Hosting Tips

How to Host a Cookie Decorating Party

By Camille Styles
Kids Holiday Cookie Decorating Party - cute!

Cookie decorating is one of those activities that instantly gets me in the holiday spirit, and every December I can’t wait to bust out the cookie cutters, frosting, and sprinkles and get to work. And since it’s also the most fun holiday activity to do with kids, I decided to throw a little decorating bash at our house for Phoebe and her friends with a little help from Pottery Barn Kids. It was the perfect way to kickoff the season, and (aside from ending up with a bunch of preschoolers high on sugar) it was a stress-free and festive way to spend the afternoon with friends. Click through for a few tips on decorating, setting-up and hosting a holiday cookie decorating day of your own, and be sure to hop over to the Pottery Barn Kids blog where I shared the recipe for my favorite jam thumbprint cookies!

*photos by Wynn Myers

Tip #1: Cover the table with kraft paper for easy clean-up.

We covered the kids’ height table in our playroom with kraft paper, then used a white paint pen to draw “place mats” labeled with each kid’s name. Instant decorating stations — and at the end of the party, we simply rolled up the kraft paper and threw it away.

The desk was transformed for Christmas with green felt trees and an advent calendar. This is the first year we’ve ever had one, and I have to admit that I’m still looking for ideas on what to fill it with. I’d love to hear any advent calendar ideas in the comments.

Tip #2: Make just 1 or 2 types of cookies.

For parties that are all about the decorating, I like to make a few batches of the same type of cookie to keep things simple. I brought them all upstairs on the parchment-lined cookie sheets I baked them on and they were ready to go.

You can’t have a cookie party without milk, and ours looked extra festive with red and white striped straws and vintage-inspired glass bottles from the craft store.

Tip #4: Prepare your supplies. 

A tiered stand holds extra cookies for snacking. A decorating party feels way more organized when you gather everything you’ll need beforehand, including paper towels and trash bags for clean-up.


Tip #3: Muffin pans make great topping organizers.

Sprinkles, crushed peppermint, and holiday candy are at the ready to deck out our cookies. A muffin pan is the perfect way to keep it all organized on the table and within easy reach.

It’s pretty much every three-year-old’s holiday fantasy. Click here for the recipe for molasses roll out cookies that are perfect for cutting out and decorating.

These yarn tassels are a fun way to deck the halls in a kids’ spaceS — I strung a few onto a long piece of yarn for a statement-making garland.

Set out a couple bowls of white frosting and child-safe knives that the kids can share. I showed them how to spread an even layer of frosting onto each cookie before going crazy with toppings.

Asher gets in the spirit with a pair of reindeer antlers.

I usually plan for each kid to decorate 4 – 6 cookies. It’s fun for them to be able to take a few home.

Tip #5: Embrace the mess.

Remember, you can always clean up later.

Cora is the daughter of my dear friend Anne and is in Phoebe’s class at school. It’s always an added bonus when a kid party equals social hour for the mamas, too.

Tip #6: Designate a spot for holding the finished cookies to dry.

Lay out a piece of parchment paper with each child’s name on it, and place their cookies on top of cooling racks to identify whose is whose.

When I was growing up, my mom always let me pick out a set of Christmas PJ’s, and I’m carrying on the tradition with Phoebe this year. She loves her Santa’s Sleigh Flannel pajamas.

Countdown to Christmas… can’t believe it’s less than 2 weeks away!

So happy that I finally have a collection of Santa Plates to get out every year. These will be perfect for Christmas morning breakfast… and leaving out cookies for the man himself the night before, of course.

The girls take a break from cookies so Phoebe can give the full dollhouse tour.

Tip #7: Know when to loosen the reigns.

Like many of you guys, we eat really healthy at home most of the time. So it can be slightly painful as parents to watch our preschoolers eating inordinate amounts of sugar. Before gatherings like this, I remind myself that it’s a party for goodness sake, and now’s a good time to let Phoebe just let loose and have fun — even if that means consuming a lot more sugar than usual.

Tip #8: Pack up “to go” boxes in cute containers.

After the kids are done decorating, let the icing set for 30 minutes, then pack up the cookies in cute boxes. It helps to use wax paper between layers so that the cookies don’t stick together.