Creative snacks for Santa

Every kid knows that Santa Claus loves cookies and milk and his reindeer are wild about carrots. But why not leave a more creative snack by the fireplace on Christmas Eve this year?

These midnight treats will really stand out amid the traditional snacks Santa and his team will encounter as they make their merry deliveries. Plus, you can keep your little elves busy in the kitchen while they wait patiently for the big guy’s arrival.

After you’ve put out enough snacks for your much-anticipated visitor, you’ll have enough left over to munch on as you drive over the hills and through the woods to grandma’s house for Christmas dinner.

If you want to eschew Christmas Eve snack traditions this year (and involve your kids in a fun cooking project), give these recipes a try. Don’t forget about Rudolph and the rest of the hard-working reindeer pulling the sleigh. Whip up a batch of Run, Run Rudolph Granola-a favorite of both reindeer and hungry kids.

Run, Run, Rudolph Granola

  • 2½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. raw, sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp roasted and unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. each red and green sugar crystals
  • 1/3 cup mixed dried fruit (such as cherries, blueberries, cranberries, raisins or apricot)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl except for the sugar crystals and dried fruit. Stir until all of the oats and nuts are well-coated. Spread the mixture out in a single layer onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir the mixture halfway through the cooking time. Be sure that the oats don’t get too brown.

Immediately after removing the granola from the oven, add in the red and green sugar crystals and stir well to distribute evenly. Mix in the dried fruit. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to a month. After you’ve served the hungry reindeer, the extra granola will make a great Christmas morning breakfast. Run, Run Rudolph Granola makes a fun and whimsical gift for children. Include this poem and instructions to sprinkle just a little bit of this special “reindeer snack” on your front lawn on Christmas Eve:

Sprinkle on the lawn at night The moon will make it sparkle bright. As Santa’s reindeer fly and roam This will guide them to your home.

Ho Ho Holiday Trail Mix

  • ¼ cup roasted and salted peanuts
  • ¼ cup roasted and salted pecan pieces
  • ½ cup yogurt-covered raisins
  • 1/3 cup red and green M&M candies

After a thorough hand washing, put your little elves to work measuring and mixing all of the ingredients together into a large bowl. Spoon some of the trail mix into a goody bag for Santa so that he can take it with him on Christmas Eve (this is the perfect on-the-go snack for eating in a sleigh).

Store the remaining holiday trail mix in an airtight container for your little elves to enjoy. You could easily make substitutions in this recipe to accommodate tree nut allergies or other food preferences.

For a healthier version, choose low-salt nuts and use dried fruit instead of the M&Ms and yogurt-covered raisins. You could also substitute mini-pretzels or dry breakfast cereal for the nuts.

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