Cookies for Santa

December 20, 2012

By Raleigh-Elizabeth

What are your Christmas Eve traditions? After a children’s service at church full of little angels, shepherds, and moments of awe, we like to hunker down for the evening in our coziest pajamas with a copy of the Best Christmas Pageant Ever. And before NORAD says that Santa is anywhere nearby, we’ll end the evening setting out a plate for Santa and his reindeer.

My husband’s father once told them that reindeer ate the lichen in the back yard, so their Christmas Eve wasn’t complete until some was brought in the house for the reindeer. When I was growing up, my mother urged me to leave out cheese and crackers for Santa. (“All the other children left out cookies, might he not want something savory?” she asked. I always pointed out that she liked cheese and crackers. Not Santa.)

In the end, we usually settled on cookies, carrots, and cheese and crackers, just to make sure that we’re giving the reindeer something nutritious and satisfying Santa, whatever his preference. We carry the same tradition forward today, along with bringing out a few old items scrounged from around the house for Santa to take back to his workshop and “make new” for someone else’s Christmas next year.

But when it comes to those cookies, we don’t kid around. I might come from a grocery-store-cookies family, but I always insisted the nicest ones go to Saint Nick. Today, we make a special batch of biscotti just for him. The perk: it goes awfully well with the coffee that we’ve discovered Santa also really likes. The biscotti are just a tiny bit chewy, so not only do they taste great out of the oven, but they’re just as delicious eaten by themselves as they are when dunked in a late-night cappuccino. Everybody loves them.

I love the idea of preparing a special gift for Santa — albeit in cookie form — before he brings any to you. And we all know that for children, at least half the fun of making cookies is decorating them, which makes this recipe for Pie Crust Cookies absolutely brilliant. They’re made from ready-made pie dough (like the Pillsbury kind you roll out), and in the end, they’re less work, less mess, and much less sugar for any tiny elves who decide to indulge in a few cookies along the way.

Do you leave out anything for Santa? Is it something special that you’ve always done or a new tradition you’ve invented?

P.S. — The festive plates are from last year’s West Elm Holiday Collection and alas, are no longer available. I wonder if I could copy the look with some hand-painting?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Connie December 20, 2012 at 8:36 am

Growing up, my sister and I put out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Funny, but I can recall not really caring if the cookies were nibbled at so much as that carrot! I think there was something about making sure the animals were well cared for that was so crucial to my sister and I. We figured, well, all the kids all over the world think of Santa, but who has made sure the reindeer have a snack?!?!
My husband and I don’t have any children of our own yet, so while we don’t have any Santa traditions, we do take time to light the last advent candle and have an evening devotion/prayer, and first thing in the morning, the first person up brews some coffee and we turn on some jazzy christmas music and sip a whole cup of coffee by treelight in the quiet-no tv, no lamps, just easing into the day before we open gifts. There will be a season of wild noise and rumpus, but since we’re not there yet, we’re enjoying grownup christmases for now. :)

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2 raleigh-elizabeth December 20, 2012 at 8:45 am

what a nice tradition!

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3 Tamsin December 20, 2012 at 8:54 am

My dad told me that Father Christmas liked a glass of sherry with his mince pies, and in my innocence, I would always dutifully pour him one and leave it by the fireplace. Bar tending at age five! ;)

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4 leslie December 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

as a german we don’t do “santa”, but we have our lovely christkind, whom we draw pictures or do a little craft for.
the present for the christkind is nicely draped under the christmas tree, which will be lit by the christkind itself {after coming home from church on christmas eve – our actual christmas-} and it will leave the presents for kids “in exchange”.

i grew up with that tradition and my kids are very excited about this particular tradition as well. and you won’t believe how huge the smile is when the christmas-tree is lit and the christkind actually took the paintings/craft with it :)

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5 raleigh-elizabeth December 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

I have to confess I’d never heard of Christkind before this – and I just had to look it up! How fascinating! My stepsisters are German (as in born there), so I’m now going to go pester them for more information. What a wonderful tradition. Thank you so much for sharing!

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6 Tracy December 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

I love this! And, I have that small orange “noel” plate. It’s so amazing how much joy I get from looking at that plate. So perfect for Santa’s cookies.

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7 raleigh-elizabeth December 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

hooray hooray

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8 Jillian in Italy December 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

My kids celebrate Sinterklaas (they have a Belgian dad) and they always leave out a beer for the Sint and his helpers (Black Peters) and sugar cubes for his horse. They also decorate the whole fireplace with drawings and letters of gratitude and appreciation. Quite sweet!

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9 Miggy December 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm

For us, Christmas eve was when the party really started. We ate a nice meal (of homemade enchiladas from our family friend Rita. Yes every year we ordered they from her) then all sat around as a family and one by one opened all our presents. Not 1, not 2… ALL. Except of course for the loot the rest of us kids get the next day from Santa. It was nice too that we opened them 1 by 1 starting youngest to oldest. I like a nice, orderly, present opening where you actually savor each and every present.

And yes we of course set out cookies for Santa along with a glass of milk. Every year I would look at the glass and I could not believe that he had drank from that very cup! The remaining lip mark on the glass was almost too much for me to handle!

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