GINGERBREAD HOUSES MIGHT CRACK TEETH
Our Christmas Cookie time started when I was walking down the aisles of Target. I saw those cute little gingerbread kits, you know- the kind where the gingerbread is rock hard and the candy that will crack teeth. I thought what a perfect activity to do with the kids.. the kit has everything you need ready to go. However, I quickly realized that while these kits look cute, I really didn't want my kids to actually eat any of it - which was somewhat confusing for their little minds, "they are cookies!". So, as a compromise we shifted and decided that if they didn’t eat the gingerbread house we would make gingerbread cookies that wouldn’t immediately send us all to the dentist.
HOURS OF CHILLING
While the kids were decorating their gingerbread houses I did a quick search for a gingerbread recipe and landed on the one from Sally’s Baking. It had great reviews and seemed fairly simple (I linked the one we used below). One thing to note is that fresh gingerbread dough takes several hours to chill- so you have to pre-plan when you want to make the dough and then when you want to do the baking and decorating, but don't let that scare you away! I promise it is worth it. While the kids were having fun with their houses, I quickly (it took me about 10-15 minutes) whipped up the gingerbread dough and put it in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
CHRISTMAS SPIRIT WITH SPIRITS
There is something about the holiday season that makes you realize how important family, friends and memories are, so let me begin by saying- holiday crafts and baking with your small children is totally worth it in the end. You get to spend quality time with your kids, and it makes for great memories. But - it also might be a great idea to have your favorite drink on hand to keep you as chill as possible - especially if you have any bit of a type A personality. We set the mood by turning on holiday music and getting in our matching holiday pjs.
Items that I set out in preparation:
o Silicone Baking Mats (these really help with sticky dough, but you can also use parchment paper)
o Baking Sheet Pans
TINY MEN AND PLAYDOUGH
I had all the kids gather around. They took turns sprinkling out a little flour on the pastry mat, rolling pin, and the dough. I rolled out the dough and we cut out several cookies with the gingerbread cutter. The kids took turns cutting out the little men, but it turned into arguing as I didn’t pre-plan to have multiple gingerbread men cutters - learn from my mistake. Thankfully the recipe made an extra large batch and after allowing each of them to cut out several cookies I rolled up some of the extra dough and gave them each a ball and some sprinkles. They made their own edible playdough and had lots of fun being super messy and making their own tiny creations. You could always turn this into a learning activity by having them count sprinkles, separate into colors, or have them mold numbers or letters with their dough. If you didn't learn from my mistake above and only have 1 cutter, these are also great options to keep your other littles entertained while you get one on one time with each kid cutting out their special cookies. Let them get a toothpick and carve a tiny letter or number into their cookies so they know which one to decorate when they come out! Little things like this go a long way to making the kids feel special and seen.
BAKING TIME IS CLEANING TIME
Clean up, clean up, everybody.. you know the rest. While the cookies are baking, let the kids help clean up. It's great for them to feel like they were a part of the whole process. It helps to give each one a specific task that they can complete themselves. Once the cookies are done it is decorating time!
We would love to see your creations - tag us on instagram!