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  • Writer's pictureM. Winston (Winn) Egan

You May Want to Try This Tradition!

Traditions are special events that help family members feel connected to each other. They provide grandchildren and their parents with reoccurring experiences that are highly anticipated and valued, giving rise to priceless memories that bind family members together. They also offer ways of celebrating important cultural and faith-based events.

Family traditions come in all shapes and sizes. These celebrations

and gatherings are often tied with holidays and other engaging and meaningful events. Grandchildren look forward to these events because the traditions meet many of their needs. These needs include, but are not limited to, connecting with cousins and others, having fun together,

demonstrating emerging talents, honoring special holidays, and developing vital social skills. These are also events that children count on, look forward to, and remember with great fondness (Grandparenting on Purpose, p.94).


week Diane and I had a great time hosting our annual Valentine’s Cookie-Decoration Parties, one for the Ward Family and one for the Egan Family. As you will see, our grandchildren and their parents had a great time plying their artistic skills as they decorated their allotted cookies.

For these parties, we provide all kinds of decorating options: sprinkles, confetti, stars, small jellybeans, and much more. We also offer several ways to coat the cookies with various frostings, spatulas, piping bags, toothpicks, and stencils.

Next year, we might video the event. Why? Because so much of this gathering is charged with entertaining conversations, some bantering, and lots of laughter. It is amazing what you learn about your grandchildren and their families as they frost, beautify, and then eat their cookies.

By the way, we have found that it is best to have the cookies already made. Also, we have discovered that 3-4 cookies per grandchild works quite well. We provide three frosting colors: white, red, and pink (see our frosting recipe). Some grandchildren concoct other colors to suit their artistic tastes and needs.

For those of you who have grandchildren who live some distance from your home, we suggest you consider sending each family their own cookie decorating kit. This year, we purchased several kits from the Baking Hive, a local bakery in our neighborhood. Then we delivered these kits to young families in our community.

The cookie-decorating party is really popular with our grandchildren, their friends, and parents. It attends to many of the essential elements of successful and meaningful traditions. The party is fun. It involves food—eating some or all of their cookies. It is engaging for most age groups—young to old. It is coupled with lots of conversation and sharing. It builds and deepens relationships among and between cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

We have included two recipes—one for the cookies and one for the frosting. We have also included photos of some of the spatulas and other instruments we used to decorate the cookies.


Sugar Cookies


1. 2 cups softened unsalted butter

2. 1½ cup granulated sugar

3. 4 large egg yolks

4. 2 teaspoons vanilla

5. 4 to 4½ cups flour


1. Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

2. Add flour.

3. The dough should be soft but not sticky.

4. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

5. Roll out on a lightly floured board and cut as desired.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Royal Icing with Dehydrated Egg Whites


1. ¼ cup dried egg whites or meringue powder

2. 2/3 cups room-temperature water

3. ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

4. 2 pounds powdered sugar

5. 1 tablespoon vanilla


1. Mix water and egg whites in the bottom of a mixing bowl.

2. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Add cream of tartar.

4. Beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

5. Add powdered sugar all at once and mix on medium just until combined.

6. The resulting icing should also be stiff-peak thick.

7. Divide and add coloring as desired.

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