As a child, my parents put a lot of emphasis on Christmas. We always had a wonderful Christmas day full of nice gifts. Only a few of my childhood Christmas gifts stand out in my mind. One year when I was around 9 years old, my mom and I baked sugar cookies and decorated them together. This memory is very vivid for me, and I remember just how much fun that day was. As I got older, my mom continued to allow me to do more of the baking and candy making. By the time I was an early teenager, my mom allowed be to do most of the candy making with her supervision. I have many stories I could share about these memories, but I can't recall one of the gifts that I received durring those years. What does that tell you? It is a reminder for me that Christmas isn't about gifts or food, but about our Lord and Savior and spending time as a family making our own special memories.
I said in a earlier post that I would share some simple ideas that our family has used to help make memories for our family as well as others. One of the obvious places to start with your children is in the kitchen. When we lived in Florida, we lived on a very tight budget. We did not have extra money to buy gifts, but I still wanted to teach my children about giving. For the month of December, I planned very cheap meals so that I could pull some extra money from our grocery budget. I used that money to buy the extra ingredients to bake cookies, make fudge, and candies. After I layed the baby down for a nap, the other children and I made sugar cookies and decorated them. We took large stick pretzels and dipped half in melted almond bark, and made chocolate covered pretzels. We also melted candy wafers and made painted candy by painting molds with different colors of chocolate. After painting, we poured the molds with either white or dark chocolate. Then pop in freezer and in a few minutes out comes a beautiful piece of chocolate candy. We made a large batch of hot chocolate mix (I will include that recipe at the end of the post) and put some mix in pint jars. We tied a raffia ribbon around it, and placed a pint jar of it in a basket. We added the baked goods, and we had a wonderful gift to give to friends and neighbors. I have also baked bread with my children and made honey butter to make a bread and butter basket complete with hot chocolate mix for neighbors. I included a hand written note or card, and I also wrote a scripture verse for each basket. Keep it simple. It is about sharing the love of Jesus with people and having a special time with your children. A word of caution, your kitchen will be messy!!! Anytime you give a child a cookie with some homemade icing and sprinkles, you will have much to clean in the end. But it is so worth it. Also keep the baking at your child's age level. When my children were all 8 and under, I baked the cookies myself. I had the kids help me color the icing and ice the cookies. They were then able to use sprinkles to decorate. Now that my kids are older, they are a part of the mixing and baking of the cookies. We can use more elaborate cookie cutters because the children now have the ability to decorate more precisely. Don't forget to make extra cookies and hot chocolate for your own children. This is also part of the memory making. Warning...you may gain weight during these projects!!! Don't tell me that I didn't warn you.
grace and peace,
Instant Hot Chocolate
one box (29.6 oz) Nonfat PowderedMilk
6 oz jar non dairy coffee creamer (I use Coffee Mate)
3 cups Nestle Quick
1 1/2 cups powder sugar
Mix together in large bowl. Stir well. Store in airtight container. To make hot chocolate add 1/2 cup mix to a mug of hot water. If you want it to be extra rich, use hot milk instead of water. You can top it with marshmellows, marshmellow creme, or my favorite is homemade whipping creme! Michael likes to add a half cup of this mix in a large mug. He then pours hot coffee over it. It becomes like a mocha coffee.
Peppermint Brickle Candy
package of white almond bark
peppermint candy canes crushed in small pieces
Melt almond bark according to package directions. Add crushed peppermint candy. Pour out onto cookie sheets in thin streams. Let harden. Use the end of a butter knife to break into pieces. This is a great gift giving idea. Just place the candy in pint jars and tie with a Christmas ribbon. (Almond bark can be purchased at Walmart in the baking section).