Too Many Birthdays, Too Close To Christmas

I always try (and fail) to get everything ready for Christmas before 23rd because husband has his birthday then and it means we can keep the day free to celebrate. Then, son has his birthday on Christmas Eve (bad planning that – but he did arrive a week early).

It does add to the Christmas shopping, with extra gifts to buy for three family members (my brother has his birthday in early January) I always find men hard to buy for too.

K always felt that he got a raw deal, having a Christmas birthday and was determined that son would not feel as badly done to as he did as a child. We always tried to insist on a few basic rules

  • No joint Christmas/Birthday presents allowed (some people always seemed to use this as a money saving scheme.
  • No Christmas gift wrapping to be used on Birthday presents. My mother once fell foul of this and K sent son’s present back to be re-wrapped in something non-Christmassy.)
  • No missing out on birthday parties – we always used to give son the option of a party or similar – taking a group of his friends to a movie and pizza was always popular. Christmas Eve worked ok as there were always new films out for the holidays and parents of the other kids were generally pleased to get offspring out of the house for a few hours, though there were always some who were too busy with family commitments.

This seemed to work quite well, though I drew the line at not putting the Christmas Tree up until after the birthdays.

I think all this is why K doesn’t really enjoy Christmas that much. He does have a point that people seem to go shopping mad all for the sake of one day. The supermarkets turn into hell as shoppers go into some sort of survival panic mode. The shops are shut for 24 hours, which is hardly an apocalypse.

Even going out to celebrate a birthday is difficult. Everywhere is over-booked, over-decorated, with loud Christmas music playing and too much Christmas fare on the menu. It’s a bit more low-key, just the way we like it at one of our favourite pubs, The Red Lion in Alnmouth. We went there yesterday (K’s birthday) and met up with friends who are renting a cottage in the area over Christmas. It was lovely to see them (and their dog) – we took Buddy too – the bar is ver dog friendly – we ended up staying for lunch. No turkey in sight. Later on Buddy took the family for a walk on the beach.

Daughter got very creative with a fantastic birthday cake for her dad – lemon and poppy seed, complete with replica of his dog. Buddy wasn’t impressed because we wouldn’t let him eat any!

She also made this for her brother’s birthday today

We went out for a late pub lunch to celebrate – quite a low key birthday really. Everywhere was full of frantic shoppers but we managed to find a quiet pub that was serving food .

Do you have any Christmas birthdays in your family? Do you have any Christmas avoidance mechanisms to deal with this?

Christmas Biscuits

I’ve said before that I keep getting sidetracked into doing something crafty when I should have just got on with it. So, I made some mince pies and gingerbread biscuits and should have just stopped there really. I can’t help myself! I just had to play with the icing.

The recipe is quite simple and straightforward… you’ll need

  • 150g unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 70g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon

To make…..

  • Preheat oven to 180 C (160C fan)
  • Line 3 or four baking sheets with greaseproof/baking paper
  • Melt butter, sugars and syrup together in a pan, stirring to combine.
  • Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl
  • Pour butter/sugar mix into flour mix and bring together
  • Knead well – if too dry, add a drop of water. Roll into ball and flatten. Leave to cool.
  • Roll out on floured board to 5mm thick. Cut out shapes (I used round, star and gingerbread man cutters) and place on baking sheets, well spaced. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • Cool on wire racks.

To ice the Rudolph biscuits I used ginger bread men upside down! I mixed up some glace icing and piped on antlers and eyes. I coloured small pieces of ready-roll icing black and red, and used tiny balls of black icing for the pupils and larger balls of red icing for the noses.

A while ago I bought these spring-loaded snowflake cutters

I used these to embellish the round and star-shaped biscuits. I rolled out white ready to roll icing to about 3mm thick. With such a delicate shape, the easiest way to apply the icing is to cut the design and while the icing shape is still in the cutter, wet the surface a little to make it stick to the biscuit using a a finger dipped in water. Position the cutter over the biscuit exactly where you want the icing to land then press the plunger to release it. Press very lightly to help it stick. I used the larger cutters for the round biscuits and the smallest ones for the stars. I finished off by dusting the icing with edible glitter

Aren’t they pretty? Perfect to have with coffee after Christmas lunch.

Have you been baking for Christmas?