gingerbread men cookies
Photo by IaJeep

By Emily Bradbury – 

Christmas is a wonderfully exciting time for children, and as a parent gives you plenty of opportunities to do fun and exciting activities together and bond as a family.

Creating gifts for your friends and family means a chance to show your children the importance of thinking of others, as well as creating special, thoughtful gifts for your loved ones that show just how much you care.

This is an especially good idea if you are on a tight budget, but also gives you a great excuse to put on the Christmas music, light a fire and enjoy this festive time of year with your kids doing something fun and creative together.


Christmas Cookies

Cookies are easy and fun to make with your kids, and they are sure to want to get involved. To make them seasonal try your usual cookie recipe with the addition of nutmeg or cinnamon, or making gingerbread men instead. You can use cookie cutters for Christmassy shapes, which you can later add detail to with icing.

Icing your cookies is the fun part; you could try making them quite intricate or letting your children loose with sparkly and colorful edible toppings. Either way, you’re all sure to have a lot of fun and make lots of mess!

Gingerbread Men Recipe


2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg

4 tablespoons golden syrup/honey

175g/6oz brown sugar

350g/12oz plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

125g/4.5 oz butter


1.     Mix together the bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and flour. Add to a food processor with butter and blend until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar

2.     Beat together the syrup and egg before adding to the food processor, then pulse until it clumps together. Knead until smooth then put in the fridge for 15 minutes.

3.     Roll out the dough to a 0.5cm thickness, then use a cutter to get the gingerbread man shape

4.     Put in the oven, spaced out on a baking tray, for 12-15 minutes at 180C/350F/Gas 4. Leave to cool before you begin decorating!

3 jars of chutney


There are all sorts of tasty chutneys and marmalades you can make with a little help from your kids that are perfect for Christmas gifts. A lot of the recipes may be a little time consuming or fiddly for small children to join in with, but you could certainly make them with teenagers, or just decorate the jars with your children afterwards.

My personal favourite options are mango chutney, which is a perfect addition to leftover turkey sandwiches, and red onion marmalade, which is great with cheese and crackers or bread. Both are fairly straight forward, with the time consuming bits just cutting up and preparing your ingredients.

When made and jarred, the fun part is decorating your jars. You can add pretty fabric to the top, seasonal ribbon and tags describing the jar’s contents.

Mango Chutney


4 large mangoes

4 garlic cloves

2 baking apples

1 tablespoon mustard powder

1 tablesppon cayenne pepper

1 pint white wine vinegar

1 tablespoonn grated ginger

450g/1lb caster sugar



1.     Peel, stone and slice the mangoes

2.     Put the slices in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, leaving in the fridge overnight

3.     In the morning drain and rinse the fruit

4.     Put the garlic, apples, mustard, ginger, vinegar, cayenne pepper and sugar in a pan over a low heat, until sugar is dissolved.

5.     Bring the mixture to the boil and add the mangoes

6.     Simmer for 30 mins until the chutney is syrupy

7.     Spoon into sterilised jars and seal



candy cane mice decorationsCandy cane mice


This is a really easy yet cute gift for your children to make for their friends, from a Martha Stewart guide. You just need some felt in a variety of colors, and a bag of candy canes (as well as supplies like glue and scissors). By using Martha Stewart’s downloadable template you can cut the felt to size, and easily assemble the mouse shape. The candy cane sits inside the small felt mouse.


1.     Enlarge the mice template provided on Martha Stewart’s website to 150%

2.     Cut the templates out, then trace around onto the felt mixing up colors for different body parts as you wish

3.     Make slits in the body to attach ears and slot in the candy cane tail

4.     Slip ears through the slits at the front, then slide candy cane through the body slits, tucking the end under the back ear piece.


Christmas Crackers Wrapped

Christmas Crackers and Wrapper

This is something I did with my mother as a child on the weeks running up to Christmas; she would choose a special gift for each family member that was going to eat with us on Christmas day, and wrap them up in tissue paper first so I wouldn’t know what each person’s present was. It’s important of course to choose a gift that is small enough to fit inside a cracker!

Supplies needed:

A small gift, wrapped in tissue paper

A toilet roll tube


Decorative paper

Cracker snaps

Anything additional you would like to use for decoration

Scissors and glue


Assembling and decorating the crackers is simple to do:

1.     The present needs to be wrapped in tissue paper then put inside a toilet roll tube.

2.     Use decorative paper to wrap around the tube,  cut to about an extra three inches  long at each end of the tube

3.     You can buy cracker snaps from most craft stores, so put one of these inside the paper when you roll it around the toilet roll tube, and glue neatly.

4.     Tie at each end with ribbon to form the cracker shape

5.     Get decorating!

Decorating the cracker afterwards is the fun part. You need to put each person’s name on of course, so you could write these directly onto the cracker with a glitter pen or metallic pen, or attach a gift tag. Your children can then decorate the crackers in any way they wish; with glitter, bows, beads, stickers, ribbons and stars.


Jeanette LaPorte

Christmas Section Editor at Families Online Magazine
I love everything about Christmas and I hope you do too!
Jeanette LaPorte

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