My daughter has been really into the story The Gingerbread Man lately. You know the old Golden Book classic, “Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!” She has a pretty high attention to detail, so after reading the story many times she finally said we should make a gingerbread man, “with raisins for eyes, a currant for nose, and a pink sugar candy waistcoat.” She did also say that she wanted a girl gingerbread, but we ended up making some of both 🙂
So one Saturday morning we made the gingerbread cookies together; I helped with the rolling, but she did most of the cookie cutting herself. They cooled during rest time, and I set to work getting all the decorating requirements lined up, with a few additions just for fun. I had almost forgotten the most important piece, but when I went up to check on my daughter mid-rest (I don’t think she actually rested at all!), she reminded me with great excitement “raisins for eyes, a currant for nose and a pink sugar candy waistcoat.” I had about 20 minutes to produce some pink sugar candy waistcoats!
I threw together a mini-batch of fondant by melting some marshmallows in the microwave, mixing in icing sugar, then colouring it pink. It came out perfectly, and there was just enough for the number of cookies we had.
She didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t have any currants for noses, and was pretty happy with chocolate chips and gold dragees as substitutions. Even the raisins only made it on the first one she decorated! But she was very focused and spent about an hour meticulously decorating each gingerbread cookie, making each one unique from the last. And at the end she eagerly picked her favourite one to eat.
On the last page of the story (spoiler alert) a fox eats the gingerbread man, and it reads “that is exactly what should happen to all gingerbread men.” I couldn’t agree more, and I think my daughter does too!
For the last couple years I have hosted gingerbread cookie decorating for my family during the Christmas holidays. We moved this year, too far for my family to come over for a cookie decorating afternoon, but I really wanted to keep up the tradition. So we decided to try and use it as an opportunity to get to know some new people in our neighbourhood.
We weren’t sure just how many people would come, but I wanted to have plenty of cookies, so I spent several evenings making sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies in various Christmas shapes – trees, snowflakes and gingerbread persons.
I got lots of little candies for decorating, and made some royal icing (which my daughter kept calling the ‘glue’). I also got some disposable piping bags, as I thought that would be slightly less messy, and possibly safer for kids, than spreading icing with a knife.
We had several families come and had a great time, plenty of sugary Christmas spirit enjoyed by all. But we had A LOT of everything left over. I knew we would never use it all ourselves, having already received a lot of holiday baking from other people. My sister-in-law works part time at a women’s shelter, and I decided to ask if they might appreciate having the extras. She took it all in a few days before Christmas, and I was so glad that all those cookies and treats would be enjoyed by some very courageous people. I hope that these will be traditions we can continue for many Christmases to come!
Christmas can be such a busy time of year, but it should also be a lot of fun! This year I thought it would be great to have a cookie decorating party with all of our family that are close by.
I made a variety of gingerbread cookies – people, wreathes, trees, moose, trucks, holly leaves – to appeal to the variety of ages that would be present. I made royal icing for those that wanted to have their decorations stick on tight, and buttercream for those who might prefer something easier on their teeth! I had an array of sprinkles, coloured sugars and edible sparkles for decorating, and the rest was up to everyone’s imaginations.
It was a wonderful way to spend some holiday time together, and to remember that Christmas is about being with those you love, and not about what might be under the tree. I hope you will all sense the Love that makes Christmas so special!