Day 1: Make cookie dough and refrigerate (20 minutes (add 5-10 more if you let your seven-year-old do all the steps)).
Day 2: Cut out dough, re-roll leftovers, cut more (20 minutes), refrigerate at least an hour, bake (40 minutes), so 2 hours, start to finish.
Day 3: Let kids decorate a few cookies with icing in a can + sprinkles and eat one each, while you make Alton Brown's royal icing (20 minutes). Shoo them out of the kitchen and then finish obsessively icing the rest of the cookies in peace (2-3 hrs).
Hmm...I think I may see where some of the slow-downs in my process are coming from...and the funny thing is, I don't even like cookies. :-) But oddly, I find this process weirdly compelling. And as sugar cookies go, these are pretty yummy. Mine are not as finely decorated as hers!