Had I read today’s post as little as 3 years ago, I would have thought I had lost my mind. Who invites 8 toddlers over to their house to play with frosting and sprinkles??? Apparently, I do. And it was fabulous. Even with making the cookies and frosting from scratch and dipping strawberries in chocolate for mamas, the whole Valentine’s Day cookie decorating party came together so easily, and everyone had a lovely time! Cleanup was surprisingly quick too thanks to a few tricks in the setup, so I even got to enjoy a cup of tea during nap. This is how you throw a party, darlings!
As the weather cools, kids can’t be outside as much, and if you have a little one that isn’t old enough for preschool but is definitely old enough to want to play more than baby games, it’s time to get creative!
I’m very blessed to have quite a few friends nearby with little ones around my daughter’s age, and we try to plan things so the kids can play while the adults catch up and have “real” conversation. It’s been a few months since our last play date, and so I thought it would be great to host something a little different at my house. I hope that after reading this post, you’ll be inspired to do the same! It’s also a great activity for older children, or upgrade the frosting to royal icing and have adults over! Everyone loves cookies. 😉
I was a bit sad when we took down the Christmas decorations, and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, a Valentine’s Day party sounded like a fun idea. I kept things very simple – this is a play date after all – and kept the focus on the cookie decorating station on my dining room table. I went to Target and found some really cute sprinkles, and a fun heart banner that I tied to one of my cake plate shelves in the dining room. To the other shelf, I added a quick tissue paper pom garland I made on a whim from gift wrapping tissue from a present my sister sent my daughter for her birthday. The colors were just perfect! You don’t have to feel obligated to add anything to your walls though, as everyone’s primary focus is the table.
Use a colorful cake plate to act as your centerpiece and cookie holder over a disposable tablecloth. Using a disposable tablecloth makes cleanup a breeze! You can find plastic table cloths at most local home goods shops and even grocery stores in the party supplies section. An assortment of small prep bowls and soup bowls is perfect for holding sprinkles and frosting, so use what you have. I set out pink and purple frosting in bowls, and then placed white frosting in a small decorating bottle for piping. I really like these particular decorating bottles because you can flip them inside out to make sure they’re clean. Set out disposable knives and spoons for spreading frosting and spooning sprinkles on to individual decorating plates. Disposable dessert plates in a holiday-appropriate color without a holiday-specific theme are what I like to use (like these plates) so I can use extras for other occasions throughout the year. Keep paper towels handy. 😉
Preschooler parties are usually in the morning so as not to interfere with nap time, so refreshments can be light! I don’t have a large coffee maker, so this was a BYO (bring your own) coffee party. I had water and bagged tea available, and a few minutes before everyone arrived, I dipped strawberries in dipping chocolate for a fun treat.
I filmed another one of my unscripted video tutorials sharing my tips for dipping strawberries and making basic designs. My “sous chef” was in the kitchen for this one, so you’ll see her acting as color commentator in the video.
The cookies I baked from scratch, and you can find sugar cookie recipes here and here. I’ll get a basic recipe up soon too. The frosting is a basic buttercream recipe, but my smooth raspberry buttercream would be a great option too. If it’s easier for you, please feel free to use plain store bought cookies and frosting. The point of a party is to enjoy the experience, and you can’t do that if you’re stressed trying to make everything yourself.
Once everyone arrived, we had a bit of social time, and then the kids were able to wander over and decorate as they wished. Since I had about 9 children at the house, it worked out well that not everyone wanted to decorate at exactly the same time. There was plenty of room at the table for kids and moms to help, and I think everyone had a great time. Cookies were eaten as quickly as they were decorated, and after burning off some energy playing in the living room, everyone went home ready for lunch and nap time with a cookie or two in tow for siblings at school or parents at work that missed the fun.
All I had to do was wash a few dishes and toss the table cloth and any wayward sprinkles and frosting smears. This took 10 minutes tops, and then I had nap time to myself. My daughter enjoyed playing with her friends, I had a chance to catch up with mine, and we had a fun activity on a cold and rainy morning.
I hope you enjoyed my little tutorial! This Valentine’s Day Cookie Decorating Party was so much fun that not only do I recommend you plan your own, *I* may even do it again…