A Sugar Cookie Tree!

Sugar cookies are easy to make, fun to decorate, they are GREAT to have the kids decorated, and they are just about the most versatile cookie there is. Plus, almost everybody likes them which makes them such a great gift. Of course, you could give your cookies in a fancy box, tin or jar, but I thought making them into ornaments for a small tree would be much more dramatic, and makes a nice centerpiece as well.

Cookie Dough

First, you will need to make your cookies. If you have a hand or a stand mixer it only takes a few minutes to make the homemade dough, so it’s worth taking the time to make them from scratch instead of buying a store bought mix. Here’s a recipe I have been using for years:

With your mixer, cream:

2/3 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp, vanilla

Once the mixture is creamed:

add 1 egg

and beat until light and fluffy.

Mix in 4 tsp. milk.

In a separate bowl, sift together:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Combine flour mixture with butter mixture mixing by hand with a spoon. Turn the dough onto a piece of waxed paper and form a tube or a ball. Wrap the dough in the paper and chill for at least an hour.

Once the dough is chilled divide it in half and keep half in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Roll the dough on a floured surface until it’s 1/8″ thick. You can cut your cookies using a cookie cutter, but I just used a drinking glass which gave me a nice circular shape.

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees and bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then move them to a rack to cool.


I almost hate to cover my beautiful cookies with frosting, but I knew what I was getting into when I started this project, so I’ll just have to get over it.

I make my frosting using a mixture of powdered sugar and milk—and a tsp. of vanilla. Basically, I start with about a cup and a half of powdered sugar and add the milk one tablespoon at at time until the mixture becomes a thick liquid (kind of like the consistency of Elmer’s glue). Then I add the vanilla. This frosting is great for cookies going in a gift box or jar because it hardens after a while, so the cookies don’t end up sticking together and your designs don’t get ruined like they would with a creamy frosting.

While the frosting is wet you can add colored sugar or candy which will adhere to the cookie when the frosting is dry. Make a pastry bag by cutting a small hole in the corner of a sandwich bag and your designs will level out once dry.

Making the Ornaments

Wrap each cookie with plastic wrap and twist the wrap on the back side of the cookie. Cut off any excess. Use a sticker or a label to keep the plastic wrap closed. Using a needle and thread, tie a piece of string to the plastic wrap.

Decorating the Tree

I bought this 24″ tinsel tree for $8 dollars at Target which makes this impressive gift an inexpensive one too. Decorate it with your cookies and wrap a dish towel or piece of fabric around the bottom as a tree skirt. You could even add a strand of lights to give the tree some sparkle.

However you choose to decorate it, your friends and family will love this yummy, handmade centerpiece.

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Rachael Ray