…it just made us laugh at my cookies. I used your directions on using royal icing and that helped so much! Thanks for putting that up. When I get my pictures loaded on my computer I’ll send you a few of my poor attempt. Miss you!

  11. The JOY coookies are very creative and are stunning!
    Hope you Christmas will be full of joy and happiness 🙂

  12. Your cookie decoration is so gorgeous – I think the JOY is my favourite, never seen a cookie like that before and its so pretty. Happy Christmas!

  13. Merry Christmas Annie. May you and your loved ones have a blessed holiday season!!

  14. Your cookies are beautiful! I like the “JOY” cookies the most not only because they are pretty, but also because of what it means. They are all VERY lovely, though.

  15. Hey Annie!
    I know you’re probably sick to death about talking about royal icing (LOL) but I used your how-to posts to do my cookies this year and it made it MUCH easier!
    The only thing I had trouble with was the gel food coloring — my colors didn’t come out nearly as vivid as yours did and it was quite frustrating for me.
    Can you give some tips on good brands of gel coloring OR how much to use??

    • Hi Kelly,
      No way, I never get sick of royal icing! I have only tried the Wilton gel colors, and they have worked wonderfully for me. I have also heard that Americolor is good, but I have never used that brand. I don’t measure at all and of course, it would depend on the amount of icing you are trying to color. I feel like I don’t have to add very much to get vivid colors, except for when I’m making red or black icing. Then it takes quite a bit of the gel. Just keep adding it until you get the color you want!

  16. Hi Annie! Your cookies are beautiful. I made Christmas trees recently. I had to add a lot of gel colour (compared to when I’m colouring buttercream) and they were still really faint. I was wondering if you have to add a lot of colour to your royal icing. I made the recipe from whimsical cakes. Maybe I should try the Wilton version. I wonder if the recipe makes a difference in the colour?

    • Hi Steph,
      I find that the amount of gel coloring I have to add varies depending on the color itself. For black or red, I feel like I usually have to add a fair amount to get the vivid shades, but for pretty much every color it doesn’t take much gel at all. I can’t imagine that the recipe itself would make too big of a difference in the intensity, but I’m not sure since I’ve only used one recipe.

  17. These look great… and Merry Christmas to you and your family Annie!
    About the colors, I’ve always used Wilton but was told about Americolor this year for the red and black. The Super Red and Super Black. I’ve used both twice and the results were quick & vibrant without having to use much color at all. I bought the brown and copper (skin tone) as well off their site and both turned out great; though the copper was tricky at first b/c it can get peachy fast!

  18. Annie, I envy the lucky people who are the recipients of your amazing gift bags. Your blog has been one of my best discoveries this year, and I love checking it every day for your updates. I hope you and your family have the most amazing Christmas. Whatever Santa brings, at least they know they will be well fed! Looking forward to the Christmas meal post. Maggie (Oxford, UK)

    • Maggie,
      Thank you so much for the sweet message. I am so glad to hear that you enjoy the blog, and I hope you continue to enjoy it in the coming year. Unfortunately because of an my work schedule for the month of December, there will be no big Christmas meal hosted by me this year – I had no time or energy! I did make a pretty cool cake though, so at least there’s that 🙂 Have a very merry Christmas!

  19. I just came across your blog and I love it! I also love that you’re a doc! I’m a third year med student trying to keep my sanity with baking and it’s nice to know that you have time to bake and blog and be a mom while being a resident. 🙂

  20. wow! these are so awesome looking!!! i was looking for cookie recipes and ended up here… hope to be able to make such good looking cookies someday!

  21. I love your blog and am very inspired by your story and your love for baking! Have a very blessed christmas and have a great year ahead! Keep posting those yummy recipes!

  22. Merry Christmas. (I love the trees too!)

  23. Great cookies! Thought I would share a link to chocolate butter cookies by Cooks Illustrated, in case you are interested in a different flavor to try. They tasted like crispy brownies, seriously good! I used cookie molds, but CI says they work well with cutters.

    • Ariana,
      Those cookies were high on my list to try, but I didn’t get around to them this year. I’ve already decided that they are definitely on the gift bag list for next year though! Great minds think alike.

  24. I love the JOY cookie cutter you have. Do you know where you bought it?

  25. Your cookies are always the cutest!!!

  26. I have tried 3 sugar cookie recipes so far this year (first time making them on my own w/o mom) and this was my FAVORITE! Not only did they taste wonderful, they kept their shape when baking and made such beautiful cookies when I decorated them with a glazing icing. Next, I will try the royal icing 🙂 Its too bad they are all gone.

  27. I love the dots on the JOY….it looks like you planned it that way…totally perfect!

    Happy New Year!

  28. Hi Annie! I have been reading your blog for some time now and you continue to amaze me! Your recipes, photography – you are one talented lady! I am planning on making your sugar cookies for a cookie exchange at work. Just curious if you’ve ever frozen these, and if so how did they turn out? I won’t be able to make the cookies until about a week before the exchange and am nervous about them tasting ..not the freshest.

    Thanks!!! And Happy Baking 🙂

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