Saturday, December 26, 2015

Grandma's Dozen!

They whined and they wailed and they wore me down, so I invited 'em to join us. "Kids?" you're thinking? Nope. Daddies this time! Guess we were having too much fun without them at Grandma's Annual Christmas Cookie Baking Parties. Traditionally, only kiddoes and their mommies were included. This is our fifth year of fun, so I relented. Beginning with the guest list, it was time to make a few changes!

I like my guests to arrive with sanity intact, so we celebrate on a Friday evening, somewhere on the calendar between the arrival of Christmas spirit, but before that annual "Help! I'm-never-gonna-get-all-this-stuff-done!" frenzy sets in. That's the first of grandma's "tips to the wise" to consider!

I welcome the kids to nibble on fruit skewers and scraps of goodies their parents pick and pull for them. Those come from a candlelit table laden with gourmet appetizers. (I let Trader Joe's do most of the "cooking" for me!). My, my! There's a steamy cheese fondue surrounded by crisp pear slices and chunks of toasted baguette. A tower of seafood commands tabletop center; it's home to coconut shrimp, crab won-tons, shrimp toast and more. All kinds of dips, too - spinach and smoked salmon among them, along with olive tapenade and a nice variety from the tasty hummus family, including an unusual beet flavored one. There's stacks of slices too - rye breads, cheeses, smoked salmon, and an array of flavored (truffle! beet! garlic and rosemary!) mustard to try your luck with. Baskets groan with pita chips and water crackers, inviting guests to spread the spiced salami (Nduja) - something I'd never heard of before, but just knew the guys would gobble up - and, of course, along with marinated sweet red peppers and ginormous stuffed Greek olives - they did exactly that!

But that's not all! Heaping platters of our all-time family favorite, Martha Stewart's Gourmet Mac and Cheese waited patiently on the side board. I made a double recipe, reserving generous take-home quantities for everybody.

We stuffed ourselves silly, washing it down with TJ's Grower's Reserve Chardonnay - or a nice, cold serving of milk, depending on the year-of-birth displayed on your driver's license!

But no one came here just to eat. Family games were in order, and I had some cute ones planned. "Santa's Helpers" card game is played like "Old Maid," except you want to end up with the final "winner!" card. I snatched this up after I experienced a vivid flashback to days of playing the original version with my sisters. We competed with a vengeance. The "old maid" herself became so torn and bent that we subbed in "Cowboy Rex" as the "bad guy." I think, thankfully, those genes are regressive. Brielle graciously accepted victory after a final round show-down with Aunt Karen who "may have" requested a tip to ensure that outcome!

I'm so glad the daddies came. They enjoy every game right along with the kiddoes!

We raced wind-up Santa and snowman toys in a heat so chaotic that no one could be declared a clear winner. These little guys have a mind of their own when they're set loose on the kitchen table! Some perform well in a trial run, only to spin in circles and fall off the edge of the table when the going gets tough. Who knows what goes on inside those little plastic heads? Go figure!

Finally! Time to get to work. I hand out bakery boxes filled with a "grandma's dozen" (that's at least 16 - maybe more!) of pre-baked treats. Tied with giant, glittering bows, they glow from within on battery operated micro-mini lights. The effect, through clear plastic windows, is magical, and the kids cannot wait to begin.

My second tip is to advise wise grandmas to pre-bake and just let the kids decorate. It's faster and less messy, although you'll never catch me saying "less wasteful!"

Our goal is to fill the Santa cookie jars I presented to each family several years ago. Each mommy also gets a chilled roll of red and white spiral cookies to slice and bake, and enough dough to make a dozen or so Christmas mice; those critters scurry about with peanut ears and red licorice tails to delight the kids!

Busy bakers went straight to work!

My third "wise grandma" tip is to serve Royal icing in plastic condiment bottles. You can make a variety of colors ahead and kids handle them easily.

Bree made this happy green reindeer just for me. Thank you, sweetie! xxxoooxxx

Kaylee inserts her own tip here. "Always taste what you make!"

My final tip is to "be a grandma who hosts an annual Christmas cookie baking party!" Warm your kitchen with the presence of your favorite little ones, and the appreciation of their parents. Once you establish this tradition, your family will anxiously await it every year - right along with a visit from "you-know-who!"

None of the products I've mentioned here are sponsored ones. I just like to buy stuff and yap about it endlessly! The darling micro-mini "fairy" lights can can be found on Amazon, Martha Stewart's gourmet mac and cheese recipe (linked above) is "out of this world!" and the "Santa's Helpers" card game by "Gibby and Libby" can be found on the C.R. Gibson website. The 6" square bakery boxes are at Michael's and JoAnn's and easily fit "a grandma's dozen." 

Grandchildren are neither "for sale," nor "on sale." And finally, if you ever spot me in the aisles of Trader Joe's, please - just don't get in my way! :)

Happy New Year, everyone!


  1. Hello, I think your house is the place to be next year. You are the hostess with the mostess. Your grands are adorable and the funny sounds just yummy. I have to make a visit to Trader Joe's maybe for some New Year's goodies. So glad you had a great Christmas! Have a happy weekend.

  2. No WONDER the dads wanted to come. Now I have witnessed your parties and baking sprees before and love to see how the children have grown but I have to say that I read THIS post at the wrong time. Oh now I am so hungry. Those appetizers and snacks sounded so good, you have me full of cravings now! :)

    MY grands enjoyed the Santa game; thank you so much, and Kanga's been batting her mouse around on a daily basis too :) XO

  3. What fun to have everyone there - I think next year we are going to have a cookie decorating party - it sure would be easier for me to just bake all the cookies (or I do know a great bakery that has an assortment of cute cutouts - ready to frost) and then have the fun of the family decorating. Making plans already for next year. Your games were fun too - you always have so much fun - lucky family to have you heading things up. Now on to spring - what do you have planned next? Or are you doing a New Year's Eve blast?

    Hmmm - Trader Joe's - our is just down the hill from our house - about 6 minutes away. Great idea.

  4. Cookie decorating? You're kidding right? Those Dads are coming for the gourmet food fest. LOL Wow - that was some kind of spread. And, again I say - your grandkids rock the cute scale. Love the photo in front of the tree. :-)

  5. As stated above -- we know the real reason the Dads come! All those amazing appetizers wasted on kids? Silly Grandma! You do give them all an amazing time. Such wonderful Christmas memories they will always have. So how do decorate cookies via Skype? Bet MJ and the kids really missed the fun. And Grandma J missed them.

  6. Lovely post Happy end Xmas week,Happy days untill New Year,
    Best regard from Belgium

  7. OH MY GOSH!!! I love this post. I want to be nibbling at your appetizer table. We do the wind up Santa game too! We have done this for years and even the teenagers still look forward to it. I have a tub of gifts they can choose from and everyone eventually wins. Fun times at your house as usual.

  8. You have great ideas that I will pass on to my sister. She had a Christmas baking party with her four grandsons.

  9. This is soooooooooo getting pinned. Here from the Grand Social and hope to be able to do this with The Grands someday. Gracias for sharing this marvelous memory maker. BB2U

  10. Oh how fun - a delightful treat for all. And I had to chuckle at your intro. I've been babysitting two different granddogs over the last few weeks (a few days for each, separately :) ) and the way you described it, I thought for sure you were going to say granddogs coz that's what they have each done - hehehehehehe :)

  11. What a beautiful picture you painted - such a lucky family! The food sounds amazing and I love the fun games - especially the wind up races. I'm a bit jealous of your family getting those lovely Santa jars full of treats. The whole thing sounds so delightful. I had fun putting together a gingerbread house with my four-year-old Goddess - she had fun decorating it and sneaking some lolly tastes along the way. Have a wonderful New Year.

  12. That sounds like such a fun time. I just moved and my family here does cookie baking every year - and I had a good time! Next year I will definitely be bringing some of my own cookie recipes to share :)

  13. Oh we have a cookie bake here every's so much fun---although it is amazing where the stickiness all ends up. I love the idea of toy/races, will have to try that next year. Daddies are always here---watching the football games and rolling cookies too. Cute post---I was too busy to take any pictures, except of the aftermath...Happy New YEar, Sandi

  14. No kidding, you've got to be the best grandma ever! I love the pics. Everyone is having such fun, the way it should be. Love the idea of the Santa races. LOL Have a wonderful New Year! xoxo - Judy

  15. love the idea of hosting a bake cookies party--and being the way my Grands remember me.

  16. What fun to spend the holidays with little ones. They keep your spirit young! Happy new year sweet friend. Hugs, Diane

  17. What a fun tradition! We have a family baking day each year as well. That's what we call it, but really no baking is involved. We make lots and lots of candy. Easy to see that the kids loved everything you did! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  18. What a fun post! I love all of your pictures!
    Found your post today on Party at My Place.