Aug 03

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Teaching Cookie Decorating Classes for Kids – Preparation Tips

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Tips on Planning and Organizing Cookie Decorating Classes

For the past 3 summers, I’ve been teaching kids cookie decorating at kids camp through the church I attend.  Preparing for teaching the classes takes some organization and planning and I’ve learned a few tips over the years which have helped things run smoothly, so I’ve put together a post on the things I’ve determined help most. If you have any ideas or tips, I’d love to hear them in the comment section below!

Picking Cookie Cutter Shapes or Designs

Considering the designs is the first place I start. Because the age groups I’ve worked with are from 5-7 and 8-11 I try to pick cookie shapes that have some versatility – Shapes that can be simply decorated (almost all), and shapes that can incorporate technique options like marbling. Wet on wet marbling seems to be one of the most popular and fun ways beginners decorate. (And still is one of my favorite ways to decorate too!).

Last summer I chose somewhat of a summery theme (popsicles, clouds, butterflies) a simple and cute cutter (elephant) and a circle. I often chose a circle to teach cookie decorating as it’s a great blank canvas to marble in different ways or write a message on etc. There’s lots of creative freedom because the shape doesn’t dictate what kind/color of icing or how the icing is applied.

I try to pick shapes that any kind of icing color would work with, as the more colors needed to decorate the more piping bags need to be prepared. (Granted one can use any color to decorate cookies one wants, but some students like to stick with colors that stereotypically match the shape. i.e. white for clouds.). This depends on the size of your class of course, or how much help you have. In my case I was preparing for 6 groups of 5 kids decorating, so 6 groups times 7 colours equals 42 piping bags. (More on that later). This past summer I was asked to do Joseph themed cookies, so there was less choice as the designs dictated 8 colours (click here for the post).

Making Cookies

Two groups of approximately 23 kids, one morning group and one afternoon group, so about 50 kids times 5 cookies means making about 250 cookies. I always make at least 10 cookies extra of each design in case I snack on a few an accident happens, for my demonstrations and for volunteers helping at camp who also seem to want to try decorating their own cookies after the kids are done.

As I’m generally too busy right before camp starts to make over 250 cookies, I make the dough and bake the cookies ahead and freeze them. For a post on freezing and thawing undecorated cookies, click here. Most of the cookie cutters are from Cheap Cookie Cutters.com. Click on each word to find the link; popsicle, cloud, butterfly, elephant.

I used these take-out containers to distribute the cookies to the student. Each box was labelled with their name and an M for morning or A for afternoon class. That way handing out the cookies is quick and ensures that each student gets one of each cookie design.

I brought the containers to the camp in laundry baskets. Just a note, if you’re transporting the cookies, depending on how many are in the classes, this can get bulky and take up lots of room in your vehicle. This summer I brought all the cookies on baking trays and arranged them into the containers on site. I just made sure I arrived early to account for the extra preparation (Took me about 15-20 minutes).

Icing and Filling Piping Bags

Bring extra icing for each icing color and leave some icing white in case you run out of a popular color and need to color more there. Bring the gel paste you’ll need, toothpicks, extra piping bag ties, extra spoons and cloths.

In my case there were volunteers helping with clean up, so I brought extra piping tip cleaning brushes as well.

Make extra piping bags ready, fitted with couplers and tips, and also bring unprepared piping bags, scissors and couplers. It’s always great to have extra!

Last year I got up at 5:30 am and made all the piping bags ready before I left for camp. This year I found out if there were going to be volunteers there to help and just brought the icing in containers and 2 other volunteers and I prepared the piping bags ahead. (Yay! Should have thought to ask last year!). If you have more time and smaller classes, you could teach the kids how to fill the bags and do them together; we just didn’t have the time and the classes were a bit large to do that.

Lay one of each color piping bag on a tray (we used half of container for each station), along with a damp cloth and at least one toothpick per student.

Demonstrate and have fun watching what kids create!

For another example of a camp cookie decorating class, Joseph themed Cookies, click here.

If you have any questions or tips you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below.

Happy decorating!

xo,

Marian

 

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16 Comments

  1. Anna
    August 3, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
    1

    Dear Marian,
    Thank you sooo much for this post! I am thinking about organizing a Christmas cookie decorating event in the kindergarten I work in but felt so overwhelmed by preparation of the event. Your tips help much! I only wonder approximately how much icing do you make per child – just to have an idea of how much should I make for the whole class with parents… 🙂
    Thank you once again! So good you came back to blogging 🙂

    • marian
      August 8, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink
      6

      Hi Anna,

      Thanks so much!

      For approximately 50 students, at 5 cookies each, I make 8 kg of icing, which is 8 batches of my royal icing recipe. I definitely have icing left over, but I always like to make sure I have extra. I can always use the remaining icing to do a cookie decorating project at home.

  2. Jana
    August 4, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
    2

    This is a great post. I really enjoy your blog, thanks for sharing!!

  3. MariaTheresia
    August 4, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
    3

    excellent post to help get organized. You are a great teacher, in all you are doing. Wish I had your patients….
    thank you for sharing your talents.
    ML

  4. August 4, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
    4

    Such a great way to organize the cookies I never thought of take out containers.
    2 Paper plates on inverted and then taped on one side is my go to but I love this idea.

    We love decorating cookies and need to try some marbling soon

    • marian
      August 8, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink
      7

      What a great idea Amy! I’ll now do that too if I run out of containers.

      Thanks Jana and MariaTheresia!

  5. Judy
    August 5, 2016 at 2:12 am | Permalink
    5

    Great post! I have loved your blog for several years. You have such a beautiful style.

    For Christmas last year I gave each of my daughters-in-law a cookie party. I said they could each invite five or six of their friends and I would make all the preparations and teach a class. It was great fun for all of us. My one tip to you, Marian, would be to go tipless! My goodness, what a difference that made in preparation and cleanup. I’ve gotten to the point where I use tips only for my most detailed tasks. I use the disposable “Chinese” bags that I read about on several cookie blogs. One of the best reasons to go tipless is that I don’t have to unclog tips anymore. If my icing bag clogs I can squeeze the very end of it with my fingers and get the icing flowing again.

    • marian
      August 8, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink
      8

      Hi Judy,

      I just might do that next year! I have those piping bags but rarely use them as I like being able to change the tip size, but for the purposes of teaching kids some basic cookies where we won’t be changing the tip sizes anyways, what a perfect idea! And so true, much easier to fix clogs. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jaime Rinehart
      November 26, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink
      15

      What exactly are Chinese bags? He do people go tipless and the same size opening for outlining and filling in and such? Or do you have multiple bags for each color?

  6. Elaine
    August 8, 2016 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
    9

    Where did you find your Popsicle cookie cutter?

  7. Christine
    August 26, 2016 at 4:30 am | Permalink
    11

    Hi Marian,

    Thank you so much for this post. I am throwing together a last minute cookie deco party for my nieces birthday since the pool party will be rained out. I was wondering, can I make the icing a day ahead of time and fill the piping bags (we won’t be using couplers and tips, so they won’t dry out)? Will they be ok to store in the refrigerator over night? The party starts at noon so I don’t think I will have time before the party to prep the icing.

    • marian
      August 26, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink
      12

      HI Christine,
      Here is a post for you on storing icing:
      http://sweetopia.net/2011/01/how-do-you-store-royal-icing-and-how-long-can-you-keep-it/

      You’ll see the icing separates in the bag over time. Even if you put it in the fridge, the moisture in the fridge affects the icing too. I’m sorry, I understand the time constraints issue, which is why I was so glad to have volunteers helping me. It wasn’t fun getting up so early last year to do it!
      How old are the kids? Can you show them how to do it with you? How many kids are there? If there aren’t too many you really won’t need too many piping bags, so it should take too long to put them together.

  8. Kerry
    September 1, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
    13

    How long does the demonstration/decorating usually last? Is it an hour session (shorter/longer)?

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