It might be an unpopular opinion, but in general, I think food should just be food and decorations should just be decorations. I've never discovered a product that excelled at both simultaneously. And that's to be expected, isn't it? Most edible decorations have been handled excessively before anyone gets the chance to eat them. And if they do, in fact, serve the purpose of ornamentation, well, then...they've likely been sitting out in the open collecting dust, being touched by children and licked by pets for goodness knows how long.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. And that's one of the reasons we'll be looking at this classic Trader Joe's Decorate Your Own Holiday Ornaments Cookie Kit. We'll be sure to score based on value and fun-factor, not just on taste and texture of the "baked cookies."
First observation: this is a big box. It's heavy. It's one pound and 4.7 ounces! I think that's the second heaviest food product we've ever purchased from Trader Joe's after the big round tin of Jingle Jangle.
There are three tubes of icing: red, white, and green. The colors aren't particularly vibrant. They're rather drab for holiday red and green. I suppose we can chalk that up to Trader Joe's using natural stuff for colors like vegetable juice, paprika, beet powder, turmeric, and spirulina extract instead of typical man-made dyes. That's fine. It's a trade-off.
There are two of each cookie shape: gift box, Christmas tree, snowman, and snowflake. And there are two little packets of candy decorations, one with tiny snowflakes, candy canes, gingerbread men, trees, and balls of various colors. They also give you shiny golden twist ties to hang the ornaments from your Christmas tree.
They taste like the most boring sugar cookies ever. They're only moderately sweet, and they taste and feel like they were meant to be decorative. The candy sprinkles and icings aren't much better. I honestly wouldn't buy this as a food item. I guess kids might like 'em, but I can't imagine many adults being enamored by the taste and texture of these things. A full cookie contains 300 calories, and that's not even close to worth it by my estimation—especially around the holidays when there are so many super tasty foods available.
But I gotta admit, they're cute. Feel free to critique our handiwork in the comments below. I'm sure your kids made much nicer cookies than we did. We're a little out of practice at decorating edible Christmas ornaments.
$7.99 for eight cookies. We'll offer two separate scores here, one as a food item, and another as a decorative one. Four Christmas stars a piece from Sonia and me as far as a fun family activity and ornamental value are concerned for Trader Joe's Decorate Your Own Holiday Ornaments Cookie Kit. Two grinchy Christmas stars a piece from Sonia and me for the edible aspects of this box of cookies.
Bottom line: 8 out of 10 stars for the fun-factor.
Bottom line: 4 out of 10 stars for the food-factor.