Holiday Cookies: Schaeffer Family annual cookie tradition memory (Recipe)

Reader Mary Schaeffer shares a story of three generations of family creating an annual favorite – iced sugar cookies Photo: Schaeffer Family Cookie Tradition

Stories of families together are often created, and told, around the kitchen table.  Mary Schaeffer shares a story of three generations of family creating an annual favorite – iced sugar cookies decorated by family hands – from the youngest to the oldest.

Reader Mary Schaeffer writes that “..we are a blended family that has found a tradition that our family is now following for the next generation too.  Every year at Christmas, all 3 daughters would ask Daddy what he wanted for Christmas. My husband always asked they did not spend their money on him but rather he would love some Christmas decorated iced sugar cookies under the tree on Christmas morning.   

We have one daughter (now 23) together who has two half sisters (now in their 40s) from my husband’s previous marriage.  The 3 sisters started baking together when the 23 year old was very young.  Today, we now have 5 grandchildren (ages 5 - 14) that participate too. 

Every year, they look forward to the Saturday they come to Grandma’s house and destroy the kitchen for a day. The kitchen table is covered in wax paper with 6 ice cream bowls of colored icing, Christmas decorations, colored sprinkles and paint brushes to ice the cookies.  

It’s alot of work but the 3 sisters do all the baking then join the 5 grandkids in icing and decorating the cookies.  At the end of the day, each family has cookie tins filled with cookies that were made specially for their Grandpa, Grandma, Mommies and Daddies that are their self created gift of love, joy and tummy delights. 

The tradition sometimes carries into Halloween and Thanksgiving days to bake, ice and share time together as a family.  It works for our family and brings us many happy memories and moments together.  Lots of love!”

Sugar Cookies by Communities Chef Mary Moran

Sugar Cookies by Communities Chef Mary Moran


From The Communities Kitchens of Claire Hickey and Chef Mary Moran: 

Claire Hickey’s Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Sift baking powder and salt into flour. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add flour, about a cup at a time, scraping the bowl well after each addition. Mix the last bit of flour by hand if necessary.

Roll dough to ½” thick and cut out, using various shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Use a pancake turner to put cookies on the sheet as well as to take them off.

Bake 10 minutes until the cookie base starts to get some color. Let sit on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before taking them off. Cool completely on cookie rack.

Yield depends on what size cookie cutter used and thickness of cookies.

Cookie Icing:


  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 4-8 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla or other flavor - check the baking aisle for orange, cinnamon, lemon and many other flavors. 
  • Makes one cup 

Chef Mary Moran’s Successful Sugar Cookie Tips:

Sugar Cookies are another one of those great gifts that always seem to fit any occasion and they are always wonderful for the holidays.  The fanciful cookie cutters that are available allow you to have any shaped cookie you desire and if you are not happy with the shapes available, however, you can be creative and create your own cookie cutter. 

I always ended up with some cookies browner on the edges than other cookies. I later learned that this can usually mean that the oven is too hot, the dough is rolled out to thin on the edges or that I baked them too long.  Here are few tips to help you make your sugar cookies perfect cookies.

Chef Mary’s Tips for Sugar Cookies-

  • Roll the dough evenly
  • For crisp sugar cookies roll the dough to a thin thickness
  • Bake them on very clean cookie sheets so they don’t absorb the flavor
  • Follow the directions carefully
  • For softer sugar cookies roll them out to a thicker thickness and bake them for a shorter time period
  • Keep them stored in a tightly sealed container if they are without icing to prevent them from becoming soft.
  • Ice them the day you want to serve them
  • Short on time? Make the dough ahead of time and keep it refrigerated.
  • Make sure that you have enough cooling racks for the amount of cookies you want to bake.


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