I love decorating cookies. I’ve got a huge collection of cookie cutters – bunnies, autumn leaves, dog bones, flower pots, zoo animals, ghosts, you name it! I’ve pretty much got every holiday covered. But honestly, there is nothing quite as fun as decorating Christmas cookies with your good friends… while drinking a glass of great red wine. Which is precisely why I host a Christmas cookie decorating party every year with my friend, Joy. Yep – it’s all about friends, cookies & wine.
A cookie decorating party is a great activity for kids, but it can be just as fun for grown-ups. It’s amazing how relaxing, enjoyable, creative, and even theraputic an evening with icing and sprinkles can be. If you are ready to throw your own cookie decorating party, here are a few tips to get you started:
Send out invitations well in advance. The holidays are a busy time, so give your friends a chance to plan, get a babysitter, etc.
Remind your guests to bring a tray or container for transporting cookies home, and ask them to bring sprinkles and other decorations to share.
Make your cookies ahead of time. We baked our cookies a week in advance. For a party with eight guests, we made three batches of Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookies. We stacked the cookies in gallon bags and put them in the freezer to stay fresh. We pulled them out about an hour before the party and they were ready to frost (and eat) right on time.
Make icing one day in advance. I made two batches of Royal Icing the day before the party. An hour before the party started, I divided the icing into small bowls and colored it with gel food coloring.
Save half the icing for spreading and put half into piping bags with small round tips for decorating. Use plastic bags for piping – they are much easier to work with than paper cones. You can buy plastic decorating bags at kitchen shops or craft stores where cake decorating supplies are sold.
Kick off the party with light appetizers and a simple dinner. Joy made a delicious, vegetarian Quick White Bean Soup and served it with rustic bread toasted with olive oil. Keep your dinner prep to a minimum and don’t serve too much, since your guests will be munching on cookies later.
Make sure you have plenty of spreaders on-hand. Kitchen shops sell small offset spatulas perfect for decorating cookies. If investing in spatulas is not your thing, table knives, cheese spreaders, and butter knives will work just fine.
Make clean-up simple by covering your table with a plastic tablecloth or disposable plastic sheet. Just because your friends are old enough to drink red wine, does not mean they won’t be messy decorators. Be prepared…
Then send everyone home with their own plate of hand-decorated cookie art, a copy of your sugar cookie recipe, and a cute cookie cutter. Happy Holidays!