Everyone starts somewhere, and that includes aspiring cookie decorators! We don’t all begin with handheld projectors and airbursh systems, but we can get a good start with some essential decorating tools. These will give you a great start to create beautiful cookies while you learn the tricks of the trade and decide if it’s something you want to do long term. You can easily fill your amazon cart with all these tools to save time and get them all at once, or you can find most of them at your local big box store.
Don’t have a large cookie decorating budget? No problem! I’ll be giving some tips and tricks to find some items on the cheap (I LOVE a bargain!).
Essential Decorator Tools
These tools are good basic tools for all decorating, not just cookies.
When I first started out, I used Wilton disposable piping bags. I bought the pack of 20 and they lasted me for quite a while. These are great for starting out because they are readily available at Walmart in their tiny cake decorating section (usually by the cards or crafts), and they are pretty good quality.
You can spend up to $5 to get a dozen Wilton bag ties, or you can do it for much cheaper. I use Ikea bag clips. They come in 2 different sizes and the small ones are perfect for closing piping bags. They are super easy to use, they are re-usable, and they are cheap, 30 for under $5! If you don’t live by an Ikea, you can use regular rubber bands which are also easy on the wallet.
Start building your tip collection with Wilton tips #2 and #3. Those are the best ones for outlining and doing details. You can also use them for writing in Royal Icing as long as it’s not too small.
Offset spatulas are great for so many things in decorating. You can use them to spread flooded icing, mixing colors, and some larger decorating techniques. It’s the jack of all trades in the kitchen!
I love my mini rubber spatulas! They are another very useful tool to have, especially for mixing royal icing. I also use them for stenciling cookies and wiping off those pesky air bubbles.
You may be thinking why in the world would I need toothpicks!? They are wonderful, inexpensive tools to have in the kitchen, and the best part is when you’re done using them they go in the trash! You can use them for popping tiny bubbles in royal icing, creating wet-on-wet techniques, easing flooded icing into small spaces, and so much more! A great little tool.
Royal icing has to dry before it can be handled or you’ll ruin your cookies. Stacking cooling racks are great for letting cookies dry, especially if you are tight on counter or table space like me.
Most people have at least a few cutters in their kitchen and probably don’t even realize it. Until you build up your collection, you can get a few essential cutters to get you started. I like having a round and square cutter for most of my cookies. My favorite places to find cookie cutters are thrift stores. You can usually find them bundled up in grab bags and they are usually a steal! Another great time to buy cutters is on clearance right after a holiday.
Food Gel Paste
This is something that is a good investment as a beginner and will save a lot of frustration getting the colors you want. That food coloring that comes in the little squeeze bottles are ok for egg dying at Easter, but it’s a headache for royal icing. You will NEVER get a bold color with that stuff so just leave it for the Easter Bunny. Wilton has a good line of food gel colors that you can find at Walmart or your local craft store. Start with the basic primary colors; red, blue, yellow, and maybe add some green or pink depending on your budget.
Building Your Essential Decorating Supplies on the Cheap
If you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of room in the budget for buying cookie decorating supplies, and getting started with the essential decorating tools can seem overwhelming. I mentioned checking after holiday clearance and thrift stores for cutters, but there are lots of ways to save on the other items.
I think all craft stores like Michael’s, Joann’s, and Hobby Lobby offer a discount coupon either through email or the Sunday paper. Create a budget and buy one or two items a week using the coupons and that will really add up fast. You will have a lot more buying power and will be able to quickly build up all your basic supplies. Every few months, Michaels has a 60% off one item and that’s a great time to get your larger decorating items!
My favorite offset spatula came from Goodwill, and I think I paid .99 for it instead of $5. I’ve also found brand name cookie cutters for about a 1/4 the price brand new. That was an exciting day at the thrift store!
After Holiday Clearance
When the holidays come around, I go to a few stores and see what they have for cookie cutters and food gel paste and make a mental note to come back the day after the holidays. If you haven’t noticed, those things don’t sell that well beforehand and are almost always 50-70% off the day after.
Most of my decorating tips came from a garage sale where a lady was clearing out her kitchen supplies. You can imagine my excitement when I saw a large bag of Wilton decorating tips for $1! I’ve also found spatulas, cake pans, and various other kitchen items at garage sales for pennies on the dollar.
Family and Friends
You can let your family and friends know of your growing business and ask them to keep an eye out for supplies. When people know you are adding to your collection, they will gladly pick things up for you at garage sales or thrift stores if they see it! You can also ask for bigger items as birthday or Christmas gifts.
I hope you found this post helpful! I would love to see some of your awesome thrifty finds and great bargains!
Thanks for reading!