Many folks are content to either eat commercially made holiday cookies -- which are almost inevitably disappointing -- or sponge off the hard labor of their cookie baking friends and relatives. This is perfectly understandable as part of the "receive" half of the "give and receive" spirit of the holiday season.
But for those of us who are on the “give” side of the equation, baking an annual batch of holiday cookies is serious business. Annual cookie bakes, staffed with friends and family members, can churn out hundreds of great cookies over the course of a day -- and, of course, many hands make light cookie pans.
If you're planning a bake-a-thon, keep these five tips in mind.1) Savory appetizers
Regardless of the feelings of cookie lust that you'll be stirring up in your friends, officemates, and family members, you will be very quickly be tired of eating, thinking about, or seeing anything sweet shortly after the cookies start popping out of the oven, ready for taste testing. As tempting as it is to put out holiday candy, eggnog, chocolate, and so forth, it's critical to have some salty or otherwise savory appetizers on hand -- and if they've got actual nutritional content, so much the better. Everyone will feel a lot happier at the end of the day as a result.2) A signature drink (or two)
If adult beverages are appropriate, break 'em out: nothing says "holidays" like a festive cocktail. During a cookie party, however, the last thing you're going to want to do while coordinating the creation of dozens of dozens of cookies is play bartender, so sort out a couple good beverage options ahead of time. Mulled spiked cider is one great winter-appropriate way to go; Scandinavian Glogg is a good alternative (you can buy the mix online, and it's reliably great.) Or do a cranberry vodka tonic -- the red color is as festive to the eye as the drink is to the palate.3) Figure out the recipes / ingredient contributors ahead of time
It's a little hassle up front for a big benefit on baking day -- have each attendee bring a key staple ingredient (flour, sugar, eggs) in large quantities, in addition to whatever specialized stuff their own recipes will require. Or compile a master list using the recipes that you'll be making, have one person shop the full list, and then have everyone make a donation to split the cost.4) Foil. Lots of it.
Put aluminum foil everywhere. Cover your decorating table with it, particularly if you're working with a lot of icing and/or sprinkles, which you probably will be. Put it on your pans. It'll greatly speed your cleanup.5) Have to-go containers lined up
One outcome of a cookie-baking party is pre-ordained: everyone will be leaving with a pile of cookies. So be prepared to send everyone home with disposable plastic food containers or a similar alternative -- Chinese-restaurant style takeout containers (available at many craft shops) are a great option, too. Use wax paper to stack cookies and avoid them becoming stuck together. Plastic bags work, but they don't do much to prevent breakage.
There you have it—my tips for a great cookie baking party. Now…the most important question:
What’s your favorite holiday cookie? Tell us below!