Friday, December 5, 2014

Adventures in Advent Calendars (with Frozen themed cookies in a jar!)

S1 For full details please see my disclosure policy

Traditions around Christmas are what it's all about. I have such fond memories of going Christmas Tree Hunting back in the days when you had to cruise the streets for hours (OK, maybe 45 minutes) for a glimpse of a tree in a front window. Aunty Penny and I would be in the back seat of the tiny little orange Datsun Stanza, windows down, the cool air of the Freo Doctor on our faces after a hot day, shouting out "CHRISTMAS TREE!" and "THERE'S ONE!", keeping a tally to see who would win. I would always win; as the little sister there was a "if I can't win, I don't want to play" policy.

Each Christmas it's our tradition to make an Advent Calendar with a themed activity for each day. Now, before you start thinking you don't have time for daily activities, hear me out! They don't have to be huge things! Some examples of our activities are: go Christmas Tree hunting, donate toys to a charity, sing Christmas Carols, bake festive yummies, visit Santa, colour in a Christmas picture and other super easy things. Activities we can all enjoy together.

Including baking in to our Advent Calendar traditions was done not just because it was something fun, but so we could give out the fruits of our labour as gifts. We get in the kitchen together, listen to Carols, bake things with a shed load of sugar, have fun and get a gift out of it. It's like a cheesy holiday movie playing out in my own house.

If you're stuck for time and turning on a hot oven in 37C heat doesn't take your fancy, then you can prepare the ingredients and give away COOKIES IN A JAR. I personally don't understand the jar obsession - I drank out of jars when I was poor, now when rich people do it I find it quite funny. But it's on trend, or on point, or on something, so let's go with that.

These aren't just adorable, they are a gift that keeps on giving: the baking experience, eating the cookies and graduating to Official Hipster by drinking from the mason jar. But they're also very affordable. I bought mason jars with handles from BIG W for $2 each, lids ($6 for a pack of 6 - kept with preserving items) popped in the ingredients, tied it up with some ribbon ($2 in the gift wrap section) and hung a bag of sprinkles on the side for decoration. I bought the $6.50 Wilton brand sprinkles - it's my absolute fave and used to be really hard to get, but BIG W stock it now! HUZZAH!

To make your own:
  • Grab your jars and lids and sterilize them by boiling or putting them through the dishwasher
  • When filling the jars, each layer needs to be compressed so that it won't move around in transit. I used a spatula and a melon baller to press it down gently - the only things I could find as Bobbin slept
  •  Fill the jars with:
110g SR Flour
50g oats
35g blue M&Ms
35g white chocolate drops
55g brown sugar
35g white sugar
20g macadamia nuts (or substitute 20g extra M&Ms instead to make this nut free)
extra SR Flour for leveling at the top - fill it to the brim!
Pop on the lid, tape on a label, tie a ribbon around it, or some fabric and voila! I put on the Wilton sprinkles because I thought kids would like to decorate the cookies after they'd made them, but you don't have to. You don't even have to have them Frozen themed, you can vary the recipe really easily by substituting any colour M&M, or swapping it out for dried cranberries for a hint of festive red.

As a special treat I've created some printables for you! Click on the images below to download a sheet of labels for the front and back of your jars. They'll be the right size for a two inch punch - the red will go to the edge but the blue will have a white border.

I'm not the only one with a cool Advent Calendar this year though, BIG W have an online Advent Calendar with a new surprise special every day that sure beats a miniscule square of cooking chocolate. And I can tell you now, all secret squirrel like, that on the 6th there will be 30% off all Skylanders and Infinity Storage products. Ooooh storage. Buying storage things could possibly become a tradition in this house...

Tell me your Christmas traditions. Will you be giving cookies in a jar?

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