Cover the table
It may seem like a small thing, but it can be easy to get preoccupied over the mess. Sprinkles go flying, frosting drips, food dyes stain, cookies have so many crumbs and with lots of hands all reaching and grabbing for the same items, a spill or two is bound to happen. Consider wrapping your cookie-decorating surface. In just a few minutes, you can cover the table in anything from aluminum foil to newspaper. When it comes time to clean up the mess, all you have to do is lift the cover right off! If your painted sugar cookies get messy, it won't be any trouble! If you want to be extra festive, consider wrapping your kitchen tabletop with wrapping paper. It'll add to the festivities and keep your table clean!
Consider cookie dipping
Children of all ages don't have the dexterity to use a knife when spreading frosting. Consider having some cookie options that can be dipped, like these Christmas spice cookies with white chocolate ginger frosting. Chocolate or sugar glazes are easy for smaller children to work with. Even if they drop the cookie, there is no real harm in a little extra chocolate! Dipping cookies also can create an ideal and flat surface for decorating with sprinkles or piped frosting. If you are working with large quantities of cookies, it's very quick. Simply dip one side or the whole cookie in glaze and move on to the next! To dry cookies that you only dip on one side, set them atop a cookie cooling rack, so that excess glaze can drip off. Be sure to cover the surface beneath! For cookies that are dipped on both sides, set them atop a wax paper and allow to set. Dipping a full cookie works best with chocolate glazes, so if you need them to set faster, you can always move them into the fridge or freezer to speed up the process!
Start with the cookie cutters
One family member might rather be watching football than decorating cookies (you know who he is). Why not let him decorate a football? Find a tutu-shaped cookie cutter for your ballet child, or a bear for your camping enthusiast or an airplane for your aspiring pilot. Even if you want your cookies to be all holiday themed, having a few cookies that are theirs will help each member of the family feel included and interested in the project! Cookie cutters of every shape and size are readily available in cooking stores and online and can make the cookies a more personalized experience. For a real treat, why not have an ugly Christmas sweater cookie competition, similar to these plaid sweater cookies! Whoever makes the best ugly Christmas sweater wins!
Sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles
You cannot have enough, and need to know your types. If you don't know the difference between a dragée, jimmy, confetti and sugar crystal, now is the time to learn! Consider also looking into non-traditional sprinkles, such as small candies. If you'd use them for a gingerbread house, there is no harm in using them for cookies! Perhaps Rudolph's red nose is a small, red, candy-coated piece of chocolate, and your snowman's buttons are made of licorice? Since candies come in flavors and sprinkles don't, it's a great opportunity to change up the flavor profile! A sugar cookie covered in your favorite candy could never go wrong!
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