How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party

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Tis the season for Christmas cookies! What better way is there to bring some Christmas cheer than to throw a Christmas cookie decorating party?

If you want to know how to host a Christmas cookie decorating party that is full of laughter, sugar, and Christmas spirit, you’ve found the right place.

You’ll find the recommended supplies needed, recipes, tips for success, what to avoid, and even some Christmas cookie tutorials.

Some questions to first ask yourself are:

  1. Am I hosting a Christmas cookie decorating party for adults or for children? Or for both?
  2. Is the aim of the party to spend time together making memories no matter how the cookies look in the end? Or are people coming over to learn how to decorate too-pretty-to-eat Christmas sugar cookies?
  3. How much am I willing to invest in cookie decorating supplies?

I will help guide you through these answers so you can throw the ultimate Christmas cookie decorating party that fits your party goals.

Let’s get started!

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.*

Part 1: What Every Christmas Cookie Decorating Party Needs

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party

No matter the age or skill level of your party guests, you will need to pick up a few items to be prepared for the party.

  • Cut out sugar cookies in various Christmas shapes
  • Frosting in a few shades (think red, green, and white at the very least)
  • Tablecloth, napkins, plates and anything else you can think to use to keep things less messy

First up, you will need a delicious roll out sugar cookie recipe. This recipe is a no-chill vanilla sugar cookie recipe that is my second most popular blog post on the site. No-chill means that you can whip up the cookie dough and bake right away; skip the refrigerator to save time.

Next, you will need a frosting recipe. As a buttercream blog, I am pro-buttercream for decorating sugar cookies. I will attempt to encourage you to use buttercream as well. Here’s my thoughts.

Please skip the cookie icing and canned frosting you can buy in the grocery stores. While we are at it, skip the royal icing, too.

The cookie icing sold in bottles are full of nasty chemicals and are in microwavable plastic bottles. I realize this is just a treat but we can do better for our kids.

The canned frosting sold in stores is not the right consistency for decorating cookies and usually leads to frustration.

I know royal icing is the go-to for Christmas cookie decorating if you’re going to make your own frosting. But, hear me out. Royal icing is a difficult frosting to work with: too soft and it runs off the cookie and sets onto the table, too hard and it’s like eating hard chunks of sugar.

Kids (and adults) love buttercream frosting and I promise it is not difficult to make at home. All you need is unsalted butter, powdered sugar, milk, gel food dye, and vanilla extract if you want some flavor.

Speaking of gel food dye, I use the word gel for a reason. Do not attempt to dye your buttercream frosting with liquid food dye. It will not be strong enough and you’ll be left with pastel colored frosting. Not too bad for Easter, but not exactly Christmas. Chefmaster, seen below, is a great brand as well as Wilton Icing Colors.

Here is my buttercream frosting recipe that is easy to follow and is my most popular recipe on the blog. It does call for shortening, but just replace it with butter and you are good to go! (Shortening is in the recipe to help prevent it from melting at warm temperatures which typically isn’t a concern for decorating Christmas cookies at home.)

Part 2: How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party for Kids & Families

If your party is for your own family or if your hosting a cookie decorating party with kids, the top goal will be to make delicious cookies. They will be works of art in their own fun sense but likely won’t be entered into professional decorating contests.

In this case, your focus will be on the deliciousness of the cookie dough and the frosting. Check out my recipes above for amazing sugar cookies and buttercream frosting.

Don’t forget the sprinkles! Kids love sprinkles and you may be surprised with how creative they can be with sprinkles. Pick up some sanding sugar, small nonpareils, and even some fun mixes.

Hosting a Christmas cookie decorating party for kids won’t cost too much up front. You can skip the icing bags all together and just keep some butter knives in bowls of frosting.

If your hosting a party away from your home, you can bag the buttercream in icing bags and just cut them open at the time of decorating. I did this when I hosted a Christmas cookie decorating party for my family’s Christmas party three hours away from my house.

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party for Kids

Don’t forget your tablecloth, some plates and napkins, and some butter knives. You can pick up some festive colored butter knives, plates, and tablecloths at The Dollar Store.

Part 3: How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party for Adults

Hosting a Christmas cookie decorating party for adults can look a lot different than a family/kid decorating party. Adults can learn some fun decorating techniques to really make too-pretty-to-eat sugar cookies while having a fun time.

I encourage you to check out my online Christmas cookie decorating class, Merry Cookies, to play either before or at your party. In this class, I teach 27 Christmas cookie tutorials in both video and step-by-step photo series format.

You can choose which cookies to bake and decorate at the party and then “host” the party by playing the tutorial and having everyone learn together.

This class is available 24/7 and can be watched as many times as you want. It also includes printable PDFs of the photo series tutorials you can print off and place on the table for reference during the party.

Just like following instructions for a Gingerbread House, you can have the same amount of creativity and fun with Christmas cookie tutorials. Follow the tutorial exactly or switch things up once comfortable with the beginner-friendly techniques.

You can also prepare to host the party by watching the tutorials first and then teaching the tutorials to your friends. Everyone will be amazed at your hosting skills and cookie decorating skills.

You can find out more about this Christmas cookie decorating class by visiting the sales page here.

Part 4: My Tips for a Successful Christmas Cookie Decorating Party

Here are my top tips for having a fun Christmas cookie decorating party:

  1. Bake the sugar cookies up to a month in advance of the party and store the cookies in an airtight container in the freezer.
  2. Plan for 1-3 cookies per person to decorate, depending on the age of the party guests. Kids typically want to decorate less and get straight to eating, while adults want to spend some time decorating pretty cookies.
  3. Prepare the buttercream frosting up to a week in advance and keep in stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Two days before the party, separate the buttercream into small bowls and color the frosting. Cover the bowls and store either in the refrigerator or on the counter to allow the colors to saturate.
  4. Use cheap table clothes from The Dollar Store to place on the top of the decorating table AND below the table. Below will catch sprinkles easily and above will protect the table from any possible gel food dye stains.
  5. If you don’t want to use plates for decorating, roll out long strips of parchment paper over the table for people to decorate on parchment paper.
  6. If people are decorating more than one cookie, prepare for people to bring their cookies home safely. Purchase paper plates and wrap them in plastic wrap for them. It is also nice to write their name on the plastic wrap with a permanent marker if a lot of people are at the party.
  7. Don’t skimp on the atmosphere! Play Christmas music in the background or have a fun Christmas classic on the TV. Decorate the dining room with Christmas decor and have everyone show up in ugly Christmas sweaters.
  8. Cookies are sweet, so don’t forget the salty snacks and any other refreshments.
  9. Don’t forget napkins.
  10. If you purchased sprinkles in a bag, pour them out into cups and add a spoon or pour them into clean spice jars.

Part 5: Party Preparation Timeline

This is what I would recommend for the party timeline.

  • Up to one month prior to the party, bake the sugar cookies. Choose a few different Christmas cookie cutters when cutting out the cookies. Store them in an airtight container in the freezer until a few hours before the party.
  • Up to one week prior to the party, make the buttercream frosting. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Two days before the party, separate the buttercream into smaller bowls and dye the frosting various shades of Christmas colors. Either bag the frosting or cover the bowls with plastic wrap and allow the colors to saturate into deeper shades. If you used a crusting buttercream recipe as I have shared above, you can keep it at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate the frosting.
  • The day before the party, purchase any decorating supplies you may need as well as disposable plates, tablecloths, and napkins. Decorate the party area in a festive decor.
  • A few hours before the party, take the cookies out of the freezer and allow to defrost in the airtight containers completely before opening them. Remove the buttercream frosting from the refrigerator if it was refrigerated to allow to come to room temperature.

How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party for Children

Part 6: My Favorite Decorating/Baking Tools for Adult Decorating Parties

Wilton 12″ piping bags are perfect for transporting buttercream frosting and are necessary if using decorating tips:

Couplers are used in icing bags in order to change out decorating tips:

Wilton 55 set piping tips is a great gift for anyone who ends up absolutely loving Christmas cookie decorating:

If you want to purchase tips individually, I recommend buying them at Walmart or a bake supply store for the best prices. They are about $2/tip in my area.

The Joseph Joseph adjustable rolling pin is perfect for rolling out even cookies:

This Wilton Aluminum Jelly Roll Pan is my favorite for my cookie dough recipe:

I use the Wilton silicone baking mat in the class but these are a great, affordable option too:

Here are Some of My Favorite Christmas Cookie Cutters

Ornament:

Wilton 101 cookie cutter set:

Country Barn:

This fun cookie cutter set includes a lot of my favorites:

Pickup Truck:

Ice Skate:

Polar Bear:

Penguin:

Light Bulb:

Reindeer:

Santa:

Mini Christmas cookie cutters:

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How to Host a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party for Kids and Adults

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