How to Serve Festive Holiday Food Without Food Coloring

I have all kinds of ideas for serving festive holiday food without food coloring, and it’s likely much simpler than you think!

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I’m not opposed to someone going out of their way to make real food dye with natural colors that won’t turn our insides purple and our teeth blue. I just don’t personally have the time to do that during this season in my life. There are actually fun options for purchasing natural food coloring, the ingredients of which are made with vegetables. They are pricey, but worth it if you enjoy frosting your Christmas cookies different colors. Check them out here!

But if you want to have fun with food and avoid the trouble and expense of natural food dye, here are some great ways to serve festive food without any food dye at all!

How to serve festive holiday food without food coloring

1. Use real food with real, natural color

It’s too simple, right? If you want something red on your holiday treat, use red food (pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries).

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Add a little bit of 100% juice to Cream Cheese Frosting to naturally and easily turn your frosting into pretty colors. Garnish with fresh fruit if you can find some in season!

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2. Serve your holiday food on pretty, festive dishes or on a pretty holiday table cloth

It doesn’t even matter if the plates are made of paper and the tablecloth is made of plastic. These items make serving holiday food so much fun! Or save up and add a few real holiday dishes to your collection each year when they go on sale after the holiday.

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3. Use ribbon

It’s amazing how a bit of fabric or colored ribbon will change the look of a food gift!

Sweet gingerbread cookies on the wooden background,selective focus

4. Use cookie cutters

Don’t just limit your use of cookie cutters to cookies! Use small festive cookie cutters for your pie crust too. Here’s our favorite Whole Wheat Pie Crust recipe.

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5. Use special holiday muffin and cupcake liners and toppers

It is ridiculous how much fun these are! Cupcake and muffin liners are such a simple way to dress up holiday treats. I watch for them to go on sale after a holiday and I stock up for the next year. (Here are 23 Muffin Recipes, by the way.)

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We had a little bit of fun with this idea and made some printable Muffin and Cupcake Toppers for you. Print them in color to cut and use, OR print them in black and white and let your kids color them before you cut them and put them together!

Get this fun, FREE Muffin and Cupcake Topper Printable when you join our Learning Zone. Membership is entirely free and will give you access to this and many more printable family learning resources!

Christmas Muffin and Cupcake Topper Printable

6. Decorate with candy canes

Fine. These have food coloring. But you can buy plastic ones OR you can buy the actual candy canes and use them entirely for decoration. We use them to brighten our table and living room, but we hardly ever actually eat them. They are a perfect way to make your holiday table more festive!

White and red peppermint candy canes in bucket on white background.
7. Serve festive drinks in special mugs and teacups

Somehow they just taste better this way. :) Here’s a link to share 7 holiday drinks that include all real food ingredients. But even my good ol’ Javita coffee tastes better in a holiday mug!

Cup of hot cocoa and heart shape cookies on wooden background

What fun ways do you serve festive food without using food coloring?

How to Serve Festive Holiday Food Without Food Coloring


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  1. Amanda P says

    Thanks for this! Most of my family gets headaches from artificial coloring and it’s helpful to have some ideas for alternatives.


  2. Jenny says

    I should have known you would have an answer for this question! I have been struggling with this dilemma this year. Thanks for the help!


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