Cookie Decorating Party

Fun, festive and tasty, these parties show the community you care.

Guests having fun at cookie decorating party

Cookie Decorating Party Guests

Guests at Lydia Walshin's cookie decorating party have a blast trimming treats to distribute to the community. Photo by Lydia Walshin.

Lydia Walshin holding cookie cutters

Lydia Walshin

Lydia Walshin founded Drop In & Decorate 10 years ago to provide the gift of cookies and caring to those in need. Photo by Beverly Thomas.

Michelle Stern smiling in apron

Michelle Stern

Michelle Stern recruited students from her children's cooking class to decorate cookies, destined for a family shelter. Photo by John Perry.

Young girl icing cookies

Girl Decorating Cookies

A creative party-goer gives cookies the royal icing treatment. Photo by Michelle Stern.

Children deliver decorated cookies to a shelter

Delivery of Decorated Cookies

Cookie delivery day gives young Drop In & Decorate volunteers a chance to serve others. Photo by Michelle Stern.

Colorful gingerbread house cookie

Gingerbread House Cookie

Sugar cookies become a canvas for artistic talents. Photo by Lydia Walshin.

Cut-out cookie Christmas tree

Cookie Christmas Tree

Iced evergreens sweeten the season. Photo by Lydia Walshin.

Cut-out cookie shaped like dancing elf

Dancing Elf Cookies

Senior centers, day cares and food pantries are just some of the agencies that look forward to spirit-lifting cookies. Photo by Lydia Walshin.

Guests having fun at cookie decorating partyLydia Walshin holding cookie cuttersMichelle Stern smiling in apronYoung girl icing cookiesChildren deliver decorated cookies to a shelterColorful gingerbread house cookieCut-out cookie Christmas treeCut-out cookie shaped like dancing elf


Santa’s not the only firm believer in the power of cookies. Friends throughout North America and beyond are spreading hope and happiness by the batch, with help from Lydia Walshin’s nonprofit organization that’s marking its 10th holiday season.

“Drop In & Decorate gets friends and families together to make and decorate cookies, and then connects them with community agencies providing food and shelter to people in need,” says founder Lydia from Glocester, Rhode Island. “Building bridges between people is what we’re all about. And we do it with cookies.”

Not that she intended to start a movement the day she invited a few friends over to decorate cookies. “We got carried away and ended up with so many we couldn’t eat them all,” she recalls. “So I contacted a family emergency center in our neighborhood and asked if they’d like us to bring over some cookies. “I’m sure they expected something packaged from the supermarket. When we came with boxes filled with homemade, individually wrapped cookies, they were thrilled! My friends were just as excited and asked, ‘Can we do this again?’ That was my aha moment.”

A food writer and blogger, Lydia asked her followers to spread the word—and they have. Drop In & Decorate events have been held in 37 states and as far away as Germany and Japan.

 A Recipe for Helping

Thanks to the popular program, 40,000 cookies have been donated to 180 agencies, including food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, rescue missions and senior centers. “To make participating easy, we put everything you need to know on our website,,” Lydia says. “It shows how to host a decorating party, where to find supplies, how and where to donate cookies. It even recommends recipes.

“We’ve found sugar cookies and colorful icing work well. It’s like creating a painting on an edible canvas. But feel free to go with gingerbread or chocolate cookies, sprinkles or candy toppings. The important thing is having fun in the process.” Among the volunteers are religious groups, Scout troops, co-workers and neighborhood associations. What’s Cooking for Kids, a children’s cooking school in the San Francisco area, took on the project last year; owner Michelle Stern says it taught her young cookie rookies an invaluable lesson.

“The 20 kids who participated really felt good about lifting people’s spirits with something they took time to make,” she says, remembering the welcome they received on delivery day at a San Rafael shelter. “I get a total rush when I find a project that teaches kids how to be contributing members of society by helping others.” The program really heats up during the holidays, but the parties and cookies spread cheer throughout the year, too—no special occasion needed.

“To me, Drop In & Decorate is like double-acting baking powder that activates once with liquid and again when it’s heated in the oven,” Lydia says. “Our cookies work twice, too: first when you have a great time with friends and second when you donate your treats and see the smiles they bring.”

Host a cookie decorating party of your own with more delicious ideas from Drop In & Decorate.

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