Easy Christmas Cookie-Baking With Kids

Last year, my sister-in-law and I made Christmas cookies with 4 kids under 3 (my two kids, her little one, plus a friend I was babysitting). While it was really FUN, my table was left with 58 pounds of caked-on flour, the cookies were mediocre, and the clean-up process took 85 years. I didn't take pictures (hello, there were 3 one-year-olds around!!!) and I didn't even blog about it.

This year, we were back: a little wiser and a lot more prepared for making the experience less messy and even more fun! It genuinely was a way more laid back time, and the cookies came out super yummy...plus minimal cleanup. It might have been that instead of last year's one-year-olds, we now had two capable two-year-olds alongside Aiden who's almost four (and her new little baby bounced happily next to us!). But it also might have been that we (ok, mostly my sister-in-law) had come up with some sanity-saving ideas that were a wonderful success.

I still didn't take any pictures, but that was because we were having too much fun and because we ate our cookies too dang fast! (And NOT because we were cleaning up 200 pounds of flour like last year.) Maybe next year I'll have kids-making-cookies action shots? 😉

Related: How to have a stress-free week before Christmas Christmas Movie Date Nights | DIY Advent Calendar

Here are all the tips for easy Christmas cookies with kids: 

  1. Egg-free cookie dough. The kids could roll out cookies, play with the dough, and leave the kitchen to play with toys without having to wash their hands because I KNOW SALMONELLA IS REAL, FOLKS. No contamination risks here because the dough didn't have raw egg in it! We used this recipe:
    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 3/4 cups ("superfine") sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 16 tbsp unsalted butter in 1/2 inch pieces, softened
    • 2 tbsp (a.k.a. 1 oz) cream cheese, softened
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • Mix flour, sugar and salt all together. Slowly beat in the pieces of butter until the dough is slightly wet and crumbly. Then, beat in the cream cheese and vanilla extract. Knead it with your hands into two or three separate discs.
    • Chill each "disc" of dough, wrapped, in the fridge for 30 mins-two days. 
    • Roll out the dough onto parchment paper. 
    • Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 10 mins until LIGHT golden brown. Cool for 3 mins before transferring. 

  2. Parchment paper!!! Skip flouring your table and making a giant, powdery mess. Instead, roll out a ball of dough onto parchment paper! We basically did parchment paper sandwiches...we put one piece of parchment paper down, then the ball of dough, and then another piece of parchment paper so we could roll it out flat without the dough sticking to the rolling pin. 

  3. Bonus points: Have the dough made + rolled out ahead of time, but let it come to room temperature because punching cookies out of chilled dough makes the dough crack. (We tried!)

  4. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper, and let the kids punch out cookie cutter shapes on the dough right on the bottom sheet of parchment paper. The shapes didn't stick to the paper, and we easily transferred them to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet to go in the oven. (How tired are you of hearing me say "parchment paper"?!)

  5. By making a simple 3-ingredient icing for the cookies, we could frost all the cookies so that the sprinkles stuck to the cookies. Plus it makes them taste better! We used this recipe:
    • Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 tbsp milk, and 1 tsp vanilla together until smooth. 

  6. One kid at a time ices & decorates a few cookies. Think of it as a "decoration station": instead of trying to keep all the kids from dumping/painting/eating the icing + sprinkles, we had one toddler at a time who stood on a stool at the counter, iced a few cookies, added sprinkles, and then they washed their hands and went back to playing so the next kid could have a turn. 

  7. Chill the cookies in the fridge once they're iced. This helps the icing set up faster!

Are you doing any baking this year? What are some of your favorite types of cookies? (Try these dairy-free chocolate chip cookies!)

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