Our series “Get Crafty” gives you the inspiration for creating inventive DIY projects during the holidays and year-round. Homemade cookies make a great Valentine’s Day gift. Here are four helpful hacks, plus some additional tips, for Valentine’s cookie decorating.

I understand the negative feelings toward Valentine’s Day, why some people consider it nothing more than a “commercial” holiday. They say it’s a fabrication, an excuse to buy a card and a box of candies, a made-up reason to express your love for that special someone.

For me, however, Valentine’s Day has always meant more. Valentine’s Day, you see, is my mother’s birthday.

Feb. 14 has always been a chance for me to tell my mom, in my own unique way, “Hey, you’re special to me.” I do the same with friends and loved ones (although they get the mushier, lovey-dovey stuff). And, sure, you can express that sentiment in words or actions any other time of year, but on the day my dear mom was born, it somehow feels more special and weightier — at least to me.


Show you care (with cookies)

When I tell someone how much I care about them, I like to go beyond just saying it — I show it. And one of the best ways to do that is through food.

I’m not breaking any news when I say Valentine’s Day is all about sweets. Chocolate, candy hearts, cookies…’tis the season for sugary treats. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with clicking a button and ordering any of these to express how you feel about someone, but there’s just something about baking and decorating cookies for others that shows you put a little extra effort in.

valentine's cookie decorating: tray of cookies

If you’re thinking, “I can’t decorate a cookie to save a cinnamon heart candy,” then we’ve got some very doable tips and tricks to demystify Valentine’s cookie decorating.

All you need are a tub or two of ready-to-bake cookie dough (I used sugar cookie dough, but cut-out cookie dough will work just as well), piping bags, buttercream icing, and a little creativity.

Frosting tips

If you can use a mini spatula or butter knife, then you can use vanilla buttercream frosting. This tasty white spread can be tinted with a few drops of red or pink food coloring drops to achieve anything from a pink blush to a ruby red hue. Skip the finicky piping work if you’re not up for it and decorate with pink, red, and white sprinkles, the aforementioned cinnamon hearts, sanding sugar, or any fun, Valentine’s Day-inspired edible decorations. (And if you’re up for even less work, you can get everything you need to decorate Valentine’s Day cookies in this handy kit.) Didn’t use all the frosting? Keep the remainder in the tub, freeze for future use, and simply thaw prior to icing. Presto!

If, however, you’d like to experiment with a piping bag, feel free to tint some of your buttercream and pipe to your heart’s content. I like to stick to a pink, red, and white palette, and mix things up with simple dots, stripes, or outlines.

Here are four of my favorite, no-need-to-be-a-pro cookie decorating hacks that do not require a piping bag and work perfectly for creating something sweet for your special someone.

  1. Add a little glam to your cookies by mixing 1 teaspoon of vodka with a half teaspoon of your choice of luster dust. I used silver on my cookies, but you can opt for gold, bronze, metallic brown, or pink to add some of your own “stardust” magic to your cookie decorating game. Once mixed, simply use a small, clean craft brush to paint your glittery goodness onto cooled, baked cookies.
valentine's cookie decorating: silver dust
  1. If you like a more whimsical, boho look, try mixing up 1 tablespoon of room temperature water with a few drops of red or pink food coloring and one egg white per color. Mix each color in its own bowl until combined. Then, using a clean craft brush, paint lines of varying thickness onto your rolled out cookie dough. Cut out using heart- or lip-shaped cookie cutters and bake as per the package directions. The cookies will come out looking like watercolor masterpieces!
  1. If you want to amp up your cookie colors, you can tint some of the plain dough with a drop of pink or red food coloring before kneading to ensure the dye is spread out evenly in the dough. For a fun twist, try cutting out little dough hearts on both your red and plain doughs. Then, swap the little hearts and cut out a larger cookie using a bigger heart cookie cutter. This little heart-swapping technique is easy and looks impressive.
  1. Have scraps of tinted dough left over? Simply combine them with plain dough for a marbled effect that you can roll out, shape, and bake.

Colombian-born, Canadian-raised Mary Luz Mejia is a twice-nominated NATJA food, culture, and travel journalist, former TV producer, and content marketer by day. She's written for Travel & Leisure, The Globe & Mail and enRoute Magazine, and was the brunch columnist for The Toronto Star. Mejia is a level II International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting Certified Chocolate Taster and successfully completed the George Brown College Chocolate Theory course. You'll find her enjoying a single estate varietal dark chocolate bar in her home near Toronto and dreaming of the Mediterranean.

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