Practical Tips for a Holiday Cookie Decorating Party

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Have you ever wanted to host a holiday cookie decorating party, but you’re not sure where to start? It’s one of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions, so I’m sharing some practical tips for hosting your very own cookie decorating party. I opted to not make this into a complicated styled shoot, so hopefully this looks like something you could successfully pull off in your own home. This post is geared towards decorating with kids, but most of it could easily translate to an adult party as well.

The Invitation: It’s such a busy time of year for mail with sending out and receiving holiday cards. Save yourself some time and money and send out a quick online invitation. I used Evite to upload my own design, but they also have this cute design ready to go. If you like mine, you can download the graphic here to add to your own free Evite invitation.

Evite cookie decorating invitation

The Dough: Make your cookie dough several days ahead of time. I like to make the dough, roll it out on parchment paper, and refrigerate it that way. Then you’re ready to cut out and bake the cookies the day before your party. If the idea of all of that scares you, buy some rolls of store-bought sugar cookie dough. The kids will have just as much fun decorating the baked cookies! I’d say you want enough dough to make between 3-6 cookies per person that will be decorating.

The Cookie Recipe: If you decide to go homemade, my favorite cut-out cookie recipe is always going to be this one. It’s a not-too-sweet cookie that holds its shape beautifully. The “secret” ingredient is a little bit of cinnamon and it makes a subtle but important flavor impact.  This year I also made a chocolate cookie to mix things up. I used this yummy recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. The chocolate background really makes colored icing details pop.

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The Cookie Cutters: I have a huge assortment of cookie cutters, but my absolute favorites for Christmas are these grippy cutters from Wilton.

The Icing: You’ve got a choice here… royal icing or buttercream. Royal icing pipes well and dries hard, which is nice to be able to stack and transport the finished cookies. Buttercream is better for kids to spread onto their cookies and I personally think it’s yummier. My 6 year old loves the taste of the royal icing too though. If you go with royal icing, I recommend this recipe and then just add water until it’s a good piping consistency. You can put your colored royal icing into plastic piping bags and secure them at the top with a rubber band or twist tie so that the icing doesn’t accidentally get squeezed back out of the top of the bag. I just snip off the tip of these bags and don’t bother with icing tips. If buttercream is more your thing, I love the frosting recipe from these cookies.

holiday cookie decorating tips 7The Sprinkles: We love giving each child a plastic palette with an assortment of sprinkles in each well. This way they can use their fingers to pinch and sprinkle instead of dumping out larger quantities onto their cookie. I’ve seen that happen many, many times.

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The Decorations: My house is already pretty well decorated for Christmas, but I wanted to add a few decorations just for our cookie decorating party. I used my Cookie Decorating printable decor that I shared for free on We Heart Parties a few years back along with some new decorations from Oriental Trading.

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The Tables: If you have child sized tables then definitely use them. If not, your dining room table will work great. I highly recommend covering all decorating surfaces with a disposable table covering though. I used a roll of brown packing paper this time and topped it with a cute disposable table runner. An inexpensive plastic table cloth works well too. After cookie decorating is done you can just wrap up all the mess (and there will most definitely be a mess) and get rid of it quickly.

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The Snacks: Plenty of cookie and frosting consumption will occur during decorating. To avoid complete sugar overload, provide some healthier snacks for munching on.

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The Craft: Have a plan for when the cookie decorating is done, but you’re not quite ready for the party to be over. A holiday cookie themed craft is the perfect activity for kids at this point. We made these adorable plush gingerbread boys and girls from Oriental Trading.

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The Trip Home: It’s a nice touch to provide boxes for your guests to take their cookies home in.

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Happy Decorating!!


  1. These are all such great tips – I am going to apply many of them, thank you!

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