I have the fun job over here at ParentSavvy of being the amateur foodie and general lover of Christmas time. So what's any Christmastime-foodie, working for ParentSavvy to do but decorate sugar cookies with a few wonderful kids.
I'm sure many of you know this process better than me but for those of you who didn't grow up with this tradition here are 5 steps for starting your own sugar cookie decorating tradition. As you read below, don't expect beautifully perfect cookies. They're real cookies made by real kids and moms using an over abundance of frosting and sprinkles. Traditions don't have to be perfect just real. And maybe a little messy...
1. Make Cookies
There are three ways to do this.
- Buy cookies that have already been sliced and baked
- Buy refrigerated cookie dough, roll it out, cut and bake them yourself
- Make the cookie dough from scratch, roll it out, cut it and bake it
The recipe I used is below. I like to know what's in my food, and bonus, I get to eat the dough. Just to make sure it's safe for other's consumption, of course.
2. Assemble the Decorating Supplies
Make sure you have frosting. It's the icing on the cookie after all. You can make it from scratch and color with food coloring or you can purchase pre-made colored frosting in squeeze tubes that would be great for younger kids. (Again I made it from scratch… so I could make sure it's safe of course… the recipe is below.)
Other good supplies to have are colored sugars, Christmas sprinkles, red hots, licorice ropes, M&Ms, etc... use your imagination. You really can't go wrong. Unless you use pickles; I don't recommend pickles.
3. Find Some Kids
Yes, moms and dads, it might be more fun and prettier on your own, but how can you take away that sugary happiness from your kids and their friends. A diet of sugar cookies everyday probably isn't recommended by our ParentSavvy experts, but Christmas is a special time once a year.
I went over to blogger Mollie's house to decorate with her boys and friends. The supplies were laid out, and they went to town. I couldn't wait to see the crazy concoctions these first graders would come up with.
They all chose the gingerbread men shaped cookies to start. They dolloped on the icing and dumped on the sprinkles. The boys gave the cookie men green arms and red legs. The tummies were decorated with Christmas cheer in the form of colored sugar.
The boys stood back and admired their finished product. Then took a deep bite out of the arm. And gobbled up the rest. Poor gingerbread man didn't stand a chance. He was just too delicious.
They each decorated one or two more and ate one or two more and then Legos became more entertaining.
The moms finished decorating the rest of the cookies. Not quite as many globs of frosting on ours but still tasty.
You probably wouldn't see these cookies on the front of any food magazine, but we enjoyed this sweet family tradition.
Sugar Cookie Recipe
Some sugar cookie recipes contain sour cream or cream of tartar. I chose to use a simple sugar cookie recipe from JoyofBaking.com.
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
- Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.
- In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar together with mixer until light and fluffly (about 3 minutes).
- Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
- Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture and mix until combined.
- Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour until the dough is firm enough to roll.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- On a floured surface roll out half the dough to about 1/4inch thick.
- Dip cooke cutters in flour and cut out desired shapes.
- Add cookies to the cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
- Repeat steps 7-9 until all the dough has been used.
- Decorate as desired.
This is a buttercream frosting recipe. You could also use a royal icing recipe if you want to be fancy.
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3-4 Tbsps milk
1 tsp vanilla
Add ingredients to large bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine ingredients until smooth and creamy. You can add more milk to reach the desired consistency.
Separate into multiple bowls and add food coloring to make desired frosting colors.