Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

Sugar cookie recipe for cutouts

The best sugar cookie recipe

The best sugar cookie recipe for cutouts Pinterest image

Tis the season for cookies! Christmas cookies are popular for gifts, Santa and families. And cutout sugar cookies are the most traditional of all. However, finding a sugar cookie recipe for cutouts that is soft but sturdy with a bit of crunch can be difficult.

I’ve tried different sugar cookie recipes for cutouts through the years and found this is the best sugar cookie recipe. I how easy it is to adjust the quantities. And depending on how thick or thin you roll your dough you can adjust how soft or how crunchy your cookies turn out.

Make your dough

For the absolute best results with making sugar cookie cutouts, you want to plan ahead and make your dough before you’re ready to start baking. Letting the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours is best.

It all starts with creaming together softened butter and white sugar.

The creamed butter and sugar for the sugar cookie recipe

Next, add in the egg and vanilla, which will make the mixture looser.

Sugar cookie dough with the egg and vanilla added in

In a separate bowl or a large measuring cup, measure out the flour and add the baking powder and salt. Stir it together. I like using a large measuring cup for this so I don’t have to get both a measuring cup and a separate bowl dirty, but that only works for smaller recipes. So do what works best for you!

The flour, baking powder and salt in a large measuring cup

Gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the wet mixture. I use my stand mixer for this, but that’s because I’m attached to her and use her for many things. But, you can definitely mix this by hand. The dough for this sugar cookie recipe for cutouts will be stiff.

The sugar cookie dough mixed all together

Cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator for at least one hour. If you make this ahead of time and want to freeze it, you can easily do so. Just make sure to pull it out of the freezer and give it time to thaw, but still be cold before baking.

Making the cookies

Once the sugar cookie dough is chilled, it’s time to get started on the cutouts. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (F). Put the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. I usually just roll my dough in a few segments at a time rather than trying to roll it all out at once.

The thicker the cookies, the softer they are. The thinner the cookies, the crispier they are. I usually make mine on the thinner side, which makes the dough go farther and the cookies have a nice crisp to them.

The sugar cookie dough rolled out and ready to be cut

Use your cookie cutters and cut out shapes.

Using a cookie cutter to make sugar cookie cutouts

Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Because these cookies don’t spread out like drop cookies do, you can place the pretty closely together and not have any problem. I usually fit about 15 per cookie sheet.

The cut out sugar cookies on a baking sheet, ready to go into the oven

Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. Transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely before decorating.

Fresh from the oven cutout sugar cookies

I highly recommend decorating them with either my delicious buttercream icing or whipping up royal icing for them. I had a group of middle school girls decorating this batch, and it was easier to put together royal icing for them. Of all the things I make, I don’t use a recipe for it. I just mix powdered sugar, a bit of milk and a bit of vanilla together until it’s the right consistency. And of course we color the icing as well!

Decorated sugar cookies

Sugar cookie recipe for cutouts

This sugar cookie recipe for cutouts has just the right amount of softness and crispness to make delicious cookies any time of year!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 30 cookies


  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • In a large bowl cream the softened butter and sugar together until it's smooth.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  • Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it is completely mixed.
  • Cover the dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400-degrees (F). Roll the cookie dough out on a floured surface until it's 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. (The thicker the cookies, the softer they are; the thinner the cookies, the crispier they are.)
  • Cut the cookie dough into shapes and place them about 1 inch apart on ungreased or parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden. Cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
Keyword Christmas cookies, cookies, cookout, cutoutcookies, holiday baking, rolled cookies, sugar cookies

Don’t miss these other delicious cookie recipes as well!

The best Christmas cookie recipe: Toffee cookies
Easy peanut butter cookies recipe

Christmas gift ideas for mom

Mom gift ideas she’ll love

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Christmas gift ideas for mom Pinterest image

Coming up with Christmas gift ideas for mom can be challenging. Whether you’re buying for your own mom, your mother-in-law or even looking for gift ideas for yourself, figuring out what to ask for during the holiday season can be difficult.

I mean, my actual Christmas list would include things like: naptime, no laundry for a month, chocolate that doesn’t have sugar or calories, lazy days and food I didn’t plan, shop and make! I find it difficult to come up with gift ideas for myself many times, so I understand why my family can struggle.

Here’s the thing about Christmas and moms, though. We work really hard to make sure the holiday is festive and happy for everyone around us. Having thoughtful gifts under the tree for us is much appreciated. And these gift ideas do just that.

Mom apparel

Lots of mom apparel utilizes sarcastic humor. While that’s OK, I love more positive mom apparel. In fact, I created my own line of mom apparel on Zazzle filled with minimalist designs I love and a mix of sweet and humorous mom shirts. They come in a variety of colors and styles. Here are some of my favs:

Christmas gift ideas for mom: I run on chocolate, grace and Jesus shirt
Christmas gift ideas for mom: Mom with grace T-shirt
Christmas gift ideas for mom: World's Best Mom shirt
Christmas gift ideas for mom: Blessed beyond measure shirt
Christmas gift ideas for mom: Mom life is the best life shirt

And then there are these cute baseball style hats for moms that come in a variety of colors.

Purple denim mom hat that comes in a variety of colors
Mom life baseball style hat
Denim mama bear hat

And don’t forget to keep her tootsies warm with these adorable mama bear slippers that come in various patterns and colors.

Mom jewelry

I’ve loved jewelry since I was a toddler, so my mind also goes to jewelry as a great mom gift. Every day I wear a ring that has my children’s names on it along with their birthstones. I also have a necklace of a mama bird with eggs that match my children’s birthstones that I got a few years ago for less than $20 and wear it a few times each week. It doesn’t have to be expensive jewelry to be meaningful and make a great gift. None of these options cost more than $35!

Mother's heart necklace with simulated birthstones for 2 to 6 children
Options for 2 to 6 children
Mom bracelet
Mother and child birthstone necklace
Options for 1 to 5 children
Mother and daughter necklace that also comes in a bracelet
Mother and daughter jewelry
Mama bear necklace that is customizable
Up to 5 baby bears

Books for moms

Books are also great Christmas gift ideas for mom. You can find a wide variety of books for moms. These are some great choices that moms will love!

"Bible promise for moms" by Heidi St. John
Color with mom: A 2-person coloring book
Connecting with grace is a faith-based mother and daughter shared journal.
"Jesus Calling for Moms" by Sarah Young
"Midnight Mom Devotional" by Becky Thompson and Susan K. Pitts

Sentimental sign gifts for mom

We moms enjoy being appreciated and loved, so sometimes a sentimental sign gift can be perfect. Check out these ideas:

Wooden plaque: "To the world you are a mom. To our family you are the world."
Customized sign with wedding date and children's birth dates
Wooden photo frame with string art that says, "You are the mom everyone wishes they had"
Wooden photo holder that says, "Home is where the mom is"
Customizable artwork that says, "Mom you are the piece that holds us together"

Photo gifts for mom

Finally, I have to include the idea of photo gifts, because I love them and I think most moms do. A few great gift ideas for photo gifts would be a gift certificate for a family photo session or a gift card to a favorite photo printing site like Shutterfly, Vistaprint or Snapfish.

Think about ornaments, desktop plaques, photo books, blankets, pillows and whatever else you think would be a hit. I’ve found these gifts also work really well for grandmas!

Christmas recipes round-up

31 Christmas recipes for sweets, appetizers, sides and breakfast

Christmas recipes round-up Pinterest image

Doing some holiday cooking is always fun for me. I’ve long been deemed the Christmas cookie maker in my family — and I don’t mind a bit. But you need more than just cookies for Christmas. So I’ll pulled together 31 Christmas recipes you’ll love to include in your rotation. I’ve got everything from sweet treats to savory sides to Christmas morning breakfast ideas. And some fit in more than one category!

Be sure to save this post so you can go back to it again and again throughout the holiday season.

Appetizer recipes

A good meal often starts with tasty appetizers. These appetizers all work well for serving before Christmas dinner or as a snack. Some of them, I even serve for dinner around my house, so use them for easy dinner recipes in the weeks leading up to Christmas!

You can’t go wrong with a cheeseball. And this Parmesan ranch cheeseball recipe is a great way to kick off dinner or snack. Even my picky eaters like this one!

Christmas recipes: Parmesan ranch cheeseball recipe

When it comes to Christmas recipes, versatile ones that can be made ahead of time are great. This easy pantry salsa pairs with store-bought chips and can be an appetizer, snack or side dish.

Easy pantry salsa recipe

For an even more robust and filling way to serve tortilla chips, consider adding this skillet queso recipe into the mix. This stuff tastes just like what you get at Chili’s and is so good. I actually included it in my Thanksgiving menu for the past two years!

Skillet queso recipe

With just two ingredients, these meatball pockets are an easy appetizer or snack to make this holiday season.

Christmas recipes: 2-Ingredient meatball pockets

The next three appetizer recipes all start with a buttery, yummy crescent roll crust. Serve them as an appetizer, snack or even main course!

Christmas recipes: BLT pizza
Christmas recipes: Pepperoni pizza pinwheels
An easy, delicious taco pizza recipe

The final appetizer could also count as a side. This bacon ranch cheese bread is my husband’s all-time favorite food that I make. It uses a frozen bread dough for a base as well as precooked bacon, so it’s as simple as it is tasty.

Christmas recipes: Bacon ranch cheese bread

Side recipes

Is there any other side that is better than yeast rolls? I’m a carb lover, and these yeast rolls are one of my favorite recipes. My professional baker friend, Kayla, gave me the recipe originally, and I’m so glad she did!

Christmas recipes: Yeast rolls

If yeast rolls aren’t your thing, give these biscuit muffins a try. They’re simple and easy, and don’t require any time to rise like the yeast rolls do.

Christmas recipes: biscuit muffins

I love potatoes in any form, but these party potatoes are my all-time favorite potato recipe. They are cheesy and creamy and so incredibly delicious. When it comes to Christmas recipes, you’ve got to try this one, because it’s also pretty dang easy. My 13-year-old daughter made these by herself at Thanksgiving this year, in fact.

Christmas recipes: Party potatoes

The red bell peppers in this fire-roasted corn and red pepper recipe give it a festive look. And trust me when I tell you it’s one of the easiest recipes you can make!

Fire-roasted corn and red peppers Pinterest image

Another great and easy vegetable side recipe is this oven-roasted vegetables recipe you can use for most vegetables. And they always turn out so yummy!

Christmas recipes: oven roasted vegetables

Easy Christmas Eve dinner recipe

I had to include the recipe for this super easy slow cooker potato soup made with hash browns. It literally takes 10 minutes or less to put together in your slow cooker and will easily serve six people. You can easily double it if your slow cooker is large enough to feed even more people. It’s warm and filling. So yummy!

Christmas recipes: slow cooker potato soup made with hash browns

Christmas morning breakfast recipes

Whipping up a Christmas morning breakfast seems like so much work, so I love things that are easy or I can even make ahead of time. All of these recipes fall into those categories. Let’s start with the very best pumpkin bread recipe. You can serve this up for breakfast by itself, alongside yogurt and fruit or use it for a sweet treat later in the day. My family gobbles it up quickly, so it’s a good thing the recipe makes two loaves.

Christmas recipes: pumpkin bread

Another great Christmas morning breakfast recipes are these peanut butter honey nut cereal clusters. Make them the day ahead using only three ingredients and your microwave. They are like the pumpkin bread and can be served any time of day.

Christmas recipes: Peanut butter honey nut cereal clusters

For a warm, easy option, try these air fryer doughnuts made easily with canned biscuits. They are best served warm and are definitely a nice treat for Christmas morning.

Easy Christmas breakfast: Air fryer doughnuts Pinterest image

This make-ahead oat and honey granola is a great breakfast option. It works really well with yogurt and is just sweet enough that you can use it as a sweet treat as well.

Christmas recipes: easy oat and honey granola

When it comes to sweet breakfast breads, you can’t go wrong with this protein-packed banana nut bread. The nuts, of course, are completely optional. Bake it ahead of time so you don’t have to do anything besides slice it up and serve it on Christmas morning.

Christmas recipes: protein-packed banana bread

If you’re going for a bigger breakfast on Christmas morning and making pancakes and/or waffles, you’ve got to also make this super easy caramel sauce. We love it most with bananas. It’s so incredibly decadent!

Christmas recipes: caramel sauce for pancakes or waffles

Christmas sweet treat recipes

You can’t leave sweet treats out of a list of Christmas recipes. And I’ve got plenty of them for you, starting with my most popular recipe ever: a 4-ingredient whipped pudding pie. This comes together in just a few minutes, can be made sugar free and has a large variety of flavor options. You’ve got to try it!

Christmas recipes: 4-ingredient whipped pudding pie

Like I said, I’m the Christmas cookie maker in my family. And these toffee cookies are my most popular cookie. They’re so yummy and something a bit different.

The best Christmas cookie recipe: Toffee cookies

After the toffee cookies, my peanut butter cookies are my most requested. In fact, my dad asks for them as his birthday gift each year because he likes them so much. And my husband and kiddos sneak into the kitchen whenever I bake them and get them off the cooling rack.

Christmas recipes: easy peanut butter cookies

And then there are these delicious white and milk chocolate chip cookies. At Easter time, I add in some Cadbury eggs as well, but they are just as tasty with white and milk chocolate chips. They give a different flavor than traditional chocolate chip cookies (which I also love!).

Christmas recipes: white and milk chocolate chip cookies

Of the Christmas recipes I’m listing, the next two are the oldest that have been around since I was a child. First up is sugar cream squares. If you’re not a fellow Hoosier, you might not be familiar with sugar cream pie squares. If you’re from St. Louis, you probably call this gooey cake. From elsewhere, just know it’s basically a mix between blondies and cheesecake. Whatever you call it, though, these sugar cream squares are delicious!

Christmas recipes: sugar cream squares

The next family recipe is easy and delicious. I know ice cream may not sound like a Christmas recipe, but this one is an exception. This Oreo ice cream cake is delectable. A bonus to this recipe is you can make it a week or two ahead of time and it’s good to go!

Christmas recipes: Oreo ice cream cake

While we’re in a chocolate theme, don’t miss this super easy hack to make boxed brownies so fudgy good. Hands down, above everything I make, my brownies are the most requested item. And they are one of the easiest recipes I make just by using this one simple hack!

Christmas recipes: an easy hack to make box mix brownies so fudgy good

Mint is a perfect flavor for Christmas. And this mint chocolate chip mousse is super easy to make. You don’t need your stove or much besides a mixer — handheld or stand.

Christmas recipes: mint chocolate chip mousse

The final three recipes are all incredibly easy microwave recipes, and all of them are great treats to give away to others as gifts. Let’s start with the best puppy chow. Some folks call this muddy buddies. But whatever you call it, I got obsessed with it during quarantine and figured out the best recipe for it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Easy Christmas treats: Puppy chow recipe

You can’t beat Christmas fudge, and this easy microwave fudge has been perfected by my daughter. There are five varieties you can easily make in your microwave: chocolate, brownie batter, cherry cordial, toffee candy bar and mint chocolate.

Christmas fudge in the microwave Pinterest image

And last by certainly not least, these no-bake butterscotch haystacks only need two ingredients. They are a super easy treat to make and can help fill out a Christmas platter nicely. They’re one of my husband’s favorites.

Christmas recipes: butterscotch haystacks

How to keep Christ in Christmas

7 Simple & effective ways to keep your family focused on Jesus

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.
How to keep Christ in Christmas Pinterest image

From the beginning of our parenthood journey, my husband and I have worked to share our faith with our children. And Christmas is an important season for Christianity. We want our children to enjoy the fun of Christmas, but we also want them to understand what and Who we are ultimately celebrating. Throughout the past 13 years, we’ve come up with a few ways to keep Christ in Christmas that are both simple and effective.

1. Read a Christmas devotion book together throughout December.

When my daughter was a preschooler, our church passed out free family devotions for Advent. It wasn’t something we had done as a family before, but we decided to give it a try. On the first night we did so, our daughter cheered.

Family Christmas devotion time during December has worked its way into our routine. When we had some trouble finding devotion books that we really enjoyed, were age appropriate and didn’t take a super long time, I decided to put together my own. I now have two versions of “A Family Christmas: 25 Days of 5-Minute Family Christmas Devotions.” Volume one is for younger children (preschool through early elementary), and volume two is geared toward tweens and teens. My kids are 9 and 13, so we are using volume two again this year.

Reading through the Christmas devotion book together takes us through the Christmas story and gets us talking about how it can apply to our lives today. Just a few minutes each evening makes a big difference to help our family keep Christ in Christmas.

"A Family CHristmas" devotion books are a great way to keep Christ in Christmas.

[You can find both volumes of “A Family Christmas: 25 Days of 5-Minute Family Christmas Devotions” for sale on Amazon in print and for Kindle. They are also part of Kindle Unlimited. Both versions for younger children and older children are also for sale in PDF format in the Families with Grace Etsy store.]

2. Include Jesus in secular traditions.

Our family believes in Santa Claus and uses a visiting Elf in a positive way. But we also incorporate Jesus into those traditions. For example, Santa Claus leaves a letter for the children each year to find on Christmas morning. And he always mentions the importance of remembering the real meaning of Christmas. The Elf also reminds them in different ways to keep Jesus the focus of Christmas as well.

Both Santa and the Elf compliment our kids for kind things they do and how they keep Christ in Christmas. It’s a simple way to help tie the more secular traditions with our faith.

3. Read the Christmas story together.

When our kids were little, we found the best way to read the Christmas story together was one verse or so at a time. In fact, you can find a free printable version of Bible verses for Dec. 1 through 25 in this post. We would usually print the verses, cut them apart and then number and attach a verse to each of the Christmas books we wrap for our kids to open throughout December.

One of the bonuses of doing one verse at a time is that each evening, we would ask the kids what happened previously in the Christmas story. That helps ingrain the story firmly in their minds. In fact, even now with using the devotion book, we still do this since its verses lead us through the Christmas story as well.

4. Talk about the true meaning of Christmas.

You don’t have to give your children sermons or lectures about the true meaning of Christmas. But mention it in small ways when it comes up. For example, we have watched Christmas movies or shows as a family when the characters reference the real meaning of Christmas being time with family or something. We will ask our children what the actual true meaning of Christmas is. Or we mention the other stuff is great, but Jesus’ birth is the true meaning.

Our children are exposed to secular culture in a variety of ways. I like finding ways to help them learn how to navigate the world around them within their faith view. And this is something that works well at Christmastime.

5. Set up a nativity scene.

Whether you use a toy nativity scene or a decorative one, a nativity scene at Christmas helps your family keep Christ in Christmas. We’ve never had a toy one. Instead, I have the one my family had when I was a child as well as one from my maternal grandmother. We set up one downstairs and one upstairs.

My kids love setting up the nativity scenes. We’ve had many years of having a nativity scene that doesn’t look like I necessarily envision, but I don’t mind. What I have really enjoyed is hearing the kids as they were younger playing with the nativity scene as they moved it around. Learning about Jesus’ birth definitely doesn’t have to be all serious!

6. Listen to Christian Christmas music.

Music is a big part of my life and my worship. So listening to Christian Christmas music just fits right in. But, I will be honest in saying that I don’t usually enjoy the Christmas music played on contemporary Christian stations. It tends to all be slow and emotional. So, I have my own playlists. And some secular artists have their own renditions of Christmas carols talking about the birth of Jesus.

Our family doesn’t listen to only Christian Christmas music, but it definitely is part of our December. I always kick off the Christmas music season with my favorite Christmas album by 4Him, “A Season of Love,” that was released way back in 1997.

The "God Gave Us Christmas" book from Lisa Tawn Bergren is a great way to keep Christ in Christmas

7. Read faith-centered Christmas books.

One of our family’s Christmas traditions is opening a Christmas book each evening Dec. 1 through 24. We have a wide array of books from traditional secular Christmas stories to silly ones to faith-based ones. We enjoy “The Animals’ Christmas Eve,” which tells the story of Jesus’ birth from the animals in the manger. Another great one is “God Gave Us Christmas” from Lisa Tawn Bergren. (I love the entire “God Gave Us” series from her!)