Cookie decorating parties are my favorite holiday tradition. You can decorate cookies with your best girlfriends over a glass of wine (or two)— or, during school break, why not get the kids together and keep them busy for hours? Nothing beats a warm kitchen, the smell of cookies, and the glow of Christmas lights.
The best part about cookie parties? At the end you’ll have beautifully decorated cookies you can give out as gifts, or if you’re like me, you’ll slowly deplete your cookie stash by eating them one at a time, because what's just one more cookie?
Here’s my secret to being a rock star cookie decorating party hostess
Select a day that will work best for everyone, and invite your friends.
Pick a theme! This makes it easy to select sprinkles, cookie cutters, and edible decorations. I love a winter wonderland theme! Think snowflake cookie cutters, cute snowmen, Christmas tree cookie cutters, and pretty sprinkles in white and pastel shades. Or, if you’re a more traditional gal, go for the Santa cookie cutters, reindeer, and candy cane cookie cutters with fun red and green brightly colored sprinkles. It doesn’t matter what theme you pick, your guests will appreciate the well thought out plan.
Create your cookie menu. You can’t go wrong with sugar and gingerbread cookies. The number of guests attending helps determine how many cookies to bake. Don’t go crazy on the different shapes of cookies you make, just pick a few and make life easy.
Once you have your friends invited and your theme picked out, it’s time to start shopping and prepping for the party!
Things You’ll Need:
Boxes, bags or trays for transporting your guest's decorated cookies.
Snacks and drinks for your guests.
Plastic tablecloths and paper towels to make clean up easy.
Things to do ahead of time
Pick three to four cookie cutters that match your theme
Three or four cookie shapes is plenty and makes prep easy. Select cookie cutters that require basic decorating, like a gingerbread man cookie cutter, snowflakes, and candy canes. Those extra detailed cookie decorating videos you see on facebook are sped up, in real life, one cookie could take you an entire day, and who has time for that?
Buy some fun sprinkles and edible icing decorations
There are so many sprinkles to choose from, how can you decide? Sprinkles are what makes a cookie decorating party extra fun and allows your friends to get creative. You’ll want lots of icing eyes, sanding sugar, jimmies, nonpareils, dragees, and edible pearls. It’s also handy to have some Christmas-y premade edible icing decorations.
Pick a Color Palette
One easy way to make sure everyone’s cookies look great is to select a color theme for them. Instead of mixing up every color under the sun, pick three or four. This way, all the colors go great together--ensuring that even the most decorating-phobic leaves with pretty cookies!
Make Cookie Dough and Bake
Use our tried and true cut-out sugar cookie dough recipe (see how to make our cut-out sugar cookie recipe here). You can make and freeze this cookie dough recipe up to one month before your cookie party. It’s our favorite sugar cookie recipe because it doesn’t spread out when baking, so you’ll have perfectly shaped sugar cookies and no Pinterest fails.
Be sure to remove the dough from the freezer, and let it thaw in the refrigerator at least two days before you plan to bake your cookies. You can bake your cookies two days before your party, store them in covered plastic containers.
Make Royal Icing
Make and color royal icing up to a week before your party, it’s quick and easy to make with our royal icing mix! Color with AmeriColor Gel Food coloring, just a few drops it all you’ll need to make beautiful vibrant Christmas colors.
Store in covered containers in the refrigerator until your ready to use them. The day of the party, scoop royal icing into disposable piping bags, just snip the tip of the bag and you’re ready to go!
Or you could skip piping icing and make something different like Snowman Thumbprint Cookies.
The Day of the Party
Set up workspace
Set up a large table with sprinkles, royal icing filled piping bags, spatulas, and baked cookies.
Line each place setting with a piece of parchment paper for your guests to work over. Pour sprinkles out of pouches into small prep bowls for easy sharing and sprinkling, this makes it especially easy for kids to grab the sprinkles with their tiny hands.
Have extra parchment paper sheets laid out on a separate table to set cookies on to dry, keep your decorated cookies on a different table to avoid an elbow accidentally hitting your masterpiece.
Decorate and have fun!
Let your guests have a ball decorating their cookies, and leave perfectionism at the door. Cookie decorating parties are all about having fun and leaving with memories and delicious Christmas cookies. Don’t be afraid to eat a dozen cut-out cookies or get a little icing on your nose, because that’s what Christmas is all about!
Send them home with cookies
Let the cookies set for at least an hour before guests bring them home. The icing still won’t be fully hard, so handle the decorated cookies with care. Make sure you have some cake boxes ready for guests to store their cookies in during the drive home, place the cookies in a single layer inside the boxes.
Give yourself a pat on the back, you just hosted a cookie decorating party your friends and family will look forward to year after year!
Thumbprint Snowman Cookies are easy to make and decorate when you use Merckens White Candy Coatings!
They’re delicious and cute, and everything you could want in a Christmas cookie. They’re not overly sweet and go wonderfully with coffee on Christmas morning (Santa will love them too!).
You don’t need to be a cookie decorating maven to decorate them, so they’re great for kids and cookie parties.
What You’ll Need
One batch of thumbprint cookies baked and cooled (recipe below)
Bake the Cookies
Use the recipe below to make the thumbprint cookie dough, there’s no chill time required, so you can bake the cookies right away! If you want to get ahead of the holidays, you can bake a batch of these cookies 3 weeks in advance and freeze them. Just store undecorated cookies in an airtight container in your freezer, and when you’re ready to serve them, let them come to room temperature before decorating.
Our Thumbprint Snowman Cookie Recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies when using a tablespoon of cookie dough for each cookie.
Melt the Merckens White Candy Coatings
Once the cookies have cooled begin to decorate them.
In a disposable pastry bag, melt ½ pound of merckens white candy coatings in the microwave 20 seconds at a time, squishing the bag around in between intervals to distribute hot spots (Here’s how to melt Merckens Candy Coatings).
Fill the Thumbprint Cookies
Once the chocolate is melted, snip the tip of the bag and squeeze the white chocolate into the centers of the cookies, filling to the top.
When all of the cookies are filled with white chocolate, place them on a baking sheet and set aside to harden at room temperature for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate has set up and hardened.
Draw Faces with an Edible Marker
Using a black AmeriColor edible marker draw a face and eyes onto the white chocolate, clean the tip of the marker with a paper towel in between drawing to remove buildup that can form at the tip, making it hard to draw.
Make sure you only use an edible marker for this project, they’re filled with food coloring making them safe to use on baked goods -- regular craft markers are not food safe.
Pipe a Carrot Nose
Melt 1/4 cup of Merckens Orange Candy Coatings in a disposable pastry bag 20 seconds at a time in the microwave. Snip the very tip of the pastry bag and pipe a carrot nose onto the center of the white chocolate. Let the orange noses set up at room temperature for about 10 minutes
You’ll love how cute and easy they are, and if you recruit the kids to help you’ll have your cookie decorating done in record time. Nothing beats feeling like an accomplished cookie hero during the holidays.
How to Make Spooky Witch Finger Cookies
Don’t get caught being a basic witch this Halloween! Plain sugar cookies are boring, perfectly piped royal icing is better left for Martha, but gory witch fingers are where it’s at this Halloween! Easy to make with no expertise needed, serve these cookies at your Halloween party and watch friends cringe with delight. They’ll love the delicious taste of sugar cookies dipped in sweet royal icing and topped with a crunchy almond slice.
Witch finger cookies can be made in a pinch, but you’ll need to let them set up overnight, so be sure to give yourself at least a day to make them.
Supplies you’ll need for Witch Finger Cookies
- Witch finger cookie pan
- Electric Green Americolor Food coloring
- Royal icing mix
- Edible markers by AmeriColor
- Almonds (pumpkin seeds also work)
Make the cookie dough
In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Add the egg and vanilla extract (or a flavoring of your choice) and beat until mixed well. Add in flour and salt and beat on medium speed until blended.
Bake the Witch Finger Cookies
Baking perfectly shaped witch finger cookies is an easy task with the Witch Finger Cookie Pan. No more misshapen finger cookies that resemble flattened sausages (have you seen the Pinterest fails?), this cookie pan makes witch fingers perfect every time!
Spray the finger cookie pan lightly with vegetable spray and press two teaspoons of dough into each cavity of the cookie pan. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges lightly brown. Let them cool on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes and you're ready for decorating!
Make Royal Icing
Royal icing is easy to make using our royal icing mix, just add water! Follow the package directions and mix accordingly for a thin consistency. If you’d rather make your own, use the recipe below, you only need a few ingredients.
Dip the Finger Cookies
Set a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper.
This will allow excess icing to drip off rather than puddle around the cookie, and the parchment will catch any drips, making clean up easier, just toss the royal icing dripped parchment in the trash when you're done ( royal icing crusts and hardens so you can't reuse the royal icing that's dripped off).
Dip the front of the finger cookies into the royal icing keeping your fingertips on the very edge of the cookie, and let the excess icing flow off leaving a thin coating of icing.
Then place the cookie onto the cooling rack, and Immediately place an almond slice onto the cookie to make a fingernail.
Let the Witch Finger Cookies Set.
Let them set out overnight uncovered to harden, leaving them out on the counter top is just fine since refrigerating them will keep the royal icing from hardening. It's best to give yourself two days to complete this project.
Decorate the Witch Finger Cookies
Use AmeriColor Edible Food Markers to decorate your witch fingers in a flash! Use a black edible marker to draw stitches and a red edible marker around the edges to draw on gory blood. Color around or on the almond slice, shade in cracks or color the entire almond slice in yellow.
Let the decorated witch finger cookies dry for 10 minutes to prevent smudging the edible marker decorations.
Serve Witch Finger Cookies at your Halloween party alongside raspberry pastry filling for dipping, and they go great with coffee or tea!
Mess-free edible markers make decorating a breeze, so easy to make and decorate- kids will love helping!