Cookies for Santa

Making cut-out cookies with children is an event that involves flour on the floor, frosting on faces, and sprinkles… well, pretty much everywhere. It’s been a cherished family tradition for as long as I can remember.

Cut, bake, and decorate.

Be sure to allow lots of time. It’s okay to teach that you get more cookies out of the rolled-out dough if you place cookie cutters close together or start at an edge, but if your child wants to cut a cookie smack out of the center, relax and let her!

Frosting cookies with children can have a few simple rules. Fingers are wiped on paper towels. There are separate plastic knives or spatulas for each color. Work with paper plates to catch the extra sprinkles. Each child can choose one cookie to eat during the decorating.

Choose cookies for a special plate.

After baking and decorating is complete, it’s time to select a couple of special cookies to leave out for Santa to eat on Christmas Eve. Our family has a plate that says “Cookies for Santa.”

This must be for me.

We knew Santa was in a hurry, and although he ate most of the cookies we left him, there was usually a small part of a cookie left on the plate. No sense in letting that tasty morsel go to waste! This daughter went straight for the cookie before the presents or stockings. (Yes, they’re good.)

Placing cookies on a low table with a 2-year-old in the house is not a wise parenting move. One Christmas Eve, this little one found the cookies and nearly finished them off before we noticed. Her older sisters were able to choose replacement cookies. Then we set Santa’s plate on a counter, out of sight and out of reach of a toddler, but easy enough for Santa to find.

Make your own.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
Beat softened butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Stir in flour. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in waxed paper. Refrigerate dough until firm. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place 1″ apart on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.

Vanilla Butter Frosting
1/3 cup soft butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2-3 T. milk
Blend butter and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and milk and beat until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Continue the tradition.

Even older children and adults can enjoy the tradition, as long as it is kept light and fun. You want to make a Tyrannosaurus head out of the Christmas stocking cookie cutter? … Great! You decorated a bell shape like a ghost? …Okay!

My husband and I are empty-nesters now, and we haven’t left cookies out for Santa in quite a few years. But if our adult children visit during the Christmas season, we’ll still pull out the familiar recipe and spend quality time around the table, frosting and decorating together.

The best thing about memories is making them.


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