One of my first memories of Christmas is making Christmas tree ornaments. Not your mother’s “I’ll treasure this little aluminum foil star/toilet paper roll tube forever” kind of ornament, but the “This is not going to last until Christmas” kind of ornament. Every year when we were young we made our Christmas tree decorations out of sugar cookie dough. After using our reindeer, bell, angel and star cookie cutters, baking the cookies and letting them cool off – for maybe all of five minutes, we would then smear different colored frosting all over our ornaments. After decorating them with sprinkles or colored sugar crystals, we would wrap them up in cellophane and hang them on the tree. It was beautiful!
I don’t think that I have ever seen a more beautiful tree since – it was very colorful and very full – we didn’t hold back on the ornaments. I don’t care what theme your tree is, the cookie Christmas tree theme is the best, and the tastiest. Of course it was only completely decorated for the first day. After that the decorations would start to mysteriously disappear. Within a week the only decorations that were left on the tree was the popcorn that we had strung and the cookies that were “so high” – above the approximate height of the tallest child (me). It’s no wonder that I love Christmas, and I got presents too!
If you want to start this tradition in your home, here are two really good sugar cookie recipes to get you started.
Sugar Cookies #1
1 cup shortening (or ½ cup shortening and ½ cup butter)
1 cup sugar
3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
Cream shortening and butter together. Gradually add sugar and continue to mix until completely creamed. Add eggs and beat well. Blend in sifted dry ingredients and vanilla. Roll ¼ inch thick. Cut the size or shape you want (reindeer, bell, angel and star), place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 350º oven for 8 minutes. Cool, decorate and hang.
Sugar Cookies #2
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 to 4 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tsp. baking powder
Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients together (I don’t take the time, you can) and then mix into the creamed mixture. If too dry, sprinkle with a little water. Roll out about ¼” thick with floured cookie cutters. Bake at 375º for 6 to 10 minutes.
Try both recipes and see which one you prefer – I’ll happily eat either one of them.