Kids can make cookies at What's Cooking school.  

Kids can make cookies at What's Cooking school.   Credit: Howard Simmons

This holiday season, a gingerbread house can have an open concept. Santa Claus can wear a rainbow-colored cap. Rudolph might be paired with a menorah. Who will come up with these new creations? Kids, during the holiday school break on Long Island. Whether it’s in a candy shop, a cooking studio, a bakery or museum, families can join DIY holiday craft workshops, arrange for private workshops, or pick up freshly prepared holiday kits to do at home. Here’s how to get started.

CELEBRATIONS IN THE KITCHEN

During the holiday break, bakeshop owner Mike Marretta offers a winter wonderland of store-made holiday cake, cookie, cupcake, cookie house and gingerbread house decorating kits. He feels baking is more of a science (involving exact measuring, precise timing, etc.), so his kits don’t include that process. Marretta says, "We give people what they enjoy most: decorating. It’s the creative, artistic part, and we make decorating cookies and cakes easy."

Pick a holiday theme and order online. All kit ingredients will be freshly baked on the premises and ready to go. For example, a cake will come with two baked layers. Cover them with buttercream, place one layer on top of the other, and start decorating with colored pastry tubes, icing and toppings ranging from snowmen to Santas to penguins to dreidels. There are countless creative choices including a Rudolph the Reindeer cake.

DETAILS: 63 E Old Country Rd., Hicksville; 516-396-2193. All kits are made with natural ingredients and baked to order. Ingredients in most kits are dairy free, and all are nut free. Vegan and gluten free options are available. Check website for varying prices. Rudolph cake: $129.95. Hours: Monday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHAT’S COOKING?

Make your own holiday cookies at What's Cooking school. 

Make your own holiday cookies at What's Cooking school.  Credit: Howard Simmons

For a three-course cooking and baking holiday craft extravaganza, join a workshop in this cooking studio, or arrange for a private session with family and friends. No matter which you choose, owner Nadja Sprei describes the way each 90-minute workshop plays out. "First, everyone makes their own snowman-or-stocking-shaped pizza," she says. "While the pizza cooks, we make dessert. If we’re making red-nosed reindeer doughnuts or frosted snowflake cupcakes, we break the eggs, measure and mix wet and dry ingredients, and pour the batter into molds. While dessert is baking, out comes the pizza. We eat, and sip hot cocoa with melted snowmen marshmallows. Out comes dessert. We decorate with icing, sprinkles, chocolate chips and lots more." In another workshop, if kids are making cookies, they can choose from lots of different holiday cookie cutters, from mittens to holiday trees to menorahs.

The most popular cooking class has been the four-course gingerbread house workshop. At the beginning of each session, every child is given a ready-made gingerbread house to decorate with icing, candy canes, gumballs, snowmen, the works. Next, kids make and eat their own stocking- or snowman-shaped pizza, then bake and decorate holiday cookies. "The workshop is packed with holiday fun," says Sprei.

DETAILS: 30 E Main St., Oyster Bay; 516-922-2665. Studio classes are recommended for kids 5 and up. Mommy and me classes recommended for kids under 5. Workshop menus are flexible. Class sizes can vary from 6 to 30. Call to sign up for an existing workshop, or inquire about booking a private family/friend workshop. All pricing is based on group size and meal. Hours: Daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

CHOCOLATE WORKS PLAINVIEW

In this shop filled with chocolates and candies, anything goes. Kids can make a holiday candy taco, sushi or kebab. Families can also pick up customized holiday candy kits to create at home. All kits are freshly made to order, so call one day in advance to arrange for a personalized version with candies and colors of your choice. Chocolate treats are ready to decorate with molds ranging from reindeer to ice skates to snowflakes. For those who prefer to create in the shop, call in advance to reserve a time slot for two to 25 kids.

DETAILS: 371 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview; 516-252-3855. Kits come with instructions. Candy kits begin at $10. Prices vary for workshops in the store — call for information. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

LONG ISLAND CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

Aurora Lin, 3, and mom Junlu Fan, of Dix Hills,...

Aurora Lin, 3, and mom Junlu Fan, of Dix Hills, left, participated in a "charming cookie necklace" pop-up activity, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, at the Long Island Children's Museum in Garden City. Credit: Danielle Silverman

If you’d rather wear a holiday craft than eat it, this is the place to go. Kids can design their own gingerbread boy or girl necklaces. Participate in this 10-minute pop-up activity while visiting the museum. Gather around a holiday craft table, where a LICM educator will give each child a paper gingerbread character, string, boxes of colored beads, and a buffet of foam stickers. Children work in their own space.

Since the necklace craft table is set up next to the Gingerbread House Gallery (an exhibit with nearly 700 gingerbread houses), kids can walk through the gallery first, get ideas, and then make necklaces.

Director of communications Maureen Mangan explains, "We see this as a shared, multigenerational experience. Parents and relatives can help kids assemble the necklaces. It also gives them a chance to watch the way their kids like to design and observe their creative process." Mangan has seen a Ninja gingerbread man, and a gingerbread man superhero. She says with a smile, "They must fight calories."

DETAILS: 11 Davis Ave., Garden City; 516-224-5800. Gingerbread necklace activity included with the price of museum admission. General admission: $14, 65 and up: $13. Register for a time slot in advance. Museum hours: Wednesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Dec. 27 through Dec. 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHALING MUSEUM AND EDUCATION CENTER

For those who’d like to create a charming craft for a holiday tree, pick up a sea glass ornament kit, which can be purchased during museum hours. Each kit comes with sand, seashells, sea glass from Long Island Sound, gems and ribbons to decorate. The kit also comes with a link to a video with step-by-step instructions. Follow the directions, or improvise and design your own ornament. While at the museum, participate in a star constellation "scavenger hunt." At the end, as a reward, create a glittery star lantern.

DETAILS: 301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor; 631-367-3418. Sea glass kit price: $10. Museum holiday hours: Dec. 23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Dec. 24-25; Dec. 26-31: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.