When it comes to making Santa-worthy Christmas cookies, crafty cookie cutters do most of the work. But when it comes time to ice that gingerbread man, he usually ends up looking more like a gingerbread zombie no matter how hard we try. Thankfully, pastry chef Amber Spiegel has entered the kitchen to either show us up with her cookie decorating skills or inspire us. We’re going with the latter.

These are the kind of cookies that would be a shame to eat. Then again, it would also be a shame not to. One cookie can take her up to 45 minutes to decorate, so if you learn nothing else from this, learn that it takes patience to make those cookies look good. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Rudolph wasn’t painted in icing in a half-hour.

She has a whole series of (surprisingly soothing) videos on YouTube where she teaches you her intricate tricks and techniques, like outlining the area you’re about to fill in, smoothing out ridges from the piping with a scribe tool (a little pointy stick) and letting your icing dry between phases. In short, for the perfect cookie designs, take your time and don’t freak out. Your efforts will not go unnoticed by Santa. Here are some more designs to inspire your ext batch!

1. Snowflake Hearts: Atop these cocoa shortbread cookies, the white icing has an extra snowy feel. Add some granulated sugar on top for extra sparkle. (via Shades of Cinnamon)

2. Gilded Ornaments: Don’t forget some touches of metallic. Gold details can really take the glam factor of your cookies up a notch. (via Fancy Flours)

3. Little Rudolphs: If you don’t have the time or patience to get super intricate with your designs, this is a simple, minimal way to go. The kids will love them. (via Meet the Dubiens)

4. Melting Snowmen: This is such a clever idea for a cookie! But a little sad for the snowmen. (via Betty Crocker)

5. Peppermint Candies: Not only do these look like little minty delights, they taste like it too! Mint chocolate for the win. (via Glorious Treats)

6. Advent Cookies: There’s no better way to count down the days ’til Christmas than to eat a cookie every day in December. (via The Cake Blog)

7. Name Tags: Usually, the only time you get personalized baked goods is on your birthday, but it’s about time to bring that tradition to Christmas too. (via Glorious Treats)

8. Lacy Deco: These intricate fabric-inspired details are perfect for the holidays. They look like your favorite patterned sweater was put on an ornament. (via Decoist)

9. Poinsettias: This is from our own cookie decorating shindig last year. Pretty impressive if we do say so ourselves. (via Brit + Co.)

10. Gingerbread Snowflake: Let the gingerbread shine through as you ice each snowflake with a unique design. (via Cosmo Cookie)

Are you going to be decorating cookies this year? Let us know your pastry plans in the comments!

(h/t Colossal)