It’s two days after Thanksgiving, and where am I? Curled up in bed nursing a turkey hangover? Putting up the Christmas tree with my family? Shopping for Christmas gifts with crowds of crazies?
No. I am spending my Saturday after Thanksgiving in the best and only way I know how: an epic day of Christmas baking.
Over the last several years this family tradition has become one of my absolute favorites because it involves all my favorite things: family, friends, and sweet treats. Okay, let’s be real here. It involves sugary, cavity-inducing goodness, and that’s all you had to say to get me there.
So in honor of my favorite family tradition for the holidays, I’m sharing a little about how you, too, can enjoy your own epic day of Christmas baking (if you don’t already). Let me just start by saying this day sometimes morphs into two when we go overboard on treats, and by “we,” I mean me, my mom, my “aunt” LeeAnn, and my best friend Rachel. We spend the entire day from morning to night going to town on a list of treats as long as my arm and then box them all up for our families and to give as gifts.
Here are my tips to making your own epic baking day go a little smoother. This comes from several years of experience, so buckle in for some serious tips:
1. Make your list of treats and your list of ingredients ahead of time and delegate.
We tend to make the same treats every year with things ranging from the normal No-Bake Cookies and Chex Mix to the twist-on-a-favorite Toffee-Studded Snickerdoodles and Churro Chex Mix, to old family favorites Buckeyes and Cream Cheese Christmas Cookies. Since we’ve been doing this so long, we already know my mom will whip up the cookie dough the night before and LeeAnn will make her peanut brittle and Ritz peanut butter cracker sandwiches ahead of time. But it’s really important to double check we’ll have enough ingredients and not risk having to run to the store for more chocolate chips. So even though it takes time, it’s really important to get your list ready ahead of time and delegate who’s bringing what items and ingredients.
2. Clean out space to work ahead of time.
Our baking extravaganza takes place in my mom’s house. She has a nice, open kitchen to work in, but inevitably we run out of space between finding places to cool cookies and needing to use the refrigerator and freezer. Our solution? My dad’s Little Giant ladder. He sets it up in the living room that morning so we can lay it out with dozens of treats. If you plan to spend a day baking, consider what kinds of space you’ll need: places to lay ingredients out, flat surfaces to cool things, refrigerator space for cold items, freezer space to chill faster, etc. Then look at what space you have and get it cleaned and prepped before you get started.
3. Know who does what.
I’ve been doing this baking day long enough that I know I’ll be in charge of making two batches of Chex Mix and a batch of No-Bake Cookies and Haystacks. LeeAnn always mixes up melted chocolate for our dipped items. My mom rolls out cookie dough. It just happens that we all gravitate to the same things and have gotten good at them over the years. It helps to have a group to bake with because you can decide who will bake what, who uses the oven and stove when, and who gets what open space.
4. Prep your play list!
Perhaps this is silly, but Christmas baking calls for Christmas music in my humble opinion. Besides, it’s a post-Thanksgiving tradition, so no one can get mad if I break out the Christmas songs, right? My dad is always in charge of setting up the speakers and music for our baking, and it’s always the right mix of traditional carols, old school crooners, and more modern tunes.
5. Bring ALL the containers.
Seriously. There is no way to predict how many containers you will actually need. So just grab your biggest reusable bags and stuff them with all the Tupperware. I actually have an enormous Rubbermaid box I use for just this purpose because I never seem to have enough containers for all the sweets I bring home.
This also includes bringing enough containers to fit in everything for your gifts! We shop at the Dollar Tree for festive containers and use them along with cellophane and big, fat bows to make beautiful gift baskets every year.
6. Delegate meals.
After a day of baking, there is no way you’ll want to make lunch or dinner. Unfortunately sweets cannot arguably be considered a balanced meal, despite my hopes and wishes. So you’ll want to delegate someone (preferably a non-baker) to supply you with food. We tend to send my dad and husband out for an annual Krystal’s run for lunch and end the day with pizza as no one wants turkey anymore.