If you’re hoping to grab the attention of a kid (or her parents) in the holiday crush, a cookie party’s your ticket. Here are the keys to success.
Be organized, and have something to engage the kids at all times.
Make two kinds of cookies, say a roll-out sugar cookie and gingerbread.
It’s all about the kids; theirs is the joy of sprinkling way too much green sugar all over the gingerbread men. So let them do it the way they want.
The basics: The kids cut out cookies. While those cookies bake, kids decorate cookies you baked in advance. When those are done, the just-baked cookies are ready to decorate.
In advance, you can bake cutout cookies in a variety of shapes, five or six per kid. Leave them undecorated; store in airtight containers. Can be made well ahead and frozen.
The day before, roll out one piece of cookie dough per child, about the size of a cookie sheet, on waxed paper. Stack on a cookie sheet to stay flat; wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate.
Cut sheets of parchment paper to fit your cookie sheets. Cover the table(s) with butcher paper or plastic tablecloths, something to withstand the icing. Put a variety of cutters down the middle of the table so kids can choose.
Put decorations in spice jars with shaker lids or in small bowls. Tuck them away until the kids are done with the cookie-cutting.
Put out lots of small, food-safe paintbrushes. You will need a few per color of icing so that no one has to wait.
Designate a space to re-roll scraps; get older kids or an adult to help.
On the day of the party, make icing about two hours beforehand. Divide into small, sealable plastic containers. Dye with food coloring or paste, making two of each color. Make sure you have plenty of white icing too. Cover with plastic wrap down to the surface; you don’t want the icing to set. Chill.
When the kids arrive, transfer each sheet of dough to a sheet of the pre-cut parchment. (The waxed paper will be wet and tear easily.) Place one in front of each child; let them go to town with cutters. Have parents help the younger ones. Write each kid’s name in pencil on the parchment paper.
Slide the parchment onto cookie sheets; bake, in batches. Put the pre-baked cookies on the table for kids to decorate. After cookies that the kids cut out are baked, they decorate those.
Don’t worry about the mess. Icing will be everywhere. Sprinkles too. It all cleans up easily.
Keep an eye on the oven or designate someone to do so. Kids don’t understand that mistakes happen. They just know you burned their cookies.