Make and decorate your own Christmas cookies!

Christmas Cookies

History of leaving out cookies for Santa:

There are many theories that suggest why we leave cookies out for Santa. The custom of leaving milk and cookies is an American pastime. Other countries have their own popular cookie traditions, which you can learn more about in the recommended book!

Here are some popular theories that may have led to the custom:

  1. The Germans were known for hanging cookies, apples, and wafers on paradise trees since the late 1500s.  This custom eventually merged with Christmas, and trees are often times still hung with gingerbread men.
  2. In Norse mythology, the god Odin traveled with, Sleipner, a horse with eight legs.  Odin would leave presents at children’s houses and Sleipner would enjoy the food they left out for him.  Children hoped that their generosity would convince Odin to bless them with gifts. Children continue to leave out carrots for Sleipner to this day in Denmark and the Netherlands.
  3. Lastly, leaving cookies out for Santa increased in popularity during the Great Depression as a way to instill gratefulness in children.  Children were taught to be thankful for the gifts they received since not all children would be as fortunate.

We don’t know for sure the exact reason for leaving cookies out for Santa, but it is probably a combination of many things!

How to do:


  • Brown paper plates

  • Stickers, ribbon, decorating supplies

  • Glue, tape

Decorate your Christmas cookies!

Book Recommendation

A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman was written for the author’s son’s 3rd grade class.  It included the cookies made in the countries of origin of the kids in the class, and it a wonderful overview of different cookie traditions around the world.  There is also a website based on the book that includes Christmas recipes and traditions.

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