Prepare gingerbread cookie dough, divide into three portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Print out tree template (download here – save then print) and cut out. Once dough is chilled, roll out one portion of dough to be 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick on a piece of parchment paper.

Dust dough with additional flour so that the tree template does not stick. Place tree template onto dough and cut around it with a sharp knife.

Remove template and remove dough scraps leaving your cutout tree behind. Save scraps for reuse later. Dust excess flour off of tree. Bake tree at 350F for 15 to 18 minutes until edges are golden brown. Let cookie cool on the baking sheet until it is set. Remove the entire sheet of parchment paper and let cookie cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough to make three trees in total.

Roll out excess dough and cut out 7 or more cookies using the mini cookie cutters. Bake at 350F for 8-12 minutes until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool. NOTE: I used 4 of these cookies as garnish in my final cake but it’s always good to have extra to allow for changes and/or breakage.
While cookies are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting:
  • 12 ounces unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cold
  • 4 ounces salted butter, slightly softened but still cold
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, block style like Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 6-7 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  1. In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well combined.
  2. Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Add vanilla and heavy cream and mix until combined. Mix on low several minutes until fluffy and light.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip like an 806. Gather all of your toppings for assembly. I used meringue kisses (in various shapes, sizes and colors), green M&M’s, pink sixlets, pink and green sprinkles.
Lay one cookie flat onto serving board or parchment paper. Pipe dollops of frosting all over the cookie to completely cover it.
Layer a second cookie on top. Then pipe dollops of frosting all over the cookie to completely cover it again.

Repeat with the third layer of cookie and frosting.

Decorate the tree starting with your largest pieces. I started with my gingerbread cookies as anchors, with the star at top, followed by the reindeer and gingerbread men.

Add your remaining toppings working from biggest to smallest. This is where it really starts to get fun! Let your creativity shine and place items as it looks right to your eye. I chose to group smaller items together so that they would form one solid pop of color as a collective group (for example, a small cluster of pink sixlets together and another small cluster of green sprinkles together, etc.) I personally liked this look better than the small items scattered everywhere. But you do what works for you!

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