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Host a sweet and simple, adults-only party of festive cookie decorating and Beaujolais wine. It’s seasonal, relaxing and so fun.
This holiday season I’m taking a step back from all the hustle and bustle, all the commercials and “must buys”, and taking a moment to spend time with family and friends in the most fun, totally seasonal, best way possible to celebrate the holidays: a cookie decorating party. But this party is for adults only. Why? Because we’re cracking open a bottle of Beaujolais to celebrate our nearest and dearest all while having some holiday fun.
If the idea of hosting a holiday cookie decorating party makes your palms sweat (I need how many cookies?!?!), even with a glass of wine, just hold on, because I’ve got some tips and tricks that will make this party a breeze!
1. First, let’s talk about the wine. While you might think Beaujolais wine is best served slightly chilled in the summertime, it’s actually a great wine to have around the cooler winter months too. That’s because it goes well with just about anything; including cookies. If you’re thinking ahead towards all your holiday meals this month, try picking up a case to have on hand. Serve it at meals and keep a bottle handy for the random relative who stops by unannounced! And if you can, try and get a mixed case. That’s right! Beaujolais comes in red, white and rosé.
2. Cookies. You have a couple options here when it comes to the cookies.
Are you someone who can whip up 4 dozen batches of cookies without blinking an eye? Then baking them all from scratch shouldn’t be an issue. Go you!
Pressed for time? Make half the cookies from scratch and buy the rest. Most grocery stores with a bakery will have unfrosted cookies on hand like sugar cookies. Personally, I am terrible at making sugar cookies so I bought mine. But I have a fantastic gingerbread recipe that makes solid cookies every time (see below). So I made those for the party.
You can always ask people to bring undecorated cookies too! There is probably a friend or relative in your life who likes to bake. Reach out to them for some help making cookies, they probably would love to bake!
3. Decorations. With endless possibilities for decorating, limit yourself to just a few ideas. You’ll end up with less waste and won’t have a pantry full of half used sprinkles and sanding sugar to deal with the rest of the year. For my cookie party, I made one batch of royal icing and put scoops into smaller piping bags and mixed a few colors right in the bag. Again, if you haven’t the time to make icing, guess what? You can buy it and it will work just fine! For decorative elements, I kept it simple with some colorful sprinkles, red and green sanding sugar, edible silver balls, and some tiny edible gold stars I had left over from another cocktail project. You could go even less than this if you wanted, or just use icing and nothing else. We also had some filled cookies so I put out a bowl of raspberry jam that was in the refrigerator. You probably already have some things at home you could use!
4. Plan your stations. Short on space? No kitchen table? No problem. Set up a cookie decorating space where people will have access to cookies, plates, napkins, and bowls for putting decorations in. Don’t forget the wine glasses and wine tags too! A kitchen counter is a great setup. I have a long buffet at home that people could grab everything they needed. Not enough room at the kitchen table? Set up a cozy holiday blanket on the floor for everyone to spread out on. Remember to tell guests to bring slippers!
5. Packing it up. After all the fun your guests will have decorating cookies and celebrating the season with a glass of Beaujolais, remember to have containers ready for guests to bring their cookies home in. This could be as simple as a small paper bag, or pick up a bulk pack of gift boxes. Going this extra step shows your guests you’ve thought of everything and will save you the hassle of trying to find to-go containers at the end of the night for everyone.
I hope I’ve inspired you to create some new holiday memories in a fun and creative way! Cookie decorating should definitely be on your holiday party list this year. And don’t forget the Beaujolais! Cheers!
- 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. powdered ginger
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 pinch dried cloves
- ¾ cup butter, room temp
- 1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 cup blackstrap molasses
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- ½ cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Food coloring, fruit powder, or yogurt powder (optional)
- Combine all the dry ingredients, except the brown sugar, into a bowl. Whisk ingredients together until they are evenly combined.
- In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and dark brown sugar together on medium speed until fully combined. Once the dark brown sugar is evenly incorporated into the butter, add the molasses and continue to mix the ingredients scraping the bowl down as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing on medium speed until ingredients are fully combined.
- Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the dry-ingredient mixture in three equal batches, mixing until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, then mix on low speed for about one more minute, just to ensure that all the ingredients have come together.
- Form the dough into a block and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until lightly chilled throughout.
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out the desired shapes and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 325 for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before decorating with royal icing.
- In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a handheld electric mixer, mix the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Add sugar and mix until smooth. Add lemon juice and mix until smooth. Add food coloring or powder if desired, mixing until your ideal shade is reached.
- Pipe the frosting onto the cookies using a pastry bag. Allow the icing to harden and store the cookies in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.