These 200+ cute old-fashioned Christmas cookie decorating ideas make a case for simplicity

Old-fashioned Christmas cookie decorating ideas

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The sweet evolution of Christmas cookie decorating

Vintage Christmas cookie decorating

Once upon a time, Christmas wasn’t Christmas without the scent of freshly baked cookies wafting through the house. Back in the mid-20th century, vintage cookie decorating was all about homemade charm and basic shapes. Think sugar cookie cutouts in simple shapes, dressed in simple icing and sprinkles — not the elaborate masterpieces of today. These times were about togetherness and simplicity, a reflection of the cultural and social fabric of the era.

The modern art of cookie decorating

Fast forward to today, and cookie decorating has taken a turn towards the artistic. Thanks to the internet and some pretty nifty tools, the cookie canvas has transformed dramatically​​​​. Techniques like flooding — where you cover cookies with thinned icing for a smooth finish — and airbrushing for dramatic effects, are all the rage​​​​​​.

It’s amazing but, let’s face it, also a bit intimidating for the average Joe or Jane with a rolling pin. Not everyone has the time or patience to master the art of perfect icing consistency or to invest in fancy tools. Social media can make us feel like our cookies need to be Instagram-worthy, putting pressure on what should be a fun, festive activity.

Cookie jar with vintage Christmas cookies

Cookie decorating ideas: Making a case for simplicity

So, we ask: Why not dial it back a notch? As you can see from the sweet vintage collection of decorated Christmas cookies shown below, there’s a lot to be said for the vintage approach to cookie decorating. It’s more about the experience and less about perfection. Plus, there’s a certain charm to those less-than-perfect, but oh-so-authentic, homemade cookies. They’re a reminder of simpler times and can be just as delightful as their modern counterparts.

And simpler methods aren’t just about nostalgia; they’re also about sustainability and inclusivity. Using basic tools and ingredients makes this tradition more accessible to those who can’t afford the equipment or don’t have the skill and dexterity required for the more advanced techniques (or simply don’t have the time, or that level of ambition!). It invites everyone to join in, regardless of their skill level or the size of their kitchen gadget collection.

Blending old & new: A balanced approach to Christmas cookie decorating

But hey, it’s not about shunning modern techniques altogether. There’s a whole world of cookie creativity out there, and your cookie tin should be a melting pot of styles! Think about it: you can start with a simple glaze – that’s your canvas. Then, why not add a dash of the contemporary with a technique like marbling? It’s not as hard as it sounds. Just a few swirls of a second icing color while the base is still wet, and voila, you’ve got a cookie that looks like a mini work of art. Or, take a classic shape and add a modern twist with some chic airbrushed accents.

Sweet iced holiday cookie plates (1963)

It’s all about playing around, mixing the old and new. Maybe you’re using your grandma’s tried-and-true sugar cookie recipe but decorating them with the sleek lines and bold colors of the 21st century. It’s this blend, this sweet spot between tradition and innovation, that can really bring your baking to life. It’s a chance to honor the past while embracing the present, creating something uniquely yours. And who knows? In blending these styles, you might just stumble upon the next big trend in cookie decorating!

Let’s get baking with these cute & easy old-fashioned Christmas cookie decorating ideas!

In the end, cookie decorating should be about spreading joy, not stress. Whether you’re a fan of the vintage simplicity or the modern artistry, there’s a cookie style for everyone. Let’s keep this delightful tradition alive and kicking, in all its forms. After all, a cookie by any other name would taste as sweet, right?

Up next, we’ve curated a collection of vintage cookie decorating ideas, perfect for those looking to sprinkle a little nostalgia into their holiday baking. These time-honored designs offer a charming and accessible starting point for bakers of all skill levels. So, preheat your ovens, gather your sprinkles and icing, and get ready to embark on a delightful baking adventure that pays homage to the simpler times of cookie art. Happy baking!”

Start here >> 150+ vintage Christmas cookie recipes  | 31 essential cookie baking supplies

Simple 1950s Christmas cookie decorating ideas

From Better Homes & Gardens (December 1959)

You’ll catch the Christmas spirit in our Cookyland. The Sugar Cookies, Ginger Cookies, and Spritz shown here are the merriest yet.

You’ll want some for the cooky plate (holiday hospitality), for the tree (saran-wrapped ornaments to give little callers), for friends and relatives (delicious token gifts). So out with your cooky cutters add new ones from the array at gadget counters.

Your children can pick designs from their Christmas color books, too — just trace the bold outlines, transfer to card-board for patterns.

Cute vintage Christmas cookie decorating ideas from the 1950s (2)

Cute vintage Christmas cookie decorating ideas from the 1950s (1)

Vintage Betty Crocker cookie decorating ideas (1959/1960)

Vintage Betty Crocker cookie decorating ideas - 1950s 1960s (2)

Vintage Betty Crocker cookie decorating ideas - 1950s 1960s (1)

Santa’s Cooky Shop (1961)

Santa's Cooky Shop (1961)

A Christmas tree just for decorated cookies (1964)

A Christmas tree just for decorated cookies (1964)

Toy soldier nutcrackers on Christmas cookies (1964)

Retro ideas for Christmas cookie decorating (1964)

Easy vintage 60s Christmas cookie decorating ideas (1964)

Easy vintage 60s Christmas cookie decorating ideas (1964)

Cute decorated Christmas cookies & sweet treats (1966)

Cute decorated Christmas cookies (1966)

Christmas tree & friendly beast decorated cookies (1967)

According to legend, every animal, wild or tame, is given the power to speak on Christmas Eve.

On the first Christmas, the animals gathered under the ____ to speak of what they would give the Christ child.

Read your children this story of The Friendly Beasts, inspired by a poem of the Middle Ages, then let them make their own fairytale scene with cookies they can cut out and decorate with frosting from a pressurized can.

Christmas tree decorated cookies from 1967 (2)

Christmas tree decorated cookies from 1967 (1)

Cute & easy cookie decorating ideas (1972)

Cute cookie decorating ideas (1972)

Vintage cookie decorating ideas for a cookie forest (1976)

From Ladies Home Journal (December 1976)

Here is a forest of sweets, filled with murmuring pines and hemlocks, a beautiful cookie wonderland of 36 trees that is edible, quick and easy to do. Follow our inspiration or your own creative visions.

The flat trees are cut out of basic dough into different sizes and shapes (by knife or cutters) and decorated freehand with one frosting that’s tinted infinite colors. The round trees are ice cream cones, branched with almonds or extra dough. We propped them up with candy sticks “glued” on by melted caramel.

Christmas cookie decorating ideas for a cookie forest (2)

Christmas cookie decorating ideas for a cookie forest (1)

Star cookies for Christmas – Sugar cookies and gingerbread (1977)

From Ladies Home Journal (December 1977)

Here, upon the midnight clear, these heavenly cookies mark just the beginning of the Journal’s Christmas Cookie Book ’77.

Our Yule-time treats are all made with love and togetherness to delight family and friends. The celestial stars here are carved out of the same sugar cookie dough (by pattern or cutter). No two alike.

Follow our flights of fancy — from stained glass to Pennsylvania Dutch — or dream your own jubilant ideas.

Star cookies decorated for Christmas - Sugar cookies and gingerbread from 1977 (2)

Star cookies decorated for Christmas - Sugar cookies and gingerbread from 1977 (1)

Pretty retro 70s Christmas wreath cookie designs (1978)

From Ladies Home Journal (December 1978)

Bright little wreaths, symbols of welcome, make their cookie rounds in radiant splendor.

To create this miniature wonderland, simply stir up some sugar cookie dough, shape with cookie cutters and paint with gaily-colored frosting.

Follow our freehand dabbles or design your own. Another witty way: glue on a circle of nuts and red-hot [candy] “berries” with a sticky melting of caramel.

Pretty retro 70s wreath cookie designs from 1978 (1)

Pretty retro 70s wreath cookie designs from 1978 (2)

Enchanting Nutcracker characters on big decorated sugar cookies (1979)

How could anyone resist this cookie fantasy based on The Nutcracker ballet — the story of Clara, her brother Fritz, and one very special Christmas when a Nutcracker doll comes to life, battles the evil Mouse King, and takes Clara off to the magic land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Enchanting storybook character - Big sugar cookie designs from 1979 (2)

Enchanting storybook character - Big sugar cookie designs from 1979 (1)

Decorate sugar cookies like Christmas stockings (1980)

From Ladies Home Journal (December 1980)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care (insert) or on boughs of greens (below) — a beautiful stretch of cookie stockings to greet St. Nick, delight the entire family.

Crispy, buttery cookies with a hint of lemon are simply fashioned by pattern (trace one here) or freehand and decorated with royal icing.

Follow our inspiration or dream up your own designs. Hint: Poke hole in corner before baking for string loop.

Decorate sugar cookies like Christmas stockings (2)

Decorate sugar cookies like Christmas stockings (1)

Decorating Christmas sugar cookies ideas from the 80s

Decorated Christmas cookies from the 80s (1986)

Classic decorating ideas for Christmas cookies for kids: Let them eat toy-shaped treats! (1987)

44 fabulous designs, from drums to choo-choo trains… fun to bake, even more fun to eat!

Christmas balls, candles, gingerbread boys, cookie mice, butterflies, angels, drums, snowflakes, pinwheel pops, snowman, three-tier tree, airplanes, raspberry hearts, crystal bells, piggy pops, teddy bears, ladybugs, meringue snails, wreaths, porcupines, crystal church, mittens, kitty pops, dinosaurs, stars, toy soldiers, angelfish, black-eyed Susans, bunnies, pretzels, trumpets, turtles, Christmas stockings, cookie canes…

Decorate Christmas cookies like toys - vintage ideas from the 80s (2)

Decorate Christmas cookies like toys - vintage ideas from the 80s (3)

Decorate Christmas cookies like toys - vintage ideas from the 80s (1)

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