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Christmas cut-out cookie extravaganza

For my family, it wouldn’t be the holidays without our annual Christmas cut-out cookie extravaganza. It started when I was 6 or 7 and I would get together with my Aunt Missy and usually a friend or two for mass production of cookies; this eventually snowballed into a family affair with anywhere from 20-25 people in attendance. There are some MVPs (on each of the fronts: decorating, rolling and cutting) and some who prefer to sit on the couch and watch football — but their moral support is valued, too.

In any event, this is a really fun day on a few levels; the Christmas music is playing, we get together and socialize, everyone pitches in, and we all go home with a huge box of cookies to eat and give away as presents. It also serves as our Christmas Eve dessert. To host your own cookie party, here are the logistics:

Potluck dough

I make one batch of our family’s dough recipe and my mom, aunt, and cousin bring a batch as well (along with their cookie sheets so we can keep the assembly line moving). Each batch makes approximately 130 cookies.

Aunt Missy’s cut-out cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
5 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine cream of tartar, baking soda and milk. Add eggs and mix well. Stir egg mixture into butter and sugar mixture and combine well. Add vanilla. Blend in flour and salt and mix. Chill for at least an hour or overnight. Roll out dough on a floured board to a ½ inch thickness and cut out with floured cookie cutters. Bake at 375 degrees F on parchment paper-lined pans for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.

Make-ahead frosting

On the morning of the party, I make a huge batch of frosting (I multiply the recipe below by four) that can sit at room temperature for a few hours. This is a delicious, creamy frosting that I then divide into little bowls, adding food coloring to create different colored frostings.

6 tablespoons butter, melted
6 cups confectioners sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons cream

Melt the butter. Sift the confectioners sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add butter, vanilla, and cream and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add more cream or sugar if necessary to get desired texture. Tint with desired food coloring.

Prepare the stage

I clear out the furniture and set up two stations. In the kitchen we have the dough rolling and cutting station. I cover the kitchen table with a plastic tablecloth and set out flour, rolling pins, and cookie sheets. In the dining room we have the decorating station; again, I cover the table with plastic and lay out sprinkles, frosting, and cooling racks. I then cover 3 more tables with wax paper for the finished decorated cookies to set.

Cookies to-go

Years ago I started purchasing bakery boxes in bulk rather than cookie tins for everyone to pack and go. I found them online at Nashville Wraps and they are very reasonably priced. Plus, I never need them back!

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