By Mary Heyl
The first blast of winter weather is finally here, and whether you’re breaking out the snowblower, eagerly anticipating a snow day, or heading to the slopes, you’ve got snow on the brain! Celebrate the season with fun DIY snowflake decorations, recipes and gifts that you can enjoy all winter long.
The classic paper snowflake is one of the best activities to keep the kids busy on a cold, snowy day, but if your paper-snowflake-making skills are a little rusty, have no fear! Although folding a square sheet of white paper into eighths and free handing a pretty design with your scissors is fun, after several snowflakes you may run out of ideas for patterns. Head on over to Pinterest, where you can find a huge variety of snowflake templates, from elegant designs to Star Wars characters to superhero silhouettes, like Batman. Simply print out the templates, fold on the dotted lines and cut.
After cutting out your snowflakes, use a cool iron to smooth them out. From there, you and your family can use the snowflakes for all kinds of projects. Use fishing line to hang them at different heights in doorways and windows. Paper snowflakes are perfect for adorning gifts; using a glue stick or double-stick tape, attach them to gifts wrapped in solid-colored paper. Decorate the living room with garlands of shimmering snowflakes, perhaps across the fireplace mantel. Just apply spray adhesive or dab a sponge-tipped glue applicator on the snowflakes and sprinkle with glitter. Shake off the excess glitter and let dry. Thread the snowflakes onto a satin ribbon and attach to the mantelpiece with poster putty.
Snowball cookies are the perfect treat to kick-start your holiday baking—they freeze well and are perfect with a nice cold glass of milk! If you’re baking for a cookie exchange or have family members who have allergies, it may be a good idea to skip the nuts; YellowBlissRoad.com has the perfect, easy recipe for this classic, melt-in-your-mouth cookie.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1 box of white cake mix, 1/3 cup of oil, 3 egg whites and 4 ounces of cream cheese (softened) until well combined. Chill for 30 minutes. If dough feels sticky, add ¼ cup of flour or powdered sugar. Take about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Roll the dough in powdered sugar and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the tops start to crack (but don’t allow them to brown). Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Dust with sifted powdered sugar and enjoy.
For a festive, tasty gift, make your own snowflake marshmallows to give with a batch of homemade hot chocolate mix in a holiday mug. Coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; line with parchment paper. Spray parchment; set aside. Pour 1/3 cup of cold water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle with 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin; let mixture soften, about 5 minutes.
Place 1 ½ cups of sugar, 2/3 cup of light corn syrup, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and 1/3 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Cover; bring to a boil. Remove lid; cook, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup reaches 238 degrees (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes.
With mixer on low speed, whisk gelatin mixture, and slowly pour the syrup mixture in a steady stream down the side of the bowl (to avoid splattering). Gradually raise the speed to high; beat until mixture is thick, white, and has almost tripled in volume, about 12 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and beat 30 seconds to combine.
Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet; smooth with an offset spatula. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Coat a 1- or 2-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter with cooking spray to prevent it from sticking. Cut out as many individual marshmallows as possible; coat cutter with more spray as needed. Use marshmallows immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week.