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There have been many holiday cookie baking projects at my house through the years.

We’re a big Christmas family. As youngsters and as adults, my kids have enjoyed creating their own little Christmas cookie masterpieces. And I think they have enjoyed messing up the kitchen even more.

After all, what child doesn’t love eating a holiday cookie? And what child doesn’t love helping to make it with their own little hands? It’s a tradition that is a bonding experience for the family, a practical learning tool, a good self-esteem builder for kids and a lot of fun.

Still, baking with children is a little different than making those rum balls on your own or with a friend.

Sandi Graham, owner of Vintage Kitchen in Clarks Summit for almost three years, is an expert on the situation. Her cooking school for adults and children offers hands-on recipe experiences with the goal to enhance individual and family meals. Kids can learn the ropes through individual parent-kid classes, “Apron Strings” kid classes once a month, summer camps and after-school classes.

Vintage Kitchen will host a Christmas Cookies Freezer Workshop by Tastefully Simple Holiday Baking Dec. 16 from 1-3:30 p.m. Participants will prepare seven cookie recipes, then take them home to freeze and bake later, or stay “after school” to bake them that day. More information is available online at bit.ly/2Ec0QGv or the Vintage Kitchen Facebook page.

For those who are baking with their kids at home, Graham has a few tips.

First, she says, “Don’t be afraid to get your hands messy. The tactile experiences of touching the foods they are making are helping the child to learn as well as giving them a connection to the food they are making. It is a great way to get them to eat foods they may be hesitant to try.”

Also, it is important to take a little time to prep prior to cooking with children, Graham says.

“For young children, pre-measure ingredients so that they can practice pouring items into bowls. If you are practicing cutting skills, pre-peel the fruit or vegetable and cut the food so that there is a solid base that will not slip.”

Of course, keeping a clean work space is always a priority.

“Teach them as early as possible good sanitation. Wash hands. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meats and vegetables,” Graham says.

She adds, “Don’t forget to teach them to clean up after the cooking is done.”

In the accompanying box is one of her favorite holiday cookie recipes for kids.

Teri Lyon is a mom, grandmom and freelance writer who lives in Glenburn Township with her cat.

Grinch Cake Mix Cookies

Ingredients:

1 white or yellow cake mix box

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 8 oz. cream cheese bar, softened

1 egg

Powdered sugar

Green food coloring

Red or pink heart candies

Directions:

Beat butter, vanilla, egg and cream cheese until fluffy.

Mix in cake mix. Divide batter into bowls for the amount of colors you want.

Add food coloring to each bowl and mix until combined.

Chill for 30 minutes.

Roll into balls and dip in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Place on greased cookie sheet and pat down a bit.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Add one heart to each cookie when cookies are warm.