CREATIVE FAMILY FUN: Bake and share holiday cookies

By Donna Erickson

Make memories baking holiday cookies. (Donna Erickson)

It was somewhere between a Norman Rockwell painting and a Hallmark Moment. Our extended family had just gathered for Christmas last year at our cozy cabin nestled in Northern California’s coastal redwood forest. The kids were busy chopping wood in the misty, foggy air, and my husband was stoking the fire in the sturdy Norwegian stove, while I arranged fresh pine and eucalyptus down the center of our family’s century-old dining-room table.

Then, just as Grandma Dolly cracked the last egg for her traditional Swedish rice pudding, we heard a knock at the front door. Beaming from ear to ear, our friend from down the road stepped inside to present us with a delectable plate of his mom’s homemade treats. From crunchy peanut brittle to light coconut meringue, the gift assortment was the exclamation point to a perfect afternoon.

Mixed with family tradition, culinary talent and enough sugar to satisfy any sweet tooth, cookie and candy recipes reign at holiday gatherings. Some of our best family memories are built around mounds of cookie dough, colored frosting and candy sprinkles strewn all over the counter and kitchen floor!

Here are some fresh ideas and hints for this year’s family-memory making and baking:

— Start with a standard sugar-cookie recipe with your school-age kids. Let them practice their math and reading skills as you show them basic measuring techniques.

— Once baked and cooled, make frosting in several colors for decorating cookies. Spoon each color into a separate zipper-style plastic bag. Close and twist like a pastry bag, pushing the frosting to a bottom corner of the bag. Snip the corner with scissors to allow the frosting to flow. Raisins, nuts, coconut and colored sugars make tempting additions to your cookie art.

— Hang decorated sugar cookies on branches of mini Christmas trees for holiday guests to take home. Before baking, make a hole with a drinking straw at the top of each cookie. Squeeze frosting to write the names of guests. Thread ribbon through the holes, and hang the cookies.

— Tech-loving families will be inspired to try new recipes using the fun “Martha Stewart Makes Cookies” app. The inspiring “Cookie Runway” is a real hit with kids when they swipe across the screen through the 50-plus recipes. The innovative roulette-wheel recipe finder lets them pick their favorite type and flavor. I like the practical shopping lists I’ve sent to my iPhone, the nifty timer and the how-to videos. Preview the app at


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© 2021 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.