One of the best things about the holidays when you have kids is making your own traditions. Growing up, I always loved that my family had an open invitation Thanksgiving Day for people who, like us, didn’t have any family around. And I always looked forward to singing Christmas songs at our candlelight Christmas Eve service at church and making lasagna with my mom on Christmas Day. Now that Liam is a little bit older, we’ve loved starting some of our own holiday family traditions with him. Having a cookie baking day was something we did on a whim last year. It was so much fun to plan out and do together that we decided to make it an annual thing. Plus, the guys at Jamie’s fire station never turn down a plateful of home-baked goodies.
It was actually the perfect day for baking too. We ended up getting a little bit of snow throughout the day, so it was just the thing to put us in the holiday mood. Add some Christmas music on the radio and we were ready to go.
This year, Liam got to help us decide which cookies to bake. Everyone got their favorite cookie and we tried out a new recipe. And all of them were easy enough to make with a preschooler (Liam’s a great helper). Links to our favorite holiday cookie recipes this year are below!
Sea Salt Butterscotch Pretzel Cookies
Recipe from Cookies and Cups
This was our new recipe this year. I subbed it in for my usual favorite cookie recipe, because I felt like mixing it up a little. This one didn’t disappoint. I used white chocolate chips instead of butterscotch, but otherwise I made the recipe as-is. Oh, and that browned butter? It adds sooooo much flavor. Definitely can’t skip that step. This was my favorite cookie that we made this year.
Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
I use a family recipe for these. We love them because they’re so quick and easy to make,. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool before you can eat one. And by one, I mean one….whole batch. Here’s the recipe I use:
3 c. uncooked oatmeal (I prefer using the old fashioned kind because it gives the cookies more texture, but you can use quick oats too).
1/4 c. unsalted butter*
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk*
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
*to make this recipe dairy-free, I use almond milk and Earth Balance buttery sticks
- Combine the butter, sugar, milk and cocoa in in a medium pan over medium heat on your stovetop. Stir constantly until the butter melts. Bring mixture to a boil and let sit, boiling, for one minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla until combined. Add dry oats to the pan and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated.
- Let the pan sit for a few minutes. Then, drop tablespoon-sized cookies onto parchment paper or silicone baking mat on your counter. Flattening them out a little helps them cool faster, but you can leave them as-is. The nice thing about these cookies is that they don’t have to look perfect.
- Allow to cool completely before eating. (Or at least mostly, because I can never wait that long). Cookies can be stored in a covered container for several days, though I doubt there will be any left.
Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints
Recipe from Saving Room for Dessert
To be honest, I was hesitant to make thumbprint cookies this year. We made a batch (different recipe) last year, and they just weren’t our favorite. But Jamie swears he loved these things as a kid growing up, so I was up for trying again. I really liked this recipe from Saving Room for Dessert much better. We left out the glaze entirely, so the cookies aren’t too sweet at all. Actually the cookie is the perfect balance to the sweetness of the jam. Speaking of the jam, we opted for homemade strawberry jam (I can my own!) instead of raspberry. But really, you can use any kind of jam you like.
Recipe from Life’s Little Sweet
These are Jamie’s all-time favorite cookie. He likes classic flavors the best. I give him a hard time for ordering vanilla malts every time we’re at an ice cream shop. So it makes sense that he loves the familiar combo of cinnamon and sugar.
The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe
Recipe from Katrina’s Kitchen
What little kid doesn’t like frosting? So clearly, this is always Liam’s favorite batch of cookies. He loves being able to help cut out the cookies into different shapes with cookie cutters and then using sprinkles to decorate the frosting when they’re done. I noticed last year that we were kind of lacking in terms of holiday cookie cutters, so I got these (affiliate link) this year. What I love best about this recipe is that you don’t have to refrigerate the cookie dough. This definitely cuts down on your time from start-to-finish, which is super important when you’re dealing with a long baking day and bedtimes.
This year, we used this frosting recipe, also from Katrina’s Kitchen. I generally don’t keep shortening on-hand, so we used butter instead. It just makes this a yummy buttercream frosting and doesn’t harden quite as nicely as it sounds like the original recipe may. But regardless, it’s still really yummy. It makes a ton of frosting, though, so you can get away with doubling the cookie recipe and have plenty of frosting for all the cookies.
Of course, the best part is always the eating.
What are some of your favorite Christmas cookies? I’d love to add a new recipe or two for next year!