Before we begin...let me show you one of my favorite pictures from the party.
I'm referring to the man in the Harley shirt rolling out the dough...not the rump of the lady bent over smack dab in the middle of my photo.
That's my wonderful husband, who decided at the last minute to come and help me. I've been making cookies for a year now & this is the first time he's helped bake cookies. Believe me when I say you will need as much help as you can get if you decide to lead a cookie baking/decorating party.
So, let's get right into it, shall we? How about I cover the what went wrong first?
I do like to end on a positive note.
WHAT WENT WRONG
(ooohhh check out that alliteration!)
or... THINGS I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY
*I don't think having a 'making the dough' station is worth it. It killed all of 5 minutes and only the older kids (all 3 of them) wanted to participate. This meant that once the ingredients were added to the bowl, I pretty much made the dough myself. Think about how much easier your day will be if you don't have to lug all of the ingredients with you!
Here the kids and I are adding the vanilla.
*Don't put alot of time and effort into making pretty icing in piping bags, especially if your demographic is a group of 3 year olds. Eventhough I had the bags tied with those perfect purple tie thingies, the kids managed to squeeze most all of the icing out of the top. I'd highly recommend just buying the pre-made cookie icing from the store. The little kids won't know the difference...or care...afterall, it's just going to end up all over the table, floor, and their faces anyway.
*Be sure to ask what type of surface the kids will be rolling the dough on. In my home, I use my butcherblock and I always tape down my wax paper. In this particular case, the countertops were super, duper nice and tape didn't need to be stuck to it....which resulted in a whole lot of this....
*Limit your amount of decorations for the kids to use. In this case (and in hindsight), I think I provided the kids with too many options. I could have let them use the food color markers only and they would have been just as happy. Remember, I'm still talking about the three year olds. They loved the colorful pearl balls I showed you in the last post and they loved the colorful royal icing decorations I brought with me. I was surprised to see how much sanding sugar, little sugar pearls and bagged icing I had left. And if you minimize the decorations you take...you minimize clean up.
*I had two pre-made cookies per kid for them to decorate while some of the other children began rolling out the dough. I should have taken more. Take into account how long cookies take to bake and cool. My roll out sugar cookie recipe takes 9 minutes to bake, but the chocolate mint dough I had pre-made took an average of 11-12 minutes to bake, especially after the kids continued to kneed and roll and kneed and roll it. Also, take into account that 3 year olds won't actually sit there and decorate for 15 minutes....the cookie will be popped into their mouth within 30 seconds. I guarantee it. Having not enough cookies to decorate in the beginning and trays waiting to be popped into one oven and cookies cooling leaves some serious gap time between decorating the initial cookies and the ones made at the party. Kids get bored quick!
*Know what the party thrower expects of you. Do they want you to have all the kids at one location at a time or is it okay to have several kids and different stations at the same time? Do they want you to talk to everyone and essentially 'lead' the party or are they okay with you blending in the background and simply supervising? In my real life job, I lead activities and programs for seniors for a living, so it was unnatural for me to not be talking and leading the party. The children showed up at random times and consequently I got stuck in the kitchen on oven duty and didn't do much 'leading' at all.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
*The kids had a great time. That's the bottom line. That's all that matters. They loved it.
Check out little Henry. He made about 25 cookies. He LOVED rolling out the dough and using the cookie cutters. He was the only little kid who maintained an interest in the cookie making for an extended period of time.
*My mom had the foresight to take wet naps with us.
We were able to help keep the kids as sticky free as possible.
*At the end of the party, most of the cookies looked like this (check out the plate)...
Which is exactly what I meant when I said I needed to let go.
(aka...things I will do IF there is a next time)
*Definitely nix actually making the dough
*Take atleast two other people with me to help out. It's great to count on the parents, but it's best to have someone you know really well and are able to ask (demand) for help.
*Raise the demographic age. The next time around (if there is one), I'd like to actually teach a group of kids interested in learning about cookie decorating. I love to share my cookie knowledge (the little I have) and I think a group of pre-teen girls would be the perfect age group.
They're in that learning stage and wanting to act older and this could be right up their alley.
*If possible, visit the location of the party. This will help you prepare and plan for the location of your stations. You'll also be able to scope out the oven situation (double ovens would be oh so helpful!).
*If you do get asked to work with pre-schoolers, take lots and lots of cookies for them to decorate. Keep it colorful and simple.
And remember to let go.
Here's one last picture of my mom doing an excellent job of coralling the kids and showing them how to roll and cut the dough.
I mentioned it several times, but I need to mention it once more. I could not have done this party without help. My mom and my husband were HUGE helps. They stepped right in, took orders from me and made sure everything that needed to happen did.
They were the best wingman/wingwoman a girl could ask for.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my first ever cookie birthday party experience.
If you have any specific questions or are thinking about doing one yourself,
don't hesitate to contact me! We can learn from each other!!
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