1. Step 1: Make the dough in advance.
Mix it a day or two before and let it hang out in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
2. Make a couple different varieties of dough.
Label them so you know which is which.
Here are some good dough recipes you can trust:
4. Step 2: Buy a few excellent cookie cutters. Choose wisely.
8. Step 4: Bake the cookies a day ahead of the party.
Get tips on How To Bake Better Cookies, and store them in an airtight container until the party.
9. Step 5: Make a big batch of royal icing.
10. Step 6: Obtain as many colors of food coloring as possible.
11. Step 7: Figure out your icing dispensing situation. Piping bags are the best option.
12. You can buy them at most kitchen supply stores and online.
13. In a best case scenario, you’ll also have tips.
Piping bag tips are named based on the size and shape of their opening. For cookie decorating, #2 and #3 are good ones to start with. Here’s an illustration of common cookie tip sizes from Sweetopia, which has a great guide to decorating cookies.
14. There’s also this plastic part called a coupler.
It is not totally necessary but it helps keep things tidy.
15. This beginner’s cookie decorating kit by Wilton is great.
16. But you could also very easily just make a piping bag out of parchment paper.
20. Or put your icing in squeeze bottles.
See some adorable heart cookie decorating in this post on Pennies on a Platter
21. Step 8: Learn the amazing and essential “Pipe and flood” technique. It’s the best way to decorate cookies.
22. Step 9: Gather any other decorating tools you might want. You might want toothpicks…
23. So you can do cool stuff like this.
31. Step 9: Assemble an army of baking sheets.
You will need a lot of these, and parchment paper, so that your decorated cookies have a place to go to be safe. Or just use cardboard, but have something in mind.
32. Step 10: (Day of the party!) Set the scene.
Make sure your table is covered with newspaper, butcher paper, or a tablecloth that takes well to icing and smushed sprinkles.
33. You may want to set up stations.
Especially if there are children involved.
34. But no matter what — most importantly — make sure your sprinkles are on display.
36. Step 11: On to refreshments. Your guests may want some eggnog punch.
37. Or something a little stronger.
38. Maybe hot chocolate is necessary.
39. (With marshmallows shaped like whatever cookie cutters you have around. Duh.)
There are actually 46 other amazing things you can do with cookie cutters.
41. For a more mature gathering, serve some cozy cardamom-chai tea.
42. Step 12: Cookie parties need salty snack food.
Here are recipes for 101 Bite-Size Party Snacks.
43. A big winter salad isn’t the worst idea.
44. Crudités and cheese and crackers are always welcome.
45. Should you have a sprinkle surplus:
46. Last step: Give your guests a cute way to take their treats home.
47. You could pick up some treat boxes from a local bakery.
48. Baker’s twine makes everything look cute.
The Twinery has a million amazing colors of baker’s twine.