Back to Blogs
Blog Img

Cooking up connections at Christmas with shortbread

Well, it’s heading towards that time of year again!

Christmas is around the corner and it’s at the end of the maddest of years!But, regardless of what else is happening, there always a conversation about cooking and food.And this brings connection to memories of recipes shared, and laughter around a table laden with goodies.

But have you thought about how you can bring the conversations and connection to life with each of your residents?

Preparation for Christmas has often meant filling the kitchen with the smell of shortbread slowly baking in the oven.

No thought about buying it ready-made!

Oh no!

Nana’s recipe is pulled out of the well-worn book on the shelf.

Ingredients are collected with care. And then, the beautiful aromas waft around the house, making everyone’s mouth water. It’s a particular smell that conjures up memories of melt-in-your-mouth buttery flavours. The first bite of that perfect texture. And enjoying the actual process of baking together, chatting away over mixing bowls, sharing stories and ideas. Laughing about what shapes you’ll make this year, and then making the same as every year because familiar is good.

So what about the idea of providing that wonderful connection time for your residents?

How about organising a shortbread baking morning or two?

They’ll chat and laugh while measuring, mixing, rolling and cutting biscuits! And they’ll get to know some of your catering team too!It’s a great boost for everyone. Because really, food and the preparation of it is such a simple way to nurture connection between people. They will be excited to make shortbread for family and friends.

You are empowering them with the opportunity to create and give, which heightens their sense of worth and value.

Setting up a baking morning or two for residents needn’t be onerous. Keep it simple, with that focus on one recipe. And shortbread is such a winner!

I’ve included a great recipe at the end, but I know you’ll have a ‘go to’ or one of your residents will be all over it! Mine (or yours) is easy to multiply the ingredients for the number of people, and it’s got tips for adding a zing of lemon, or there’s also a luxury version with cranberries and pistachio for that Christmas colour pop

Choosing one recipe means you and your team can focus on helping each person with their batch of biscuits and enjoy the conversations.

It is also easier to stay on top of all the food safety requirements, and any other risk factors that need to be covered. Keep the groups small, so that you can be organised, careful and be effective with time management. Usually you are using a space that has multiple demands, so time for cleaning up is essential for success.

Another tip for keeping small groups, and doing more than one session, is that you can carefully manage those who you know will work well together. Nothing worse than having two people who just don’t get on! If you’re not sure about who would be great together or not, there’s always someone who knows their quirks and dislikes and would be happy to help!

This is such a great way to provide connection for people.

So much better than having those memories stored away without the chance to share them, laugh over them. Without these opportunities, there is less involvement in the enjoyable process of Christmas.

So what are you waiting for?

There’s still time to organise some fun mornings and create connections through cooking for Christmas.

Get your team on board, and get your residents excited for a bake off!

Take loads of photos and share them in your newsletter so that family and friends can see the wonderful times you are providing for their relative.


Before you start

  • Remember to wash or sanitise everyone’s hands before you get cooking.


  • 300g softened butter

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar

  • ½ cup rice flour or cornflour

  • 2 ½ cups plain flour


  1. Pop the butter and sugar into a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until light and creamy (about 4 minutes).

  2. Turn it down to slowest speed and add the rice flour.

  3. Gradually add the plain flour. You may have to hand mix the last cup of flour, as it gets quite firm.

  4. Take dough out of bowl and divide into two portions. At this stage, I usually make them into two rectangular logs and wrap them in baking paper to set in the fridge for half an hour. Then they can be just sliced into even biscuits.

  5. However, it’s also fun to roll it out and cut out shapes (whatever you like!)

  6. Bake at 160C on lined trays for about 10 minutes. But keep an eye on them because each oven is different!

Now, for that pop of flavour. Add the juice of half a lemon when adding the rice flour. Or ¼ cup of chopped cranberries, and ¼ cup chopped pistachios.