You know those celebs that sign up to do bikini photo shoots like three months after having a baby as “motivation” to get back in shape? And we all think they’re crazy? I mean they are…let’s all be honest. Well, I kind of had a moment like that when planning a kids Christmas cookie decorating party this year. I had had it in my head for a while and thought, “oh it can’t be that hard!” And then in looking at the dates was like, “ya! Let’s do it super early in December like right after Thanksgiving.” And then it hits me that that means the whole house would also need to be done and decorated before I even started on party prep – mind you we would be gone until the Sunday after Thanksgiving on a two day road trip with a 14 month old and a dog…motivation right? 🙂 But this adorable party was SO WORTH IT! And truly, the party prep was nothing. Especially when you blast Christmas tunes the whole time.
So where to get started? I think the best place is with the cookie recipes! I love to bake and had so much fun baking with my little 9-year-old niece over the Thanksgiving holiday. It got me so excited for when baby girl is old enough one day to bake Christmas cookies with me. Hopefully she’ll want to, maybe some bribing with “licking the spatula” promises will have to happen but I’ll take it. This served as a great opportunity to begin a file of my favorite – and boy did these ones knock it out of the park already!
The gingerbread recipe is by Charity Curley Mathews, an eHow contributor. She labels these as “The Only Gingerbread Recipe You’ll Ever Need” and omg she’s so right. These have that molasses/ginger tang you expect from gingerbread but are still so nice and chewy. A lot of times I think people roll the dough too thin and leave them in the oven for too long so they become stiff and not fun to eat. Even though you’re decorating them you still want to eat them too!
For the sugar cookies I found this incredible recipe by Craftiness Is Not Optional and found it interesting that they added almond extract in addition to the vanilla. I LOVE almond extract and found the flavor it added to these to be irresistible. Get this one here! One thing I found helpful here too is to always keep your dough cold – this will help it cut easier and keep its shape. So I would roll, put in fridge (on parchment paper), take out and cut, put on cookie sheets and then back in fridge while my oven heated up and then directly from fridge to oven.
Ok, so if we’re being honest I probably could’ve stuck with those two cookie recipes but I’m a sucker for buttery delights so I added this 3-ingredient shortbread recipe I found from Chew Out Loud where they vowed you wouldn’t be able to stop popping them into your mouth…they were right. Extra run this week because of these…
Cookies are done, now onto setup! I had my husband pick up a roll of builder’s paper when he was at Home Depot last. This brown paper comes in a huge roll and was only $11! It’s perfect for crafts with the kids, spray painting (as mentioned in the DIY Snowman Post) and all sorts of things. It was the perfect thing to roll out on the floor and just use clear tape along the edges. It was INCREDIBLE for clean up too! Just rolled it on up with the huge and mess and tossed it.
Next tip, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check your nearest dollar store when it comes to holiday entertaining needs – especially when it comes to things like plasticware, napkins or even doilies. That’s where almost all of my tableware came from. It’s also where I got all the candy!! How cute are these little Old Fashioned Hard Candies?
I also took the time to write each child’s name on the paper so they had a designated place to sit. Partially because I wanted to make sure I had plenty of space for everyone but also because I find kids really love having a place just for themselves – it makes them feel special.
Once I’d had most things set up it was really bugging me how messy the ends of my icing bags were looking..so I got creative. 🙂
I cut a small rectangle of tissue paper (I chose to coordinate my colors), rolled the bag in the tissue paper, tied it off with a small rubber band and then flipped the tissue paper up so the rubber band was covered and so was the messy end.
These were not only cute but also MUCH easier for the kiddos to handle the icing.
The kids all had so much fun decorating and playing with the decorations! It was all well worth the craziness to get these kids and myself into the holiday spirit…thank goodness I didn’t have to wear a bikini 😉