Christmas Traditions: Colorful Christmas Cookies

Submitted by: Mark Riggs, Kansas City, MO

When I think about Christmas traditions in my family (both the family I grew up with and my family of friends I’ve accumulated over the years), I think of lots of traditions that—for different reasons—aren’t long-standing ones.  The up side to this is I have twelve ideas for my blog, where I share twelve different Christmas traditions, one each day starting on the 25th.  However, this one I’m submitting here, because it’s a current tradition, and it involves food.

Four years ago, one of my students asked me if I would buy something from his Boy Scout fundraiser (or maybe it was some other organization—the origins have been lost over the years), so I bought four tubs of colored sugar cookie dough, in “Play-Doh” colors. When I bought them, I figured it would be fun to make cookies with my friend Tricia’s two girls, but didn’t think much beyond that.

(The first year’s dough, mid-use.)

The cookie dough arrived several weeks later (just long enough for me to forget all about it), and I think I put it in the freezer. On December 20, Ben and Tricia needed me to watch the girls while they did some shopping. I brought over the cookie dough, and we used them to make very colorful cookies for Santa. I taught the girls how to mix colors to get purple, orange, and brown (a Christmas tree cookie needs a trunk, you know) and we had a good time making colored sugar cookies (without sugar sprinkles). Madeline was in Kindergarten, and Olivia was in pre-school.

(Sisters Madeline and Olivia, mixing colors and making cookies!)

The next year, no such fundraiser was brought to my attention, but I figured I could buy sugar cookie mix and food coloring and we’d be in business! And we were! However, I didn’t document the event with pictures. Or maybe we didn’t make the cookies that year. The girls are convinced we’ve done this every year and have convinced me of the same, but part of my aging process is never being sure of the facts … either way, the event changed to me bringing sugar cookie mix and food coloring.

In 2008, I was actually living in the Hart home, after my fun little house fire left me “between homes”. On Christmas Eve, we made cookies for Santa using the tried-and-true method from the year before. Since I made a lot more green and red dough this year, we decided we should try to use mostly those two colors on Santa’s official plate.

Last year, it was actually the 23rd, but in the minds of the girls, it has always been on Christmas Eve. One of my favorite pictures of Maddie comes from this event.

(I’m not sure, but I think Maddie is having a great time!)

(Some of last year’s cookies, some of which went to Santa.)

In fact, they are insisting I come over to do the same thing on Christmas Eve this year. Just to mix it up, I think I’m going to make them from scratch! I have a recipe and I figure I’ll prep them on the 23rd, refrigerate them, and we’ll use rollers and cutouts to make better shapes (we learned the first year cookies don’t keep their shape when you use the dough like Play-Doh). I’m really looking forward to this change. To top it all off, I’m even going to sprinkle sugar on them. Santa is in for a real treat this year!

An invitation from Savoring Today:

Our traditions serve as ballast, connecting generations in continuity. Savoring Today is celebrating family traditions that revolve around Christmas and would love to hear yours. Stories of favorite memories, recipes, quirky habits, scriptures, sacred moments—whatever makes Christmas uniquely memorable. Post as a comment, or submit your story to
Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!” Tevye proclaims in the classic musical.

3 responses to “Christmas Traditions: Colorful Christmas Cookies

  1. I love the play of colours in that cookies! I remember back in the Philippines we have this rainbow sliced bread which makes eating snadwiches for kids more exiting.

  2. love the pictures of your kids & the cookies 🙂 nice blog!

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