Nothing beats the evocative smell of ginger biscuits. The recipe below is Swedish and makes the best biscuits I have come across. After baking and allowing them to cool, we have a family decorating session with plenty of icing and silver balls while Christmas carols are belted out. Later I use a needle to thread a loop on them and we hang them on the Christmas tree as they keep for weeks – that is if the children (mice?) don’t nibble them!
Swedish Ginger Biscuits Recipe
450 castor sugar
6 tbsps. golden syrup
2 tbsps. cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsps. cardamom
900g plain flour
Cream the butter, sugar and syrup and beat in the flavouring – cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, cardamom and bicarbonate of soda. Add the water and work in the flour, kneading well on a lightly floured surface. Place the dough into the fridge and allow it to rest for 24 hours. Roll out the dough and cut out shapes using biscuit cutters and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200°C – 225°C for 4 – 5 minutes.
(I tend to halve the ingredients as it make a lot of dough. If too sticky, add extra flour.)
Christingle oranges are rich in symbolism and also look very beautiful. You can refer to this link for more information about their symbolism. Push a small candle into an orange and tie a red bow around the middle. Place a few soft sweets onto four toothpicks and position them around the candle. In the photograph, we didn’t add sweets but decorated the orange with cloves. Tealight apples smell superb as the cloves warm up from the candle when lit. Press a tealight into the top of the fruit to measure the circumference then use a spoon to remove some of the flesh so that the tealight will fit into the apple. Press cloves into the space between the tealight and the apple and continue to decorate the apple with cloves until time or patience runs out. Top tips: It may be necessary to remove a thin slice off the apple and orange to form a flat base. If you struggle to push cloves into the fruit, use a toothpick to first pierce a hole.
Two ideas that work well with young children are a robin Christmas card and an angel card. For the robin card, paint your child’s hand brown then add touches of gold and a bright red spot on the palm of his hand. Press his hand on to paper to make a print then add eyes and a beak. To create an angel, paint his hand in blues and purples and make one handprint with fingers closed. Then paint the hand in a bright yellow or gold and make two handprints with the fingers splayed to create wings. Add facial details and a halo. Both these ideas can be scanned and reduced in size and printed to create a number of cards. With an older child you can brainstorm about Christmas imagery and then give him a good quality black pen and let him design a card using the inspirations you discussed together.This post is part of a Christmas theme of how I as a mum approach this season. As with anything, pick and choose the ideas that appeal to you – I don’t do all of them every year! However I have included all the activities, crafts and traditions that I have done over the past few years. Feel free to share your ideas as comments.