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:
Christmas Cookie Cutters
Jimmies, Nonpareils, dragees, and edible pearls.
Premade edible icing decorations
Small bowls or ramekins to display your sprinkles.
Boxes, bags or trays for transporting your guest's decorated cookies.
Silicone parchment paper liners.
Tipless piping bags (these can be used with or without piping tips)
Royal Icing Mix
Cookie Icing Tools (we've got a kit to get you started! Scroll down to the bottom of this post to check it out and shop!)
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 every guest 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.
Don't forget, you can get all the Christmas cookie decorating supplies at Confectionery House!