It’s baking time. It’s gift-giving time.
Many of us combine the two traditional activities by baking cookies and giving them as gifts. How often, though, do we bake ourselves into a frenzy on one day? Not enjoying the experience with our children. How often do we put those cookies on a pretty plate then rush from person to person to give the gift? All in one afternoon.
I’m not much of a baker. O.K. I’m not much of a cook, period. For me, it’s a chore. When I decide to bake for Christmas it has to be more than a whirlwind morning. I learned how to turn this “must-do” drudgery into a part of what we wanted our Christmas to be: A peaceful time of worshipping Christ.
We made Nativity cookies.
Until I attended a Christmas seminar at our church, I didn’t know there was such a thing as Nativity cookie cutters. With this handy set of tools, instead of cookie baking being hit or miss (mostly miss), it became a memory-making tradition.
Begin with a standard sugar cookies recipe. If a non-sugar recipe is preferred, give Amy’s Ultimate Healthy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies a try. Amy offers several sweetener options.
Nativity cookies are simple and cut in the shape of various symbols of Christ birth: star, angel, stable, and so on. The cookie cutters are larger (some five-inches tall), so doubling or tripling the recipe is needed. I have a terrible time increasing recipes, so I make several batches. This method allows two or three children to make their own batch of cookie dough.
I prefer a simple Nativity cutter set, which has the simple cut-outs of the various symbols of a Nativity scene. Another set includes pieces to build a stable. Both of these sets can also be used with gingerbread.
Candy makers aren’t left out of this tradition. Chocolate candy molds are available also.
As we cut the cookies out, we repeat the story. As my children got older, they repeated the story and later recited memory verses. Don’t think it was all solemn and quiet. Making cookies in our house is always a fun event even as we talk about the birth of Christ.
One year our homeschool group had a cookie baking day. I took the Nativity cutters. I began to tell the Christmas story as some of the children were helping at our table. Soon moms were listening in. For several years after, the Nativity cookie baking became an annual event.
When we gave the cookies to others, we scheduled time to spend with the recipient. By planning the visit with our friend, neighbor, relative, we had time to visit and share our special cookies. If for some reason we weren’t able to stay, we left the cookies with a story of Jesus’s birth and the significance of the cookie shapes. These stories were often written by our children.
Generally, our cookies are plain or have only a few sprinkles on them. Remember, I’m the non-baking one here. Maybe your family likes to be fancy and add details, like halos on the angels and clothes on the people. It doesn’t matter. The story stays the same. The peaceful spirit of Christmas stays the same.
I still am not much of a baker. This traditional has brought many hands to the project, forged relationships, and made memories. The added benefit is sharing the message of a baby born in a stable and the reason for our celebration. We love having Christ in our Christmas cookies.
When Susan K. Stewart not tending chickens, peacocks, and donkeys, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost?, the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers and recently released Harried Homeschoolers Handbook. You can learn more at her website www.practicalinspirations.com