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Cookies & Cocktails: A Holiday Take on Girl’s Night In

A table loaded with cookies, treats, and hot chocolate.

During a busy holiday season, the last thing you need is another party to attend, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a girl’s night in. So grab some cookie dough, and pour the champagne. We’ll show you how to host the easiest of holiday get-togethers; it’s a cookies and cocktails night!

When it comes to the holidays, schedules tend to fill up quickly. And amid the chaos, what you could really use is a relaxed night-in. Sure, you want to see your friends, but you don’t want to spend hours on fancy crostini’s decked with sugared cranberries. And you don’t want to put in the time, effort, or money required to go out.

That’s where the Cookies and Cocktails Night comes in! It’s a simple concept, in which the host or hostess whips up some simple sugar cookies, and then asks guests to contribute with frostings, decorations, and, of course, some boozy beverages. It’s far easier than hosting a real cocktail party and much more inexpensive than a night on the town.

And, depending on the icing skills and appetites amongst your friends, you’re often left with lots of decorated cookies you can give away as gifts or leave for Santa on Christmas eve. Or you can eat them. That’s always an option too.

A Cookie and Cocktail Night: How to Host

alton brown sugar cookies decorating
Food Network

To host a cookie and cocktail night, you need three things: friends, cookies, and a house with space to decorate the cookies. Pretty easy, right? While we can’t help you much with the first or third items on that list, we can help when it comes to the cookies

If you’re looking for the extra easy route, you can buy pre-made sugar cookie or gingerbread dough in the refrigerated section of most major grocery stores. Simply cut the cookies as desired, and bake according to the package instructions. Make sure you bake them at least an hour before the party, so they have time to cool before you go to decorate. If you have a little more time, you can use one of these recipes to make the dough from scratch.

Gingerbread: This dough tends to be pretty sticky. To make it easier to work with, build the dough, then let it refrigerate for an hour before you cut and bake it.

Get the Recipe: King Arthur Flour Gingerbread Men Cookies

Sugar Cookie Dough: This tends to be easier to work with, but, as a timesaver, it too can be made and refrigerated before baking.

Get the Recipe: Food Network – Alton Brown’s Sugar Cookies

What Friends Should Bring

Now that you know what you need to host the party, its time to ask your friends to participate. Since the host does the work of baking and providing space, guests should each bring either frosting, sprinkles, or a boozy beverage.

You could, of course, have each guest bring all three, or you can assign guests based on what they prefer. If Alice makes amazing royal icing, she’s on frosting duty. And, if Carol’s known for a heavy hand, maybe she gets to bring the sprinkles this year.

Frosting & Sprinkles

royal icing frosted cookies

When it comes to frosting, you can go a couple of routes:

Royal Icing: This one creates the prettiest in Christmas cookies. It’s shiny and allows you to create intricate patterns and pictures. But, if you’re an amateur cookie decorator, or don’t have piping bags to use, it can be tricky to make it look good.

Get the Recipe: Sugar Spun Run’s Royal Icing

Buttercream Frosting: On cookies and cocktail night, buttercream might be the better option. It’s not for intricate designs, but top it with some sprinkles, and it looks pretty festive to us! Plus, you can flavor it however you’d like. Vanilla, cinnamon, or cocoa powder can all be used to add a flavor to basic buttercream.

Get the Recipe: My Baking Addiction’s Buttercream

The day of the get-together, make one big batch of either frosting and then split it into plastic cups. Add a few drops of food coloring to each cup to create different colors.

As for sprinkles, anything goes! A local confectionery or baking supply store will have the best variety in terms of cutesy holiday nonpareils, but any grocery store will have simple sprinkles in the baking aisle.

To make clean-up easy, whoever’s hosting should line their dining room or coffee table with a disposable tablecloth. And, have clean, rimmed cookie sheets on hand. Let friends know that if they want to make it rain sprinkles, they should do so with their cookies on top of the rimmed cookie sheets. This way, you’re not finding sprinkles in the carpet after the New Year!

Boozy Beverages

Whoever ends up in charge of the beverages should make a batch in bulk. It’s far easier than mixing individual drinks at the host or hostess’s house. Use simple garnishes on each glass, like candy canes or sugared cranberries, to keep things cute and festive.

Christmas Cosmos: Already the Girl’s Night drink of choice, this cosmopolitan is ready for the season with pomegranate, lime, and orange liqueur.

Get the Recipe: Good Housekeeping’s Festive Pomegranate Cosmo

Cran-Apple Winter Sangria: Sometimes, wine is safer than hitting the hard stuff on cookie night. After all, holding a piping bag often requires a steady hand. That said, this stuff is easy to drink. So watch out, one glass quickly turns into three, or five.

Get the Recipe: Delish Cran-Apple Sangria

 Spiked Hot Chocolate: Since we’re playing with cookies, hot chocolate seems like the perfect pairing. And, spiking it is easy. If this particular recipe doesn’t strike your fancy, check out our collection of Adult Hot Chocolate recipes.  We’re pretty sure you’ll find at least one you’re dying to try!

Get the Recipe: Bon Appetit’s Spiked Hot Chocolate

So that’s it. That’s a cookies and cocktails night. It’s the easiest get together you’ll throw or attend this holiday season, and it leaves you with lots of cookies to share! With all that in mind, we can’t think of a better last-minute holiday get-together.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »
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