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how to host a cookie decorating party (my third Project Food Blog challenge)

Well, the panda sushi got me through to round three of the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog contest! A huge and hearty THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me! The third challenge:

“host a luxurious dinner party”

My initial thoughts involved cream sauces, puff pastry, individually plated desserts with sprigs of mint, wine that cost more than 10 bucks a bottle… but what would I do with my 3-year-old? What would our friends whom we’d invite do with their 3-year-olds? So I revised my thinking. What would a luxurious dinner party be for a 3-year-old?

“a cookie decorating dinner party”

So one evening, my three-year-old had five of her neighborhood friends over for a luxurious cookie decorating dinner party (technically six if you count the baby who couldn’t hold a frosting bag).

how to host a cookie decorating party

the dinner menu
The menu was planned around toddlers who have potentially picky tastes and who need at least one hand free for cookie decorating. So that means….

Unadorned, non-messy, finger foods. And as the toddlers come with parents: accompanying foods for a more grown-up palate.Click HERE to see the menu or click below to see what we served.

the decorating table
The three essentials for cookie decorating: cookies, frosting and sprinkles.

you will need:*
dough
icing

cookie cutters
frosting colors
12-inch clear disposable decorating bags
assorted sprinkles
scissors
freezer or butcher paper
lots of paper towels

*Choose simple shaped cutters, like circles, stars, hearts and flowers. For frosting colors, I use Americolor soft gel pastes (Electric Pink, Orange, Electric Green, Regal Purple, Bright White, Sky Blue used here.) Find the decorating bags, sprinkles, and cutters in the baking aisle of the craft store. For more tips on finding supplies, click HERE.

what to do:
The day before the party, make, chill, roll out and bake cookies according to the recipe. Prepare your frosting and mix an assortment of colors. Fill empty decorating bags (don’t snip the ends yet) and tie closed tightly with rubber bands. On the day of the party, cover your table with freezer or butcher paper, taping down the ends. Arrange the sprinkles in small bowls, shakers or cupcake liners on the table with the frosting bags. Snip about 1/4 inch from the tips of the decorating bags, give the kids their cookies, and decorate!



the kids
The fourth essential: the kids! {Photos taken by my husband, my friend, Liz, and some by me.}

The mini cookie decorators in action:

tips and tricks

  • Age matters. Cookie decorating parties are fun for ages two (maybe) to grown-ups. Toddlers and younger children will just squeeze a bunch of frosting and sprinkles on a cookie, so don’t waste time with complex shapes or instructions. Older kids (especially girls, I’ve found), ages ten and up, are much more precise. They may handle more complex shapes. You might even want to decorate some sample cookies the day before to display for ideas.
  • The frosting bags. For younger kids, snip the ends of the frosting bags more generously, so they are easier to use. For older kids, snip smaller openings for more controlled decorating, or, use couplers and tips.
  • Rubber bands! Be sure to close frosting bags tightly with rubber bands! Toddlers will squeeze the frosting out of the top otherwise.
  • The stains. Frosting coloring will stain, so don’t dress your kids in their finest clothing. Stains on hands will disappear over a couple of days. Unless they are needed for particular designs (which should only be a concern of older kids), stay clear of red-based colors, dark colors (like navy or deep purple) and black frosting. They are the worst culprits. Stick with pastels.
  • Have enough cookies. Plan on at least four per child, and it’s not a bad idea to have a bag of plain, store-bought cookies handy in case you run out.
  • Have enough frosting bags. Have at least enough that every child will have a frosting bag at the same time. I doubled up the popular colors, too. I’m glad I had two bags of pink, as that was the coveted color among 3-year old girls.
  • Make sure to have take-home boxes. As the cookies will be too wet to bag, bakery boxes found at the craft store are perfect to take home the goods. Write the child’s name on their box or add a decorative tag and you have instant favors, too.
  • Eat dinner first! My one mistake was having all the decorating supplies laid out when the kids arrived. Hence, they dug right in before dinner. (Um, sorry parents.)

Feel free to share (nicely)! While my blog's photographs and text are protected by copyright, I do allow (and encourage) you to share ONE photograph with credit to "the decorated cookie" and link to this blog post. PLEASE don't reprint any part of the blog post and PLEASE don't post a photo without credit. Thank you!


53 Comments

  1. Natalie
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    cute idea! congrats on making it through!

    i went the grown-up route. :)

    http://ovenlove.blogspot.com/2010/10/luxe-made-easy-french-inspired-dinner.html

  2. naomi
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on making to another round!

    I have a three year old and can't wait to host my first Halloween cookie party. Since I have never hosted one, I am so glad for all the tips!!

    The pics are adorable.

  3. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    This is pretty adorable; sure takes me back a few (lots) of years. Loved seeing the kids in action.

  4. Dave and Kathryn Dodds
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Love all of the tips! I'm sure I would've found all of those things out AFTER the party! Now you've saved us all time! Looks like so much fun. My 3-year old twins would go crazy!

  5. I run for cake!
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    Looks like the kids had a blast and this a great idea! Good luck, hope you move on to round 4!

  6. Sue
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    What a great, fun idea! Love the photos of the cute kids:)

  7. Cakebrain
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    great post! so cute.

  8. SprinkleBakes
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Adorable! You have my vote for sure!
    xxoo

  9. Sippity Sup
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Adorable is indeed the word of the day! Adorable! GREG

  10. Debbie
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Just voted because this is the cutest dang menu ever! Your kids are so lucky :-)

  11. Sommer J
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I would LOVE this idea! I'd love for you to teach me how to decorate cookies! Plus the menu looks delicious and laid back, so you had plenty of time to decorate with those cuties! You've got my vote for sure.

  12. marla {family fresh cooking}
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this post. Not only is this party such a great idea, but your humor, wit and enthusiasm is catching. Congrats & you got my vote:)

  13. Damaris
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    woah next time I want to come with my 4 year old and my crazy baby. I just voted for you. Good luck.

  14. Heather
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Totally awesome. :)

  15. jen cheung
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    VOTEDDDDDDD! Good luck! Wish you all the best!

    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  16. Danielle
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Very cute! Decorating cookies are always a great idea for kids to do.

  17. Chic Cookies
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much everyone, and for your votes!!

  18. CrystalsCozyKitchen
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Such a cute idea for a dinner party! It looks like everybody had such fun. Good luck – I voted for you again.

  19. Jacob's Kitchen
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I love your take on this. What a super fun idea. I voted for you!

    Good luck! Fingers crossed for us both to make it through to the next round! =)

  20. Megan
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Good for you! Best of luck in the round and being a teacher of little ones.. I had to vote for the kids! Thanks for doing something that honors our sweet babes! – Megan@foodalution.com

  21. edible
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Creative as heck! I love it, you have my vote, hope we make it to Round 4! Cheers! http://bit.ly/cNNCrR

  22. The Duo Dishes
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Great idea! Did you combine this with the Foodbuzz 24×24 for this month too? It works just perfectly! And the kids are so cute. They love to work with food, don't they?

  23. Joanne Choi
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    awesome and amazing! I love the three courses! You definitely have my vote.

  24. Get Natured
    Posted October 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Very cute idea!

  25. Natty
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    Mmm, now I have a powerful craving for cookies! This competition is not good for my waistline!

  26. Lindsey @ FRESH AIR + FRESH FOOD
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Great Pictures! Great Idea. Your blog is so fun to look at! Congrats on getting this far and I hope to see you in Round 4! You've got my vote, partly because of all the dipping sauces – you sure know kids!

    http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1176

  27. notyet100
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    awesoem post..;-)

  28. Mariko
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    This is totally cute. I had the same thought, about having a party for kids. I bet they would have RUN to yours, if given a choice. My husband, too, because he loves sugar cookies with frosting.

  29. Marisa
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Such a novel idea! Lemme tell you, I'm waaaay past 3 years old and yet I'd LOVE a cookie decorating party. Perhaps I should have one for my next birthday… *ponders*

  30. Chic Cookies
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Thanks everyone so so much! Duo Dishes, urg, no, but that would've been a brilliant idea!

  31. Stay-At-Home-Chef
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Love love LOVE this post! Great concept and well executed. Hope to join you in round four! Oh and BTW, my four year-old just saw the pics from your party and asked why ours wasn't as cool ;)

  32. bridget {bake at 350}
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    You are a brave, brave woman!!!

  33. Reeni
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    How fun! This would be a great idea for a Christmas party – for adults too! Good luck in this round!

  34. Food o' del Mundo
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    So, so creative and those kids are PRECIOUS!
    ~Mary

  35. We Are Not Martha
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    So cute!! Such a great idea of luxury and the cookies are absolutely beautiful. I totally want to go to a party like this!! :)

    Sues

  36. Jessica
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Love it! How fun! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  37. Wheels and Lollipops
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Very cute ! No doubt that it was appreciated by both parents & kids alike. Craving cookies now :)

  38. Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes]
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Best entry yet! Just voted :)

  39. Erika
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful party! I can't imagine anything more fun!

  40. Amy K.
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    thank you! i've been wracking my brain for my 3 year old's birthday party! ;-)

  41. Cheryl | BlackGirlChefsWhites
    Posted October 6, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    My 3 year old would have loved that party! Though she may have squeezed the pastry bag of frosting right into her mouth and bypassed the cookie.

  42. emily (a nutritionist eats)
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Love this idea!!
    I had kids at my party too – but their treat was s'mores BEFORE dinner! :)

  43. angela@spinachtiger
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    I love this post. At first I thought, Wait a minute, I know two three- year olds who sit at our dinner parties, but then I saw the buckets and the joy and you have my vote.

  44. Butter
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    The was so creative and so pretty! Love the idea and would like to do this for my nieces and nephews….such a great idea :) Funny and adorable. Love the conscientious objector lol.
    Voting for sure -

    - Butter
    (from Running On Butter)

  45. danasfoodforthought
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    What an adorable idea! I bet the ids had a blast making fun looking cookies! Great job with this challenge!

  46. Daily Spud
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    How cute! I wish someone would invite me to a cookie decorating party – it looks like excellent fun. Best of luck for this round.

  47. CookEatLove
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    What a great idea!

  48. KSmith
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    the rubber bands is such a great idea, so going to do that in class next time we make decorated cookies

  49. jen cheung
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Congrats Congrats going onto challenge #4!!! Must be exciting for you! Good luck and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving to you! You'll be getting the next vote from me :) Your awesome!

    Have a happy thanksgiving!
    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  50. Pamper Parties
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    That looks like a great idea for a party. I bet the kids enjoyed eating their cookies!

  51. girls pamper parties
    Posted August 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    i love the star cookie lolipos at the top of the page! gorgeous

  52. Giovanna
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    SOOOOOOOOOOO Cute!!!
    :)

  53. newdress
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    i love the star cookie

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