Christmas Cookies are up near the top of holiday traditions that can’t be skipped. You can forego the Christmas cards, hanging the lights outside, or going to the Nutcracker. But the cookies cannot be overlooked. You might bake only 3 or 4 types of those little sweet treats. You might even pick up a batch from the grocery store bakery. That’s okay. If you get out the flour and the sugar, chances are your choices include those your mama, grandma, or great-grandma baked in their kitchens all those years ago. Making my mom’s cookies keeps her memory a part of our family’s Christmas. And that’s important to me.
Christmas Cookies from Grandma’s Recipe Box
The traditional Christmas cookies I remember Mom making most are her Gumdrop Cookies. She made them bite-sized with just gumdrops in each cookie. So good! Especially with a cup of hot coffee or a glass of cold milk. Here’s a photo of the copy she made for me. What a treasure!
I remember Mom using a bag of mixed gumdrops and all of them, except for the white and black ones! I use red and green ones. It saves a step or two. Her recipe calls for shredded coconut, and the fam here isn’t crazy about that ingredient.
Snowball Cookies are another delicious Christmas cookie memory. They are round balls of yummy pecans (or walnuts) baked and then rolled in powdered sugar. They looked like little snowballs but were packed with so much sweet flavor.
I’ve been searching for the original family recipe and haven’t been successful, but have found this recipe that is VERY close to the one Mom used.
Swedish Cream Wafers are melt-in-your-mouth, rich, and filled with creamy frosting (some red and some green, of course!) Here’s Mom’s recipe for the cookies. I think her sister Martha shared the recipe with her. The left side of the card’s words are missing, but this is another well-known recipe treasure, so I can easily fill in the blanks. These are so good. So good.
Betty Crocker’s Top Vintage Picks
If there ever was a vintage name, it’s Betty Crocker! And the bakers there have been sharing regular emails with their top vintage Christmas cookie recipes. I chose three from Betty Crocker’s Playlist.
White Chocolate Haystacks are no-bake treats, chow mein noodles, peanuts, and white chocolate. Delish! Here’s the Betty Crocker recipe if you’d like to try them. Haystacks were probably near the manger when Jesus was born. 🥰
Next up is the Christmas Butter Cookie Cut-Outs, another star in the Christmas cookie line-up. You NEED a yummy sugar cookie recipe for all those cookies you’ll be decorating with the grandkids or kids! Here’s the recipe for this rich concoction. And look at those lovely decorated creations. We lean more toward the more colorful red and green cookies, which are very pretty.
Finally, I’m including Betty Crocker’s updated 16 Ridiculously Easy Christmas Cookies list. Some old favorites have been simplified to fit our busy lifestyles. I’m excited to try a few. I imagine they’ll be great for baking with kids too. Have fun! Betty took vintage and made it simple and quick.
Christmas Cookies to Give or Swap
There is a post on Quiet Hollow called 5 Best Christmas Cookie Exchange Ideas, and some Christmas cookies were suggested there (along with tips on hosting a cookie swap). Everything from the no-bake variety to store-bought treats. One idea was to do a chocolate-themed party, and only chocolate Christmas cookies could be shared. Probably my most fun suggestion was the Cookie Decorating Party. Guests would bring their sugary cookies, and the host would provide the icing for Christmas cookies. Of course, the point of a cookie exchange is that you leave with a variety of cookies (after bringing your favorites to share).
Shifting a little from the swap idea is the giving idea. A plate or a little box of Christmas cookies makes such a nice gift. They are easy to wrap up and give and are almost always appreciated. Tucking in a copy of the recipe is a thoughtful extra step. I’m working toward gifting some of my new recipes to family and a few close neighbors this year (if Mr. Claus doesn’t continue deplenishing the supply!)
I plan to decide on the cookies to bake and which to give to who. Those from my mom’s recipe box will go to family, and others without a story (but still are very tasty) will go to neighbors. I’m also experimenting with some easy candy recipes to include in the mix.
Updating and Creating Your Own Christmas Cookie Traditions
Three or four new cookie recipes have been added to my arsenal this year. I don’t know if they will enter the Rowland Christmas Cookie Traditions list, but they’ve been fun to try, and they’re all ‘ingredient-adjustable’ recipes. Meaning you can switch things up as you want or need. Plus, they aren’t totally from scratch.
Several of these Christmas cookie recipes start with a store-bought foundation and go from there. I love this! It shrinks the number of ingredients and opens up a huge door for modification. I’m calling them my ‘store-bought start recipes,’ I’ve got a Plan to Eat category already growing by that name! For example, these ‘Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies’ start with a store-bought chocolate chip cookie mix.
Do you have any ‘vintage’ cookie recipes that have been passed down? Please tell us about them in the comments. You don’t need to share the recipe unless you want to. We’d love to hear the story! Or, maybe you’ve updated a recipe like Betty Crocker did to suit your family’s taste a little better or just for ease of baking. We’d love to hear about those as well.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2: 6-7 NLT
Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.
Love this My Nana always made date squares and lemon bars, as did my mother. I have my Nana’s recipes for both.
I’m loving your blog.
Bonnie! Such a blessing to have that tangible reminder of those special people in our lives. I LOVED my mom’s lemon bars! Your kind words mean a lot. Thanks!