Who doesn't love Christmas cookies? Decorating, baking, eating... it's probably the favourite tradition for my son, Jakob. I'm not sure if it's the decorating, the eating, or finding that perfect cookie cutter, but Christmas at our hose means cookies.
We actually have several traditions that fall under the cookie theme in my family:
Making and baking
As far back as I can remember every Christmas included me, my mother and my Nana in the kitchen whipping up several different kinds of cookies. As I got older we made it a point to try one new cookie recipe each year. It was fun to pour through recipe books to select just the right one. We've found some fantastic recipes over the years and each family member requests his or her favourite.
I can also remember making cookies during the holidays when I was single couldn't make it home. Just the simple act of baking those cookies helped me feel connected to my family. Besides, some traditions just are just too tasty to pass up!
The cut-out cookie
Our cookie cutter collection in itself has become a tradition. My mother started it with me, and I continue it with my kids. Each year we buy one new cookie cutter to add to our extensive collection. It began when we set out to get a cookie cutter for each animal that was in the manger (horse, camel, sheep, cow, etc) and it just grew from there.
Once the "traditional" animals were present, the collection became more of a fun challenge to see who could find the most unusual animal to include: a whale, an armadillo, a crocodile. We have the strangest manger scene in the world! But it does make a great story for visitors. It can be quite amusing to watch as people take great consideration as to which animal they should eat.
All of the grandkids get so excited to see what kind of creature Nana's found this year. Last year she found a coyote, the year before a squirrel... Who knows what this year will bring?
The great Christmas cookie swap
The cookie swap is a fantastic reason to get together with friends during the holidays. In September, friends start asking for the date of the annual swap! It's a definite crowd pleaser because it's fun, it's a time saver, and you bake just once but end up with a huge variety of yummy cookies!
This can be a nice Sunday afternoon or a big Saturday night party. Every guest is asked to bake 5-6 dozen of their favourite cookies for the event. Load up the exchange table with all the cookies and then each guest can fill their plate. And ta-da! You look like a master baker when you arrive home with a multitude of homemade cookies.
As an added bonus, sometimes you end up with so many cookies you can fill up another plate, wrap it in some coloured cling film, place a bow on it and you have a fantastic gift!