I come from a long, line of bakers. My great grandmother invented the gum paste flower technique now used to adorn wedding cakes with candy clay flowers around the country. And Christmas is prime baking season. My personal favorite family recipe is for Gingerbread Cookies! And since after baking cookies for over three decades now, with oodles of cousins and kids of all ages, I have perfected the art of throwing a kids cookie party…
The key to a great kids cookie party starts with the cookies. I highly recommend having all the cookies baked, cooled, and set up to decorate for the party – that’s the fun part, and younger children don’t have the patience to wait for cooling cookies.
My Family’s Gingerbread Cookies
My family's favorite recipe for Gingerbread Cookies!
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP ground ginger
1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
6 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed, dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 375°. Position a rack in upper third of oven.
Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves), and set aside.
Using mixer, on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar and egg until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla and lemon zest and blend.
Gradually stir in dry ingredients until dough is smooth. Divide dough in half, forming two balls. Your dough may seem crumbly at this stage, but will become smoother as it rests and as you work with it. Wrap in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. The dough can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator, but should be returned to room temperature before use.
Lightly dust flour over rolling surface and dough. Using one portioned ball at a time, roll to 1/4? thickness. Cut cookies and transfer to greased or parchment lined cookie sheet with spatula.
You may garnish cookies before baking with M&Ms, red hots, raisins, chocolate chips.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until edges of cookies slightly darken. Remove from oven and let cool until cookies are firm.
Cooking with Kids
While I wouldn’t advise cooking the cookies with a party of kids, I highly recommend cooking with your own kids in the kitchen. It is so full of sensory experiences and teachable moments. The Ms love to smell all the ingredients, and at 4, Big M now loves to try to do everything!
How to Host a Kids Cookie Party
Hosting a Cookie Decorating Party for kids can be great fun. Don’t let fear of the mess stop you from making amazing holiday memories with your kids. Using these tips you can minimize mess, have easy clean-up, and everyone will have a blast!
- Lay down a trashable layer. Two years ago, I hosted Big M (then age 2) with 2 of her friends from toddler playground and their moms. I covered the table in builders’ paper (which we use for crafting regularly).
- Prepare frosting. Have small bowls with colors. You can use spoons or popsicle sticks for safe icing with children. For piped icing, avoid piping bags which just lead to messy disasters. Opt instead for easy squeeze bottles or even pre-made containers of icing for larger groups.
- Portion sprinkles and decorations so each child has a plate to decorate from. Use cupcake wrappers to organize assorted decorations. This prevents fighting and limits quantities, thus limiting potential mess if there is a spill.
This year, the girls and I made 4 dozen gingerbread cookies for a Cookie Decorating station at our preschool’s annual Breakfast with Santa. More than 40 preschoolers decorating cookies! I employed all of the tips above, and it was a great hit!
Even the younger siblings participated… here’s Lil’ M’s (age 2) decorated cookie:
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