Christmas Cookies and New Traditions

The holidays look a little different this year! In light of the pandemic, many families have to readjust and rethink how they will celebrate. My family will certainly miss checking out the city’s light displays and attending the ballet. But, we’re keeping things creative with some new traditions!

I’m sharing some of our favorite Christmas activities along with how we’ve updated them to fit with current public health recommendations to social distance and stay safe at home.

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Our Holiday Traditions

Here in the Philadelphia suburbs, there’s a ton for us to do around the holidays! When my daughter was younger, we’d visit Sesame Place every year to see Cookie Monster Santa. But there’s also Christmas Village in Center City, ice skating at Dilworth Park, and light displays at both the Comcast Center and Macy’s.

Usually, we also enjoy holiday trips to Adventure Aquarium and Legoland. And since we love supporting our local dance studios, we attend a live version of The Nutcracker. On top of all that, my birthday is right after Christmas, so we get to take in a Disney on Ice performance every year!

Family holiday photos traditions

Our Pandemic Adaptations

Like many others, we’re currently under “Safe at Home” orders, so none of our usual outings will be possible this year. Instead, we’re focusing on how to make the holidays special from home. We’ll still trim our tree, hang up mistletoe, and build a gingerbread house to display. We can still drive around town looking for the best local light displays as we stay in our car. And we can watch a virtual version of The Nutcracker online.

But we’ll adapt some of our other traditions a bit more. For example, instead of getting together with friends in-person, we plan to join them for free virtual cooking classes that focus on the December holidays. We’re also planning to embrace a multicultural theme for another treasured holiday activity – baking cookies!

Image of Mom and Daughter cooking together traditions
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Holiday Baking This Year

One of our favorite traditions is baking cookies for our community. Normally, we drop off a small box of cookies at our local police station, fire station, post office, and of course, the library! This year, we’ll just have to mask up as we deliver our cookies.

We plan to include some family favorites, like my mother-in-law’s Oatmeal Scotchies. The recipe is actually from NESTLÉ Tollhouse, but we still use the version she cut off a bag of butterscotch chips years ago. They are my husband’s favorite, and he looks forward to a big bag of them every year.

Photo of Oatmeal Scotchies recipe - traditions

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We’re also going to try some new recipes this year! We were inspired by the book, A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World written by M.E. Furman and illustrated by Susan Gal.

The story follows Santa as he starts his Christmas trip at Christmas Island. Then, we get to watch and learn as he journies across the globe. We read about the different sweets Santa enjoys on his trip and the different Christmas traditions celebrated around the world.

In India, children wait for Christmas Baba (Father Christmas) to fill their stockings and leave him treats called kulkuls with spicy chai. In Mexico, children stay up until midnight to break open a piñata. Once they go to bed, Santa arrives and enjoys Mexican wedding cookies with a cup of warm Mexican hot chocolate. Yum!

This lovely book also explores Christmas traditions in the Philippines, Russia, Puerto Rico, Malawi, Australia, Indonesia, France, and many other countries. The illustrations are bright and beautiful, with many interesting details from each culture.

As a bonus, the book also includes recipes for some of the cookies! We’ll be trying out Coconut Macaroons from Christmas Island this year. The recipe has just four ingredients, so it’s quick, easy, and great for little hands.

Book Cover - Traditions

Keeping the Joy

I know we’ll read this book again on Christmas Eve when we tune into the official NORAD Santa Tracker and follow Santa’s journey across the globe. We’ll also look at it again while we’re watching Disney’s short movie, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. We love the song, That Time of Year, as Olaf goes around Arendelle to learn about other family’s holiday traditions.

This year is a great reminder about the importance of traditions and the joy of adding new ones. In this year, which is so unlike any other, it’s important to adapt and try new things. What traditions does your family have for the holidays? What is something new you’re looking forward to trying this year?

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For more children’s book recommendations featuring multicultural themes, check me out at Beti Books! I love sharing media and other products that represent our multicultural family, and I know your family will enjoy them, too.

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Rabiya Bower is a desi mom outside of Philly, PA. Her full time job is as a registered dietitian in a grocery store. She loves reading YA novels, scouring the internet for fancy recipes she'll never cook, and having spontaneous dance parties in her kitchen with her daughter. She loves chocolate and picks through her daughter's Halloween candy for peanut butter cups every year.

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