Want to make the sweetest holiday memories ever? The team at Santa.com is here to pitch you on a fun (and scrumptious!) new idea: Make a cookie decorating party part of your annual celebration. Whether you host your friends for some high-level decorating or are gathering your kids’ besties to let them make a happy mess in your kitchen, we’ve got a few tips on how to pull it all off.
Prep your supplies in advance.
The secret to keeping this gathering stress-free is to have everything on hand. We’ve included the essentials here, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to your cookie creativity—so if you have more ideas you have, feel free to run with them!
Food coloring for the icing, if desired
Sprinkles and other edible cookie decorations
Small bowls for decorations
Platters for serving
Something for guests to take cookies home, like reusable containers or paper bags
You can bake, but store-bought is 100% okay too.
If you don’t have a ton of time or just aren’t a baker, a cookie party can still work. Just pick up some plain sugar or gingerbread cookies from the store and you’re good to go (and just saved A LOT of time on clean-up). Remember to grab more than you think you need, just in case a few break.
If you are going to bake, make sure you have the right recipe.
You won’t want a drop cookie recipe for decorating purposes—opt for rolled cookie recipes (like the sugar and gingerbread mentioned above) so you have the right dough for the job. Once you’ve made it, be sure to allow enough time to chill so it’s easy to handle. Your recipe will let you know how long that should be.
Prep for guests with food sensitivities or special diets.
Ensure everyone can join in on the fun by having cookies available that they all can enjoy. You might need to omit some ingredients all together and look for substitutions, or plan to have two versions of the cookies—one traditional, one amended. Check with your guests to be sure.
The more shapes, the merrier.
Mix and mingle different cookie types or shapes so there’s a festive smorgasbord of options available. Think Santa silhouettes to ugly sweaters to snowflakes. You can also tell guests it’s a “cookie cutter potluck” and have them bring their holiday favorites from home. How fun it will be to see what everyone brings!
But when it comes to icing, keep it simple.
Stick to one type and have a big bowl of white icing on hand. Then you can portion it out and let your guests get creative with food coloring. One more hint here: Make (or buy) extra. If your icing has to be refrigerated, be sure to let it come to room temp in advance so it’s ready to use.
Set up decorating stations for each guest.
Plan where you’ll host the decorating—at the counter, the island, the dining table—then give each guest their own space to work. Prep the spot with plastic wrap or reusable sheets to protect your surfaces (some of us here at Santa.com even put plastic under the chairs to catch crumbs and sprinkles). Then outfit each station with icing bags, cutters, and small bowls of decorations. Give each person a plate, some paper towels, and a plastic knife and toothpicks. Let them choose their cookies and then get decorating!
After decorating, create a cookie buffet!
When everyone’s done working, assemble the cookies on platters and serve them up buffet-style. Be sure to snap some pictures of the cookie feast!
Keep spirits bright with a cookie party after-party.
Line up a few Christmas movies, some snuggly blankets, and an eggnog or hot chocolate station so you have some entertainment while you enjoy your cookies. Check out a few of our holiday movie recommendations and playlist must-haves while you’re here on Santa.com.