Sugar Cookie House Decorating Party

When I was a child, we got cookie cutters for making gingerbread houses. And every year, I’d bake gingerbread, cut out the pieces, and we’d make entire villages of cookie houses. It was one of my favorite Christmas memories.

After I moved out on my own, I found my own set of gingerbread house cookie cutters, but I started substituting a firm sugar cookie dough for the gingerbread. Because although I love the smell of gingerbread, I find that most people prefer the taste of sugar cookie. Myself included.

I want my sons to grow up with the tradition of making cookie houses. Last year we built them with cousins. This year, we invited friends over to come build with us.

I sent out e-vites to the parents, inviting them to come over. They were asked to each bring a bag of candy, and I’d provide the houses.

I headed out to Smart & Final to pick up what I would need: plates to use as the house bases, ingredients for the sugar cookies, ingredients for the icing, and some candies to get the party started (and add variety). You’ll find each recipe I used for the party at the end of the post. I also used plastic tablecloth on the roll from Smart & Final on the table – makes clean up so much easier! Smart & Final is a great place to shop when hosting a party – they have everything from plates to chafing dishes to to-go boxes so that your guests can take home their leftovers!

The day before, I made the cookie parts, let them set, and that night I used Royal Icing to put them together, and secure them to the plate.

The next morning I made Buttercream frosting for the kids to use. I find that Royal Icing is too tough for most kids to squeeze out, so I used Buttercream for the kids instead. Royal Icing is great to keep candy on securely, since it dries candy-hard, but the sugar cookie houses for the kids didn’t need to get that hard, so Buttercream frosting worked just fine. I put a couple tablespoons into each zip-top bag, and snipped off a corner of the bag to make multiple icing bags without multiple couplers and fancy cake tips… and also with less mess! The sipper side of the bag prevents the frosting from accidentally coming out the back.

All the candy was put in bowls in the middle of the table. This way kids could easily get what they needed.

The kids had a blast creating their houses!

Firm Sugar Cookie Dough
2 1/3 c flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
1/2c butter
1c granulated sugar
1 egg
Mix egg butter, and sugar. Beat until well mixed. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Put in fridge for at least 20 minutes. Roll out onto a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin, and cut to size. Bake for 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Royal Icing
3tbsp Meringue Powder (find in the baking section of your craft store)
4c sifted powdered sugar
6 tablespoons water (a little more or less as needed)
Put all ingredients in bowl and mix well. BE CAREFUL, if the icing gets too thick, it can and will break your mixer… it is like food cement. If the mix is still to heavy, SLOWLY add water 1tsp at a time and keep mixing until done.

Buttercream Frosting
1/2c shortening
1/2c softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4c powdered sugar
2 tbs milk

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a mixer until fully incorporated and creamy.

Get more great holiday ideas below or at the Smart and Final Social Circular. You can also check out Smart & Final on Twitter and on Facebook.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Smart & Final #CBias  #SocialFabric #ChooseSmart


  1. aww what a great tradition!!! 🙂 love it! wish we lived close by to join you in such great fun!! miss you xox

  2. Love this in so many ways, what a great tradition to pass on! Thanks for the recipe and tips!

  3. How fun! & I bet the kids didn’t try a single candy right? lol Happy holidays Carolina. Visiting from

  4. Cute idea to use sugar cookies! I have that cookie cutter set and we have yet to use it. 🙂

  5. I love the idea of using sugar cookies instead of gingerbread. Looks like the kiddos had lots of fun!

  6. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a great idea! I was just planning to decorate a cookie house with two little girls (ages 8 and 5). These little houses are super adorable, simple, and just the right size! Thank you!

  8. A couple questions on the dough recipe, when do I mix in the butter and at what temperature and for how long do i bake them?

    • Thanks for catching that! I’ve edited the recipe… the butter gets added at the beginning. You bake them at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes, until the edges start to turn light brown. This is a little longer than you would normally bake a sugar cookie, because you want them to dry out a little. This makes them sturdier to use in making the sugar cookie houses. Hope that helps!

  9. Nita Campbell says

    About 45 years ago, BHG had a sugar cook recipe and instructions on how to make a box with a lid. The boys and I made (3 and 6 at the time) it and put assorted Christmas cookies in the box and gave to neighbors and friends. Does anyone remember or know about this recipe?

    • I’m not 45 years old, so I wouldn’t remember that… but if you make a stiff sugar cookie dough dough, and cut it into 6 squares, you should be able to frost it into a cube using Royal icing.

  10. I’m not one to leave feedback, especially negative, but I was so disappointed with this recipe. I followed this recipe to a T, and it was awful. The dough was powdery. It didn’t hold together. I was using molds so I just pressed them into the cavities.It cracked while baking. To top it off, it tasted awful!! Seriously, it wasn’t just a bad cookie, it didn’t even taste like any kind of cookie. Really disgusting.

    • So sorry you had a bad experience! I’ve used this recipe for years with lots of success. I wonder what could have gone wrong? I have had bad baking experiences when at someone else’s house using their flour that had gone stale. Maybe the flour was stale? It would have had a cardboard-y smell instead of a fresh smell.

  11. my 47 yr old husband wANTS A sugar cookie house for xmas whats the best way to make it

  12. Sugar cookie recipe sounds bland. Shouldn’t Vanilla or Almond flavoring be added to the cookie recipe?


  1. […] If you’re interested in how I set up the party, you can read more details about my gingerbread house party tradition. […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.