The one thing I can always cherish this time of year: the magic and joy of celebrating with friends and family. From baking gingerbread houses with the kids to hosting cookie decorating contests with the team, I’m all about making the season as bright as possible! If you’re curious about how we stay jolly during the holidays, take a look at our favorite traditions below.
Maybe our festivities will also inspire you to celebrate with your loved ones in a fresh, new way this holiday season!
Tradition 1 | Gingerbread Houses
Sour candy roofs and royal icing glue. Mmm. Need we say more? So, what’s the best part about making gingerbread houses? It’s a well-known tradition practiced by many families during the holidays and for good reason.
It creates bonds with your children and makes them feel special! Abe and Judah have yet to turn down making a gingerbread house with Joel and me. Some years, we’ll make our gingerbread dough from scratch. If we’re short on time, we’ll pick up a couple of pre-boxed DIY kits at our local grocery store instead.
Building a gingerbread house is a fun family activity for us during the holidays. If you haven’t tried it yet, we definitely recommend you do!
Tradition 2 | The Annual Cookie Decorating Contest
Sugar cookies shaped in Christmas trees, ornaments, and snowmen– let’s go! Our annual cookie decorating contest is also a merrymaking event and a well-loved holiday tradition by our team here at Courtney Warren Home!
If you’ve never made sugar cookies at home, you’ve got to try our sugar cook recipe below (we promise it’s super easy and not very time consuming).
- 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but it makes a huge difference)
Instructions – Part 1
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. The dough will be relatively soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, and 2 days.
Instructions – Part 2
- Once chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. If it’s sticking to the bottom, run your hand under it to help remove it– see me do this in the video above. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. (Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.)
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Also, check out our lovely team members…
Tradition 3 | Eve of Christmas Eve Friends-Gathering
The last of our traditions but always a favorite — hosting our Friends-Gathering on Christmas Eve (with some extras). During the day, we decorate a mini-Christmas tree in a fun theme for the kids. You can never go wrong with Charlie Brown, toys, and baseball (we have two boys, of course)!
We also love ALL the festive Christmas rituals, like decorating our trees with new charms and nostalgic ones. Or finding high-quality essentials that have a built-in smile factor.
This year I am loving: (Click on the link below to check availability)
- Vintage Santa Sign
- This “knit stocking” garland on my tree
- Santa blow mold
- I use this to hold small trees and make a huge impact!
In a holiday decorating rut? Don’t fret! Check out our very best Christmas decor finds for 2020 here!
And we set up a hot cocoa bar for our friends with an assortment of goodies! Like marshmallows, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, and crushed peppermint.
We hope our Christmas traditions inspired you to try something cheerful this year with your loved ones.
By the way, if you’re thinking about designing your home for the holidays but need some help–we’re here for you!
WE OFFER HOLIDAY DECORATING PACKAGES THAT CAN…
- Maximize the Christmas decor and traditions you already have
- Include a shopping list for some new pieces to make your existing decor pop!
- Come to your home
- Utilize your best pieces
- Arrange them in fresh new ways
- Add what is needed
- At the convenience of your holiday schedule
Learn more here about our Christmas Decor packages! I also offer a complimentary, no-strings-attached phone call consultation.
We can also consult by video conference. If you’d like to meet at your home, please know we will use all current safety protocols.
☏ EMAIL ME TO BOOK A CALL TIME!
- Check out what our team here at Courtney Warren Home can do for YOU on our YouTube channel!
- Find me at courtneywarren.com
- on Instagram @courtneywarren
- See my Facebook page for design tips