Loosen your belt buckles and haul out those holiday decorations: Christmas season is here again! If you’re like me, you’ve had your tree up since November 1st and you’re always in the mood for another way to celebrate this merry time of year, especially with the little ones in your life. If there aren’t any little ones in your life, simply add wine for a fantastically fun girls night activity or change the shapes of your cookies for an anytime themed bridal or baby shower!
Here are my tips for a foolproof cookie decorating party for kids of all ages!
Pre-bake your cookies. I originally thought that having the kids cut out the cookies, bake them and then decorate them would be fun, but I'm glad I decided to pre-bake them. This way, they are cooled when the kids arrive and they can get right to the fun work of decorating!
Make a scratch made sugar cookie dough (or buy your favorite store-bought brand). You can make the dough ahead and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for several weeks. 1-2 days before your party, roll out the dough and cut into festive shapes using your favorite cookie cutters. Bake and cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. I made 3-4 cookies per party guest.
Pre-assemble your gingerbread houses (if using). I scored some very inexpensive, mini gingerbread houses at a local discount store. Shape these following the package directions at least a day ahead to allow time for the frosting “adhesive" to dry. There’s nothing worse than trying to decorate a wobbly gingerbread house!
Cover your table with a disposable table cloth or large sheets of parchment for an easy clean-up after the mayhem has been had. You'll thank me later!
Mix and match several colors of frostings and sprinkles, candies, chocolate chips, or any other topping you can think of. The more the merrier for your decorating options!
I had a stash of store bought frostings and sprinkles, but homemade icing is certainly easy and cheap. Try this royal icing recipe from Real Simple. For multiple colors, divide the frosting into multiple bowls and add food coloring gel or traditional food coloring.
Provide bags or boxes with markers for guests to label their creations (and make it easy for everyone to identify their treats to take home).
Keep snacks simple. Be sure to provide low-sugar or sugar free snacks like cheese, popcorn, veggies and lots of water.
We found that cookie decorating lasted only as long as the attention span of the average 7 year old, so allot time during your party for outside play or active indoor play like tag or hide and go seek, (helps with the sugar high).