Stuffing yourself and your loved ones full of beautiful, delicious cookies and bars doesn't just happen without planning.
Find out how to make holiday baking easier and more efficient.
5+ Ways to Get Organized for Holiday Baking Season
It's time to get organized for holiday baking.
We're going to clean, we're going to make lists, plan ahead, buy ingredients on sale and we're going to be organized and we're going to be jolly little elves.
All those things, what to do first?
Make a tentative baking list.
Grab a notepad and pen or your iPhone and open up the notes app:
Answer the following questions:
- What did your people love last year?
- What are the family favorites?
- What recipe have you always wanted to try?
- How many cookies do you need to bake?
- Will you be attending any cookie swaps?
- Are you going to any holiday parties
Start Making Dough A Couple Months Ahead
You’re not going to wait until November or December to start baking.
You’re going to bake a few batches of something in October to give yourself a jump start.
Perhaps that hostess with the mostest who usually has a cookie exchange party has cancelled it this year?
Create a Special Ingredient Shopping List
Using your tentative baking list as a guide, take note any special ingredients you’ll need.
Do you need sweetened condensed milk for your grandma’s fudge recipe?
What about walnuts or pecans or pistachios?
How about powdered sugar or almond paste?
Will you need any pudding mixes? What flavors?
Think about fall and holiday baking from previous years.
Is there an ingredient you always forget about until you’re knee-deep in flour and butter?
Now that you have your list--wait. Don't shop yet.
Check Your Pantry for Supplies
Do you have any of the special ingredients left from last year?
How much sugar and flour do you have?
How’s your vanilla supply?
What about brown sugar?
Cream of tartar?
Sanding sugar or colored sugars?
What about food coloring?
Unsweetened baking chocolate? This one always gets me.
There’s always one recipe I forget I want to make that calls for unsweetened squares of chocolate.
It’s always late at night when I realize I need it.
Well, after 8 p.m. anyway because that’s when our grocery store closes during the fall and winter.
And I’m 20 miles from the nearest Walmart.
Speaking of spices, smell them. If you haven’t baked with them since the last holiday, you should probably replace them.
You get the idea.
Also, remember pandemic, we’re still in one and supplies of certain things can still be in short supply.
Images are racing through my head right now of all the brands of toilet paper I’ve bought over the past six months. I never dreamed there were so many brands.
I’m a pretty brand loyal girl and I can rarely get the one or two brands of toilet paper I like anymore.
So, if there’s a certain brand of baking item you prefer, grab it sooner rather than later.
Check Your Baking Equipment and Tools
Does everything still work?
Did you forget that you’re missing one of the beaters for your hand mixer?
How are your spatulas? Any chunks missing?
Does your kitchen scale need batteries?
What kind of shape are your baking pans in?
Do you know where your pie plates are?
Check Non Food Baking Supplies
Do you have parchment paper?
One of my favorite tips from Christopher Kimball--the founder of Cook’s Illustrated--is to tear off a large sheet of wax paper for your counter top before you begin baking so cleanup is simple.
Do you have a supply of containers for storing baked goods or freezing them until time to eat?
Are you going to give away cookies or other treats as gifts?
One thing you should know about me, I’m not into cutesy--that includes my gift packaging.
So one of my favorite places to buy disposable containers is a restaurant supply store.
They have simple cardboard takeout containers as well as aluminum ones with secure fitting lids you buy separately.
Draft Your Baking List
Do this somewhere you won't lose it, like on your phone or your computer or in a journal.
What are you going to bake?
Who are you going to bake for? Do you usually give cookie trays away to friends and family or maybe a nursing home where your late mom lived or the first responders in your town?
Based on your answers to who will get your goodies besides yourself, determine how many batches of each kind of cookie or bar you'll need.
Create a Tentative Baking Schedule
Looking at your To-Bake list, make a plan for how you're going to get it done and by what date you want to have everything mixed, rolled, sprinkled and frosted.
Working backward from that date, where can you fit in blocks of cookie-focused time?
Since I work full time and have a teenage boy to cook for, it's unrealistic for me to plan on making more than one batch of dough a day.
Oh sure if I get up early on a weekend day and caffeinate heavily, I can churn out three or four batches of cookies but that's the exception.
You'll do a better job and have a nicer looking finished product if you're not rushing and harried.
Can you mix up a batch of dough while dinner is in the oven after work two or three nights in November?
Scoop the dough into balls if it's a drop cookie dough and freeze on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once solid, put the dough balls into a freezer safe container or Ziplock.
Then plan a few weeks where you have a couple of baking days or baking evenings where you just bake the cookies then package them.
Pro tip: set reminders on your calendar for the dates you're planning to make dough or bake dough or decorate and what you're supposed to make.
Clean Your Kitchen and Cupboards
I saved the best for last. Kidding. I dislike cleaning.
At this juncture, I can’t pay for a house cleaner and still contribute to my 401k so I’m living in squalor and funding my retirement.
My house isn’t that bad.
But, even though I don’t like cleaning, I know I have to do it because I bake better when everything is sparkling and organized.
There you have it
Now spill. What are you planning to bake during the upcoming holiday?
What do you always bake?
Do you have any time saving tips to share?