I’ve been enjoying some early Christmas preparations and hope you are also squeezing every bit of joy out of this happy time of year. I’m smiling today because I’ve had opportunities to give away some of the gifts I made and delight in the reactions of the recipients. Maybe my fun will give you some last-minute ideas for gifts or activities you can share with your family and friends.
Cookie Decorating Party
My daughter and I had a couple of friends over for a cookie decorating party. This is a marvelous, affordable way to give a gift of time and talent to special friends, plus it’s an excuse to spend a few hours together!
I’ve had the same Christmas cookie cutters for years, so I pulled them out, mixed up my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and baked up some bells and stockings and such. The recipe I use calls for basic pantry ingredients so I didn’t have to add anything unusual to my grocery list for this project. I made the cookies the day before so they were entirely cooled by the time we were ready to decorate.
If you don’t like to bake or don’t like to bake from scratch you could always purchase ready-to-decorate cookies or cookie dough or cookie mix and perhaps save a step or two. If you don’t have cookie cutters then use a glass to cut out round cookies. You can decorate them to look like ornaments or just use Christmassy colored sugar and sprinkles. You might also check with friends and family to see if you can borrow some cookie cutters, and then check the after Christmas sales to purchase themed cookie cutters at a discount.
I have been making homemade buttercream icing even longer than I’ve been using that sugar cookie recipe. My personal preference is for almond flavoring but for these cookies I used my homemade vanilla extract. I could have colored the buttercream but I find that simplicity is best when there are many helpers in the kitchen, particularly if some of the helpers are children. You’ll notice I provided bowls of buttercream for spreading and a couple of decorating bags, one fitted with a star tip and one with a round tip, for details. The decorating bags are not necessary, of course, but since I had them I went ahead and used them. You can purchase the bags, couplers, and tips at these affiliate links.
If you follow A Chat Over Coffee then you can guess that there was colored vanilla sugar on the table. Instructions for making colored vanilla sugar are posted here. I also set out a couple of bottles of sprinkles that I had on hand. I look for sprinkles at after Christmas sales and save them for the next year.
We worked over waxed paper but I provided paper plates to hold the decorated cookies. I used a marker to put each person’s initial on the edge of her plate and we moved the plates to a counter after they were filled. I slid each plate into a gallon-sized zipper bag for transporting home. None of us claim to be cookie artists, but we still had a good time decorating and chatting and eating cookies and drinking coffee.
Basket of Blessings
I made a basket of goodies for one friend’s Christmas gift. Three jars of homemade preserves, homemade vanilla extract, a colored vanilla sugar gift set, and a dozen homemade cards filled most of the basket, but I also included a jar of store-bought cookie butter and some flavored coffee that I thought my friend would like. The picture is shared with her permission. (Hi, Friend! I’m so pleased you enjoyed it!)
Felt “Paper” Dolls
A few weeks ago I shared a link for felt “paper” dolls on my Facebook page. I used the patterns from that link but deviated from their instructions to make my own version of the dolls for a young friend. I’d made the young lady a flannel board and lots of felt shapes last year, so this was something to expand that gift. The young recipient seemed pleased and wanted to play with them right away.
Here’s a heads-up: I noticed that some of the clothes on the patterns from the link (found here) didn’t quite fit the doll pattern provided there, so I started overlaying the clothes patterns on the doll pattern and making adjustments before I cut out the patterns. I also created hairstyles and some of my own clothes by printing a doll pattern, tracing over the lines to make them darker, and then laying a sheet of printer paper on which I could draw my own patterns over the doll. The “princess” dresses, the crowns, and the hair styles shown in the picture are my designs. I’m not a doll artist, either, but I think the set turned out very well despite my artistic limitations.
And if you click through to the original pattern you’ll see embellishments added to the clothes. I have little trust for fabric glue in the hands of creative and determined youngsters, so I thought I’d spare both the mother and child the frustration of “shedding” and just used printed felt.
Fun, Fun, Fun!
It’s been fun this month to look at other blogs and see what other creative souls are doing for their friends and families. It’s also important to remember that we aren’t all cookie artists, or chefs, or seamstresses, but we can all find some way to use the talents we do have to bless the special people in our lives. Our homemade gifts don’t have to be perfect to be given and received with love. Our purchased gifts don’t have to be expensive to convey warm sentiments. Any thoughtful gift given from a generous and sincere heart can convey all the best wishes of the season.
May God bless you, your family, and your friends as you celebrate His perfect gift, His Son!
What are your special plans for celebrating Christmas this year?
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Update: This post was shared at Five Star Frou-Frou #32.