When I was a child, I lived for the month of December, and in large part, it was because of the holiday baking and treat making that happened from day 1 to day 24. I didn’t think there was anything quite like frosting cookies, making giant messes with the sprinkles, “gluing” eyes and buttons onto goofy gingerbread men and making all other sorts of yummy, delicious, festive treats. Today you can find ideas for whipping up almost anything with your kids, but unfortunately, not many of them are geared for the little, little ones to help with. When Tanya so graciously agreed to allow me to write a piece for Mixin’ Kitchen, I knew I wanted to dedicate a post to holiday treat making that even her little ones could get involved in. If you’ve got your own children that you would love to share some holiday treat-making with, here are a few of my very favorite ideas!
Sugar Cone Trees!
This one is so fun and easy! All you need are sugar waffle cones, a batch of frosting (sample recipe listed below) and a variety of candy. Turn the cones upside down for the kids and give them bowls of frosting (green works best!) and let them have at it! You’ll have instant Christmas trees in no time. Adding on candy for ornaments will add just the right final touch. You can use these guys for décor or eat them as soon as they’re done!
Even your three year olds can have fun with this one. All you need are large marshmallows, melting chocolate, wooden food sticks and a variety of fun toppings like sprinkles and candies. Warm the chocolate and place in dunking bowls for your children. Make sure the chocolate is not overly hot so that it’s safe enough if little fingers get dipped too. Kids can place their sticks in the marshmallows and then “dunk” them in the warm chocolate. Finish with a topping of their favorite sprinkles and mini candies. Put a Hershey kiss on top for a hat (attach with a frosting) and a face on the side for extra fun! Not eating the marshmallows when the chocolate is warm and dripping is the hardest part.
If your kids are in the mood for making “cookies” but you feel it might be a little advanced, go for “s’more” cookies. There’s still a little time in the oven, so it feels more like baking than the other treat ideas geared for young ones. Have your little ones place graham cracker squares on a cookie sheet and then top them with chocolate chips and holiday colored candies like M&Ms or even red and green Reese’s Pieces. Place the cookie sheets in the oven and allow to “bake” just until the chocolate starts to melt. Remove, and making sure that little hands don’t touch the hot cookie sheets (you can give them back their graham cracker squares on plates), let them top with a layer of mini-marshmallows. Put the crackers back on the cookie sheet and place back in the oven just until the marshmallows start to puff and turn golden brown. You’ll have festive s’more cookies in no time!
Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses
This is one of my favorite ideas ever! I absolutely loved decorating gingerbread houses as a child (and still do, in fact!) but baking the walls and roofs is time consuming and not much fun. Without having to go buy pre-made packages, you can whip out a box of graham crackers, quickly throw together some royal icing (recipe below) and your little ones have all the ingredients for crafting mini graham cracker “gingerbread houses”! A supply of all your candy on hand will serve for the remaining décor.
For the little ones anxious to get their hands on cookie cutters, the easiest thing I’ve found to do, rather than mixing up and baking batch after batch of sugar cookies that they won’t be able to help with, is to make Rice Krispies treats instead. While still warm, just after stirring in the marshmallows, place onto a large sheet of waxed paper and roll out thin. Then hand off the cookie cutters and let your little guys go to town (works better before they harden)! They can even frost and decorate just like sugar cookies.
Holiday Wreath Snacks
Instead of using Rice Krispies, you can switch out the Krispies for Corn Flakes. Add a drop or two of green food coloring into the butter/marshmallow mix and make like normal. Then spoon out large helpings of the mixture onto waxed paper and let your little ones shape into circles with holes in the middle (let cool slightly before they touch). Then they can decorate with red hot candies and thin red licorice strings (tied in bows) to make fun and festive holiday wreaths.
Basic Icing Recipe
- 4 cups powered sugar
- 4-5 Tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine sugar and milk, blend on low speed. Add vanilla, continue blending until completely mixed. Add more liquid or sugar to reach desired consistency.
These are just a few of the many ideas available for young children and holiday sugar-y fun! So go grab your kids, turn on the Christmas music, pour everyone a mug of hot cocoa (with marshmallows) and have some fun together making yummy, easy holiday treats!
Author Tara Alley is graham cracker addict, caramel roll baking connoisseur and full time writer for www.air-n-water.com. When not writing site content, she reaches out to write foodie articles every chance she gets.