An ugly Christmas sweater cookie decorating party is a great alternative to a tired gingerbread cookie decorating party / decorating gingerbread house, or traditional Christmas cookie exchanges. This is a fun holiday party theme for adults and kids alike! We also turned it into a holiday charity activity for family and friends. It’s so much fun for the holiday season, even older kids and teens will love it! If you’re looking for unique Christmas cookie decorating ideas, this is it!
Hosting An Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookie Decorating Party During the Holidays
This is such a fun party and one of my favorite holiday cookie decorating party ideas that we’ve ever done (especially since ugly sweater parties are a popular Christmas theme right now)! If you’re looking for a great time and fun activities for kids of all ages, add a cookie exchange party!
What do I need for a Christmas cookie decorating party?
Hosting an ugly sweater Christmas cookie decorating party is actually easier than you think! But, what do you need for cookie decorating? Here’s how to organize a cookie decorating party and what you need for a holiday cookies exchange…
You’ll need these Christmas cookie decorating party supplies:
- Baked sugar cookies and/or gingerbread cookies
- Cookie decorating party set (or cookie decorating kits) with different colored cookie icing, sprinkles, and candies to decorate
- Different colored cookie icing
- Icing bags / pastry bag / cookie decorating party tips for icing (optional)
- Decorating gels / squeeze gel food coloring
- Additional cookie decorations (mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, gum drops etc)
- Sprinkles (stock up when you see them on sale!)
- Small cups for different icing for cookies
- Plastic knives and spoons
- Ugly sweater cookie cutters
- Baking sheets / cookie sheets
- Wax paper or parchment paper (to put cookies on while they dry)
- Holiday wipe off (or plastic) tablecloths
- Rolls of paper towels
- Wet Wipes
- Mini craft aprons for kids
Get the see full printable cookie party directions, Christmas cookie decorating ideas,. and Christmas cookie party ideas below.
Because these are unique cookie decoration ideas, your supplies for cookie decorating party may differ a little from this list.
What is a cookie party?
A cookie party is type of holiday party where everyone gathers for the Christmas holiday and decorates cookies. Then, guests have decorated holiday cookies to take home with them. It’s a fun family Christmas party, classroom cookie decorating idea, or even a kids’ holiday party!
Don’t be afraid to put your own spin on hosting cookie decorating party or come up with your own theme ideas for cookie decorating!
We buy our cookie icing to make things easier, but if you love making homemade icing for cookies, go for it!
However you decide to do a cookie party, just make sure that you set up tables so that there’s enough space for the decorating items and people to sit at the table and decorate at the cookie decorating station (aka: cookie decorating bar) for your cookie decorating event!
How many cookies for a cookie exchange?
For a cookie exchange party, you should plan on having enough Christmas cookies that guests can go home with at least as many as they brought. (For example, if they bring a dozen, they should be able to go home with at least a dozen assorted cookies decorated.) If you’re decorating cookies, plan on at least 3-4 cookies per person for decorating.
What icing is best for decorating cookies?
You may be wondering what kind of icing is used for decorating cookies. The best icing for cookie decorating party is the easiest and, for us, that means store-bought icing in tubs that we divvy out to different small cups. However, many find that royal icing for cookie decorating party is the best icing to make at home.
(Read on for more best cookie exchange party ideas! You can even use these tips for a cupcake decorating party, cookie themed party, or cookie decorating birthday party! It doesn’t have to just be a cookie Christmas party!)
Don’t miss our favorite Christmas cookie recipe:
Best Sugar Cookie Recipe To Decorate (No Spread Cookies!)
(Best holiday cookie recipe EVER and one of my favorite cookie recipes! Awesome Christmas cookie for decorating!)
Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookie Decorating Ideas
Be sure to let your cookie party guests know that they don’t have to be artists to make ugly sweater cookies!
(If you’re looking for creative cookie party ideas and cool cookie decorating ideas, DEFINITELY do an ugly sweater party with cookie decorating!)
You can also give your holiday party guests themes for ugly sweater cookies if you feel like that would be easier.
Here are fun theme Christmas cookie decoration ideas…
Christmas cookie decorating party ideas:
- Ugly Santa sweater cookie
- Clark Griswold sweater cookie
- Elf inspired ugly holiday sweater cookie
- Ugliest sweater cookie with a present
- Ugly Rudolph Christmas cookie
- Ugly Frosty the Snowman Christmas cookie
- Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer ugly Christmas cookie theme
- Most colorful ugly holiday sweater cookie
- Best Dressed ugliest sweater
- Festivus ugly cookie sweaters
Any funny theme can make up your novelty Christmas cookies or Christmas decorations for cookies!
Think of favorite holiday cartoons, Christmas decorations, or anything else that will inspire cookie decorators and encourage them to have a good time.
You may also want to have some ugly holiday sweater pictures around for holiday inspo and special cookies for Christmas! (You can even put up cookie decorating tips signs on the stations for decorating.)
Tell your guests there are no rules on how to decorate ugly sweater Christmas cookies / decorate holiday cookies and to get creative with their ideas for Christmas cookie exchange party!
Also, don’t just use Christmas cookie sprinkles for things to decorate cookies with. We put out our Halloween sprinkles and even Valentine cookie sprinkles! They’ll have fun with all of it on their holiday cookies to decorate, so don’t just stick with Christmas cookie decorating sprinkles!
One of the things that I liked about ugly sweater Christmas sugar cookie decorating ideas is that they have a nice big shape to decorate. (Definitely use the biggest sweater cookie cutter you can find.)
Skip the Santa cookie decorating ideas and do holiday sweater cookies!
Let’s get to some tips for your holiday cookie decorators party!
Tips for Hosting a Cookie Decorating Party (and Important Ugly Sweater Cookie Party Tips)
Getting to decorate cookies for Christmas is a fun tradition and makes an even better holiday party idea!
Here are important tips for cookie decorating parties…
1. Go for the cheap cookie method.
You can buy an ugly Christmas sweater cookie decorating kit like this or a pre-made cookie decorating party kit.
But, honestly, it will be cheaper for you to assemble your own cookie party kit for a group.
(And it’s easy using this ugly sweater cookie cutter.)
2. Use cheater cookie dough to save time.
It’s OK to go the “cheater” way and use store-bought, refrigerated cookie dough and store-bought icing (especially if it saves your sanity and takes some stress off so you can enjoy the party!).
You can even buy pre-made cookies if you want in different cookie shapes instead of worrying about the time it takes to bake cookies for a party like this.
A wide variety of types of cookies work for a cookie swap party or cookie decorating party — from gingerbread men to cutout Christmas cookies to plain party sugar cookies. Any of them work for your Christmas cookie cut out ideas!
Don’t worry about baking the perfect cookie or feel guilty for decorating store bought cookies!
Guests will have fun with holiday decorated cookies no matter if they’re homemade cookies or from a local bakery!
3. How many cookies do you need for each person?
Plan for each person to decorate 2-4 cookies (some will decorate more, some will decorate less).
After that, people start to just move around the party and doing other things besides Christmas cookie decorations (eating, talking, doing holiday crafts at craft tables, etc.).
4. Who bakes the cookies for a cookie party?
You can handle the cookies two ways: bake sugar cookies yourself (your own cookies) or ask each guest to bring a dozen sugar cookies to share.
(They can go home with a dozen decorated cookies from the Christmas cookie swap party!)
Then, you bake a couple of dozen yourself for your family and any extras for families who forgot their cookies.
We’ve also done just a few kids (younger kids / preschool cookie decorating) and made it a Christmas cookie baking party where they bake and decorate cookies.
NOTE: I would only do a cookie making party / baking party if you only have a few kids.
Having everyone pitch in their own dozen cookies to share is the best for cookie exchange ideas for large groups and ensures everyone goes home with a tasty treat and you don’t have to stress about having enough cookies!
(It gets exhausting baking a bunch of sugar cookies on your own!)
5. What icing do you use for cookie parties?
The easy way to do cookie party icing is to buy the store-bought icing tubs in different colors (like Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, etc.).
We also buy a few extra white tubs and make fun colors using food coloring.
Then, we divide the icing up into little cups with lids so that each person can have 3-4 icing colors that they don’t share. You can sometimes find them in the paper plate section of grocery stores.
(This is our secret tip for how to store icing ahead of time!)
Remember, little kids will stick their fingers and licked spoons into the icing, so it’s important that each cookie decorator has their own icing.
You don’t want to share, so these are important for a kids’ cookie decorating party.
The little cups are the perfect size and they make it easier for each cookie decorator to use multiple colors of icing without grabbing too much icing! (It’s the best way to have you icing at a cookie party.)
Having the icing in little cups will lids will also allow you to give your guests the leftovers to take home for their own decorating (so you’re not stuck with them!).
Plus, if you use the icing cups with lids, you don’t have to wait until the day of the party to make the individual icings.
You can actually do it a few days before the party and put the lids on the cups.
6. How do I host a cookie decorating contest? (Fun Cookie Contest Ideas)
Turn your cookie party into a cookie decorating contest and have a contest with your ugly cookies!
(This was a HUGE hit at our cookie parties!)
Have everyone vote and award UGLY SWEATER COOKIE RIBBONS for different funny categories: Most Beautifully Tacky, Most Festive, Most Disturbing, Ugly But Tacky, etc.
One year we even gave away sweater ornaments to the winners and that was also a HUGE hit!
They make fantastic Christmas gifts favors for parties!
(There are even Festivus sweaters if you love Seinfeld and want to give those as party favors.)
Another year we gave ribbons for different categories, but had people vote with money (coins and dollars, or whatever they had).
Then, we gave the money to charity!
The kids had a ton of fun with this and their handful of pennies and coins and it’s a fun way to teach them to give back during the holidays.
We’ll definitely do it this way next time, too.
This is one of my favorite cookie decorating station ideas!
7. Expect a mess at the cookie decorating party.
There will be random icing messes and sprinkles everywhere, especially if you’re hosting a cookie decorating party for toddlers and preschoolers.
Include lots of rolls of paper towels and baby wipes on the decorating tables.
Also, use mini craft aprons for kids (they’re really cheap and so helpful!).
Protect your tables and floor the best you can, but don’t be a monster about it or people won’t have fun.
Not up for a party for cookies at your house? Search online for cookie decorating party near me. There are plenty of cookie businesses that offer this now and you don’t have to worry about coming up with Christmas cookies decorating ideas at home!
8. Don’t forget the cookie containers / cookie boxes!
You will need to provide cookie swap containers for guest to take home cookies they decorated.
You can use sturdy paper plates and foil or plastic wrap (many guests won’t want to stack their cookies and ruin the cookie creations decorating that hasn’t dried yet).
Or, you can get cute holiday cookie containers (our guests loved these cookie swap boxes one year!).
9. Plan an easy Christmas party food menu.
Use easy finger foods, Christmas dips, snacks, and drinks for your cookie swap party menu.
You can even ask your guests to pitch-in for a snack dish to share.
It will get brutal if the only thing kids have to eat is sugar!
GREAT TO GO WITH THIS PARTY: A HOT CHOCOLATE BAR OR HOT COCOA BOARD LIKE THIS
10. Don’t forget to wear ugly sweaters!
Encourage everyone to get into the holiday spirit by wearing their own ugly Christmas sweater, festive shirt, or Santa hat.
11. Dial in fun holiday music for parties.
Don’t forget the festive Christmas music to set the tone of the party! (Check out a fun Christmas party playlist here.)
(Read on for the full directions on how to host a holiday cookie exchange party and special tips for how to host the best cookie decorating party!)
After learning how do you host a kids Christmas cookie decorating party, try…
MORE IDEAS FOR HOLIDAY KIDS ACTIVITIES:
13 Ideas For Christmas Party Themes That All Ages Will Love!
Festive Christmas Eve Sleepover Ideas
12. Have a Christmas crafts table.
Be sure you have an alternate cookie decorating activity for people who don’t want to decorate cookies or need a break from cookies decorating.
We usually have a craft table with different crafts like this and people just rotate between decorating cookies and making crafts.
(This is also a great party tip if you’re limited on space! Part of the group can be cookie decorating, while the others are crafting and then they can alternate!)
Here’s how to host your xmas cookie decorating party for ugly sweaters!
How To Host A Christmas Cookie Exchange Party / How To Host A Christmas Cookie Decorating Party
Plus How To Have an Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookie Decorating Swap Party For Charity!
This is a fun Christmas cookie decorating party for adults or children’s cookie decorating party (or a mix!).
We made all our cookies for the cookie decorating Christmas party, but if you want an easy Christmas cookie decorating party you can also ask each guest to bring 6-12 sugar cookies to share (if that’s easier).
Just let them know they can leave with 6-12 decorated cookies!
An ugly sweater cookie party is a fun holiday theme Christmas cookie decorating party for adults and kids! (Kids of all ages will have fun!)
TIP: Worry less about the Christmas cookie party decorations and more about the Christmas cookie decorating items! You can use a cookie decorating station sign to explain what to do.
Here’s how you plan your new favorite holiday tradition and host like pro (including how to set up your Christmas cookie decorating station / little North Pole bakery)…
DIY Cookie Decorating Party
Having an Ugly Sweater Cookie Party is one of our favorite holiday party ideas. And, hosting a Christmas cookie decorating party is easier than you think!
- Cookies (or cookie dough to make cookies), plan for 3-4 cookies per person if you are making them
- Sweater shaped cookie cutter, large
- Tub Icing, colors of choice, 1-2 containers of each color (amount depends on size of party)
- Holiday sprinkles and candies, variety of choice
- Decorating Gels
- Paper plates
- Small plastic cups with lids
- Plastic spoons and knives
- Plastic tablecloths (or wipe off tablecloths)
- Paper towels, 1-2 rolls for each table
- Wet wipes, 1-2 containers for each table
- Craft aprons for kids (optional)
- Ugly Sweater award ribbons (optional)
- Cookie take-home boxes (optional) or foil/plastic wrap for guests to wrap their decorated cookies
- A day before the party, bake cut-out sugar cookies using the sweater cookie cutter. Cool and store.
- Scoop different colored icings into plastic cups with lids. Plan on 4 different colors for each attendee. (Use the white icing with food coloring to make colors or any colors you couldn't buy.) Set aside until party.
DAY OF THE PARTY
- Prepare tables by covering with plastic or wipe-off holiday tablecloths.
- In the middle of each table, place 2 rolls of paper towels and 2 containers of wipes (like Wet Wipes).
- At each place setting (one place setting per guest) place: 2 paper plates (stacked on top of each other so they have an extra one if the first one gets messy), 3-4 cookies on each plate, 2 plastic spoons and 2 plastic knives, 4 different colors of icing (in the prepared icing cups with lids), child apron (optional).
- In the middle of each table, place a variety of cookie decorating supplies like sprinkles, candies, gels, etc. (You can also place the extra small containers of icings with lids in the middle too, in case they need more.)
- Encourage everyone to get creative with their ugly sweater decorating and not to worry about being perfect. If you have a theme (like ugly reindeer sweaters, etc.), make sure everyone knows the theme.
FOR THE COOKIE CONTEST (OPTIONAL)
- Buy or make ribbons or awards for different categories.
- Have a separate table or counter space for people who want to enter their cookies into a contest. Have those entering the contest write their names on the bottom of the paper plate, but assign a number to each plate. (So the voting is anonymous.)
- On styrofoam cups (or whatever you have), write the category on each cup (like Ugliest Ugly Sweater, Best Dressed Sweater, Funniest Sweater, etc.).
- Provide slips of paper and pens and have each person vote for each category. For example, if they think the plate with #1 on it is the Best Dressed Sweater, they would write #1 on the slip of paper and put it in the cup for BEST DRESSED SWEATER. Make sure to tell the guests to vote for each category!
- Near the end of the party, tally each category and give out awards (and, if you want, small gifts).
TO MAKE IT A COOKIE CONTEST FOR CHARITY:
Follow the directions from the FOR THE COOKIE CONTEST section above. Instead of voting with slips of paper, guests will be voting with money. You still give the awards, but all the money collected goes to a charity.
We made sure the guests knew ahead of time to bring change or dollar bills (and included it on our invitation) and announced the charity. (For our party, we really had people getting competitive and giving $5, $10, and even $20 bills so they could win and they knew it was going to a charity. It was awesome!)
Be sure to have snacks and drinks for your party. Don't forget to play festive Christmas music!
We also bought some inexpensive crafts and had a craft table. It gave people who didn't want to decorate cookies something to do and give people a break from decorating. People will just float back and forth between cookie decorating, eating food and hanging out, and craft decorating!
Let us know what you include for your cookie decorating day! We hope this helped with how to host a cookie decorating party!