Our contribution today to the holidays includes a favorite Christmas book and recipe from each of us. And if you haven’t heard of some of these reads, they would also make great Christmas gifts for any kids on your list this year.
The Sweet Smell of Christmas is just a fun scratch and sniff book that I’ve loved at Christmastime and is perfect for kids of many ages. It includes smells like fresh hot chocolate, apple pie, and of course a Christmas tree (which, if you have an artificial tree, you may need to scratch and sniff on occasion). My parents read this book to us multiple times every Christmas. It didn’t take long for the smell of the scratch ‘n sniff to disappear, but it was almost like we could still pick up the scent. When I bought a copy for my own children and scratched each page, the memories came flooding back for me.
My best memories, however, are of making cookies with my Grandma Eloise along with my siblings and lots of cousins. One of my favorite cookie recipes that I still love to make with my mom and daughter is for Kipplens (sometimes known as “snowballs” or “Mexican wedding cookies”). These are always a hit with company when we make them and are fairly simple as well.
Meg: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and some Peppermint Hot Cocoa
My mom got me The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (along with a narrated CD by James Earl Jones – awesome!) for our firstborn’s first Christmas; and I have loved reading through it every year since. It’s a beautifully sweet Christmas narrative, especially for those missing loved ones at this time of year. My firstborn is now finally old enough to start really connecting with the story.
Our family’s favorite “treat” to make for fun family times, especially on Christmas morning, is Peppermint Hot Chocolate. And since I tend to be rather low-maintenance about things, my recipe is actually pretty simple: I use the instant hot chocolate packets with heated milk – except that I use half milk and then half of the Peppermint Mocha creamer (I get the cheap Aldi brand, but International Delight makes a York Peppermint Patty creamer that’s also amazing). I believe one packet of hot cocoa calls for 6 oz of liquid – so 3 oz. milk, 3 oz. creamer per serving. I usually do this in bulk though (around 4 packets at a time). And then I’ll top it off with some whipped cream and a candy cane on top. Fun and simple!
I looked forward to New Year’s Eve every year as a child for one reason: Cherry Holiday Squares. A family friend made them, and I ate probably one-too-many and then drove my parents nuts with a sugar high. These are delicious eaten any time during the holiday season, and I guarantee you won’t have any left over.
To complement your Holiday Squares, you’ll want to read The Family Under the Bridge, a sweet but poignant story about Armand, a Parisian tramp, who resists befriending a homeless family of children who accidentally steal his makeshift home under a bridge on the Seine. He does his best to keep them at arm’s length, but their persistent friendliness wins his heart. The story takes place near Christmastime, leaving the children longing for a home to call their own. And Armand has a plan to make that wish come true. Like all good Christmas stories, this is a heartwarming tale of family, love, and sacrifice – a perfect book to read leading up to Christmas.
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