Mum’s Christmas Shortbread and The Pageant

It’s not really a ‘pageant’.  That would be an exaggeration.  It’s called a ‘Christmas Concert’ but it’s really a lot less than that as well.  That’s if last year’s concert is anything to go by.

Mum’s Christmas Shortbread

It’s the Christmas concert that Alfie’s school puts on but there’s so many students they can’t squeeze into the school’s hall so last year they held it out in the quadrangle with the students in the middle and the parents fighting for space around the perimeter.  The only trouble was that once you had your rock star position, there was no guarantee your child would be anywhere near you.  They could have been positioned around the quadrangle in any point of the compass so stealing a glimpse of them or managing a photo was like divine intervention.

So last year we didn’t see much of Alfie’s performance.  And despite the fact it was just some basic actions to a mimed song, Celebrate Good Times, (nothing Christmasy about it), we would have liked a glimpse.

A lovely homemade gift

I think some letters of disappointment were forwarded to the principal.  This year things seem to have taken a turn for the better.  To start with, there are costumes.  A few weeks ago Alfie came home with a zip lock bag containing a plain red t-shirt and a small square of green sequined fabric.  There was a note attached asking the parent or guardian to use the small green square to put something Christmasy onto the T-shirt.

That filled me with dread.

Because I don’t have a single craft gene in my body and I don’t own a needle and thread let alone a sewing machine.

So I did what I thought everyone else would do and I took that little zip lock bag and its contents down to the Chinese people who altered that Size 2 dress for me and gave them 20 bucks and said I’d be back later in the week to pick it up.

The costume

I thought they did a great job.  There’s not only a Christmas tree on the front (very Christmasy) but also a little green trim around the neck to heighten the look.  I was pleased.  Alfie took it to school the next day and when I picked him up I asked him if he had remembered to hand in his costume.

‘Yeah, I did, and the teacher showed it to everyone in the class’.

And I was proud as punch.  ‘Oh, she must have loved it’.

‘She shows everyone’s t-shirts to the whole class when they’re handed in’.

‘Oh’, I said a little deflated, ‘But did everyone love it?’

‘Not really’.

I was shocked.  ‘Not really?  What do you mean?’

‘It’s just got a tree on it’.

‘Well there was only a small square of fabric.  What else could you do with it?’

‘Other mothers had decorated their trees.  They bought decorations like little bells and tinsel and glued things onto the tree.  Mine’s just plain’.

Stars and Christmas Trees

Every year, in every class, there are those whose mothers just have to raise the bar and their children should be put in a class of their own where their mothers can compete for ‘mother of the year’.

The rest of us are just in survival mode.

If your child does have a lovely teacher (as Alfie does and I know she said nice things about his plain Christmas tree), these Christmas shortbread biscuits make a lovely gift.  Normally these are served as little round biscuits but I couldn’t resist my Christmas cookie cutters.  Shortbread is so delicious on its own that it doesn’t need added sweetness or decoration but I gave my trees and stars just a little touch of silver bling.

Again, this is something my mother would serve at her Christmas Drinks.

Or serve on a pretty plate to guests

Mum’s Christmas Shortbread.

Makes:  40

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Very minimal.  If you don’t have all the ingredients in your pantry, it will only cost you a few dollars to purchase them.

Preheat oven to 140C (280F)

  • 1/2 lb of flour (225g)
  • 1/2 lb butter (225g)
  • 2 ozs cornflour (57g)
  • 4 ozs icing sugar (115g)

Work all ingredients together.  Roll out and cut into fingers and bake in oven for around 15 minutes or until lightly golden.


Shortbread can be cut into any shape

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  1. Yummy looking biscuits! These would be great for gifts this Chrissy 🙂 I think that shirt is adorable and I also cannot sew at all – I would have done the same thing too 😀 hehe

  2. What a lot of fuss! Your Christmas tree is exactly what I would have done! Good on you! I can wait to make shortbread, got my mum’s recipe yesterday.

  3. Your biscuit are simple yet so elegant and classy, great job.
    Know what you mean about those mothers who just have to raise the bar. I love Alfie’s simple tree, I find simplicity to be the best.

  4. your shortbread is gorgeous! I just baked some this wknd and they look nothing like yours 🙁 I think I must have rolled them too thin…and overcooked them. Oh well, I’m still handing them out! hehe. I loved Alfie’s shirt. I think it’s better without excess decoration 😉

  5. Certain parents can be such overachievers. I think your tree looks perfectly lovely!

  6. I don’t have a crafty bone in my body either. I would have done the same thing as you – or given it to my mother-in-law who is an expert when it comes to sewing. I think you’re cooking and baking more than makes up for the lack of craftiness though. These cookies are just beautiful. I love the little pearls – the dress them up so nicely. 🙂

  7. I think I’m missing the craft gene too! But, these cookies surely make up for that. They’re so cute. I can’t wait to start baking some holiday cookies.

  8. Ohh but I don’t think it’s plain 🙂 I love the little Christmas tree~ but like you said there will always be mothers who will try to out do others… either i think it’s still lovely and i bet the other mothers can’t cook or bake as well as you can!!!

    These cookies are great 🙂 as presents! Thanks for sharing Charlie xox

  9. Pretty biscuits! I love the little decoration in the center. Next time just glue cookies to the front of his costume. That way all the children will be jealous while he gets to snack during the “concert/pageant/extravaganza”.

  10. Don’t feel bad about the shirt, Charlie. I think the teacher should have included a note with additional information ie please feel free to add additional embellishments to the shirt and fabric on a Xmas/festive theme.

    Your short breads are gorgeous by the way. And, I love the box presentation. I wish I could be that crafty in my baking and gift giving. The pretty plate presentation is wonderful as well.

    I bought a few new Xmas cookie cutters for the sugar cookies I was going to make but I’m going to try to make these instead for Xmas. At least a small batch. The silver dragee decoration is simple and elegant. I have a bag in my pantry which I was going to use to decorate my Xmas trees along with a swag of green icing. The link below is to my first ever batch of sugar cookies and decoration attempt. I’ve made minimal improvement since.

  11. I think Alfie’s Christmas costume is lovely. Just lovely, as are your cookies.

  12. Bet that shortbread is amazing with the addition of cornflour. Somehow there are always mothers who have the ability to make us feel inadequate. Hope the concert goes well. GG

  13. Boo on them! I’m sure those mothers can’t cook to save their lives! The shirt looks great Charlie.
    The cookies are wonderful and elegant. I’ve not made shortbread before but I’m changing things up this year so it may have to go on my list.

  14. I come from a long line of quilters and sewers and I don’t have a sewing gene in my body either. You crack me up! They should have let the kids decorate their own shirts…it’s not about the parental sewing skills for pete’s sake! LOL

    Your mum’s shortbread looks fantastic! Shortbread is one of my favorites. 🙂

  15. Sewing? I would have used glue!
    I love shortbread, so rich and yummy. I like to dunk it in my tea, layer it with strawberries and cream, our crumble it over baked fruit- so very versatile 🙂

  16. Shortbread cookies are one of the reasons life is worth living.;) Yours look so beautiful and perfect. Thanks for sharing your family recipe!

  17. Shortbread makes a tasty biscuit, Charlie. Using your cookie cutters was a good idea. I’m sure Alfie’s teacher will love them.

  18. Gorgeous! My mom’s shortbread’s better ‘n your mom’s! =) Take a look at my shortbread sandwich cookies… they also have a little silver knob! Love shortbread. Theses are SO PURDY and the entire mood of the post is happy all wrapped up for the holidays!

  19. Your short bread looks amazing! So simple?! Love how you put it in a box for a gift. Great way to treat your friends and family 😉

  20. Oh Charlie how dare those other mothers raise the bar! I agree though they should all be put in a class together. I think Alfie’s shirt is very festive. The other ones must just look way too busy.

    I’m making shortbread for my grandma for Christmas but seeing this I might just bling them up in Christmas shapes. So pretty!

  21. Great presentation of the shortbread. I do think it is a competition between mothers sometimes. I missed all that by homeschooling Dario and the homeschooling groups we belonged to didn’t really give a damn about competitiveness, thank goodness.

  22. Methinks the women who embroidered their kids’ clothes are likely incredibly envious of you and your baking skills, Charlie my dear! In that arena, you put the whole school to shame 😉

  23. Oh, I’m so with you on those school mothers, Charlie – I like the idea of them having a class of their own. I also always thought that parents who let their kids learn violin should have a separate music concert, too. 😉

  24. Well, I love Alfie’s plain Christmas tree. I think it is great. I also think parents are under way too much pressure when it comes to things like this–kids too. What a lovely box of shortbreads–you may not have a craft gene (I don’t believe that for a minute), but you certainly know how to turn out beautiful food.

  25. nice to have christmas party with the friends 🙂 it’s time for celebration!

    Latest: Bid goodbye to 2012 with Fireworks!

  26. Good gosh. That tree looks pretty impressive to me! As you say, some mothers are a liability to everyone else.

    I don’t like shortbread (along with just about all the traditional Christmas desserts, sadly!) but do love your cookie shapes and the little decorations. I am sure any teacher would love them.

  27. Shortbread cookies are my favorite. And what a nice work you did decorating it! I bet they made Alfie happy, and all she remembers about he Christmas craft-tree is your love and taste of homemade cookies 🙂

  28. LOL. I love your tree. Does that make you feel any betteR? I wouldn’t wear it.. but the sentiment is there. Haha I found some classic Christmas concert photos of myself the other day. How awkward!

  29. Oh dear Charlie, sorry, but I had a good giggle about Alfie’s “plain” t-shirt.
    I LOVE shortbread and have only ever used my great-gran’s recipe. I see your mom’s recipe uses icing sugar where my great-gran’s uses castor sugar. I am off to the kitchen to make these right away – the second of your mom’s recipes in 2 weeks. I will post about your mom’s Whiskey logs on Thursday.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  30. LOL survival mode! Oh dear, I can only imagine that that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

  31. I would always dread costumes for school. Its not that I couldn’t do it I just had no motivation for it. Now these shortbreads they are a totally different kettle of fish and perfect for a teacher gift at the end of the year.

  32. These are just gorgeous. you always make me smile with your stories, can’t wait to hear what actually eventuates at the concert in the lovely red shirts! hoping you at least get to see 😉

  33. I think you did a great job of the shirt hun. i unfortunately am one of those mums you mention that go all out, not because I am competing or want to be Mother of The Year, more cause my Mothers guilt at being an absent full time working mum means I over compensate at every opportunity I can get. Sad I know right? x

  34. Gotta love shortbreads! Meanwhile, with all your skills, I was surprised to learn that sewing isn’t in your skillset. But that’s OK … and I still want you to be my neighbor!

  35. That is perfect looking shortbread!

  36. Charlie love, I said pet…. if that was me it would probably have gone back to the school pinned on and with a bit of tinsel pinned on beside it. Thats probably all the time and money I would have had. Poor Skater….still he has grown up a resourceful non judgmental, unneedy human being so plug on. love the shortbreads and the picture ..and look forwards to Alfies performance

  37. I love shortbread. I could eat buckets of it.

  38. Oh, dear, you may not have decorated the tree.. but those cookies are fabulous!! So take that, you mothers of perfection!! When I first read through, I thought you were going to recommend those mothers run a class for the rest of us. I could have used one of those back in the day. How to be a super-achiever mom.. it would be so helpful. I just never thought that way, I guess I’m a bit too “laid back”, lol! xx

  39. These cookies look great Charlie, so light, maybe due to the corn flour…and they are perfectly shaped…very cute.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week 🙂

  40. Love your christmas biscuits and your ingenuity about the t-shirt. You are a smart women; you know where you strength lies (in the kitchen) and where it doesn’t (in the sewing room) and so you focus on your strength. Who wants to be superwoman anyway?

  41. They look lovely Charlie.

  42. Both the cookies and the christmas shirt look lovely. I could sure use one of those biscuits with my morning cup of tea! It is so good to visit your blog again. I’ve been quite sick the past month…and with moving on the near horizon, my blog-reading has gone to the wayside. But I am very glad to be back! I hope you have a beautiful week!

  43. LOL! Love that you outsourced your crafting assignment. Blahh to the over achieving mothers. ie: Easter Hat parades at our school are a nightmare!
    I don’t think I will win mother of the year anytime soon.;)

  44. Charlie, my shirt will be worse than what this “plain” t-shirt. I know some moms are really creative and talented when it comes to crafts etc. We’re going to a school event tonight, it’s a Christmas tree auction. The trees are decorated with whatever theme they picked. I heard all of the class and their representative did an amazing job decorating. Good thing I didn’t volunteer. My tree would look so sad among all the beautiful ones. Your shortbread cookies look the best! I love the silver dots. Simple, and elegant!

  45. You have some really nice pictures here. Love the one up top. And that’s a really funny story about the tree, and other mothers. And to top it off, good recipe! Just a good post all around – thanks.

  46. Wow these shortbread cookies look absolutely perfect!! I want some with hot cocoa right now mmmm

  47. Hate those moms who strive so hard for one-upmanship. The cookies look beautiful.

  48. Let me tell you, you are going to be the proudest Mum at the concert this year, Charlie. Alfie would have told you by now that I chose him to be ‘Santa’ for the finale. I know I don’t need to tell you to bring your camera. You’ll be happy to know that I’m organising a note to parents telling them to find out from their kids exactly where they will be performing so that you have more chance of seeing them. PS: We ALL loved Alfie’s shirt as who doesn’t love a Christmas tree, be it sparkly or cooked! Cheers, Mrs B xx

  49. These would make the perfect xmas pressie! I mean, who could resist homemade buttery shortbread??!!! They look way too pretty to eat – they’re like xmas tree ornaments

  50. Stunning Christmas cookies! Yummy too! Now, I can use my 250 differentcookie cutters,…Which ones will I choose? Yummmm!

  51. Your cookies are so pretty I must try to make them. I make mine in round disks only because that’s the way my grandmother made them. And instead of cornflour, her recipe had 2 oz. of rice flour. I wonder if there’s any significant difference in the recipes, based on that small exchange. I think that the Christmas shortbread is the one item we never leave out…perhaps that’s in part due to the nostalgia factor. I miss my grandmother’s baking this time of year! And as for school programs…I think they can almost be painful even when you can see your child! But if not? Wow! I’m surprised the school didn’t have a parent revolt!

  52. I love shortbread, your recipe looks wonderful! The Christmasy shirt looks perfect! Hugs, Terra

  53. That had me laughing out loud, I related to this post so much. And your mom’s Xmas recipes are all so great!

  54. Made these this afternoon, swapping cornflour for rice flour, and they were a huge hit! Thank you.


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