Happy Holidays During COVID! Week #2: Virtual Cookie Decorating With Kids

With Thanksgiving approaching, and Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa next in line, here’s the question most of us are asking: How can we keep our families safe from COVID-19 while still making the holidays special?

Connecticut Children’s is here to help, with weekly ideas to inspire and delight your kids this holiday season – even in quarantine. Here’s last week’s idea.

 
 

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#2 VIRTUAL COOKIE DECORATING WITH KIDS

What says “holidays” like a messy kitchen and festive treats? For all the fun and zero coronavirus risk, plan a virtual cookie-decorating session with your child’s grandparents or other loved ones. It’s a new, quarantine-approved twist on an old tradition… and you’ll get to eat cookies when you’re done.

Tips for success

  • Opt for a smaller group. To maximize quality time (and minimize logistical challenges) during this festive activity, limit the virtual attendees to just a couple loved ones.
  • Be realistic. Are your child and loved ones comfortable in the kitchen? Go ahead and bake holiday cookies from scratch! We share a recipe for whole-wheat sugar cookies at the end of this post. Still working on building your child’s kitchen skills? Purchase premade cookies and frosting, and just focus on decorating.
  • Double the materials, double the fun. During the pandemic, we’re all finding new ways to create shared celebrations. For this holiday activity, an easy way to do that is by starting with the same materials. So if your plan for your child is to, say, decorate premade cookies with red, green and white frosting, encourage everyone who’s attending to do the same.
  • Do a trial run. By now, most of us have gotten pretty savvy with video chats – but it never hurts to check. Set aside time beforehand to test the video chat platform with your child’s grandparent or loved one. Make sure everything is working properly, and troubleshoot any lighting, sound or tech issues in advance.

Asian family making cookies together. They're recording it to upload for video streaming service.

  • Set up a cookie cam! If you have multiple video-enabled devices in your home, log or call in on an extra device, and set it up with the camera pointed right at your child’s work area. Your child’s loved ones can watch their cookie creations up close!
  • Designate a DJ. If everyone at your virtual event wants to rock out to Christmas carols or holiday tunes, go for it – but only on one device! If not, the background noise could easily go from cheerful to chaotic.
  • Start with handwashing! Along with masks, social distancing, and self-quarantining if anyone might be sick, one of the best ways to prevent COVID-19 is good hand hygiene. Here’s a great opportunity to reinforce that lesson! Have your child and loved ones kick off their cookie activity with handwashing. Sing Happy Birthday (or Jingle Bells, anyone?) twice to make sure you hit that 20-second mark.
  • Come up with a few design challenges. Add some structure (and a competitive twist) with holiday-themed challenges, from Christmas trees to Hanukkah dreidels to reindeer and the seven candles of Kwanzaa. Ask for your child’s ideas too!
  • Take lots of photos – aka screenshots. These are sweet holiday memories, even if they look a little different during COVID-19.

> Related: How to Help Kids Handle Holiday Disappointment During COVID-19

If you start soon, you can squeeze in several cookie sessions before Hanukkah, Christmas, or whichever winter holiday your family celebrates – which means lots of treats for care packages, and lots of quality time for your child and loved ones. If you bake this weekend, you can even feature your child’s cookies as part of your Thanksgiving virtual celebration!

In the meantime, stay tuned for lots more ideas to make this holiday season special. Sign up for next week’s edition of Happy Holidays During COVID-19!

Related links:

RECIPE: DECORATED WHOLE-WHEAT SUGAR COOKIES

  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Serves: 32
  • Prep time: 2 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 ¼ cups)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons vanilla extract (divided)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Food coloring (optional)

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Beat together sugar, butter, oil and 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed until combined. Divide dough in half. Roll each half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to ¼-inch thickness. Place dough halves on baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap from 1 dough half. Working quickly, cut dough into desired shapes, about 16 cookies. Repeat with second half of dough and arrange cookies on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until lightly browned on edges, about 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. Place powdered sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons water, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat with electric mixer on low until moistened, about 20 seconds. Beat on high speed until thick, bright white, and smooth, about 5 minutes. If needed, beat additional water in ½ teaspoon at a time to reach desired consistency. Stir in food coloring. Spread or pipe icing evenly over cookies. Let stand at room temperature until icing is set, 1 to 2 hours. Store in airtight container up to 3 days.

 

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