Now, I won’t pretend to have set up a tablescape worthy of Pinterest, but just in case you want to do something like this too, here’s the set up:
I made the frosting and the cookie dough the night before the activity so I wouldn't be so rushed in the morning. I waited until about an hour before the guests started arriving to actually bake the cookies so that when they arrived they were greeted by the smell of fresh warm gingerbread wafting out the front door. Yes, it would have been easier to have them baked a day in advance, but I knew that they would smell SO yummy and wanted to share that with our friends.
I covered my kitchen table with some craft paper to keep the mess somewhat contained. I put out a bowl of frosting, as well as a few squeeze bottles of frosting so that the kids had the option of either covering their whole cookie or just using the frosting as glue (I tripled the frosting recipe that came with the cookies so that there would be plenty to go around, and boy was I glad I did). Next I set out plates of candies and other goodies to use as decorations (gum drops, marshmallows, m&m’s, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc). Each child got a paper plate and a plastic butter knife at his seat, and I had plenty of cold milk on hand for those who wanted something to wash down all the sugar. I had planned on putting any cookies the kids wanted to take home on a paper plate with their name on it and then sliding those inside a plastic bag with a twist tie for easy transportation, but for the most part all the cookies got gobbled up LONG before everyone headed for home.
We had so much fun with this and the kids LOVED it! It was fun to see the different approaches the different age groups took to the creative process. Basically, the youngest ones didn't care what it looked like; they just wanted to shovel the cookies into their mouths as fast as mom would let them. Then there were the kids (Erik was in this group) who wanted to decorate their cookies, but not as much as they wanted to just chow down on the candies. The oldest actually took some time and thought about how to make their gingerbread men look nice before gobbling them up.