Gingerbread Persons

Making and decorating cookies is one of our family’s Christmas traditions. I don’t make as many kinds as I used to, since the last thing I need is more tempting desserts hanging around the house, but when I tried skipping the cookies altogether, we all felt that part of Christmas was missing.

With our kids grown, we’ve evolved a new tradition. I make the cookies—either rolled butter cookies or gingerbread men—and then we all get together to decorate them. (See the bottom of the page for my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe.)  At the end of the day, the cookies go home with the artists.

This year we opted for gingerbread. We arrived at our daughter’s house with a pile of naked cookies, mixed up some colored frosting, and got to work.

The first cookies were somewhat traditional. Eyes, mouth, and three buttons down the front. Hmmm. That was all right, but a good cookie definitely needs more frosting. Our son-in-law outlined a shirt and pants, but that still left large areas of bare cookie. If you’re going to frost a cookie, let’s do a thorough job!

We got more creative as the afternoon progressed.

This is meant to be Pete and I at the beach. Pete, with his Finnish roots, burns easily, so his sunburn is appropriate, as is the dark tan on me (I grew up at the beach). Unfortunately, my shape is fairly accurate, too, which is why I haven’t worn a bikini in well over 30 years!


Here we have a mermaid, a hula girl, and another bikini-clad beach-goer.

In an effort to up the sugar level, we created a penguin and a green swamp monster (which won the award for having the most frosting on a still-recognizable cookie).

As the evening wore down, we finally reverted to more traditional Christmas symbols. We weren’t sure what swaddling cloths looked like, so we opted for a couple of Santas instead…

Here is Santa ready for the mall or  chimney, and, last but not least, here he is Christmas morning relaxing in his long johns.

Decorating cookies is one tradition I expect to keep for many years to come. What are your favorite Christmas cookies?

Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. vinegar
5 cups flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
2 – 3 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, molasses and vinegar and mix on high speed until fluffy.

Sift together dry ingredients and mix into butter and sugar mixture. Chill at least 3 hours.

Roll out on floured board and cut with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to greased baking sheet. Note that the more you gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough, the tougher the cookies get. Try to be efficient when arranging the cookie cutters on the rolled out dough.

Bake at 350°F for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool on rack. Decorate when cooled.

4 thoughts on “Gingerbread Persons

  1. My hubby thinks Christmas is missing something if we don’t make some Finnish cookies — primarily the diagonal ones with strawberry jam, and the cinnamon-cardamom ones. I grew up with rolled sugar cookies with egg-yolk paint instead of frosting.

  2. I agree with your husband Julie! The cinnamon cardamon ones are already finished up! I like your idea Leslie. I think I will do that one too… my cookie batter has been done for a few days. So far I haven’t found the time to bake them… Some will be like Martin knows them… very traditonal brown… maybe flowers… with a few Almond halves pressed in and then baked. I think I will make some Gingerbread men though and go off with the frosting! What fun!

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