The Edible Christmas Tree

Well… ready or not – here it comes…. Christmas is just 2 short days away. I hope your last minute to do list is manageable, or even dare I say it:


My favorite tradition

This time of year is rich with traditions. The things we do every year that bring us comfort and joy. From the time we put up the tree, until the time we take it down, traditions surround us.

Although it is late in the season, I want to share with you my favorite holiday tradition: The edible Christmas tree.

You can’t eat the tree itself, but rather the ornaments, or most of them. This is a tradition passed down to me from my Mother, and I to my children. (and totally NOT rushing things – I hope to my grandchildren!)

Back in the late 1960s, before I was even born my mother had a dilemma each Christmas. The glass ornaments kept getting knocked off the tree and getting broken by her young son and two rambunctious beagles. The beagles also liked to nibble on the tinsel she patiently hung carefully on the tree each year.

Her solution: The Edible Tree. Growing up, just about everything on our tree was kid and pet safe. Cookies, Candy, popcorn, etc.

My first Christmas – and the tinsel covered tree. It’s hard to discern if there are child safe treats on the tree yet.

Elements to include on an Edible Tree

Just like other households, it was our job to help decorate the Christmas tree. As it was age appropriate we strung popcorn, decorated the cookies, hung the candy canes, etc. The kids in the neighborhood LOVED to come to our house because they always got to pick a treat from our tree. We were “famous!”

This Christmas tree is completely Kid Friendly! I will be 3 years old in the “new year”. One of my favorite treats form the way back years was the “ice cream cone”. You can see if if you look closely. What I wouldn’t give for a quick call to heaven to find out how those were made!

The cookies were not just ordinary cookies, they were what are called sugar ornamental cookies. I wish I knew where my mom got the recipe originally, but whenever I pass it along, I give her all the credit. I haven’t come across *that* many people in my life, but I have never met another family (or even heard of one) who has used cookies to decorate their tree, thus having an edible tree. I’m sure they are out there. I celebrate with you!

Even in my pre – teen, teen years the tree continued. I looked forward to painting the “sugar ornamental” cookies with my mom and brothers! In this picture I can even see chocolate Santas hanging!

A little How – to for the Cookies

The cookies were made from a dough my mom made the day before and refrigerated overnight. It was then rolled and cut with the “old fashioned” cookie cutters that left a design embossed into the cookie. This helped us have an idea of what to paint. Some of the shapes, were just that – shapes in which we could be creative. Everyone knows how to paint a Christmas Tree, right?

Sample of cookie cutters we have used

Really any cookie cutters will do if this is an activity you would like to try with your kids… and HONESTLY cookie painting does not need to be limited to Christmas. It’s a great activity ANYTIME!

Our first cookie tree in the works Christmas 2005. My children are 9 months (not pictured, 2 and 3 years old. Their painting party is complete with their Aunt and cousins. My mom is mixing the “cookie paint” and giving the little artists her best advice!

Over the years it has been a comfort to honor my Mother, who lost her battle to cancer of the esophagus in 2007, by passing along the cookie recipe, and the excitement of painting and hanging cookies on our tree.

During winter break from school, friends and cousins are invited to Mrs. Crabtree’s Cookie Camp. We paint cookies, drink hot chocolate and have a good time. Each child gets to hang one of their cookies on our tree, and take the rest home to their family.

Not every year is a cookie tree. We also have the proverbial “kid – made – ornament tree” and once every blue moon Christmas I get what I call my “Martha Stewart” tree. The one that is perfectly color coordinated and the ornaments are hung * just so*. But most of the trees are cookie trees.

This year I have a 16, 18 and 19 year old… we have been “hanging out at home” due to the pandemic predicament, so it seemed fitting that this would be a Cookie Tree year! Staying connected to the traditions that bring us comfort and joy means more this year than ever before. There were no cousins or friends over, just simple, quiet painting.

Thanks for being part of the hive!

I hope regardless of the length of your to do list, you ARE taking time for the family traditions, big and small. Thank you for making Happy Hive Homeschooling and Homeschool Holiday Curriculum part of what’s important to you. We love having you here!

Download your copy of my Mom’s *Famous* Cookie recipe by clicking on the image below. It’s FREE, with no obligation!

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