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Christmas is hurried, there’s no doubt about that.  For this reason, Christmas at the Thomas-Ewing household starts early.  We love Christmastime and we start planning and executing earlier than most.  We’ve been mocked, scolded, and laughed at for being early birds, but life is too short to not do what you love.

If you think about it, Christmas only comes once a year, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to live to celebrate at least 80 of them.  The first 18 or so, you really don’t have much control over.  Mom and dad take care of everything – they decide what ornaments go on the tree, when the tree goes up, how much to spend on decorations, and what food will be prepared, etc.

The last 20 years or so of your life, Christmastime is still joyous, but you might not have the desire or the energy to celebrate Christmas the way you wish too.  The kids are grown up and gone; no doubt celebrating Christmas was their spouses and their own kids.  You may have retired and may have moved into a smaller, more manageable home and may not have room for lots of decorations.  Who knows what the future holds!?

So, in essence then, you get about 40 years to do Christmas your way.  And, I don’t know about you, but I intend to make every single one of those Christmases count and mean something.  That’s why we put up the tree and decorate in full force on November 12th every year.

We wait until November 12th, because the 11th here in Canada is Remembrance Day.  It’s a day to remember those soldiers who fought for our rights and freedoms, and it’s a day to celebrate the few veterans we have still with us.  John.e did not fight in any wars, but he did devote a few years of his life to the Canadian Armed Forces, so for him, and for my grandfathers, we hold off on our Christmas cheer until we observe our moment of silence and pay our respects for their commitment, loyalty, and dedication.

All mushiness aside, I know there are people who dislike Christmastime for one reason or another.  And there are people who don’t have the time to put into decorating or planning.  There are also people who just were not born with a knack for it at all.  And, that’s okay.  For you, I’m assembling a list of 18 of the Best Holiday Cookies, Squares, and Bars to help you get through the holidays with flair and style.  Let’s get started!

The epitome of Christmastime baking is shortbread.  Every mom, every family, has a recipe somewhere for shortbread.  My Whipped Christmas Shortbread recipe is easy and if you don’t already have your grandma’s recipe tucked away somewhere, you can have mine.  Make this recipe your new Christmastime tradition!

Next, we have a copycat recipe.  The candy bar of yesteryear comes back to life in this make-at-home copycat version of the classic and nostalgic Eat More Fudge Bar.  This one will satisfy all of your sweet tooth cravings and then some!

Allow me to introduce you to what used to my childhood obsession.  These were not only made at Christmastime, but it’s the only time I make them now.  A caramel, walnut, and coconut filling, sandwiched between graham crackers, and topped with a simple buttercream frosting.  Walnut Oh Henry Bars are deliciously classic and a Newfoundland traditional recipe.

Espresso Chocolate Dipped Shortbread are one of my favourite ways to eat shortbread.  These beauties are dipped in melted milked chocolate, but not before being perfectly baked with ground espresso beans.

Next, an odd cookie, at least in terms of ingredients.  There’s a lot of cornstarch in this recipe, but it works and it creates a cookie that will literally melt in your mouth.  Appropriately called Holiday Meltaway Cookies, these are so much fun to make and just as much fun to package up and give away.  (After you’ve eaten your share, of course!)

Peppermint Chocolate Truffles are the single most delicious Christmas treat you’ll make this year.  (Just so we’re clear, I’m probably going to say that about every Christmas treat in this post!)  With the holidays being a wallet-buster, this gorgeous treat will keep your money where it belongs!

When it comes to pretty, these cookie bars take the cake!  Haha!  Do you see what I did there?  The red and green cherries, along with the dried cranberries, help to give this cookie bar it’s jeweled look and texture.  Christmas Jewel Squares are all dressed up for the holidays!

Biscotti is hated or loved; there’s really no in between.  But, you’re going to love my Christmas Fruitcake Biscotti.  This cookie is hard and crunchy, the way a good biscotti should be, but unlike most biscotti, this one is dotted with chewy little bits of candied fruit.  So pretty and so delicious!

Speaking of dried cranberries, this Cranberry Pistachio Chocolate Cookie might look simple and homemade, but it’s a delicious cookie and is perfectly Christmas with its flecks of red and green.

I can’t write up a collection post about Christmas recipes and not include my Turtle Chocolate Fudge.  Turtles are a sacred, and time-honoured Christmas tradition that dates back to my childhood.  Every Christmas we were given a box of Turtles in our stocking.  This copycat fudge recipe tastes just like the original.

Last year, this truffle was featured in Country Living and gained a lot traffic.  So, I couldn’t write up this post without including my Christmas Chocolate Truffles.  Gorgeously simple, and elegantly rustic, these truffles will impress just about everyone.  (Because, you know, there’s always that one person!)

Let’s talk more fudge.  Like Turtles, Andes Mints were also a Christmastime favourite.  My mom would open a box and place them on the coffee table.  I’ll tell you about mom’s obsession with placing food items on tables at Christmastime in a later post.  These Andes Mint Chip Cookie Dough Fudge squares are delightfully minty and deliciously sweet!

My love affair with glace cherries has been combined with my love of shortbread cookies in this Glace Cherry Shortbread recipe.  I love how the sweet little gems glisten in the cookies and tart them up a little too.

Simply referred to as snowballs by most Newfoundlanders, this might be one of the most common cookies prepared at Christmastime across the island.  Traditional Newfoundland No-Bake Snowballs were made in excess by my mother at Christmastime.  Seriously, folks, excess!  Like dozens and dozens of snowballs.  I didn’t complain once.

Peanut Butter Bars are a twist on the classic Peanut Butter Balls.  Less time consuming, but the same great taste.  Christmas dessert tables are nothing without the appearance of Peanut Butter Bars!

One can never get enough shortbread at Christmastime, so let me add another shortbread recipe option to this cookie collection.  How about this Three Ingredient Shortbread Cookie Dough recipe?  Fun for the whole family, and don’t forget the sprinkles!

I’ve mentioned my mother a few times in this post.  Not one recipe, previous to this one, was loved so much by her.  This had to be her favourite cookie to make.  She never saved this one for Christmas, but instead, made it all year round.  To me though, it’s a classic Christmas treat.  Take a look at these Marshmallow Church Window Slices – so gorgeous!

How about one more truffle recipe?  This time, it’s my Gingerbread Truffles.  I absolutely love these, probably because one of my favourite flavour combinations at Christmas is ginger and cinnamon.  Who can get enough of that?  These are a must-have at our place.

Now that I’ve given you all of these recipes in one post, I’m sure you’ll find a few recipes that appeal to you and fit into whatever baking skill level you have.  18 of the Best Holiday Cookies, Squares, and Barsare meant to inspire and I hope they do just that.  I’m off to bake more Christmas treats now.  So, you go do the same and have the most wonderful and safe Christmas season!!

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