Decorating Cookies with Kids

Blame it on the commercials, you know they, grandma, and kidlets all in matching aprons, standing in a sparkling clean kitchen decorating cookies together.  They're smiling, hugging, and having an all-around wonderful, memory-making time.  Not to mention, the cookies look perfect.
Let's be honest here...decorating cookies with kids CAN be fun...but it can also be a hair-pulling, cry-inducing, mommy-needs-wine-please mess.  I've found that I have to remove this sentence from my vocabulary, "Here, let me help you with that."

Here are some tips to {stress-free} cookie decorating with kids:

1. Have everything ready BEFORE bringing the kids into the kitchen.  That means, the cookies are baked, icing is made and tinted, all supplies are out and available.  (If you really think your kids will like the color the icing themselves, tint most of it, then save a bowl or two for them to color.)

2. Hand Sanitizer.  Obviously, if you are doing this at home, you can have your kids wash their hands.  If you are with a large group (these pictures were taken at a community center), break out the hand sanitizer.

3. The icing.  Royal icing can be made in advance and refrigerated for a few days.  Before the decorating begins, bring to room temperature and thin with a bit of water.  You'll want it looser than a piped icing, but not so thin (like a flood icing) that it runs off the cookies.  Thin it enough so it can be easily squeezed out of a bottle.

4. Sprinkles and sanding sugar. Kids love 'em.  I think they're a must.  You might not want frosting-covered hands grabbing for the sprinkle containers, so small bowls and ramekins with spoons work great.
{PS...if you put out 7 kinds of sprinkles and sugars, kids will want to use ALL 7 on their cookies.}

5. Decorate ON something with an edge.  Here we used paper plates, but if you're decorating at home, a rimmed cookie sheet works perfectly.  Remember those sprinkles?  You'll want to catch them on that rimmed sheet before you're slipping & sliding all over your floor.

6. Let them eat COOKIES!  Even if you're saving your cookies for Santa or the neighbors, make sure each child has a cookie to eat.  (Otherwise, Santa is going to have a big ol' bite out of one of his cookies.) 

7. ENJOY the moment!!!  Kids are so fun to decorate with because they're not scared.  They dive right in and have the *best* ideas.  I'm in love with this striped tree:

{Be prepared to see it on the blog next year.} ;)

Do you have any tips for cookie decorating with kids?
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