cookies for santa?


When I was little, we never left out milk and cookies for Santa.

*cue in violins*

I don’t know whether my parents simply didn’t know about this tradition, or if it just wasn’t commonplace in Hawai’i during the Dark Ages. My cousins never talked about it, so I’m guessing they didn’t do it either.

Perhaps this explains my life-long cookie compulsion — eating them at every possible opportunity, baking them (they are the only gift item I make myself), and constantly seeking out new recipes. During the holidays, I like to be prepared: you just never know when Santa’s going to drop in, or what will please him the most.

I read somewhere that the most common cookie Santa gets is Oreos. I kind of don’t believe that; my guess is either chocolate chip or decorated sugar cookies. In England, supposedly, they leave out sherry and mince pies (if anyone can confirm this, I’d appreciate it)!

Decorating cookies is a great creative outlet.

Regardless of type, I’m assuming Santa is somewhat of a cookie connoisseur, and prefers homemade over store-bought. Wouldn’t you? But if he does eat those Oreos, does he dunk? Separate the wafers and lick the cream? Most important, does he leave better presents if the cookies are above par? These are the profound questions I’ve been obsessing over lately.

Please help yourself!

I’ve also been wondering about who first thought of feeding the jolly guy, and discovered that the tradition has a long and complicated history, involving pre-Christian, pagan rites of appeasing ancestors, St. Nicholas Day (where offerings are exchanged for gifts overnight), and West German Christmas trees (“paradise trees”), which were first decorated with apples, wafers and cookies. Seems Santa bit the cookies right off the trees (delivering gifts is a demanding job), and in time, these edible decorations were transferred to plates set out by the fireplace to protect them from mice.

Take one of these, too. 🙂

I love love love linzer cookies with raspberry jam!! Only one each, please.

Recently, I asked my niece and nephew in Hawai’i for their Christmas wish lists. I never received any, but my brother did send me their letters to Santa, which they had taped to the front door. Apparently, Jared and Julia do leave milk and cookies out, which is nice to know. Though their letters were true to their personalities, they also seem true to gender. Social scientists claim that girls’ letters to Santa are more polite, usually longer, and mention other aspects of the nature of Christmas. Girls also request gifts for other people more often than boys do.

Seems the economy is on Jared’s mind (he’s 11).

Julia, who campaigned for Class VP and won, is a master of diplomacy (she’s 9).

The ever-so-thoughtful Rattigan teddies will be leaving out gingersnaps, just in case Santa gets motion sickness riding in that sleigh all night. The recipe they’ll be using comes from a favorite Hawai’i cookbook called A Taste of Aloha (Junior League of Honolulu, 1983). These snaps can be slightly underbaked, if you prefer chewy goodness, or baked according to recipe instructions for crispy cookies. I love them chewy for that num num warm spicy melty suck every bit of flavor type of experience. *Swoons from sensory overload*

And the kitchen smells SOOO good when you bake these!



1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter, shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients, mixing well. Chill dough and roll into small balls. Dip in sugar and bake for 10 minutes.

Store in a tightly covered metal container to keep crisp.


YOUR TURN: What kind of cookies will the kids in your house be leaving out this year? What’s your favorite cookie? Do tell!

*For the yummy cookie recipes submitted by authors and bloggers at last year’s Cookie party, click here. Samples: Pecan Cookies (Candice Ransom), Oatmeal Coconut Crisps (Sara Lewis Holmes), Peanut Blossom Cookies ( lisa_schroeder ). Also included are some of my all-time favorites, such as Walnut Icebox Cookies, Date Bars, and Orange Crisps.

*Thanks to Mary Lee of A Year of Reading, here’s another list of cookie goodness from

*And just last week, the Washington Post offered 25 nutty, decadent, doable treats for the holidays.


Cookie Madness!! The only way to spend the holidays!!

18 thoughts on “cookies for santa?

  1. What a great, yummy post.

    We leave out sherry or port, milk, cookies, and a plate of dinner food for Santa.

    We also leave out a plate of food outside the front door for the the wise men.

    Oh and carrots for the reindeer.

    There is a lot of food hanging out Christmas Eve at my house.


  2. yummmmmm, now I want a cookie!

    we didn’t leave cookies out for Santa either, there was no mention of it.

    Actually, when I was under 10 we didn’t know when Christmas was, we went to sleep Santa would put up the tree and decorate it and put out the gifts. But, for some reason my parents were very tired on Christmas day!


  3. I love how Julia was all about the carrot (er, cookies) AND the stick (stealing Rudolph). Too funny!

    We always left out milk & homemade cookies. My kids left out milk & homemade cookies, plus carrots for the reindeer.


  4. Glad I’m not the only one. I was beginning to feel deprived of the great cookie and milk offering thing. Odd, though, that you didn’t even know when Christmas was!!


  5. Well, this explains why you’re so well adjusted in life — growing up with, and then passing on the tradition of milk and cookies. Will you leave out anything special for the gnomes?


  6. In the last two weeks I’ve made 12 different kinds of cookies. I have three recipes to go, one of them a ginger cookie, so I’m going to try your recipe. What sold me was the chewy option. I love chewy cookies! For mother’s day I bought myself a copy of Martha Stewart’s Cookie book, which organizes cookies by textures! I adore the chewy section! It has photos too. Next to my Got Milk? cookbook (all cookie recipes), it is my favorite source for new recipes to try.

    I’ll have to get cracking on my own cookie post …


  7. Glad you’re going to try the gingersnaps recipe. These are great warm from the oven no matter how you bake them — but once they’re cool, the chewy version is definitely better.

    Twelve kinds of cookies!! You’re the cookie queen for sure. I’ll have to check out Martha’s book :)!


  8. We leave out whatever cookies we’ve baked that year for other events. Last year, the girls sprinkled Cheerios on the back porch for the reindeer, too. 🙂

    I don’t know if you saw my LJ post last night, but I told the story of an eight-year-old boy who leaves books for Santa instead of cookies. 🙂


  9. You are torturing me with those pictures of milk and cookies! Now I am craving… I will have to buy milk and cookies later (right now it’s 1:20 a.m. here). 😀 😀 😀

    Into the Wardrobe


  10. I’m good, but not “that” good. I baked the gingersnaps. If I could make those really fancy ones, I’d open a bakery. 🙂 I used to bake loads of cookies every year, but in my dotage I have slowed down. Now I just ask DH which are his favorites and do two or three recipes.


  11. HA. Go, Julia! Rudolph better watch his back.

    My girls are gonna leave out chocolate chip cookies this year. Mmm. Santa’s lucky.



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