A Grandma's spin on crafts, games, recipes & lifestyle

Tag: Christmas

Christmas Cookie Party

Can you smell that?  The cozy scent of warm cookies filling the whole house?  One of my favorite holiday activities is making and decorating Christmas cookies.  When my kids were younger, they would each invite a friend over for a day filled with creating Christmas cookie masterpieces as well as playing fun Christmas games.  Fast forward to 2021, these kids are now adults and yet we still get together every year for a Christmas Cookie Party!

Roll Out Cookie Recipe ~

Click Here to Print Recipe of Roll Out Cookies

In the early days I had a fun-filled day planned for all of the kiddos.  Memories of all of the kids rushing in after school all excited about the day’s events are still crystal clear in my mind!  The cookies would already be baked and placed all around the table.  Bowls of brightly colored icing  scattered all around within reach of their little hands.  Next come the paint brushes…you know the ones?  The inexpensive pack of multi-colored kid’s paintbrushes.  These served as the main decorating tool.

The Paintbrush Rule ~

If you ask any of those little bakers today, you will know the golden rule of cookie decorating.  The purple paintbrush goes in the purple icing bowl, the green paintbrush goes in the green icing bowl, the yellow paintbrush goes in the yellow icing bowl….you get the picture!  This keeps our colors fresh.    I guarantee you that when these said kids (now adults) read this they are laughing, as I am a stickler for this rule!

The small multi-colored paint brushes just like these work perfectly!

   

While I have included an easy link for you, I honestly try to gather the paintbrushes whenever I see them at the local Dollar Store or department store.  It is sometimes hard to find all of the colors you need, but collecting them over time usually proves to be successful…as long as you remember where you have stored them! 😉

Small ramekins like these are used for the many icing colors that they insist we have…ok, I insist too! 😉

 

The four primary colors are definitely not enough for this festive day!  You will need a lot of small bowls to make all of the icing colors requested.  It is much more fun if you let them create just the perfect shade of each color.  Once again those memories come rushing in, “Do you think this red is bright enough?”  “Should we do dark purple or light purple…or both?”  “Did someone make black…we need lots of black!”  “Ooooh, what about gray?”

 

The icing recipe itself is simple.  We have tried different recipes but have finally all decided this simple recipe is our favorite.  Printable version of the simple, but oh so good, icing recipe can be reached right here!

Cookie Cutters ~

We all have our favorite cookie cutter.  I continue to add new ones to the mix, but nothing melts my heart more than when I hear, “Wait a minute, did you make any snowglobe cookies?”  “Does anyone have a Christmas tree cookie they can share?” “What was this one??  A penguin, oh yea!”

Yes, sometimes the cookie shape is hard to tell what it is until you bring it to life with some color!  Other times they get broken and still get turned into a major work of art…thanks to Ali!  No, we do not have a Starbucks cookie cutter, but somehow she made the perfect latte cookie!

If I had to choose, I would say the snowglobe is one of everyone’s favorites…

It has been so much fun to watch their artistic ability change over the years.  However, no matter how beautiful they are, the taste is always the same…..delicious!  We are always careful to make an abundance so that everyone has plenty to take home and share….and to sample along the way.

When this tradition first began, the kids would start the afternoon out icing the cookies.  We would then move on to Christmas scavenger hunts and Christmas Bingo.  These activities ended with lots of festive prizes, of course.  I would send the kids home hyped up on sugar but exhausted from a fun-filled day!

The tradition has now moved to evenings as we have to schedule our Christmas Cookie Party around work schedules (that damn adulting thing always interferes!  😜).   We have a Cookie Crew text group that gets busy at the end of November working on the current year’s date.  The phone goes ping, ping, ping and voila…we have a date!  Now they all roll into the house with bottles of wine and fun Christmas gifts to share before we get to decorating!  Oh, did I mention the food?  Yes, we now have lots of savory appetizers as well.  Now instead of me sending them off exhausted and with full bellies the exact opposite happens….oh how the times have changed!

New Decorating Tools ~

We have recently upped our decorating game.  As Ali put it best, “Oh Shel, this is a game changer!”  The addition of squeeze bottles brought a whole new way of decorating to our Christmas Cookie Party fun!  Wow, these are so much fun and allow for more precise decorating.

Addi demonstrates for us…

As the years go by, we add new little ones to the crew and continue making wonderful memories.  Had I known years ago how special this tradition was going to be, I would have urged others to do the same!

One thing I know for sure is that these girls will continue this tradition and that makes me a very happy Mimi!

Photo Gallery of More Recent Years ~

(Some year I will go back to my old files to add pictures from the younger years!)

   

   

 

Now everyone get out there and get to baking…..enjoy your Christmas season!  And to you, my precious Christmas Cookie Party crew…I love you…thank you for all of the wonderful memories…and cheers to many more!

Much love~

Mimi

 

P.S.  Check out a similar post I wrote about this last year (with less details), however there are some of the fun cookie cutter links included in this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ❄

Ahhh…December!  The days are filled with kids anxiously counting down every…single…day until Christmas Eve.  Many families make the countdown fun with various advent calendars filled with candies and trinkets.  My kids loved these…as do my grandchildren!!!  Now that I am a Mimi (grandma), I have decided to create my own type of December fun while not interfering with my daughter’s advent calendar that she does with her children.  This is how advent snail mail with Gizmo came to life!

Meet Gizmo~

This fun little guy is Gizmo the fuzzy snowflake.  He will show up in the kids’ mailbox throughout the month of December spreading Christmas cheer.  This little guy will be a bit different as he will not show up daily.  The kids will never know which days he will appear, which will add a bit of suspenseful fun!

Gizmo’s Festive Responsibilities ~

The advent snail mail with Gizmo will begin on December 1 of each year.  Gizmo will introduce himself to the kids with a letter and a gift.

Use this free link to print out as many copies as needed:  Christmas Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo

Fun Gift/Craft Ideas to Include In Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo ~

This being the inaugural year with Gizmo, I have decided to focus mostly on books.  There will be other small items at different times, but this is a great time to carve out some quality time reading to the kids.  Also, books are the gifts that keep on giving!  Of course, my first thought was Christmas books, which I will indeed include on some days.  However, I read a fun article about picture books adapted from famous movies and tv shows…how fun!!!  Justine, from Life In Stepping Stones, includes some great book ideas here…check them out with this link!

Books Adapted from Movies & Shows – (some with Christmas theme and some that are not) ~

These are the books that I decided to start with:

Home Alone

Elf

Back to the Future

Life Is Better With Friends

E.T. The Extraterrestrial

Coloring Activities ~

DIY Bookmarks to Color

Disney Christmas Coloring Book

 

Other Fun Ideas ~

Family Christmas Puzzle – With 3 Different Size Pieces for All Ages to Enjoy

Talking Elf Plush

Christmas Bingo

 

Christmas Tree Craft Kit

How this Works ~

After sending the initial letter to the children, you will randomly send small items of your choosing and add the 2nd Gizmo mail printout (link below)  with each succedding mailing.  I actually hand deliver the items to my grandchildren as they live close enough to me.  However, I always leave them in the mailbox for them to find when they get home from their school or other activity.  (you may be asking, I thought you said this was the inagural Gizmo…it is!  I have adapted this from my earlier post, Flat Skelly Skeleton – Halloween Snail Mail Fun.)  They have so much fun checking the mailbox each day!

Gizmo Mail Printout To Be Included With Each Gift

You decide how often you want Gizmo to visit.  It can be once a week, every other day, or any number of random days you would like to make deliveries.  Print out the above link for each time you make a delivery…and be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas.

The thought process on the gifts that I am choosing is togetherness!  I am choosing to not include individual candies/gifts/activities for each individual child, but instead sending items for them to do together.  Christmas creates a lot of anxiety in children and I believe trying to do fun things as a group helps promote getting along!  (Does this alway work?  Of course not, but we have to keep trying, right?)

Gizmo Snail Mail Recap ~

Since this is a new type of festive fun to have with kids, I am ending this post with a recap of just the essentials.

    1. Print out one copy of the Introduction from Gizmo Deliver this printout along with your first gift on December 1
    2. Choose how often you want to make Gizmo deliveries throught the month of December
    3. Print out as many of the Gizmo Countdown pages as you choose to make deliveries!  You can print these all at once or come back to this handy link each time you are preparing to make an Advent Snail Mail With Gizmo delivery!
    4. Be sure to write in the number of days left until Christmas on each Gizmo Countdown page.
    5. Mail or hand deliver your festive gifts!
    6. Ask the family members to send you pictures of the kids enjoying their advent gifts so you can be a part of the fun!

Now…get out there and enjoy the holidays!

Much love~

Mimi (& Gizmo)

Christmas Lights and Cocoa

The traditions continue as we enjoyed our annual night of viewing Christmas lights while sipping on hot cocoa and munching popcorn. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to watch our children carry on our family traditions with their loved ones.  Of course, that is what traditions are, right?

A few changes were made to this year’s Christmas light adventure. Normally the kids would grumble about any changes made to our family traditions. However, we all enjoyed these fun additions, so we didn’t hear those usual complaints. It all began with a hot cocoa snack board. We have always enjoyed cocoa while driving around looking at the festive lights, but this year, everyone got to create their own cocoa masterpiece.

This is so much fun to create and, of course, there are no rules!  When assembling your snack board, keep in mind that some goodies will be for the hot cocoa and some will just be for snacking.   This being the first year, I had a lot of fun assembling the goodies, but my mind is already swirling with different ideas for the next occasion.

Ideas for Creating Cocoa Snack Board ~

The other good thing to remember is that this just doesn’t have to be a Christmas thing!  We drink cocoa as many times as we can throughout the winter months.  This leaves more opportunities to have fun with this chocolate-filled idea!  As mentioned earlier, the goodies are endless that can be included in your setup.  Here are some fun ideas:

  1. Candy canes or peppermint sticks
  2. Crushed peppermint candies
  3. Marshmallows – plain, flavored or festive shaped
  4. M & Ms
  5. Malt Balls
  6. White mini Kit Kats
  7. Chocolate nonpareils
  8. Gingerbread cookies
  9. Graham Crackers
  10. Caramel candies
  11. White chocolate pretzel rods
  12. White chocolate chips
  13. Various candy Kisses
  14. Biscotti
  15. White chocolate covered Oreos

It was so much fun watching the kids create their specialty cocoas.  Addi even discovered a new favorite…she couldn’t get enough of the chocolate nonpareils (also known as sno-caps).   We used the disposable soup bowls for each person to create their own snack mix.   Each bowl started with a little popcorn and then they filled them to their heart’s content.

Hot Chocolate Bombs ~

Have you seen this new and totally fun idea for hot cocoa???  This is definitely something I will add to the snack board for next year.  But why wait????  You can make these all winter long!  They have gone viral on Tik-Tok and everyone is raving about them.  They are available in stores to buy or you can make your own.  I have saved several posts for reference, but I especially like the post by Gluesticksblog.com.  She gives great ideas and tips and also references a video of them if you have not yet seen how they work.  How to Make Hot Chocolate Bombs by Gluesticksblog.com.

We will definitely be making our own soon and will share our results once we have done so.  However, I am starting preparations for them now and ordered the silicone chocolate mold so I am ready to go.    After reading many reviews and scouring for the best prices, these are the chocolate molds I ordered.  These are the chocolate molds I ordered for Hot Chocolate Bombs!  From my research, I have discovered you need to pay close attention to size.  I also saw where many of the chocolate mold companies weren’t so good on delivery!

Marshamallows are obviously an important ingredient as well.   The dehydrated marshmallows work best as they are small and easier to work with when making hot chocolate bombs.  If you do not plan ahead, these can be very hard to find in the stores *voice of experience here!!!  Here are some handy and fun links to help out with that…

Dehydrated Marshamallows in 1-Pound Sealable Bag

Mini Marshmallows With Snowflake Sprinkles & Chocolate Jimmies

Off To View the Lights ~

Everyone gathered their hot cocoa and snack bowl and loaded into the car for the next step.  Unfortunately, I believe this will be the last year that we will all be in the same vehicle.  Fortunately, that means our family is growing…❤!  Next year we will have to use 2 cars….but you can be sure that won’t stop this family tradition!  We drive through neighborhoods to enjoy the festive decorations.  To those people who decorate every year…thank you!  Some of the displays are the same as they were when our kids were youngsters.  How cool is that?

Carry Out and Puzzles ~

The final part of the evening is Chinese take-out at the end of our Christmas light viewing.  We call ahead and pick it up on our way back home.  Our little Addi already asks for this when we start choosing the date for this night.  Those traditions obviously make a difference even at a young age.  This just melts my heart!

The other new activity we added this year is doing a Christmas puzzle.  Not a large one, as we want to be able to finish it the same night.  My suggestion is to stick with 100 pieces or choose one that is a “family” style puzzle with three different sizes of pieces.  Have you seen these kind?  They are truly so much fun when you are puzzling with a variety of ages.

(Frosty the Snowman 100 piece puzzle)

Here are a couple options of the family time puzzles.  Our family has had one since the kids were young and we would do that same one every year.  Now there are even more options.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Family Time Puzzle  ~ The image Amazon includes here doesn’t show the different size pieces, but if you click on the link you will see that the Family Time puzzles have small, medium and large pieces for family puzzling.

Snoopy and Linus ice skating – Peanuts Family Time Puzzle ~ A super cute Family Time puzzle that also has small, medium and large pieces.

Christmas lights and cocoa has long been one of our kids’ favorite traditions of the many we try to do throughout the month of December.  I love watching our grown kids still juggle their schedules to make it all work.  Family time is oh so valuable and especially during this wonderful holiday of celebrating the birth of Christ!

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

Making Memories With Christmas Cookies

Christmas traditions are a very important part of the spirit of Christmas!  This year has made us all look back at years past and re-evaluate what truly is important.  It also has urged us to look forward, past 2020, and decide what we wish to carry with us for the coming years.  Spending time with loved ones is something I believe we can all agree is at top of the list.  How amazing is it that a small little cookie, decorated with sprinkles and festive colors can do just that?  Making memories with Christmas cookies is a tradition my mom started with us years ago.

We would sit in our cozy little kitchen at a fold up card table.  There was one gingerbread cookie sheet that was the moldable type.  I can still see my pudgy little fingers molding the soft cookie dough into the form until it was just right.  Mom would pop them in the oven and it didn’t take long for the sweet smell to fill the small kitchen.  Anticipation is what comes to mind!

Bowls of colorful icing would be brought to the table in preparation for the next step.  Once those cookies were done, we got the wonderful job of icing each gingerbread man and woman in an attempt to make the prettiest one.  Corn cob butter brushes were converted to paint brushes for the icing.  My heart still warms as I think back to these sweet memories.

Carrying On The Tradition ~

Fast forward to the 1990’s.  It was now time for me to start making memories with Christmas cookies with my own small children.  The cookie shapes and icing methods have changed a bit, but the family fun remains the same.  We switched to cookie cutters and small kid’s paint brushes for the icing.  (only because the corn cob butter brushes have become next to impossible to find!)

As the years progressed, the kids would each start inviting a couple of friends for the annual Christmas cookie decorating event.  The cookies were made ahead of time, which left the icing fun to them.  Back then we would add extra Christmas festivities to the day with Christmas Bingo and Christmas Scavenger Hunts.  It became a day they looked forward to each year.  Thus the Christmas tradition lives on.

Making Memories With Christmas Cookies~

Fast forward to 2020…the tradition lives on!  We just celebrated Year 15 with the same girls….and my son joins in each year to help with one or two.  These girls are now in their 20’s and 30’s and somehow we all manage to find one day each year for Christmas cookie fun!!!   We have also happily added my precious grandchildren.  Isn’t this what Christmas is all about?  Making memories with those that you hold dear to your heart!

Making memories with Christmas cookies is so much more than just decorating cookies.  It’s sharing stories and laughter while you all create your works of art.  It’s laughing and reminiscing about the year’s past.  It sharing dreams of the future.  It’s watching your children’s friends treat the new kiddos at the table with love.  It’s a whole lot of love wrapped up into one short night!

We have tried different cookie recipes and various icing recipes as well.  We have come to the conclusion that these are our favorites!  In fact, we love them so much that we can’t seem to get the cookies all decorated before we start enjoying our works of art.

Recipes ~

Perfect Printable Roll Out Cookie Recipe – No Need To Chill!

The BEST but oh so easy Cookie Icing Recipe can be printed right here!

Of course, I have to share with you some quick links to get you started on your Christmas cookie adventures.  We have found that we tend to add one or more new shapes each year, however, there are several that tend to be the tried and true favorites.  You have to have a good Santa, Christmas Tree, Reindeer and Candy Cane.  Get Christmas Tree, Reindeer, Santa and Candy Cane cookie cutters in one grouping!

We also have come to love the cute little penguin.  He is so fun to decorate!  You will definitely want to add the penguin cookie cutter to your collection!

Another favorite is the snow globe…this one has created a lot of imagination over the years!  The snow globe cookie cutter is a definite favorite of the whole cookie crew!

It is my biggest wish that each of these girls (and my son) carry this tradition on with their families.  That they too can have their hearts filled with happiness as mine is each year we all gather.  We continue to add new “things”  to our group each year…sometimes its gifts, aprons and ornaments we share with each other and other times it is even better because its a new “crew member.”  And just like that….we continue making memories with Christmas cookies!

Cooking Fun With Scooby

Encouraging kids to get involved in the kitchen is beneficial in SO many ways!   While it means extra patience and cleaning for parents, the numerous benefits are very worth it.  I happen to believe that the biggest perk is extra bonding time!  So, how do we go about encouraging the children to WANT to help us cook?  Well, it looks like we have another mystery on our hands…OR do we?   Finding really cool cookbooks should do the trick!  What kid wouldn’t enjoy cooking fun with Scooby?

Scooby Doo is one of those cartoon characters that transcends all ages.  Am I right?  I still enjoy sitting with the kids and watching Scooby and those meddling kids.  So what could be more fun than recreating some of those fun foods we see Scooby and the gang eat in the shows?  From Donut Demons to Shaggy & Scooby’s Jaw Stretcher Special, you are sure to satisfy even the most pickiest of eaters!

And it doesn’t stop at food items!  There are some fantastically fun drink ideas!  You may even be able to sneak a veggie in these blended delights without them even knowing.  If you dare, you can carry the mystery on by asking them to use their detective skills to figure out what the secret ingredient is!!!

Order your Scooby Doo cook book by Katrina Jorgensen here and get it in time for Christmas!

Jinkies, this may be the favorite gift of 2020.!!!

Taking Cooking Fun With Scooby a Step Further ~

This cookbook is truly awesome, but you can make it more “Scoob-ariffic!”   Why not create a gift basket of themed Cooking Fun with Scooby!  Here are some cooking gift ideas:

Other Scooby Doo Fun Recipes ~

Of course, there are tons of wonderful Scooby Doo recipes and fun ideas out there.  I have rounded up a few of them for you.  For example MyKidsTime.com has a super cute compilation of Scooby birthday party ideas.  You can use some of these for your basket gift as well.  They have a great recipe for dog-bone shaped cookies.  These would be fun to add in for Christmas cookie decorating too!  Scooby Doo free recipes and ideas from MyKidsTime.com

Betty Crocker shared some cooking fun with Scooby too.  Check out this fun recipe using candy and fruit snacks:   Scooby Doo Pops Recipe by Betty Crocker

Scooby-Doo Pops

Scooby Printables ~

Cooking in the kitchen may be all the excitement they can handle for one day.  However,  keep in mind that just because it wears us out does not mean it will wear them out!  If you happen to have one that runs like the energizer bunny, take some time to print out some fun games.  These will be sure to keep them busy while everyone is waiting to eat or to finish up the fun Scooby themed evening!

Print out this Scooby word search to use while waiting for the food to cook!

Print this fun Scooby coloring page by Michael’s Family

Find What’s Different in this fun Scooby printable by activities.websincloud.com

Scooby Doo 38

What’s next for Mystery Inc?  I don’t have an answer to that, but I am sure that whatever it is, the whole family will love it!  For now, put your oven mitts on and get started on your cooking fun with Scooby!

Make Christmas Special

Whether you are creating your own Christmas cozy or you are shopping for that perfect gift, I have some great ideas for you!  Read on for some fun & unique ideas that you can order to make Christmas special!

I want to share with you some of the great companies I have partnered with.  By taking the time to research each company and then placing an order with them, my hope is to help take the guesswork out of it for you.  I pay close attention to the value of the product received as well as the shipping methods.  What is left are companies that I have come to love and feel very comfortable sharing them with you!

Decor Steals ~

I have absolutely fallen in love with this online-only company.  They offer affordable, timeless home decor pieces.  It is a daily deal site that offers three new products each and every day at 10 a.m.  The “steals” are available for 24 hours or until they sell out.  However, there are many other incredible items to shop as well.  In fact, I love their products so much that I signed up to get the daily email because their daily “steals” are gorgeous!

I have ordered several of their products and have been very happy with EVERYTHING!  *ps…I especially love the Love You More blanket!  They very clearly post in the description of each item how long it will take the product to leave their warehouse.  Every item has different shipping times, so pay attention to that!  Below is just a sampling of their vintage home decor:

Meddy Teddy ~

From previous posts, you all know how much we LOVE Meddy Teddy.  He is truly one of the best teddy bears out there!  Looking for that perfect gift for your child or grandchild?  This is it!!!  Seriously!  Not only is he fully poseable and huggable, but he also helps introduce yoga and meditation to children.

When you go to their site, you will see all of the cute little accessories as well.  Who doesn't love accessories???  While I cannot express enough how much my grandchildren love theirs, you will need to order soon to get this little guy in time for Christmas.

You will LOVE all the Meddy Teddy items!!!

ETSY ~

Please tell me you have ordered from Etsy.  In fact, if you have a favorite shop owner, please share it with me!  We all know the importance of shopping small business and this is your opportunity!  My girls and I LOVE so many UNIQUE items that we have ordered from this amazing site.

There are truly so many fabulous items to choose from so these following links break it down by section for you:

Check out this fabulous home decor--for gifting and of course to refresh your home decor as well! 😉
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Here are some great bath and beauty ideas for that special someone!
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Shop popular items on everyone's list!
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Because a girl can NEVER have too many accessories!
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Paper House ~

Are you tired of getting the same old stocking stuffers?  Then you MUST check out The Paper House.  What a fun company with loads of unique ideas!  This high quality company offers cards, magnets, papers, and clever gifts at great prices.  Some of the products include albums, bookmarks, bundles, paper crafting kits and washi tape.

Below is just a sample of what all they offer.....what are you waiting for????  You can click on any of the pics below or just go directly to their warehouse sale ➡➡➡Take me to the Paper House warehouse sale now!!!

Owl Post Books ~

There is truly NOTHING that tops the value of reading for kids!  We all know the many benefits of teaching the love of reading to kids at an early age.  Of course, it only gets better if they get to run out to the mailbox each month for their own personal subscription box.  Bonus...it comes in a fun box for them to color!

Owl Post Books offers different subscriptions for different age groups.  You can also choose for grab bags or book of the month club.  The craft that is included is icing on the cake.  Addi & Max get excited every time they get their subscription.  In fact, we have had to settle a fight or two over who gets what!

 

What could be better than finding unique products from companies you know you can depend on.  I hope that I can help you just a little bit in your Christmas preparations by bringing you some new stores to visit...online!  It is important to me that each and every follower knows how very much I appreciate them!  I will always work hard to find great values and share good ideas!  We are all in this together as we strive to make Christmas special...this year and every year!

 

 

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