Think Outside the Cookie Cutter

As homesteaders, we try to live as frugally and simply as possible. The more we have that can serve double duty, the less we have to store, clean or juggle. Canning jars are a perfect example. We not only use them to preserve our food, but most homesteaders use them to hold dry beans, buttons, or even a hand-picked bouquet of wildflowers. But did you know there is something else tucked away in your kitchen that seems to only have one purpose, but in reality has many? Yep. You guessed it. Cookie Cutters.


A Little Cookie Cutter History


The first Cookie Cutters probably date back to ancient Egypt, and were more for molding sweet cakes, rather than cookies. In the 1500s, they gained popularity. German bakers began to embellish carved wooden molds with tin or copper outlines to help make the ‘cut’. It wasn’t too long afterwards that the wooden portion was dropped and just the tin or copper outlines were used.

Today, cookie cutters are made from a variety of materials – tin, metal, stainless steel, copper and even plastic. They range from 1/2” to 8”, and a few even larger. If you name a shape, there is probably a cookie cutter out there for it. But cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies any more. Here are a few other ways to enjoy your cutters:


Heart shaped cookie cutter as napkin ring


Napkin Rings


One of my passions is to set an attractive table. At one point in my city days, I had 15 different sets of dishes, probably close to 100 sets of cloth napkins, and an uncounted number of napkin rings. Some of them were ‘formal’, and some of them were as simple as you can get. My favorite is a cloth napkin rolled and tucked inside a small gingerbread man or heart-shaped cookie cutter.


cow cookie cutter as placecard
Place Cards


Another fun idea is to use cookie cutters as place cards. Instead of putting someone’s name on it to designate their assigned seat, attach a quote, a Bible verse, a favorite excerpt from a poem or book, or a question that your guest has to answer. Tie the card to the cookie cutter and place it right above the plate. This is an excellent conversation starter and makes the meal more fun.





A simple Christmas tree is often adorned with strings of cranberries and popcorn. Some of us go the extra length and bake Gingerbread cookies to hang with colorful ribbon. But why not just hang the cookie cutters?  Use red and green ribbon to loop through the top, and they not only become ornaments for your tree, but you can also remove them after Christmas and use them to bake cookies throughout the year.


Cookie Cutter as gift tag

Gift Tags


These are not reusable for you, but they make a great addition to any gift. Cut lengths of ribbon, raffia or jute cording, and tie any wrapped gift with a big bow, leaving a long tail. Use one tail to thread through a hole for a paper gift tag and tie off. Use the other tail to thread through a cookie cutter, and tie with a secondary, smaller bow.


Cookie cutters as hanging bird seed treats


Bird Feeders


We all love to assist our feathered friends during the cold days of winter. It’s easy to make some winter feed mix. Just roll it out to the thickness of the cutters. When you cut the mix out, do not remove it from the cutter. This is great for plastic cutters or those that are rusted, bent or broken. Just be sure to scrub as much rust off as possible. Directions for Homemade Winter Bird Feed can be found here.


Storage Issues


Do you love having a few fun things, but cannot figure out where in the world you are going to store them? Take a second look, and think outside the box. Just like these great cookie cutter ideas, there are other ways you can use something. By doing this, you have not only saved yourself some storage space, but you have also given yourself permission to buy those cute cookie cutters you saw last week!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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