Basic Cookie Decorating Supplies and a Printable Shopping List

Happy New Year everyone!!!  It may seem like I’ve been quiet, but when I go for a while without talking I eventually explode.  My best friends can attest to that.  Today, because of y’all, they have been spared.  I’m sure a few ears in Michigan and Virginia thank you!

The new year is the perfect time for new beginnings.  So, I thought this would be the perfect time to outline the basic tools needed to decorate cookies.  Of course, you can add or subtract items that you might not use, but these are the things I need to work comfortably and efficiently.

I know lots of you don’t have a lot of money to spend on supplies so I tried to keep it to a minimum, but you’re still looking at at least a $100 investment. Try to think of your supplies as tools.  You cannot do a good job without the proper tools.  A surgeon cannot work without a scalpel, a carpenter without a hammer, photographer without a camera.  Without the proper tools, it’s very hard to do the best job that you can.

Now, for the longest post EVER!

To start out with, you need icing tips.  Start with simple rounds and add specialty tips as you need them.  My favorites are #2, #3 and PME #1.5.  I keep a few #1 tips on hand also, but I rarely use them.

Why do you need so many icing tips?  Two reasons.  First, you need enough so that you can switch freely without having to wash the tips in between colors.  Washing tips slows down the decorating process and turns something fun into a hassle.  Also, no matter how much I dry them, I’ve ruined many  cookies with a stray water drop from a freshly washed tip.

The second reason to have a good supply of icing tips is so that you can work with more colors at one time.  Smart girls work with 4-5 colors at a time, but for some reason I almost always end up with eight. I have enough tips that I can easily switch them out in-between details.

The next supplies you’ll need to have handy are icing bags, ties, and couplers.  I always use disposable bags, but rather than toss them, I use Karen’s bag trick, and rinse them out when I am finished.  Besides allowing you to refill “dirty” bags, Karen’s trick will save you a lifetime in washing time.

The bag ties are optional, but I highly recommend these purple ones from Wilton.  They’re a little pricey {another good item to use that coupon on} but they save me a lot of frustration.  They easily slip on and off.  twist ties and rubber bands will do the same job, but getting them on AND off of the bags is a real pain-in-the-you-know-what, and that is an understatement!

Finally, you will need couplers.  Start with about 10 or so.  Couplers allow you to switch icing tips without preparing a whole new bag of icing, so they’re essential to someone like a cookie decorator.

Moving right along…

Some people are not bottle users, but I HAVE to have them. There are several types of icing bottles which you can read about HERE.

I always keep measuring cups on hand for mixing and coloring icing.  The pour spout makes it easier to get icing into bottles AND the measuring cup helps to keep me from over and under mixing icing.

The spatulas, which I usually find at Kmart and Target are a little harder to come by, but work well for mixing and directing icing into those tiny spouts on the icing bottles.

You will also need plenty of icing color.  To begin, I recommend a kit like THIS ONE.  It includes a 3/4 ounce bottle of the basic colors so you have almost everything you need.

I do have a couple of favorites that aren’t in the kit such as warm brown, egg yolk yellow, ivory, and tulip red.

I use warm brown and ivory for skin tone icing which you can read about HERE, I prefer the tulip red for several reasons, which you can read about HERE, and ivory can completely change existing colors which you can read about HERE.

For general tips on coloring and preparing royal icing, click HERE.

My next essential cookie decorating tool is a newer discovery thanks to my friend Gail, AKA One Tough Cookie.  This is one of the best tips I have ever learned.  Gone are the days of standing by the sink adding drop by drop of water to my icing, praying not to over thin, and cussing when I did.  Now I just pick a spot, and get to work.  Bad for my behind, but good for my nerves.

My next necessary tool is food color markers.

I go through phases.  Sometimes I use them a lot, sometimes not so much, but I consistently need black, so I suggest keeping at least one black marker on hand.

The next items on my supply list are toothpicks or a boo-boo stick {cookie scraper} and tweezers.  Both are good for fine detail work, moving things around and fixing mistakes.

And finally, a few last things…scissors, various paintbrushes, and a couple of offset spatulas.  These are the things you need more often than you think you would.

I bet you thought I would never finish, but finally, I am finished!  Almost…

The best way to build up a good supply of tools is to add to them little by little over time. I started with a minimal amount of tools and added to them over time.  Now I have more bags, bottles, and tips than you could imagine.

Here’s the ugly truth. It’s almost shameful.  I may have a problem.

Once upon a time, I made 20-30 dozen cookies a week.  That meant LOTS of colors.  I figure I could make thirty-colored cookies at this point.  The pitfall? Washing them!

I also have enough tips, brushes, and food coloring to support a small bakery I think…

and enough bags, couplers and spatulas to, um, well, make LOTS and LOTS of icing colors with.

I guess I would probably be embarrassed.  Between this and my cookie cutter collection, it’s easy to see why I require a whole room.  My poor husband!

In case I lost y’all in my ramblings, here’s a simple and sweet printable shopping list.  I hope you got enough money for Christmas to cover it.  Get those gift cards READY!

I’m thinking I’ve probably said enough, so I’m going to stop now.  I’m excited for the new year.  I hope you enjoyed the silence while it lasted!

Happy New Year!