By Allrecipes Staff

Get party-planning tips, cookie-decorating ideas, and top-rated recipes for a fun holiday activity all ages can enjoy.

Photo by footballgrl16

Pictured: Gingerbread Men

The Day Before

Make-Aheads. Bake several batches of cut-out cookies a day or two in advance so they'll be cooled and ready to decorate at party time. Sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies are Christmas favorites. Prep and refrigerate cookie icings and frostings a day in advance. This sugar cookie icing dries nice and hard—perfect for cookie decorating.

If you're a first-time or once-a-year baker, you might appreciate a few tips about baking gingerbread and sugar cookies, as well as all-round good advice about baking any kind of cookie.

Party Day

Snacks. Set out easy snacks so kids and adults can help themselves. It's a good idea to include healthy choices to counterbalance all the sugar they'll probably eat during the party.

Hot Chocolate Bar. Lay out the basics for creamy hot cocoa and let guests add all the extras--marshmallows, peppermint sticks, sprinkles, and other festive fixings.

Decoration Station. Create a special cookie-decoration area. For easy clean-up, cover a table or countertop with butcher paper. Set out the pre-baked cookies, bowls of icing, decorating gel, sprinkles, edible glitter, and candies. Be sure to include lots of paper towels, and let adults help out if needed.

Decorating Tips and Ideas

Photo by Doughgirl8

Pictured: Old Fashioned Butter Cookies with Butter Frosting

Take a look at these tips for decorating cookies, including how to add color to frosting and how to dip cookies in chocolate. This video will get you started with basic cookie decoration techniques. If you need ideas and inspiration, check out these creative Christmas cookies decorated by Allrecipes community members.

Packing Cookies to Go. To make sure cookie creations arrive home safely, provide small, sturdy boxes for each guest, with sheets of parchment or tissue paper to layer between cookies. Have ribbon and name tags ready to personalize each delicious boxful.

More Holiday Ho-Ho-Ho

Find all your favorite Christmas recipes.

Get more tips, tricks, and awesome food finds right here.