But I actually do need to get cracking - I like to have all my gift-shopping done before schools break up. Crowded malls just don't get me into the Christmas spirit!
Ok, so I like to be organized - it makes it easier to enjoy the whole process.
And when you are decorating cookies, if you go to a bit of trouble to set up right, then you can just relax and enjoy the decorating part without distractions and interruptions.
You need time and space. Creating well decorated cookies is a process that takes days, patience and a bit of work to set up.
This is typically the way I do things:
Day 1: Make the cookie dough - most recipes call for the dough to be refrigerated for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.
Day2: Bake cookies and prepare royal icing.
Day 3: finally we can decorate!
Icing- have enough prepared in the selected colours and consistencies. (See the royal icing link above for an explanation on how to prepare the icing.)
Colours - I usually work with 3-5 different colours for a project.
Glasses - to hold each bag. Some damp paper towel in the bottom of the glass to keep the tips from drying out, and also stem any leaking from the tips.
Bags, adaptors, nozzles - I use disposable bags, with an adaptor / coupler. I like couplers because they stop the royal icing leaking out between the bag and nozzle, and also because I can switch to a different sized nozzle without having to change the bag. I swop between size 1 and 2 Ateco nozzles. (And most recently size 00's for finer details - love them!)
Clips or rubber bands- to seal the top of the bags.
Dry paper towel - to clean the nozzles and the toothpick.
Toothpick - to correct mistakes, pop air bubbles and for marbling effects.
Trays - placing the freshly iced cookies onto a baking tray just decreases the chance of accidentally digging your finger into a semi-dried surface later, when you are moving them.
Space to dry - away from where your decorating arm or elbow can smudge the newly iced surface.
Outline and flood cookies
Leave them to dry and then ....wait.
I struggle with this part - I want to do it all at once, but I don't do a great job of decorating when it's late, or I'm tired and rushing to finish.
Some details just need the previous layer to dry for a about half an hour,
sometimes it is better to wait a few hours ....
(If you're going to wait for the next day - decant your coloured icing back into their containers, and clean your bags and nozzles. If you leave coloured icing overnight in the bags the colours separate and need to be stirred up again. ) ....I did warn you, it is a bit of work!)
If you are battling to get your royal icing to dry in this weather, check out this post
Day 4: come back to do your second and third layer details.
Day 5: package completely dried cookies.
Day X: Enjoy the appreciation on the faces of the lucky people with whom you're sharing your cookie art!
Adios! Hasta pronto!