Hey guys. So just to give you a heads up I had this nice, full of detail post on Cookie Baking Parties (CBP) all ready to go on Sunday. I spent a lot of time on it and poured the batter of my heart and soul into this blog bowl only for it to be lost today. Yes, today, the day of publishing.
Considering I am working 8:30am-10:30pm today I’m a bit afraid of this pre-dawn omen.
My gift to you today is a condensed version of what I had worked really hard on – only for it to burn me and disappear from the blog. Grrrr.
Over the weekend the kids were ready to bake! They were also ready to make gingerbread houses – I was not! I hate constructing those things. Seriously, I despise it. It is not in my genetic material to use icing as a cement to construct a house that I will cover in disgusting candies.
My kids however…they are a different story. So I sit back and watch them make these masterpieces:
I didn’t laugh in front of them. I laughed in the bathroom. The first one is my daughter’s. Bless it. The second one is my son’s which is closer to being an actual structure that may get a pass from the inspections department.
I may not be a gingerbread house contractor but I sure as Christmas am a baker. To be honest, I hate baking but this time of year I tend to spend more time with the flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. The secret for me is Christmas music (think Sinatra, Bennett, etc) and a good glass of wine. We can bake the night away.
Baking with your kids, grandkids, neighbor’s kids, nieces, nephews, etc is a total memory making time. I remember baking with both my grandmas, my mama, and with friends in college. To be honest I remember some of those memories so vividly and so much better than Christmas morning. My daughter was just over a year old when I started baking with her and my son was in his bouncy seat watching us bake at three and a half months old.
Last year I decided that if my kids loved baking so much I should turn it into a little Christmas break get together for my daughter and her friends. Planning for that exact event this year led to this post today.
My best tips and tricks for a fun time with a kitchen of kids at Christmas time. That is my gift to you today! This isn’t the best event for every mom to host. It can be messy and loud and a headache but it can be a lot of fun with the correct measurement of planning.
Keep the guest list small.
Unless you have an industrial kitchen keep your invitation list to a minimum. I like to cap our party to six. That way each child has their own work space, tools, and I’m no scrambling to get more items at the store the day before. Also, it is Christmas! I hate the idea of my house being totally wrecked by a pack of children. This is cookie baking party not the first day of third grade – six versus twenty sounds great!
Manage your time.
I am a stickler to time management. Just ask my husband. This year our event is three hours long. We are starting at 10am and will go until 1pm. The kids will bake for about an hour and then have two hours to play and eat lunch. I am even contemplating a craft I saw on Pinterest to have set up for them to do if they want to. I do not ask parents to stay for our party. Considering we have just days before Christmas I like to give the parent an opportunity to do some last-minute shopping or maybe just relaxing without having to entertain the kiddos. Of course if a parent wanted to stay that would be just fine too!
Plan your baking days ahead.
The best part of cookie baking is that anyone can do it. I recommend you make your dough prior to the kids coming but save two or three doughs for the kids to make. The perk of making a scratch one with the kids is that they see what all goes into the product. I always slide in a chemistry lesson that they do not even realize they are getting as they add all the ingredients to the bowl. Yes, dork. If you aren’t a “scratch” girl or guy then you can buy premade mixes for super cheap right now ($1.70 in my local Walmart) or premade refrigerated dough. Kids really do not care what kind of cookies they make! No matter what you decide on the cookie types consider making a minimum of two different types of cookies. I do a minimum of three types at our party. Chocolate chip always is on the agenda! As are sugar cookies. I haven’t decided on my third one for this year yet.
If you do sugar cut out cookies and decide to decorate them with icing – here are some tips!
- Younger kids (elementary) can use premade vanilla icing and plastic knives to decorate with. Buy several tubs of the icing and use food color to give them options in color.
- Middle school ages really enjoy using piping icing onto their cookies to make them look magazine worthy. They tend to not waste as much as your younger kids do. Save some money here by remembering to go very basic with elementary aged kids.
- You can always prebake the sugar cut outs but remember kids LOVE to cut out cookies. If you opt for this you may not want to make more than two types of cookies since the process of rolling and cutting take more time.
- Allow time for the icing to dry on the cookie.
Feed them “real” food.
This is such an important reminder! When you have younger children over to do this you will learn just how gross kids are. They will need to be reminded to wash their hands with soap. They will lick the spoons of cookie dough. They will cover each other in cookie dough if given the chance. Be sure to have them line up and scrub their hands before cooking and be sure to keep an eye on them as they secretly lick the chocolate chip cookie dough out of their bowls. It happens and the chances of salmonella are extremely low so the ball is in your court as to how you deal with it! But beyond all of this – feed them real food.
You will have a lot of sugar junkies on your hands if you don’t offer up a meal of some sort. It doesn’t have to be stately – these are crumb crushing cookie monsters. Last year I had pizza on hand. This year my daughter suggested spaghetti. If you can get a good lunch or dinner in them they will be less likely to devour the dough and feel sick on you an hour before mom is scheduled to get them!
Bag & Box It Up
My goal is to send every child home with a minimum of 24 cookies. Kids coming from the same household – 36. I really want them to enjoy sharing the good stuff they made while they were with me. I have some super cute boxes to put their cookies in this year and cannot wait to wrap them up!
I also like to take pictures of the kids baking, hanging out, being silly. This year my goal is to make a little something for the parents. Whether I really get that completed or not….we shall see!
- Your kitchen and house will be a mess when the kids leave. Accept it. However, have the kids assist in clean up. They need to learn this skill – cleaning up after themselves.
- This is a memory making event. These kids will remember this in 10th grade.
- Keep the toilet paper stocked in the bathroom and the soap full. You do not want to have to stop baking to get TP for a kid. Trust me!
- Spend some time talking to each kiddo. I like to ask them what they are wanting for Christmas and what fun stuff they have planned for the break from school. Most of us know our children’s friends but this is a good way to let them know you are a pretty cool mom who cares.
- Soak it up. These kids aren’t little long. They won’t believe in Santa forever. Enjoy the gift of being in their little presence.