Thursday, December 4

TRADITIONS | Holiday Cookie Baking :: Shutterfly



I host a Holiday Cookie Baking party at my house every December with family.
We come together for an afternoon of baking so that at the end of the afternoon we all have a nice assortment of holiday cookies for either eating or gifting/sharing with others.


The idea was actually inspired by my grandmother's cookie press. 
I have fond memories of gathering in her kitchen during the holiday season to bake up her favorite "Holly Wreath" cookies; a five ingredient recipe from back-in-the-day when "cookie" was spelled "cooky". (see below)


In our hopes to remember and honor that tradition my mom, my aunt and I decided to gather together as a family every year and use grandma's cookie press together. (instead of fighting over it when we were baking on separate days… Ha!)

This year, I used these super cute "Jolly Dots" Shutterfly cards to send out to get everyone excited!!
I just LOVE how they turned out with the bright cheerful colors and polka dots!! I got the jolly dots address labels to match too - which made sending them out a cinch!! 

When I was looking for the links to share with you I noticed the invitations are now 40% off and the address labels are 50% off through midnight tonight - December 4th!! Awesome!!! 


So…
my family and I gather…
and we laugh…
and we bake…
and we make memories…every year.

And with every year that we come together…
I continue to learn something new for the next year that will help things go more smoothly and keep things fun and stress-free. I thought you might like to know how I do it…just in case you want to do one of your own.

1. PROVIDE A LUNCH
The first couple of years we just got together and baked and ate cookies and cookie dough all afternoon…which was totally fun. BUT…it was too much sugar and not enough sustenance.
So now…I'm providing an easy lunch for everyone to help themselves to whenever they feel like eating. Last year I did a big pot of White Chicken Chili. This year I'm doing a from-scratch homemade pot of chicken vegetable soup with homemade biscuits. (I've got the biscuits in the freezer from a few weeks ago and will just pop those in the oven).  I'll make the soup the day before so it only needs to be reheated in a crockpot. The idea is to make sure it's easy to eat, easy to clean-up and that it doesn't take up much kitchen counter space - leaving more room for baking cookies.


1. DESIGNATE A START AND STOP TIME
Without a designated ending time, the first year we got together our "afternoon of baking" quietly transitioned into a late evening…leaving us all completely exhausted - and hungry for real food. (see "Provide a Lunch" above). By setting a time, we're a little more cognizant of staying on task and we can actually let our own families know when we'll be done. (and when the cookies will be available for eating). Ha!!  Remember to give yourself time for clean-up too! 

2. COOKIE INGREDIENTS
Everyone should bring the ingredients they need to be able to bake the specific cookie recipe they are looking to share. I also make sure to have plenty of the staples on hand, (flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, butter, eggs, etc.), just in case someone forgets something or we decide to make more of something.

3. HOSTESS SUPPLIES
As the hostess, I make sure to have pot holders, cookie sheets, spatulas, scrapers, measuring spoons, measuring cups, cooling racks, rolling pins, hand-mixers, a stand mixer and scoops. You might also want to have on hand wax paper and parchment paper. (I add a little something to my supply every year - like this year I bought another set of measuring spoons and I'll be buying some more pot holders and cookie sheets). I also provide extra baking staples - see "Cookie Ingredients" above and my family is lucky since I always have a well-stocked pantry filled with all sorts of sprinkles and sparkles.

4. GUEST SUPPLIES
Each person that is participating in the baking should bring the ingredients for their own cookies, (see "Cookie Quantity" below), as well as some type of packaging to transport all of their cookies home.

Some people will just use a paper plates and slide them into ziploc bags. Others will use basic plastic storage containers they already have in their kitchen. I usually try to have pretty packages or plates to go ahead and package up my cookies for gift giving so that my family doesn't eat them all. I picked up these darling rectangle plates from the Oh Joy! collection at Target this year.

5. COOKIE QUANTITY
Each baker should be baking a dozen cookies for each person in attendance…PLUS the amount of cookies the baker wants to take home or keep. (Ex. If I want to make sure I have 4 dozen of my own cookies and there are 5 total bakers participating then I need to plan on baking 9 dozen cookies total.)

6. BAKE HOSTESS COOKIES AHEAD OF TIME
I'm trying something new this year because we are going to have more bakers in the kitchen. Since I only have one oven and a tiny side oven, I'm going to make my cookies ahead of time to free up the oven. I'm thinking that will allow me to enjoy more time with my family and help them with the recipes they are making.

7. CHRISTMAS MUSIC
You know music is HUGE for me so you might have already guessed I always make sure to have some playing in the background while we are baking! Now I call it "Christmas" music because that's what I celebrate but you can call it "Holiday" music if you prefer.  Whatever you call it…make sure you've got your favorites playing. (I'm even polling my guests this year to see what their favorites are so I can add them to my Spotify "Christmas Baking" playlist.

Hope these helpful tips will encourage you to host your own Cookie Baking party!!

All in all the day ends up covering a whole list of things I love doing during the holidays:
Spending time with family.
Baking.
Packaging up homemade goodies for friends and neighbors.
Making memories.
Singing along to my favorite Christmas music.
and last but not least…treating my girls and J with homemade holiday cookies.

And you can bet I'll be taking some selfies to capture all of those memories we'll be making this year!!  I'm actually getting much better at it now that I've been practicing. *wink*

KEEPiNG iT REAL
The Thanksgiving decor is down but not quite out of the house yet…
and the Christmas tree lights are on the tree…as of last night.
That's the extent of our holiday cheer so far.
Hoping to get my Hot Cocoa bar up, the tree decorated and lights up outside before our afternoon of  Cookie Baking.

2 comments:

Jody December 4, 2014 at 8:11 PM  

What is in your Hot Cocoa bar?

Jody December 4, 2014 at 8:13 PM  

Nevermind I saw your other post!! Awesome!!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
 
Pin It button on image hover