Christmas always sneaks up on you, which means

its time to start planning gifts, decorations and menus. For a personal gift which won’t cost a lot of money or unique Christmas tree decorations, you can’t go past freshly baked cookies.

Why not spend a few relaxing and fun hours baking with the family…

Tips to make perfect cookies

Let cookie trays cool completely before baking the next batch as hot trays will make the dough run and not cook properly.

Unbaked cookie dough can usually be kept in the fridge for up to a week if covered.

Most cookies need to be removed from their trays as soon as they are out of the oven. But for fragile cookies, leave them to cool and harden slightly before removing.

For a personal gift which won’t cost a lot of money

Now for some creative cookie ideas

Tree decorations

Make gingerbread or shortbread cookie dough, cut them out using Christmas shapes like stars, trees and snow flakes. Before baking make a hole at the top of each cookie using a chopstick or pencil. Once baked and cooled, let the kids decorate with icing and sprinkles, and then thread colourful ribbon through the holes in each cookie.

Cookies for Santa

Bake gingerbread of shortbread cookies in simple shapes like circles, hearts and stars. Once cookies have cooled, let the kids write their Christmas wishes on each cookie with tubes of writing icing from the supermarket. Leave a big plate of cookies out with a glass of milk on Christmas Eve and hope all their wishes come true.

Yummy Gifts

Bake a big batch of gingerbread or shortbread cookies and use silver cachous, glace cherries and colourful sanding sugars to dress them up. Baskets and gift boxes make inexpensive but impressive containers when tied up in ribbon. Or find something a bit more useful like a cookie jar, large coffee mug or mixing bowl to hold your cookies.