Making sugar cookies in my house is a week-long event. I could probably get it all done in two days if I had nothing else to do, but life has a tendency to get in the way, so I've broken it down into manageable chunks so that I can get a little accomplished at a time.
Day one (usually the evening before I want to bake the cookies): mix up the dough and refrigerate over night. 30 minutes.
Day two: roll, cut, and bake. After baking I let the cookies cool and then put them into a container that I can put in the freezer. Freezing the cookies lets me return to them whenever it is convenient. I don't have to worry about frosting them before they get stale. 3 hours with clean-up.
Day three: make frosting. This includes actually making the frosting and mixing frosting colors. I prefer to do this the same day that I frost the cookies but it doesn't always work out that way. 1 to 2 hours depending on the number of colors.
Day four: frost and decorate. This is the most time consuming part of the whole process, and it is nearly impossible to say how long this takes because it really depends on how fancy the cookies are going to be, but I can say without a doubt that it never takes less than 4 hours (clean up included).
After the cookies are frosted they take at least one full day to dry. Whew. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Today was frosting and decorating day for my Thanksgiving cookies, and I was so excited to finish these babies, then I ran out of frosting. That RARELY happens, and when it does Its like letting the air out of the balloon. Now I get to find time to make more frosting and decorate more cookies.
Here's a picture of the cookies I've finished for thanksgiving so far - this year I went for a fall theme, so I've got turkeys, pumpkins, apples, pies, squirrels, and acorns. They are super cute if I may say so myself!