Do you want to get yourself ready to decorate sugar cookies with you kids?
Decorating sugar cookies is a great holiday tradition – but there’s also no doubt it can lead to some serious mess AND stress!
As with so many things in life, a little preparation can go a long way in helping your Christmas cookie decorating with kids to go a lot smoother!
I’ve got 11 great tips to help you get ready to decorate sugar cookies with kids, so you can hopefully enjoy the whole experience a lot more.
Let’s get started!
1. Bake the cookies in advance
You can get ready to decorate your sugar cookies so much more easily if you bake your cookies in advance!
By this, I mean they should all be baked and cooled at least the day before you want to decorate them with your kids.
I highly recommend this tasty sugar cookie recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
The dough is easy to work with and the cookies are delicious.
(And I’ll admit that I don’t always give the dough the proper amount of time in the fridge before baking – and they still turn out great!)
If your kids are really excited about the baking of the cookies and making the shapes in the dough, you may consider having them help you with this part too.
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Kids can help with cookie cutters
Of course the thing your kids will be most excited about is using the cookie cutters!
This giant cookie cutter set from Wilton has 101 cookie cutters for a great price. I own it myself and have been so happy with the selection. There are plenty of shapes for every major holiday, as well as lots of other fun designs, shapes, letters, and numbers.
If you think cookie decorating will be an event you do throughout the year, this set will have you covered!
But if you are a Christmas-time only cookie decorator, this perfect 5-piece Christmas cookie cutter set would be a perfect choice for you.
Once you have all of your cookies baked (and the mess cleaned up!), take a well-deserved break and wait to decorate until the next day!
Before we go any further, let me tell about the Jen Bradley|MOMs Free Printables library! It is full of fun holiday printables your kids will love – Santa letter templates, Christmas bingo cards, and more!
Print the Santa Letter template so your kids can leave a message to Santa along with his milk and cookies!
Just click right here or on the image below to get access to all of your awesome free printables.
Steps 2-5 for getting ready to decorate sugar cookies with your kids
For steps 2-4, I highly recommend that you do these on your own WITHOUT any kids around!
Do you know what it’s like have lots of little hands and curious minds trying to open sprinkle bottles?
If not, trust me. You definitely want to keep it that way! haha.
And if you do know, then you completely understand why I’m telling you to do the next three things by yourself.
2. Get the frosting and decorations ready
If you enjoy making your own frosting, go for it! If you use the canned version, that’s okay too.
My favorite buttercream frosting for sugar cookies is this one from Lil Luna. It’s just like the recipe my mom always used – with the addition of a little almond extract. Yum!
Once you’ve made your frosting, you’ll want to divide it into separate bowls to color it.
Prepping the frosting bags
I love this 12 Color Icing Set from Wilton. It has lasted for years! The colors are gel based and are very vibrant too.
Because I have a son with a sensitivity to food dyes, I also highly recommend this pack of from McCormick called Nature’s Inspiration Food Colors.
Once you have all of your frosting colored (sometimes I let my kids help with this because they love seeing the colors get mixed in!), you’ll want to divide the colors into different piping bags and bowls.
Two bags of each color of frosting will work well if you have more than four kids decorating. If you have less than four kids, one bag of each color of frosting will be fine.
These disposable decorating and piping bags from Wilton are my favorite! They’re super durable and have never bust open at the seams like a simple sandwich bag can do.
You’ll also need a set of tips. There are TONS of overwhelming options available, but this simple set of 9 circle tips will be great if you’re just starting out with cookie decorating.
And lastly, you’ll want to have small bowls of each color of frosting for each child.
Prepping the sprinkles
The number of sprinkle bowls you need also depends on how many kids you’ll have decorating cookies.
Pro MOM hack: use muffin cups for the sprinkle bowls!
If you have a small group, you’ll only need one sprinkle bowl for each type of sprinkle. But if you have more than four kids decorating, I recommend more bowls (or muffin cups) to go around!
There are so many festive sprinkles and decorations available, but here are some of the best multi-packs for each holiday:
- Christmas holiday sprinkles set. With red and green sugars, nonpareils, and jimmies this is perfect for Christmastime!
- Wilton holiday snow sprinkles set. This set has white and blue sprinkles, sugar, snowmen, nonpareils, and tiny white snowflakes.
- Valentine’s Day sprinkles set. With eight different pink and red sprinkle varieties to choose from, this is a really fun set!
- Easter sprinkles mutipack. This pastel sprinkles set has six sprinkle options, including two sugars, tiny bunny heads and miniature egg shapes.
- Halloween sprinkles variety pack. With black and orange sugars, purple, green and orange jimmies, ghosts, nonpareils, and polkadots, your kids will love these sprinkles!
3. Prepare the area to get ready to decorate sugar cookies
Once you’ve got your frosting and sprinkles ready, it’s time to get the decorating area ready.
You’ll want to decorate your cookies at a table – preferably a large one!
But before you get the table ready, take a minute to think about your floors under and around the table.
If you have rugs, pick them up or roll them out of the way to save yourself extra clean up time later.
Also, if you have floors that are sparkling (teach me your ways, please!) and you don’t want to sweep or mop again right away, consider putting down an inexpensive plastic tablecloth under your table.
When the decorating is finished, you can quickly roll up the plastic tablecloth from the floor and throw it away.
4. Prep the table(s)
The next thing to do to get ready to decorate sugar cookies with your kids is to prep the table or tables.
The number of kids that will be decorating and the size of your table will determine the number of tables you’ll need.
Keep in mind that you want to have plenty of elbow room for everyone.
It’s a great idea to cover your entire table with a simple plastic tablecloth like this. There are so many festive colors you can choose from!
You may consider taping the tablecloth to the underside of your table to make sure it doesn’t move around!
Once your tablecloth is on and secure, you’ll want to set up individual cookie decorating stations for each child.
Each cookie decorating place setting should have these things:
- a stack of your delightful plain sugar cookies
- 2 large paper plates – one for decorating and another for finished creations
- small paper cups or bowls of different sprinkles and festive decorations
- several bags of frosting
- several plastic knives
5. Turn on some festive music
Before you call the kids to come and decorate their sugar cookies, take a quick minute to turn on some festive music!
It is a simple touch that will add a lot of ambience to your whole cookie decorating experience!
Steps 6-7 to get ready to decorate sugar cookies with kids
After you’ve got the table or tables prepped and your mood music on, it’s time to call the kids!
Before you let them dive in and start decorating, here are a few more tips to consider:
6. Prepare the kids
Before the kids jump in and start decorating, you will want to have them do two important things:
- wash their hands
- put on an apron – these inexpensive aprons are great for cooking, baking and art projects too!
While you (hopefully) have everyone’s captive attention, you might want to share a few ground rules for everyone to follow.
Some ideas might be:
- everyone needs to help clean up at the end of the decorating
- anything dropped on the floor stays on the floor
- only use your own sprinkles and decorations – this is especially important when you’re trying to keep the spread of germs to a minimum
- if you break a cookie, you have to eat it (maybe up to two cookies?!)
7. Demonstrate how to decorate a sugar cookie
After sharing a few quick rules for decorating sugar cookies, you may want to give the kids a quick tutorial.
Show them how to spread the frosting and how a few sprinkles can go a long way!
You may also allow them to practice using the frosting bags as they pipe onto the table. This will help them get the feel for it before they put any frosting on their cookies.
Steps 8-11 how to let yourself enjoy decorating cookies with kids
While steps 1-7 for getting ready to decorate sugar cookies with kids may seem like a lot of work, steps 8-11 can be even harder if you’re a perfectionist mom!
Read on to find out what I mean.
8. Let kids get creative
Oftentimes kids come up with some really great ideas that we’d never think of as adults.
So if your kid wants to frost a snowflake cookie in silver and call it a ninja star, that’s okay!
You may even encourage them to all think outside of the box and decorate one cookie as something completely different than its shape.
9. Don’t worry about the mess
Remember, you did all the prep work you could to keep messes to a minimum.
But they’re still gonna happen.
Prepare yourself now! And remember, frosting and cookies can be cleaned up and rarely ever cause lasting damage.
10. Let go of perfection
It may be really tempting to swoop in and help your kids’ cookies look better than they do.
But try to resist this urge that is so normal for many mamas!
Let your kids be proud of their own work – even if it isn’t as good as the work you’d have done.
Certainly you can give them pointers, or help them if they ask for it, but in general, let them do their own work!
11. Take photos and enjoy
Be sure to take lots of photos and short videos of your cookie decorating experience.
Kids absolutely love the small things we do to make traditions like sugar cookie decorating special for them.
Final thoughts on how to get ready to decorate sugar cookies with kids
I hope you’ll love the time you spend decorating cookies with your kids – whether you do it for every holiday throughout the year or just at Christmastime!
Remember, when you take the time to get ready to decorate sugar cookies, you’ll be able to have a more pleasant, less stressful, and less messy experience for everyone!
Now what mama would want that?
And before you go, be sure to grab the cute Santa letter template from the Free Printables library. (Your kids could use it to leave a little note for Santa with his plate of cookies and milk!)