While eating lunch at our Windermere office eight years ago, I remarked to one of my co-workers that I wished I could share my love of cookie baking by hosting a cookie decorating party for children that were in need. Wouldn't you know that person was on the board of the Parry Center, a residential treatment center for severely troubled children, and my wish was granted.
The first few years, I baked hundreds of cookies on my own, mixed up tens of pounds of confectioners sugar to make colored icing with my daughter Erin, then loading up a carful of sprinkles, tablecloths and other goods with my other kids Spencer and Lauren, taking the show on the road to host a party on-site for up to 40 kids and staff.
Now I am pleased in my eighth year to have a great number of other helpers to bake at a neighborhood church who kindly donates their kitchen. Friends and co-workers help make icing and dough. It really is gratifying to all involved. I like to imagine that I am encouraging the inner artiste of the kids who pile on dangerous amounts of icing or arrange sprinkles "just so" to their cookies. Some gingerbread or sugar cookies become so laden they need to be picked up with a spatula in order transfer it to a paper plate. Many of the kids immediately start decorating their cookies as gifts for their mom or siblings. The Parry staff seems to enjoy the decorating party as much as their charges, and often the older kids seem to show the delight of younger children in the simple joy of decorating cookies.
This year I've been told, I'll be hosting as many as 45 children and up to 20 staff. It's time to start taking stock of the sprinkles.