Tips for Hosting a Successful Kids’ Holiday Cookie Party
‘Tis the season for all things holiday baking! I’ve been hard at work over the past week getting organized for the Holiday Cookie Decorating Party I hosted last night for my kids and a few of their neighbor friends. I thought it would be a fun activity for them to do as we gear up for our Christmas holiday.
I’ve partnered with EVITE® and Jamie from My Baking Addiction to share some tips and ideas for hosting a successful (and FUN) kids’ holiday cookie party along with some great printables that EVITE created for you to use at your own party.
Just like with any event you might host, planning ahead is key. Make a game plan for what you want your cookie party to look like. Some important questions to ask yourself are:
- How many kids/families do I want to invite?
- Do you want parents to attend or is it a drop off party?
- Do you want to decorate cookies or swap already prepared cookies and recipes?
- How many types of cookies do you want to offer?
- Do you want guests to bring supplies for decorating?
- Will you have a set beginning/end time for your party or will it be a drop in open house?
The game plan I came up with was that I would provide 3 types of cookies – Classic Gingerbread Cut Outs, Oreos, and Sugar Cookie Bars – and a variety of decorating supplies and frosting.
Kids just needed to show up – with or without a parent, I was good either way. We started after dinner but kept the end time pretty flexible so that people could leave when they needed to or stay for a couple of hours to hang out.
This year I opted to keep things super simple, so I purchased Gingerbread Cut Outs from World Market and a couple packs of Oreos – kids can dip these in melted white chocolate and decorate them in different ways – with sprinkles and frosting – and put them on sticks. I also made two batches of Jamie’s Sugar Cookie Bars to cut into different shapes without the hassle of rolling dough out (Bake as directed, then cool for 10 min and cut with cookie cutters).
The truth is, I usually put a lot of pressure on myself to bake everything from scratch, but a few days before my party I came down with a horrible cold that knocked me out for several days.
So, I bought gingerbread cookies instead of making my favorite Chocolate Gingerbread Cut Outs and allowed myself to focus on keeping everything as uncomplicated as possible. Really, I just provided what they needed and a few suggestions for what to do with them and let the kids take the reigns from there.
Use EVITE’s Invitations and Tools
EVITE’S mission is to bring people together face to face and they provide tons of helpful resources to help you do that without the stress that often comes with entertaining. Their invitations will help you organize and track your guest list so you can have an accurate count of the number of people to plan for.
If you’re requesting that your guests bring supplies or cookies to share, they can leave a comment on the invitation with what they’ll be bringing. That is super helpful so no one brings too much of the same thing.
Aside from the over milestone 2 million invitations that EVITE has helped hosts send, they also offer a lot of Party Ideas – perfect if you are still in the planning stages and could use some inspiration to plan your own Holiday Cookie Party. This North Pole Baking Party is super cute!
Lower Your Expectations
I know sometimes I can have a tendency to worry and want to take control of what the kids are doing. Or I expect them to decorate things the way I would and to make it pretty rather than just a pile of sweet stickiness.
But, kids don’t always care; this was reinforced to me on Thanksgiving day when my kids decorated gingerbread houses at my neighbor Becca’s house while she and I cooked at my house – all of the kids’ houses looked similar: piled high with as much frosting and candy as they could get to stick!
Through the years I have learned to settle down and just let them have fun the way they want to (within the rules for behavior of our home). Allowing myself to mellow a little, and keeping the Thanksgiving Gingerbread Houses in mind, helped me temper my expectations so I could have more fun with the beautiful chaos around me and not obsess about every little thing kids were doing or not doing.
A kids cookie decorating party is mean to be fun, not necessarily Pinterest-perfect. So, take Jamie’s advice and just enjoy the opportunity to take some time away from life and have fun making memories with the kids!
Set Up in Advance
Setting up before your guests arrive will make things more organized, less messy, and a lot more fun. Here are a few tips for easy set up.
Line the Table with Butcher Paper
This makes clean up afterwards super easy because you just roll the paper up and throw it away. Yes, there will be crumbs and sprinkles on the floor, which is to be expected. But, at least the table will be easy to clean up. After collecting all of the cookies and leftovers to be packaged up, I literally just rolled the butcher paper up and tossed it.
Place Sprinkles & Other Candies in Dishes
I think it makes things cleaner, more organized and easier for the kids if you place most of the little embellishments for decorating in small bowls, or muffin cups – that way the kiddos can have their own stash at their workstation and aren’t reaching over the table.
Here are some ideas for decorating:
- Sprinkles! – Michael’s and Hobby Lobby have a great selection of holiday themed sprinkles
- Mini Marshmallows
- Chocolate Chips
- Hershey Kisses
- Crushed Candy Cane
Some of the smaller and limited quantity items (crushed candy canes, mini marshmallows, and silver and gold pearl sprinkles) I placed in muffin cups directly on each child’s work station.
Place Frosting in Squeeze Bottles
For frosting that will be used with piping and detail decorating, I love squeeze bottles for kids to use. I think it is a lot easier for their small hands to handle than a pastry bag, plus it is way less messy!
Set Up Workstations for the Kids
I found some super cute red and white striped parchment paper that can serve as a placement for each kid at the table. Besides looking cute, I think this really helped them with staying in their personal space. At each spot I had a knife for spreading and a few other things they would need.
Additionally, as a treat from me to each child, I pre-decorated a couple of things for them to either eat or take home. This was a bigger hit than I anticipated! It seemed to make each kid feel special to have something different already in their space, and made them even more excited to start decorating.
I think this was helpful with providing all of the kids some inspiration to start their creativity flowing. Providing some decorated cookies offered them my feedback for some fun ways to use the various embellishments available without having to micromanage the event.
I did spend some time with each child when they wanted my input or needed help with something specific they had in mind, but it was nice to mostly just provide them with a fun evening to play.
Don’t Forget Your Favorite Christmas Tunes!
I don’t know about you, but during December we constantly have Christmas music on in the background in our house. It adds to the mood and it is fun for everyone to sing along to while they work on their cookies. I went through my phone and made a playlist before everyone came over to have on in the background.
The kids decorated cookies for about 3 hours because they were having so much fun. After we had worked our way though the playlist, Logan decided to put on the old Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the TV in the background. This not only added to the Christmas mood, but helped occupy the kids who were ready for a break from decorating while others kept at it.
Offer Gift Packaging Supplies
Kids can wrap up their creations to be used as gifts for family members, friends, or other neighbors. EVITE has some great printables to help you turn your decorated holiday cookies into a gift – check out their free holiday printables – they have gift tags, recipe cards, and lots of cute coordinating signs for your party.
Ideally, this would be set up in a separate area from where the decorating is occurring so the cards and packages don’t get messy. In my kitchen I have a built in desk that is perfect for setting up plates, boxes, ribbons and string, and anything else you might need to package up your decorated cookies.
One unexpected outcome of our party was that the kids decided on their own that they all wanted to make a treat to take to their teacher at school. I was so glad that I had plenty of gift tags, plates, plastic treat bags, and string. They loved wrapping up their creations.
Recipes for Inspiration
If you’d like to do your own cookie baking for your party, I recommend baking the cookies a day or two ahead of time to help you save your sanity. Trying to do it all the day of makes things too hectic. here are some great recipes to try:
- Orange Chocolate Cut Out Cookies
- 5 Kinds of Cookies from One Cookie Mix
- Chocolate Gingerbread Cut Outs
- Vanilla Cut Out Cookies
- Sour Cream Cut Out Cookies