How to Organize Your Holiday Baking

It’s the most wonderful stressful time of the year!!!  Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays.  I love the holidays so much I sneak holiday music before Thanksgiving which is basically like spitting at children in my family. But truthfully it can get exhausting because your holiday traditions begin to feel more like To Dos rather than I Wants. However, with a few deep breaths, a couple of glasses of spiked egg nog, and a plan, at least holiday baking can be a lot easier.

Attend or Plan a Cookie Exchange

If you get invited to a cookie exchange – GO!  If you don’t, you can plan one fairly easily.  Of course, Real Simple, the mecca of all things home, has a great checklist if you are planning your own. (I totally won’t tell if you skip a couple of the items on the list.) The benefit of the cookie exchange is that you only have to make a batch (or maybe a double batch depending on the size of the party) as you exchange a dozen of your cookies for somebody else’s.  This gives you a bunch of options without having to do them all yourself.  And if you are the perfectionist wondering if others cookies will be as good as your own – GET OVER YOURSELF. Seriously, do you think your office mates, the mail carrier, or your teenage son will care what the cookies taste like? NO, they are cookies. The cardinal rule of cookies is that they are good!

 

Bake WAY Ahead, Then Freeze

This is something my mother has been doing for years. She is the kind of person who is super caring and sends cookie packages to everybody spread across the U.S. who has ever even once had a bite of her Christmas cookies. And they are delicious, I’ll admit it, but she makes about 8-10 different cookies each year (and usually double batches at that). 12-14-16-baking-butterThis is not possible for any one human to do right before Christmas – so she forced me to help from a very young age. But really, what she did, was bake and freeze all of the cookies at least 2-3 weeks in advance. Cookies freeze really well and this keeps them tasting super fresh for much longer than their normal shelf life.  Just take them out of the freezer 3-5 hours before serving so nobody chips a tooth and has to make a trip to the ER on Christmas Eve.

 

Pare Down

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Even the best laid plans can get side-tracked by the holidays.  Therefore if you find yourself scrambling right around now, breathe… there you go, deep breath… and make the cut. If you have 5 cookie recipes you usually make each year, cut it down to the two favorites. If they are cookies that have to refrigerate overnight, mix them as soon as you get home from work and pop them in the fridge. You may not bake them for a few days but at least you know the dough is ready to go. (Side Note – some famous cookies, like gingerbread, can be made in bar form and taste just as great.) Set aside 2-3 hours and do as much in that time as you can. Whatever doesn’t get done, doesn’t. Use what you have, don’t apologize for not making Aunt Hilda’s date bars this year, and enjoy your family and friends.

 

If All Else Fails, Buy Them

That’s it, plain and simple. There are enough good bakeries and online bakeries that will do the job for you. Cheat and put them on your own platter if you feel you must. Nobody needs to know. Especially not Carol in HR who SWEARS she had these at the Fluffer Nutter Bakery last week. Just smile and nod… smile and nod.

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