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Christmas Traditions

We all have our own Christmas Traditions and they are essentially what make the holidays memorable since we do them every year. My kids  super sentimental and cherish our family traditions each holiday season which makes it so sweet and special. I love hearing of others Christmas traditions, so I thought I would share our families traditions if you want to get any ideas for your own family this special time of year.

  1. Holiday Service. Throughout the holiday season, we LOVE doing special acts of service. There is something about service and Christmas that makes it even more meaningful and memorable. We play our violins at the rest home by us, we like to visit people around us who are lonely or need a yummy treat, our kids LOVE LOVE LOVE doorbell ditching someone with a plate of treats or a special gift, and our main one is doing the 12 days of Christmas to a family who could use some extra love this holiday season.  We also take blankets to homeless people in the city.
  2. Baking! Our family loves to bake and decorate sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies while jamming to Christmas music. I will share our favorite recipes below!
  3. Holiday Cards! We send our Christmas card out on December 1st with our family picture and newsletter and in return, we LOVE getting others Christmas cards. We tape them on a door and the kids love coming home from school to see the new cards each day.
  4. Dollar Store Presents-my kids LOVE going to the Dollar Store the week before Christmas and choose a present for each family member. A lot of thought goes into each person and it is super cheap!
  5. Christmas Movies. If there is an evening with no sports and no music, we all cuddle together in the family room and watch a Christmas movie together. Each week, I go through the TV line up and record any show I think the kids will want to see and then they are all ready to choose from when we want to watch a movie.
  6. Buddy the Elf. Yes, we have an elf that moves around each night but ONLY because my kids LOVE finding him every morning when they wake up! The magic of the elf is actually adorable because the kids will say, “Buddy saw you doing that and he will tell Santa!” Who doesn’t want an extra pair of eyes watching the kids?
  7. Christmas Jammies and Book. The first week of December the kids open up Christmas Jammies and a Christmas book so they can enjoy them throughout the month!
  8. Christmas Chocolate Advent Calendars. My Mom sends these advent calendars to the kids and each day in December, they get SO excited to open the little window to eat the chocolate that corresponds with that day in December. You wouldn’t believe how mad they get when someone accidentally, or not, ate their chocolate for that day!
  9. Trees in every room. My kids LOVE going to sleep with the glow of Christmas lights in their room each night so I have a small tree in each of their rooms. They are nothing fancy, but they are meaningful to them. I let them decorate their own tree and they love that colorful glow each night as they sleep.
  10. Books. We love books, but especially holiday books.  My husband is a great story reader, so we sit around him in the family room every weekend to listen to a Christmas book. Even my 2 year old loves listening to the stories.

Sometimes when you are in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to not have meaningful traditions and family time, but I want to tell you that it makes a big impact on your family. My 6 year old has been so sentimental this past month with these Christmas traditions and it has made my husband and I just smile at his love for our special traditions. Traditions are what bond a family and they are what you will talk about for years to come. I encourage you to make and keep your family traditions going each year because they make the holidays slow down and make them more special.

 

Our Best Bites Sugar Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup real butter (no substitutions!) at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg (make sure to use a large or extra large egg)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or other flavor of your choice, like vanilla)
  • 3 C flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled (don’t scoop it!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in egg and extract and mix to incorporate.
  2. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. A very important note: It’s important to correctly measure your flour or you will end up with a dry, crumbly dough. Never, ever use your measuring cup to scoop up the flour. Use a regular sized spoon and spoon the flour into the cup and then level it off with a knife.
  3. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
  4. Refrigerate for at least one hour or (and this is our preferred method), lay a sheet of parchment paper on the counter, roll the dough to the desired thickness, and top with another layer of parchment. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.)
  5. When you’re ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin.
  6. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. If you like them really and slightly chewy, about 8-9 minutes does it. If you like them slightly crisp and buttery, then go for 10-12.

Super soft gingerbread cookies from No Biggie

Ingredients
  • FOR THE COOKIES
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups dark molasses
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • ⅔ cup cold water
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • FOR THE FROSTING
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups powdered sugar – OR add amount depending on desired thickness
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
 Instructions
  1. Start by making the cookie dough the night before you’ll be baking them. Cream the butter and the sugar together.
  2. Now mix all the rest of wet the ingredients in with them together.
  3. Using a whisk, sift all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. When you are ready to start rolling out the dough the next day, flour the surface really well. You can also use a silpat for rolling out the cookie dough. Before beginning to roll out the cookie dough, preheat your oven to 350. Roll the dough out to ¼″ thickness and cut with cookie cutters into shapes.
  6. Place cookies on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for approx. 10-11 minutes. Let cookies rest on the pan for another 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  7. To make the cookie frosting: Mix together the butter, salt and vanilla together. Add powdered sugar and condensed milk to desired consistency. If using a frosting decorator like a squeeze bottle, you’ll want the frosting to be a bit thick.
  8. Decorate your cookies and enjoy!
Notes
Here are some tips to help with success when making this recipe:

-To avoid too sticky dough, make sure you let the dough chill in the refrigerator overnight. This is a must to avoid sticky dough, plus it needs this time to rest. When rolling out, make sure you are rolling out on a well floured surface. A silpat works great for rolling on as well.

-To avoid too dry dough, be sure that your dough is rolled to the right thickness before cutting with cookie cutters. ¼ inch thick is a good guideline. Also under bake them in the oven then let them sit on the hot pan out of the oven after baking for at least 5 minutes.

-Make sure you allow your oven the time to preheat this step is so important.

-No, there are not any eggs in this recipe.

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