Trader Joe’s Cookie Kit Not for Losers

Trader Joe's Sugar Cookie Workshop

Trader Joe's Sugar Cookie Workshop

I Paid: $3.99 for a kit that made roughly 24 cookies (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

I come from a reasonably serious tradition of holiday cookie baking: Scandinavian spritz cookies on my mom's side, old-fashioned gingerbread men and rum balls on my dad's. Therefore, the idea of buying a kit (a kit!) to bake cookies seems downright laughable at first. Why wouldn't you want to spend six to eight hours schlepping dough into specially created spritz guns, in and out of the fridge, then in and out of the oven to create painfully wrought holiday masterworks?

But upon further consideration, finding a way to enjoy holiday baking without backbreaking labor isn't totally nuts, and Trader Joe's DIY ("Decorate It Yourself") Sugar Cookie Workshop kit appears to be just the way to do it.

The value provided in this kit is actually kind of staggering. Four dollars gets you cookie mix that makes enough dough for roughly 24 sugar cookies (with the addition of an egg and 11 tablespoons of butter that you supply). It also includes two packets of mediocre-but-acceptable shelf-stable vanilla icing, three cookie cutters (star, tree, and snowman), and four colors of sparkly sprinkles: green, red, white, and blue. While the cookies aren't homemade classics, they bake up pleasing and mild. It's even fair to say that, once decorated, they're festive.

And while it represents a clear compromise from the ancient holiday cookie ordeal (which involves at least one full workday of blood, sweat, and tears and several hundred cookies baked), the Trader Joe's Sugar Cookie Workshop does strike a nice balance between fuss and fun.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.