By now you may be wanting a break from both baking and eating Christmas cookies. You may also be wondering what you can do to keep holiday-crazed kids entertained for the next two weeks. How about putting them to work making non-sugary treats for their fur- and feather-covered friends? Break out those Christmas cookie cutters and let the baking begin! It’s much less stressful to make pet biscuits — no complaints about any burned edges or misshapen stars — but it’s still lots of fun for the smaller members of the family, who get to don an apron and wield a rolling pin just like mom or grandma.

We always made treats for our dog Ben, who loved, beyond all reason, to unwrap gifts. Show him a present and he’d render its paper and ribbons into confetti within seconds. Every year we’d wash and dry his favorite teddy, wrap it, and put it under the tree for him. He never tired of opening this gift (nor did he ask for a newer model), but, to be certain he felt appreciated and loved, we also baked and wrapped a box of biscuits. We’ve upped the ante in the dog-treat department lately, since the current canine companion does better with wheat-free treats, but the resulting biscuits are gobbled up and make a great holiday gift for friends’ with dogs as well.

Oat and Sweet Potato Dog Biscuits

214 cups rolled oats
12 cup cooked sweet potato
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 to 3 Tbsp. chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oats in a food processor and process until they have a coarse-flour consistency. Remove 114 cup and set aside for rolling out biscuits. Add sweet potato and coconut oil to remaining oats and process until well combined. Add broth a tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition, until the mixture forms a dough when squeezed together. Turn out onto a board floured with reserved oat flour and knead together until it forms a firm ball. Roll out to about 1⁄4 inch thickness, sprinkling some flour on the surface to stop the dough sticking if necessary, or roll out between sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Cut out into cookie shapes and transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, checking carefully towards the end of the baking time, as they go from done to over-done very quickly. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container. Cat owners can also join in the baking. To make oat flour, use the same method as described for the dog biscuits above.

Tuna Cat Treats

1 can tuna in oil, drained
1 egg
114 cups oat flour, plus extra for dusting
12 cup chicken broth
14 cup chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, mix oat flour, tuna, egg, broth and parsley until a dough forms. If dough looks too sticky, add a bit more flour. Turn out onto a surface and roll out dough to 12 inch thick. Use small cookie cutters to cut out treats from the dough. Bake for 20 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that there is life after Christmas — and life for the Christmas tree as well, once it’s stripped of its holiday finery. Setting out a bird’s Christmas tree is always a great project for kids and adults alike. Cranberry and popcorn garlands and thick slices of apple and oranges tied to the branches with red yarn or ribbon make the tree festive all over again, as do these baked birdseed ornaments.

Birdseed Ornaments

3 cups mixed birdseed
12 cup flour
12 cup water
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and grease the foil. Grease your selected cookie cutters and lay them on the cookie sheet. Mix flour, water and birdseed together in a large bowl. Spoon the birdseed mixture into the cookie cutters, which act as molds for the “dough,” and press the mix firmly with the back of a spoon. Use a straw or chopstick to make a hole in the ornament for stringing with ribbon or yarn once they are baked. Bake for 90 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Tie onto tree with colorful ribbon or yarn. The birds will thank you. And remember, as the creator of Peanuts once said, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”