During tough economic times, creativity is your best friend. Baked goods make great thoughtful presents!!
By Marion Algier – The War on Christmas verses the Spirit of Christmas Series at AskMarion – 19
“There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions. Giving something you made is one of the best gifts and reflections of yourself that you can give.” …Bill McKibben
Cookies are the heartbeat of Christmas baking. They are the quintessential treats that sweeten the holidays
Enjoy the treats of the holiday season without the hassle of baking them all. Invite family and friends to a cookie swap party — it’s easy, fun, and everyone will reap the sweet rewards! Or host a baking party.
I love the Holiday season, the sights, the smells, the music, the parties… One of my favorite holiday memories from childhood are the baking parties my parents would host. Family friends would come over and bring their favorite cookie recipes (or already baked cookies) and we would spend hours baking, decorating, laughing, eating and making memories. Everyone left with full hearts, full bellies and full plates of cookies for
Cookie Decorating Parties Tips
Cookie decorating parties and Holiday Baking Parties are one of the things that I look forward to every year – just walking down the baking and seasonal aisles at the store sends my kids over the moon, their excitement is visible – shimmering in their eyes and around their bodies like fairy dust. There are so very many things to love about baking parties – the smells of sugar and cocoa and butter wafting through the air – the giggles and squeals when tongues are burnt due to impatience, and the sighs of pleasure as the warm goodies melt in mouths. I love hosting parties and get-togethers, but I know many hesitate to host holiday parties because they don’t know how to begin, what to do or because their house isn’t “guest ready” Y’all – I promise that the memories made, the echoing laughter, the full bellies and the joyous hearts will fill your guests eyes and hearts far more than a spotless house. I want to share with y’all my top 5 tips for hosting a successful Holiday Baking Party:
1. Let The Invitations Set The Theme and Tone
Invitations say so much about your party. They’re the introduction, the excitement builder to your event. You can print your own, create your own, or if you’re like me and have no crafty artsy skills whatsoever – you can order adorable ones complete with matching recipe cards.
I love to include recipe cards with my invitation and when I host these parties, I ask everyone to bring one recipe card for each person with their baked good recipe on it and the reason why this is their favorite holiday recipe, or their favorite memory involving this recipe.
Don’t stress and spend hours cleaning and decorating your house. These are your friends, your family, some of your favorite people. Your house is the location – not the reason they’re there. Your house is probably already decorated for the holidays – just keep it as is and add to the occasion with your favorite holiday aprons, napkins, towels and dishes. If you feel the need to make it extra special – hang candy canes in random places – place dishes of holiday candies and cookie toppings in pretty dishes around the areas of the house where your guests will be. Visit your local dollar store and buy Santa Hats, Menorahs, Elf Ears and other holiday decorations and sprinkle them randomly throughout the house. Add a Santa hat to your mailbox, put Christmas Ornaments in a funky dish on your bathroom counter. You’ve more than likely already got mismatched, but wonderful containers in your pantry, cabinets and garage. Don’t worry about perfection – it’s totally overrated.
3. Set The Mood
Your house is already going to smell amazing, due to the baked goods and sweets filling it – so no need for candles or other scented ambiance. If you have any sort of wireless device that you can hook up to speakers – Pandora has a virtually unlimited supply of Christmas Stations ranging from classics, oldies, kids, chipmunks, rockin’, religious etc…
4. Relax and Have Fun
This may sound crazy, and not like a tip at all, but the most important thing you can do as the host/hostess is to be present at your gathering. RELAX – slow down – breathe – have fun – go with the flow. This is a baking/decorating party: it’s okay to spend a bunch of time in the kitchen and around the table, but make sure you’re having as much fun as your guests. Let them help you. When you allow others to help, you strengthen the bond between you – I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Everyone knows that part of baking is preparation – baking – and then cleaning… let your guests, adults and kids alike draw assignments from a bowl – everyone is included, it’s a surprise and it helps you. Your guests want to help you, let them. This is the hardest hostess lesson I’ve ever learned, but it’s been one that’s made one of the biggest impacts on me.
5. The Takeaway
Everyone is going to leave with baked goods, new recipes, amazing memories and strengthened friendships, but I suggest taking it just a step farther. For a very minimal cost you can create a memory station and provide one takeaway per guest – my favorites:
- a baking apron for each guest with fabric markers for everyone to write their favorite memory of the day, draw pictures or just sign their name
- a holiday themed kitchen towel with fabric markers that guests can share their favorite holiday quotes on
- Have each guest write down their top 3 holiday songs, make a CD and send one home with each guest (oh mix tapes – how I miss thee)
The Dresden Giant Stollen is One of the Most Interesting Baking Feats of the Christmas Season!!
Raw Video: Germans Parade Giant Christmas Cake – Assoc. Press/youtube
Video: Christmas Specialties – how to make Stollen | euromaxx
Cynthia Brozek – Dresden Stollen Maiden 2012/2013
More than 80 bakers and pastry chefs of the Trade Protection Society of Dresden Stollen celebrate the city’s most famous cake – the Christmas stollen.
The bakers took five hours to work on this treat which was unveiled at the city’s Striezelmarkt on December 8th, one of Germany’s oldest documented Christmas markets. It was highlighted on Fox News last weekend.
Happy baking. Baking homemade goodies and putting them in tins or cellophane can be a great gift… something from the heart without bankrupting you!!
Or putting together baking jars with the dry ingredients for Christmas Cookies or Brownies along with the recipe makes great gifts!
There are some great books out for Christmas this year: ‘Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas’ (Kindle), The Romney Family Table: Sharing Home-Cooked Recipes & Favorite Traditions (Kindle) and Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett: A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Faith, Family, and the Things That Matter Most (Kindle) Plus: Losing Our Religion(Kindle) by atheist S. E. Cupp
MERRY CHRISTMAS! God bless us all, each and every one!