I love baking. It is hands down one of my favorite holiday activities. Admittedly I don’t love baking with my kids. I tend to be neurotic about cookies that aren’t equal or perfectly round; or overflowing cups of flour that inevitably land on the floor. Despite trying hard not to let the perfectionist baker in me come out, it’s unavoidable.
But the idea of having some friends and all of our kids over for holiday baking seemed like a fun idea. Naturally, I searched Pinterest for just exactly how-to throw a holiday baking party but was surprised to find not a lot was written about the topic. So here goes. Lessons learned and tips to share on how you can host a successful baking day before the holidays.
Planning your baking party (a couple of weeks out)
- Set your guest list. More importantly, decide how intimate or grandiose you want your baking soiree to be. While having a small kitchen shouldn’t deter you from hosting a fun, festive day of baking, be mindful of how many adults and kids (if any) you can accommodate.
- Draw a map of your space. Map out a few “stations”, such as a place for ingredients, counter for cookies to cool, and a table to decorate. Don’t forget the snacks and food for snacking throughout the day. While it might seem like a no-brainer, don’t skip this step. When you’re having people in your kitchen to cook or bake, you’ll have to guide them where to go.
- Choose your recipes. While this may seem like the fun part (and it is), it’s also the trickiest part. You don’t want recipes that are too complicated and you’ll need to plan for recipes that require refrigerating dough or softened butter.
- Let your guests know what to bring. There are two options here: either ask guests to bring ingredients (1 recipe each) or pre-buy everything and split the cost. Either way, you’ll want to have them bring extra cookie sheets, cooling racks and containers for taking home all of their cookies.
- Plan lunch and snacks. After all the “testing” of baked goods, you’ll need real food at some point. Check out this crock-pot Chicken Rice soup and don’t forget something for the kids (mac and cheese is always a winner)!
Day of (or day before) prep
- Clear the counters (and possibly the chairs)! Put away the fruit bowl, spoon holder, knife block and anything else you won’t need. You’ll need as much clear space as possible.
- Take out what you will need: baking sheets, cookie cooling racks, bowls of all sizes, spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, extra paper towels and anything else you may need.
- Read your recipes. Make a list of each recipe, what temperature the oven needs to be, how long and any special instructions (softened butter or “refrigerate the dough for 30 mins”.
Once baking is done (or while the last batch is in the oven!)
- Do the dishes! Don’t wait until guests leave to start the major post-baking clean-up. Leverage your trusty baking friends to help wash, dry or clear up counters. Trust me- you’ll be exhausted from the day of (or before) prep and actual baking. You’ll need some help with clean-up.
Last minutes tips for your holiday baking party
The day before, make a batch of sugar cookies. These were great to have ready to go so the kids could frost with colored icing. The tricky part of the baking party is involving the kids. So when you’re picking recipes, be thinking of when they can help. For us, it was assembling chocolate pretzel bites and rolling cookie dough balls in sprinkles.
Don’t forget to go with the flow and have fun! If recipes don’t turn out or not everything gets baked in time, it’s ok! As much as the goal is to actually make cookies, it’s also about enjoying one another’s company and getting into the holiday spirit. So light a holiday candle, turn on festive tunes, put up a few decorations and open up your home for an unforgettable afternoon!