The Best Christmas Tradition Ever (Warning: Potentially Budget- and Environmentally-Friendly and a Tutorial?!)

My daughter (A.S.) and I started making cookies as gifts two years ago.  It seemed like the perfect way for our family to avoid wasting time in the mainstream money-spending, time-sucking Christmas traditions (sorry for painful honesty!) that have taken the light from what I want my children to feel is most important this time of year. (If that’s sounds straightforward, I mean it to; if it sounds nasty, that’s not what I’m going for.)

Instead of waiting in lines to purchase the next big toy for kids, I want to promote the endless rewards of spending time together with the family baking cookies and crafting, and making memories.

This year, when December rolled around, I was excited for my son (A.W.) to be involved.  This is the first year that I’ve had both kids help with the baking, decorating, and packaging.

I guess I will write this as a tutorial in case anyone wants to incorporate something like this into their holiday routine.

We use the following materials for packaging, labeling, etc.:

construction paper

Scotch tape


googly eyes


recycled boxes and newspaper

cello bags

your favorite Christmas cookie recipes

First, starting in October to November, we hold on to any “good” boxes that we would normally recycle.

Here’s a little shot to help you determine the “good” ones.

Raid your recycle bin for some "good" gift boxes.
Raid your recycle bin for some “good” gift boxes.

Then, whenever we have any downtime in the weeks before Thanksgiving, we make some crafty labels for our gift boxes.  Some ideas here:

IMG_2224 IMG_2225 IMG_2231

Of course, now is the fun part — the baking!

We have a couple favorites that we use that I don’t know if I could locate on the internet easily.  We do some sugar cookies and decorate those; we do some chocolate and oatmeal chocolate chips.  (This year we will try adding in some Finnish gingerbread cookies from our new Finnish Christmas book.)

We place the cookies in either Ziploc bags or cello bags inside the boxes.

Cookies bagged and in the box.
Cookies bagged and in the box.

Now we raid the recycling bin again for newspaper ads as our wrapping paper.   Tape your box shut and wrap.

Pop a crafty Christmas label on top!
Pop a crafty Christmas label on top!

In previous years, I have taken a picture of A.S. in an apron holding a plateful of the cookies she had made and included that in the package.  Crazy enviro lady that I have become, I started thinking about whether or not that added step was wasteful.  See, this whole project is as much about reusing and attempting not  to waste as it is promoting creativity and closeness with the kids and I.  We already have all of these supplies at home.  If we are out of something food-wise, I get it when I’m at the grocery store anyway.  The packaging is recycled by us and hopefully recycled by the recipient after they eat the cookies.  We put lots of love and time into the gift tags and the wrapping and the packing and the baking! Anyway, I’m rambling and getting off track.

Let’s talk about the card that may accompany our boxes.  This package went to family friends who have received our cookies for the last four years.  They have a specific type of cookie they love and look forward to, so there’s no assortment for them.  They like straight-up chocolate chip or oatmeal chocolate chip, and that’s that!


The inside of this card reads (loosely from my memory, as they are handwritten): Happy Holidays from our family to yours!  Wishing you a holiday season filled with good health and many blessings!   This is the first year that our son, A.W., was able to help with the baking.  He has dairy and egg allergies.  We couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t sneak a cookie or two in the baking process, so we had to alter the recipe slightly to make it dairy- and egg-free. We hope you enjoy the cookies as much as you did last year and that you will recycle your packaging when you have eaten all your goodies!  With Love, ………..

And as we have done in years gone by, we will bake a bulk load of cookies, decorate the packages, and load up the car.  On this memorable evening, in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, while the kids snooze in the back seat, I will hold hands with my Honey and pop in and out of the car placing cookie packages into the mailboxes of our unsuspecting (I guess, really, not anymore) special friends.

Happy Holidays!

*I wanted to add that I said this was potentially budget-friendly as it is more expensive time-wise to labor over making decorations, the cookies, etc., than buying each person a gift.  That being said, my personal friends (the little brats) get cookies made of predominantly the same high-quality, organic ingredients that I feed my kids.  ( How could I not? I’ve known most of them since birth!)  Shopping sales or couponing are good options to keep the costs down while you, inevitably, add to your list of cookie-getters each year!


6 thoughts on “The Best Christmas Tradition Ever (Warning: Potentially Budget- and Environmentally-Friendly and a Tutorial?!)

  1. I love this! For the last 3 years my husbands side of the family has stopped exchanging gifts. You wouldn’t believe the amount of stress this has taken out of the holidays. Instead we just enjoy all of the fun the holidays has to offer! And then sometime during the holidays we all go somewhere together for a night or two. Last year it was a water park, this year we are headed to Lincoln city and staying at our uncles beach house for 2 days of games, and fun family time. Way better than trying to spend $$ on things


  2. Love you all, and I think you guys are seriously the greatest. I wanted to do cookies today (nothing near the level you go to though, sadly), but ran out of time…maybe over the weekend…Also, as you well know, my husband is going to be so jealous of you riding around holding hands with your husband while you deliver goodies 😉


  3. That sounds like a great idea, Carrie! I wouldn’t mind adding a special family outing to our traditions list. I don’t think family togetherness is stressed enough these days! Xoxo


  4. Jamie, If I am the sweetest then you must be my co-sweetness! Don’t make me invite you over for a day filled with the kids decorating (and sneaking) cookies, because I will!! Love you for supporting me with this!


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