Mess-Free Cookie Decorating With Kids!

I’m not a baker. But I love baked goods and the kids love making a mess!

So naturally, decorating sugar cookies is much-loved seasonal tradition. We love making sugar cookies for several holidays including, Valentine’s Day! I’m a sucker for red and pink Valentine’s Day crafts, decorations and cards. I get drawn into every store display this time of year—it’s almost as bad as Christmas!

cookie decorating with kids


A few weeks ago at my daughter’s school they hosted a winter carnival. It was so fun, and one of the stations they had set-up for the kids was a cookie decorating station. My initial thought was that it was going to be a nightmare—sprinkles and sticky frosting everywhere! But when we got to the station, I was so impressed with the set-up. Each child had their own little area with a small amount of supplies. Because the kids and I are gluten-free now due to a few new Celiac Disease diagnoses, I had donated gluten-free sugar cookies ahead of time for anyone with allergies to decorate during the carnival. Each child’s space was so well managed, there was no chance of the gluten-free kids getting contaminated!

Thanks to the savvy moms at the school carnival, I am now using their cookie decorating method at home for a stress-free, mess-free cookie decorating experiences of our own.

A quick note about my sugar cookie recipe before I get started… Like I said, I hate baking. If I could buy store-bought undecorated gluten-free sugar cookies, I probably would. BUT thankfully I have a friend who makes gluten-free baking mixes that are delicious (like, no one know’s their gluten-free delicious) and EASY!

how to decorate sugar cookies

Mess-Free Cookie Decorating Supplies

decorate sugar cookies

Mess-Free Cookie Decorating in 5 Easy Steps!

  1. After your cookies are baked and ready to decorate, lay down your plastic table cloth. This makes it so easy to wrap up the mess and throw it away when you’re done!
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper or washable placemat in front of each child. This could be skipped of course if you’re using the table cloth, but it helps define the space that the kids are working in and helps the mess not travel quite as much.
  3. Next you’ll give each child a small amount (the key here is SMALL so that they don’t just dump a whole solo cup on their cookie!) of sprinkles that have been divided into solo condiment cups.
  4. Also fill a solo condiment cup with the exact amount of frosting needed for the job!
  5. Finally, give the child a plastic knife or wooden popsicle stick and let them go to town!

cookie decorating

This mess-free cookie decorating technique makes the process go smoothly (no fighting over sprinkles and frosting containers), is mess-free (no sticky sprinkle containers or table scrubbing) and it prevents the spread of germs—you know those kids are licking their frosting sticks and double dipping!

valentine's day cookies


Cookie Decorating Secrets

I hope this post helps make your cookie decorating experiences with your kids mess-free and enjoyable! What are some ideas you use to contain “the mess” during craft and baking time with your kiddos?

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About Laurie

I'm a Child of God, wife, mother of 4, wellness advocate and writer. This blog is a journal of my days, a collection of my recipes and crafts, and hopefully, a platform for all families to share their ideas, encouragement, inspiration and advice! I'm striving to "bloom where I am planted". Don't wait until things are "perfect" to begin sharing your gifts. We are all part of one giant puzzle—don't be a missing piece!

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