Start a new holiday tradition this year by inviting the neighborhood moms and kids over for a cookie-decorating bash.
Bake gingerbread boys and girls (at least four cookies per child, plus a few extras in case any break), and mix up three or four different colored icings, which you can refrigerate in lidded containers. This party's all about creativity, so make sure you've got lots of decorations to choose from, like gumdrops, mini marshmallows, and chocolate candies. And don't forget to stock up on paper towels for quick cleanups.
Control the mess (and the meltdowns) by setting up a workstation for each child: a place mat, paper plate, and cups filled with decorations. Put paintbrushes and open containers of icing down the middle of the table so everyone can share.
To balance out all the sweets, serve some savory snacks that your mom friends will enjoy too: cream-cheese-and-jelly tree-shaped sandwiches, pizza puffs, and cut-up veggies are all good choices.
Older kids can try this trick for more detailed icing designs: Fill freezer-weight zip-top bag with icing, snip off a tiny corner, and squeeze.
For a sweet reward, serve mugs of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.
Before your guests leave, pack up their cookies between two paper plates. Staple plates together, wrap in cellophane, and tie on a cookie-recipe-card with ribbon.