I think those words bring two different reactions from people.
One group thinks they are ridiculous and it’s boring to do the same thing every year. The other group looks forward to them with great anticipation and adds more each year.
I’m in the second group.
I can’t wait to get out the Christmas decorations (the ONLY time of the year I decorate my house), start a Christmas devotional, and pick out our live Christmas tree on Black Friday.
But my favorite tradition is definitely our Advent Calendar.
It’s not some fancy store-bought or even homemade calendar. In fact, there isn’t really a calendar at all.
It’s just strips of paper set in the same place each day for the Young Farm Girls to open. On each strip is an activity we will do that day. (In full disclosure, the reason we do it this way is so I can choose the activity that morning. It all depends on the weather, our daily schedule, and my mood.)
I can’t just tell them the activity. They want the anticipation of opening it and reading it themselves.
The activities are a mixture of having fun together and focusing on others. Some of the activities are the same each year. Like creating a Winter Wonderland in our living room by making paper chains and snowflakes. And making neighbor gifts, painting a Christmas canvas, looking at Christmas lights, writing a letter to a soldier, and shopping for Alternatives Pregnancy Care Center.
Some of the activities are new each year. Like this year we spread Christmas cheer by drawing sidewalk chalk Christmas art around the town of Dike. And we will buy coffee for a stranger (now that the girls have discovered they love Starbucks). And we are taking a cookie decorating class.
I’ve discovered it’s not really WHAT we do each year. It’s WHY and HOW we do it.
I could plan these activities and have an attitude of “just getting it done.” The girls wouldn’t have fun and I would have missed the point.
The point is for us to spend more time together as a family and to remind us of our blessings. We do this best by showing kindness. To each other and to those we may never meet.
One activity we do every year is making Christmas cookies to bring to friends, neighbors, and city workers. If I’m not careful, I could get grumpy about the mess and time it takes, but the Young Farm Girls love this and, truthfully, are really good helpers with the clean-up. And this is a great activity that includes both having fun together and giving to others.
Maybe it’s something you want to try with your family.
To help you, I’m going to share the world’s easiest Christmas Cookie recipe with you. You can make this with kiddos of all ages, from toddlers and teens. You’re welcome.
BUT, before I give it to you, I want to ask you a favor. I’d love it if you told me some of your holiday traditions. Or how you plan to slow down and enjoy this season.
Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!
Chocolate-Covered Ritz Cracker Cookies
60 Ritz Crackers
1 pound candy melts (or almond bark, chocolate, or white chocolate)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
Optional: sprinkles or colored sugars
Steps to Make It
Line baking sheets with wax paper.
Spread a thick layer of peanut butter on a cracker. Gently press another cracker onto the peanut butter layer to make a sandwich cookie. Repeat with the remaining crackers.
Melt the almond bark or candy melts in a microwave oven.
Dip each sandwich cookie in the melted chocolate or almond bark. With a fork, lift the cookie out and shake gently to let the excess drip off.
Place the cookies on the wax paper-lined pan.
Before the chocolate sets (after about 10-15 seconds), sprinkle the treats with colorful decorating sugar or candy sprinkles. Let set until firm.
Notes on how we do it: Izzy lays out the crackers, I spread on the peanut butter, Kaity puts on the top cracker. After chocolate is melted, I dip the sandwiches and the girls take turns decorating with sprinkles and colored sugar.
Bonus tip: If you’ve ever made these, you know there is always a little bit of melted chocolate leftover that isn’t enough to cover a sandwich. We add one drop of peppermint oil or extract, then dip single Ritz crackers in it. These *almost* taste like Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. This year we plan to melt extra chocolate just to make these!