Photo courtesy Meg Asby

With most traditional holiday activities canceled or severely curtailed this year, it looks like we parents are responsible for making our own holiday magic. Of course I want the season to be special for my kids in 2020. I just don’t want to buy ten pounds of faux snow and create a scavenger hunt with clues to find a basket of thoughtfully purchased and attractively arranged holiday goodies that my children will seek while the elf on the shelf looks on mischievously from his latest hiding place. I just can’t even. 

But you know what I can do? Prepare food with the kids. We already have fifteen pounds of flour to use up from my stress-shopping, and since we all have to eat anyway (At least three times a day! Every single day!), this is definitely the two birds with one stone approach. Check out these easy and festive recipes to get that holiday magic started. We can do this.

(Mess in the kitchen too much to handle right now? We get it! Try one of these 10 New Portland Treat Shops instead.)

Courtesy Yummy Yummy Kitchen

I don’t know about you, but our family has eaten our weight in cheese quesadillas in 2020, many times over. Check out this recipe for making those quesadillas extra special without much extra effort. If your kids won’t touch guacamole, buy green (spinach, shhh!) tortillas instead. 

Photo credit: Martha Stewart

These sweet dreidels are made with five ingredients, all of which my children will eat. Yes, please. 

Photo credit: Baked Bree 

These holiday light cupcakes use an embellished cake mix recipe, so it will be really simple for even brand new bakers to throw together, very little measuring required. For another easy and delicious cupcake recipe that doesn’t use mix, we like Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake, which uses pantry and fridge staples. 

Photo credit: The Idea Room

You probably have everything you need to make these Santa pancakes right now. Sub any red fruit you have on hand for the hat, and feel free to go nuts with the whipped cream if your kids think bananas are “too slimy.” Only mine? Okay, then. 

Photo credit: Golden Malted

For more holiday breakfast fun, try Golden Malted’s Menorah Waffles. If you’re making your own waffles, I love Everyday Annie’s Waffles of Insane Greatness. How’s that for a recipe title?

Photo Credit: Natural Beach Living 

For another healthy but festive treat, try the classic Rudolph Celery Snacks

Courtesy Dilusso Deli

For more low-sugar snacking, these cheese dreidels are super simple, but a fun win. 

Photo credit: My Cookie Factory 

Have leftover pretzels from your dreidels? Now try these three-ingredient Star of David snacks.

Courtesy The Recipe Rebel

These no-bake Christmas tree cookies are adorable and a great way to use up that leftover candy you bought to “make Halloween special.” My kids sort of inexplicably love coconut, but if yours don’t, try buying the very-finely shredded variety. It makes a big difference, I promise! 

Photo credit: My Fussy Eater

These super fun cake pops from My Fussy Eater could easily be made with any cake or brownie recipe (or, even easier, boxed cake or brownie mix). I love Smitten Kitchen’s one-bowl Best Cocoa Brownies.

Photo Credit: Taste of Home

Any Nutcracker fans out there? Try these peanut butter Christmas mice from Taste of Home.

Photo Credit: NYT Cooking

And what holiday season is complete without a batch of homemade fudge? Since you may not be receiving baked goods in a tin from your neighbors this year, you’ll have to whip up a batch with your kiddos instead. Try the NYTimes Absurdly Easy Chocolate Fudge.

Photo Credit: Taste of Home

If your kids can operate a microwave, they can totally handle these chocolate-dipped candy canes on their own. They pair really well with a delicious cup of hot cocoa

Photo: Sugar Geek Show

If your kids are feeling a little more adventurous, try Sugar Geek Show’s holiday cookie tutorials. These look super-impressive, but they’re still really straightforward and kid-friendly, I promise. 

Meg Asby
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