We know it sounds daunting. You have enough on your plate already and now we’re suggesting you let your little ones into the kitchen.
But trust us. Your kids will love it. And they will be the talk of the party (in a good way, really). So here’s how to make totally charming, personalized cookies for an intimate dinner, birthday party, or a holiday celebration.
A week before your bash
- Tell your kids you want them to help you plan, bake, and serve cookies for friends and family at your upcoming party. Explain that each child will be in charge of making seriously awesome cookies they will decorate and serve.
- Discuss the list of revelers. Make sure your kids know and can recognize everyone you invited. Divvy up the list or draw names from a hat to decide who will decorate cookies for grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, or your favorite neighbors. Keep pictures handy to help kids remember who’s who.
A day or two before the celebration
- Gather your kitchen crew to review the recipe, assign tasks, and ask what comes to mind about each of the guests you’ve invited. Encourage imagination. You take notes.
- Get everyone excited about working with icing, sprinkles, gummies, chocolate chips, raisins, coconut flakes, dots, licorice, marshmallows, food coloring, and more to personalize cookies for their favorite golfer, bookworm, sports fan, foodie, or fashionista. Explain that they can decorate the cookies any way they like.
Now the fun part
This dough makes the best cookies ever. It’s simple to make, easy to work with, and kids age 4 and older may be able to mix, roll, and cut the dough into shapes with some supervision or mostly by themselves.
- In a large bowl, beat 2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter on medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute.
- Beat in 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Add 3 cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Beat until no traces of flour are visible.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, then form it into three balls and wrap each one in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove 1 dough ball from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured work surface. (A large piece of parchment paper works great; you can discard it when done.)
Older kids can do the following themselves, but you may want to offer the little ones some help.
- Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to about ⅛ inch thick. Use a large round cookie cutter, or any other shape that you like, to cut out cookies. Place cookies onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on the bottom. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Cool completely, then decorate. Repeat with the remaining dough.
To make the icing and decorate the cookies
- In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat 3 cups confectioners’ sugar with 3 tablespoons softened butter, ⅓ cup milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Tint icing various colors with food coloring, in keeping with your kids’ designs.
- Set out the supplies and let kids get creative. To give grandpa a beard, tint coconut flakes the appropriate color and use frosting to affix the beard to the bottom of the cookie. Create a soccer ball using white icing and a tube of chocolate icing to make the soccer ball’s geometric lines.
- After dinner, let the kids serve up their special cookies. Guests will be charmed and dessert is solved!