Your kids have just asked you to decorate cookies for Christmas. Deep breath.
I know you’re feeling overwhelmed – trust me, I was the other day. You’re thinking about all the supplies you’re going to need. You’re thinking you’re not that great of a baker. You’re thinking it’s going to be expensive. And messy! Well, I’m here to tell you I survived a Christmas cookie session with my kids and it was actually a lot of fun!
I thought I’d share the steps I did this year to keep the cost and effort minimal. First, I made my cookie dough. Now, you could buy pre-made cookies at the bakery in your store. This would be the ultimate time saver. But I don’t mind making my own, plus it’s cheaper.
I used this Sugar Cookie Recipe I found on AllRecipes.com. I love it because it requires ingredients I already had – eggs, butter (lots and lots of butter!), flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and baking powder. I just dumped it all in my Kitchenaid and had it made in a couple minutes flat.
Once you have your dough, you’ll need to chill it in the fridge for an hour – preferably more. Why? Well this dough is mainly butter and when you roll it out when it’s warm, it’s very difficult to work with. Chilling it will firm it up a bit, making it easier to work with. If you’re planning on an after-school cookie session with your kids, maybe make the dough in the morning to have it ready when they get home. Or, you could prep it Friday night for Saturday morning. I only waited an hour, and I wish I would’ve divided the big dough ball into smaller ones as I think it would’ve chilled more evenly faster. What about decorations? I mean, this is the part the kids want to do the most, right? Here’s what I did to save BIG TIME this year:
- I shopped at WinCo’s bulk foods section for the candy toppings. $0.35 for mini chocolate ships anyone? Crushed peppermint for $0.51? (The chocolate orange sticks for $1.43 were for me!)
- I bought ready-to-spread frosting. In the past, I’ve made my own glaze. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to bother this year. WinCo was selling tubs of frosting for $1.28, and there was a $0.50/2 coupon in the front of the store, making them $1.03 each. I divided up the frosting and added food color. DONE.
- I pulled out the kids’ leftover Halloween candy.
After your dough has chilled, you can make your cookies. We own this huge box of cookie cutters I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond with one of those 20% off coupons I got in the mail. (Amazon also has a really nice selection for cheap that would ship for free with Prime, too!)
Yeah, my son promptly ate his first cookie. Which leads me to my next point: you might want to set guidelines on how many cookies your kids can eat before you start decorating!
My daughter’s outfit and fingers got progressively messier and messier as the decorating party wore on. Aprons and napkins would be helpful. Or maybe a huge, disposable tablecloth you could just throw away at the end.
I pulled out some platters for us to display our finished treats on!
All done! Honestly I think this is one of those Christmas activities that sounds more exhausting than it truly ends up being. Particularly if you work to keep things simple. To recap, here are some things I did to keep our Christmas cookie night manageable:
- I choose one simple recipe with easy to find ingredients. (It’s this one.)
- I purchased only small quantities of candy toppings in bulk at WinCo.
- We supplemented our candy toppings with leftover Halloween candy and other ingredients I found in my pantry.
- I used ready-to-spread frosting that I divided up and added food color to.
My kids and I had a great time and the cookies taste really good, too. Judging from the four platters of cookies we ended up with, we’ll be eating them for awhile….
Is making Christmas cookies one of your family’s traditions? If so, what other tips would you share? Any other recipes you use?