Earlier this week I teamed up with Target to throw a little holiday cookie decorating party for Knox and some of his preschool friends (and their younger siblings who came along). I was shocked at how well it went and today I wanted to share a few tips for how to enjoy this fun holiday tradition with the younger ones and not lose your sanity in the process.
TIP #1: BAKE IN ADVANCE (and bake a lot!)
I decided to bake all the cookies in advance and instead focus the party on just decorating. I’m so glad I did this. Knox and his friends are 4 or almost 4. Their younger siblings are 2 or almost 2. I feel like for this age group, all the fun is in the decorating. They just don’t have the patience to sit around and cut the cookies, wait for them to bake, cool and THEN decorate. Knox did help with the baking and he loved it in a “playing with plah-doh” kind of way. He was good for about a dozen but I think I baked at least 4 dozen cookies. I had 5 kids coming to decorate. That seems like a ton and I thought I’d overdone it but I ended up with only about 8 cookies leftover. There was lots of snacking while decorating 🙂
Target has these sugar cookie dough sheets which are kinda life changing. I mean making sugar cookie dough from scratch is not exactly complicated I realize but the rolling and getting it to an even thickness can take some time. Since I wanted to involve Knox in the baking aspect, these were perfect. Literally open, flour surface, cut. You can re-roll the scraps and roll it back out too. Seriously, awesome. They have gingerbread sheets too!
I got a whole set of these plastic cookie cutters at Target too and they have an over sized, rubbery knob on top that is perfect for little hands. I found them in the seasonal section of the store (can’t find online, sorry!)
My sweet little baker, covered in flour and enjoying his hard work!
TIP #2: DRESS THE PART
Kid’s this age love to dress up! Each one of my decorators got one of these apron and chef’s hat ensembles. Not only did they look ridiculously cute, they all immediately snapped into action. Even the little ones (who just want to be like the older ones) loved it.
TIP #3: GIVE EACH CHILD A STATION
I covered my dining room table with kraft paper and then hung an apron and hat on each chair. Each place setting had a cute, skid-proof plastic holiday plate from Target and everyone had frosting bags and sprinkles to work with.
TIP #4: SHAKER TOPS, SQUEEZE BOTTLES PAINT BRUSHES ARE YOUR FRIEND
Learn from my mistakes here! I decanted some of the larger decorating pieces into small bowls and positioned them around the table. This worked great (and served as a perfect snack bowl for some of the younger kiddos, ha!) However I made the mistake of not decanting or checking the tops on the colored sugar containers. As you can imagine (and see below), that resulted in a lot of sugar dumping. A shaker top like the one on these bottles would have been perfect because this age group totally gets the idea of using glitter this way. Also, I cheaped out and used Zip loc baggies with snipped corners for the frosting. These proved difficult for the kids to use and some aggressive squeezing popped a few of the bags. I wish I’d used these bottles instead and let them use them like glue bottles (which again, they totally understand). When I do this again, I’ll definitely invest in the bottles and also set out bowls of frosting with paint brushes to let the younger ones brush frosting on.
TIP #5: SET UP A DRYING RACK AWAY FROM THE ACTION
These kids were prolific cookie decorators! They were cranking out cookies. I set up a drying rack on my dining room sideboard where I moved finished cookies to dry. This worked great and kept the table they were sitting at dedicated for just decorating while their masterpieces dried.
Overall I was shocked…SHOCKED at how well this went. This activity kept their attention for a good 30-40 minutes and my Reed, the youngest of the bunch, was completely enamored with the whole process (especially the apron and hat which he kept on even after he left the table!) Cleanup was a breeze. I just balled up all the kraft paper and tossed it. A quick pass of the vacuum took care of the few rogue candy cane sugar pieces and sanding sugar that ended up on the rug and that was it! Don’t forget to pick up a few of these containers to pack your guests’ goodies in so they can take them home!
And best of all, it got us all together during a totally crazy time of the year. The kids have fun and then enjoyed The Polar Express movie after decorating, we moms got to chat and catch-up and ok…really best of all…I got to snuggle this perfect being – 3 month old baby heaven!
Thank you so much to Target for sponsoring the party. I’ve been wanting to do something like this with my kids and their friends but was just kind of overwhelmed by how to pull it all together. I hope these tips will help you and take some of the stress and second guessing out of the equation!
This post was sponsored by Target. All opinions are my own.