Posted: Jul 23, 2013 5:00 AM
Sick of the same old birthday cake each year? We've got ideas for switching from cakes and cupcakes to cookies. They're easier to bake, easier to decorate and virtually mess-free.

If your cakes are always wrecks or you've ever seen the carnage that occurs when children are handed cupcakes, you may want to change your plans for your kid's next birthday party. Cookies are easy to bake and fun to decorate. Best of all, you can hand guests regular cookies and save the ultra-decorated one for the birthday boy or girl. We've got the tips you need to make adorable birthday cookies.

Stock up on a few essentials

Whether you're baking sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies, the real magic comes from the frosting or other toppings. Depending on your artistic skills, this can be an elaborate setup or a fairly simple process. Wilton decorating products can be picked up anywhere from Target to craft stores like Michael's. Invest in a few frosting tips. They're inexpensive and reusable. If you're nervous about icing, buy pre-rolled fondant and decorate with edible icing markers. (Wilton, $9)

Let the kids get involved

jelly beansYour dessert can do double duty as a fun party activity if you let the kids do the decorating. Set up a basic cookie bar with small tubes of frosting, candy eyes and small candies like jelly beans or Skittles. Allow children to approach the table in small groups to create their own decorated cookies. Go with a theme, such as silly faces, or let kids do whatever they'd like with their cookie masterpieces. Don't forget to include plenty of ways to keep the kids' hands clean before and after decorating.

Cookie Ideas

^ Easy cookie cake

Funfetti cake batter white chocolate cookie cake

Love the look of store-bought cookie cakes? Lindsay from Life, Love and Sugar shares her easy Funfetti cake batter white chocolate cookie cake recipe. This foolproof recipe gives you a great foundation for decorating and the unique batter makes it a great alternative to the same old giant chocolate chip cookie.

^3D cupcake cookie

cupcake cookie

Hani from Haniela's shares her adorable recipe for 3D cupcake cookies. Perfect for a birthday girl, this is a great treat to serve as a centerpiece while you distribute the regular batch of chocolate chip cookies to your party guests.

miniature cake cookies

^Creative birthday cookie

Ready to take on a more challenging cookie? Bridget from Bake at 350 shares detailed instructions for making adorable miniature cake cookies. These are perfect for a young child's birthday and they're a great way to hone your icing skills.

More dessert ideas

4 Microwave mug cakes
Cute slider cupcakes
Ice cream sandwich recipes