For both these reactions I have a decorating suggestion that's more interesting than the ho-hum strew-on-colored-sprinkles solution: It's called accent piping.
Fear not! Even if you have never piped, don't have any pastry piping equipment, and are super busy, this technique can fit your expertise and schedule.
To see exactly how quick and easy it is to use just a small, sturdy, zip-top plastic bag to quickly achieve a pretty yet very doable plaid look (shown on the summer flower cookies at the top and Valentine heart cookies at the very bottom) check out my video on basic piping with a baggie on YouTube here. The video also shows how line up your cookies on a rack over paper first; how to best fill and handle the baggie; how to ready simple yet elegant striped cookies (like those shown below perched on the coffee cup) in just a minute or two; and more.
Achieving all the looks shown here involves nothing more than quickly squeezing out lines, zigzags, stripes or dots. As you can see from the trees, reindeer and bell at left, the piping doesn't have to be anywhere near perfect to be charming. Straight lines don't have to be absolutely straight or evenly thick. In some cases, wavy, or squiggly or zigzag accents with maybe a few dots add just the right touch.
Notice, too, that by choosing particular colors you can suggest any season, like red and green for Christmas, or or soft pastels for Easter, or orange and brown for Halloween.
Additionally, as the pumpkin and painted daisy cookies below reveal, if you're planning to ice whole cookies, it's possible to add extra pizazz quickly just by piping on a few accenting lines or dots. Note that the lines were added to the pumpkin cookies before the base layer of icing was dry, so they blend in to the surface. In contract, the piped-on flower "eyes" and lines were added to the daisy cookies below after the base layer of icing was dry, so they stand out on top. For a more details and pics on making the pumpkin cookies go here;. A dye-free icing recipe and instructions on making the daisy cookies are here; my YouTube video showing exactly how to make the daisy cookies is here.
Baggie Piping Tips 101
Here are just a couple baggie piping dos and don'ts to get you started:
>Choose small, sturdy plastic zip-lock bags and be sure not to fill them more than half full.
>Use icing that is completely smooth and just slightly stiff. (It should be thick enough to hold some shape when piped, but not be so firm that it is hard to squeeze out of the bag.)
>Zip the bag top closed before you begin, otherwise the icing may squeeze out the top.
>Shake or squeeze the icing down into one corner. If desired, twist the bag several times to keep the icing from flowing back up into the empty space
> Cut only a small piping hole; snip off the very end of a bag corner with scissors or shears.
>Test the icing flow by piping a trial line on paper before you start piping on a cookie.
>Start piping just before you reach the cookie and stop after going beyond its edge.
Remember this is not rocket science, so have fun!
BTW, if you're looking for a good sugar cookie dough to use when decorating, go here. If you need some guidance on the easiest and best way to roll out the dough, check out my YouTube video here. And you can follow that up with a video on the best way to cut out cookies here.
is here. Or how to make your own colored decorating sprinkles is here.