Tips from Professional Cookie Baker Melissa Megliola ’02 on Creating the Ultimate Holiday Cookie

Try Melissa’s cookie recipe.

For Melissa “Marsh” Megliola ’02, Christmastime as a child meant visiting her grandmother and indulging in her fresh-baked Italian cookies. In 2011, Megliola started selling the holiday delicacies she grew up with, launching Sweet Treats by Melissa from her Denver home. Two years later, she started creating custom sugar cookies in unique shapes and with custom decoration for children’s birthday parties, baby showers and holiday events.   For making the perfect holiday cookie, Megliola likes to change her designs each year. Her favorites from last year were snowflakes, mittens, penguins and snowmen, decorated with her own royal icing recipe. Regardless of the design you choose, Megliola advises bakers: “A perfect holiday cookie should just be made with love.”

Decorating the Perfect Holiday Cookie

  • Use colors and shapes associated with the holiday but make them unique — think snowflakes that are green instead of white.
  • If you can’t think of a design, search the web for the combination of the holidays and “cartoons” to get inspiration for colors, ideas for faces, unique details, and differently shaped patterns for things like mittens and winter hats.
  • Use lots of flour to prevent your dough from sticking. A silicone rolling pin may also help. If the dough is super sticky, chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkles are a great way to cover up your decorating mistakes.
  • Thin icing with small amounts of water (a half-teaspoon at a time) to get it to the consistency you want; you can thicken it by adding more powdered sugar.
  • No icing bag? A plastic baggie with a small hole at one corner will do the trick.
  • Instead of spreading icing with a knife, use a small, off-set spatula. The shape allows you to keep the cookie on a flat surface while you decorate, instead of having to angle it while using a knife.
  • Looking for something specific? Cookie cutters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Don’t want to go through the hassle of searching? Get creative by finding new uses for an old cutter, or take a basic cutter such as a rectangle or square and use it as a canvas to create holiday packages, for example.
  • Your cookies may not be perfect the first time. Not even Rome was built in a day.