Want a great idea for a kids' party? Try hosting a cookie decorating party for kids! Sugar cookies and icing aren't just for parties at Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, or Hanukkah. A cookie decorating party can be a fun kids' birthday party idea or an activity for any celebration. And sugar cookies in fun shapes can be a canvas onto which your child can put his or her unique designs and colors to make beautiful and colorful cookies.
You can either make the cookie decorating a part of the festivities (say, at your child's next birthday party) or have it be the center of the kid party. All you need are some sugar cookies, icing, and food coloring -- and of course, the unmatchable power of kids' imaginations -- and voila! You'll have platefuls of delicious kid creations and some very proud cookie-decorating artists who'll be eager to show off -- and eat -- their handiwork.
What You Will Need
- Disposable pastry bags, couplers and tips, preferably #2 (available at many kitchen and houseware stores or baking supply retailers such as King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com).
- Wire ties (to tie off ends of pastry bags after they are filled with icing).
- Sugar cookies (preferably in shapes to match the holiday, such as hearts for Valentine’s Day).
- Food coloring
- Colorful sanding sugar (optional).
- Small measuring-cup sized buckets or large sturdy cups to hold pastry bags while in use.
- Paper plates labeled with each child’s name to put their cookies on to dry.
The number of pastry bags, cookies and icing you’ll need will depend on how many kids are at the party. Assume each child will probably want to decorate at least 7 to 10 cookies, and that you’ll need at least one icing bag for each child. Also take into consideration how many bags of each color you’ll need (for instance, if you’re having a group of children at a Valentine’s Day cookie decorating party, you’ll want at least two bags of red icing for every 5 kids).
You’ll also want to take into consideration how much time the kids will be spending working on cookies. If cookie decorating will be only one phase of the party, then you probably won’t need more than 7 cookies per child. But if this is primarily what they’ll be doing, you may need more -- say 10 or even 15 for each child. And factor in at least 5 cookies for each adult; chances are, they’ll want to join the fun.
How to Get the Cookie Party Started
- Mix icing with food colors (your child can have fun helping with this part). Depending on the holiday and cookie shapes you have, try to get an assortment of festive colors. Pink, white and red work well for Valentine’s Day while an assortment of muted pastels -- yellow, pink, pale purple and blue -- are lovely on Easter chicks, eggs, bunnies and other Easter cookie shapes.
- After you fill each bag with icing about halfway, carefully twist close the opening of the bags and securely tie it off with a wire tie. Be sure to seal this tightly -- when little hands squeeze these bags to decorate, there will be lots of pressure put on them and the icing could squeeze through the opening instead of going through the tip.
- Line the bottom of each small bucket or big cup with damp paper towels and place each pastry bag into the cups with the tips pointed down. This prevents the icing in the tips from hardening. If the tips do become clogged, simply take a wooden skewer and push the hardened icing out of the tip. Place no more than 4 to 5 bags into each bucket and set up one bucket at the table for every 4 to 5 children. Place small bowls and spoons of sanding sugar next to each bucket if using.
- Give them cookies and let them get to work!
What Kids Will Get (Besides Cookies!)
Over the years, I’ve hosted numerous cookie decorating parties, and I’ve come to realize that no matter what the holiday or special occasion, this activity is a big hit. Here’s what I think the kids -- and we parents -- get out of these parties.
A sense of pride. Kids love showing off their creations. Even younger siblings, who may not be able to do more than place big mounds of icing on their cookies, absolutely love it when we "ooh" and "aah" over their cookie decorating prowess.
A chance to let their imaginations and creativity run free. I’ve noticed that when adults decorate cookies, we simply cannot match the gorgeous colors and patterns created by kids. Something about the blank canvas of a cookie and colorful bags of icing unleashes the inner artist in each child.
Cooperation and admiration. As much as kids love showing off their own work, they also love supporting one another during these parties. You’ll be amazed at the way kids may boost the morale of a kid who’s unhappy with a cookie he made or telling each other they like the other’s work.
Fun! Working side by side on something they love doing will create a happy crowd. Your biggest challenge will be to convince them not to devour all their creations and save some to take home.