Preheat an oven to 350° F. Using the 1 teaspoon butter, grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, beat the ½ cup butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses until well blended. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well blended. Beat in about ¼ cup milk, then add the remaining flour mixture, beating it in well. The dough will be very stiff. If it is too stiff and crumbly to roll out, add tablespoon of additional milk.
On a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of about ½ inch, then cut into shapes using cookie cutters or by tracing with a knife around cardboard cutouts. Transfer the shapes to the prepared pan.
Decorate the gingerbread people with currant eyes and red-hots for buttons, pressing them into the dough before baking, or attach them with frosting after baking.
Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and spring back when pushed with your finger. Transfer the cookies from the pan to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with the frosting as desired.
To make the frosting: In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk and stir until a stiff but spreadable paste forms. (It may seem overly stiff, but too much milk will make an unworkable frosting. If it is necessary to add more milk, do so only ½ teaspoon at a time.)
Divide the frosting among separate bowls and mix in food coloring as desired. Frost the cookies while they are warm or cool. If the cookies are warm, the frosting will spread more easily.
Add decorative silver dragées and colored sugars (if desired) before the frosting dries.