Despite what Instagram tells you, you can go through life celebrating birthdays, important days and holidays with a random selection of decorations and treats. A 3-year-old’s birthday party doesn’t have to be completely color-coordinated. I know that; I even believe it. I just don’t act by it.
See, decorating an event around a theme or color scheme is one of my favorite things. Creating an enchanted, elegant or whimsical atmosphere — taking an ordinary day and making it really special — is my kind of challenge. And to achieve that effect, I believe in cohesion: Every little item is a part of the whole. Every detail counts.
When I plan a party or holiday dinner, I try to match the food on the table to the overall look and theme. Unlike tablecloths and flowers, though, salads and main courses are difficult to color-coordinate. Decorated desserts, however, let you add theme and color as you please.
How to create DIY cookie stamps
Festive cookies work particularly well on a fancy dessert table, as a birthday party treat or as an outdoor barbecue snack. My kids love making cookies with me (and love decorating them even more), so it’s a fun, creative family activity for long weekends.
I started playing with the idea of stamping cookies to them unique. You can add shapes, patterns, letters or numbers … whatever suits your party or holiday. I considered using polymer clay to make the cookie stamps, but it’s not marked as “food safe.” Instead, I used the polymer clay as the mold and food-grade silicone putty to make the actual stamp — no fuss, no odor, and easy to use. The results are just like the reusable stamps you can buy, but they’re customized and handmade.
So what should you stamp? Whatever you like! It can be your team’s mascot for the big game, a star for the kid’s space-themed birthday party, a name for a baby shower, a flag for a 4th of July celebration. The sky’s the limit.
Before you begin, know that silicone putty has a very short working window in which you can imprint the stamp. After two minutes, it starts to set; after three, it’s no longer usable. Read the instructions carefully, because once you’ve started, the clock is ticking.
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To make the cookie stamps, start by taking a piece of polymer clay. Knead it if it needs to be softened and roll it to about 1/4 inch thick. Just make sure that the rolled clay’s area is a little larger than the size of the cookie cutter you’re about to use.
This is the fun part: use more clay to create whatever pattern you like! You can use the smaller cutters to cut some pre-made shapes. You can cut stripes (or any other shape) with a knife. Do you prefer organic, free swirls? Go for it, Anything goes. You can also use a sculpting tool to press shapes into the clay.
Use the cookie cutter to cut out your clay “cookie”.
Bake the clay, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Set aside to cool.
Unbox the putty ingredient containers. Now, take out an equal amount of the two components, using a teaspoon. As for the exact amount needed, some guesswork is required: try to use the bare minimum necessary for each stamp. Work one stamp at a time, don’t mix the whole batch at once — it’ll set before you know it.
Mix the two materials well, until the color is solid and there are no swirls of different colors. Work fast!
Roll the silicone putty into a ball and press it to flatten it a bit.
Press the putty onto the clay, use your fingers to ensure the silicone is getting into all of those details.
Flip the clay over and use a craft knife to remove excess putty around the outer edges.
Leave the putty on the clay for another 25 minutes to cure, then remove the silicone to reveal your stamp! Clean the edges of little bits and pieces if needed.
The stamp can be washed with warm water and dish soap before and between uses.
Using your favorite cookie recipe, make dough and roll it between two sheets of parchment.
If the dough is sticky, chill it a little before use.
Stamp away! Press the stamp onto the dough, using your fingers or a rolling pin.
Carefully remove the cookie stamp.
Cut around the stamped pattern with your cookie cutter and bake.
Decorate your cookies with icing, or serve them as they are. Create themed cookies to share at the next holiday or surprise a loved one with a super special, personalized gift.