The holidays are filled with joy, laughter, family and friends. But they can also be filled with stress from all the cooking and baking that needs to be done. As a home baker, you likely have lots of holiday goodies you want to make and share. The holiday baking season can be intimidating because of the limited time and additional work. The question that comes to mind is: How Can I Make My holiday baking more efficient? The good news is there are ways to simplify your holiday baking so you can enjoy the experience while still having time to soak in the holiday magic.
- Plan Ahead
- Stay Organized
- Take Shortcuts
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
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The most important thing when it comes to making your holiday baking more efficient is planning ahead. This allows you to take your time instead of feeling like you need to bake everything in one frantic weekend. Here are some tips:
Make a List
Sit down a few weeks before the holidays and make a list of all the holiday treats you want to bake. Include must-haves like cookies for Santa or your famous pumpkin pie and new recipes you’d like to try. Knowing everything you need to get done allows you to split it into smaller goals.
Block Out Time
Go through your calendar for the weeks leading up to the holidays and reserve several time slots devoted to baking. Try to bake a certain number of recipes during each time period. By having definite baking sessions scheduled will help you from pushing it off until the last minute.
Stock Ingredients Ahead of Time
Check your pantry and make a list of all the ingredients you need for your holiday baking. Check the expiration dates on your baking powder and baking soda. Make one big shopping trip to buy everything well in advance so you know you have what you need and won’t need to run to the store while you’re in the middle of baking. Buying in bulk for ingredients you use a lot, like flour and sugar, will save you money.
Once you know what you’re baking and when then it’s time to organize the actual baking. Having a system in place will save you time, and you will be able to crank out holiday treats with no trouble.
Any recipe prep you can do in advance speeds things up tremendously later on. Here are some ideas:
- Chop, measure, and organize all ingredients for recipes ahead of time. Having everything prepped allows you to simply mix and bake when it’s time.
- Make dough that needs chilling up to 2 days ahead and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.
- Make cookie dough logs or balls and freeze them to bake later.
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Use Convenient Tools
Investing in a few handy baking tools can save lots of time:
- A stand mixer lets you focus on other things as it mixes and kneads for you.
- A food processor will allow you to mix doughs and batters. So, while the stand mixer is kneading the dough for cinnamon rolls, you can make cookie dough in the food processor.
- Rolling out dough is much faster with a quality rolling pin that glides smoothly.
- Cookie scoops quickly portion out dough into even sizes.
- Scales can make your baking more efficient by eliminating the need for measuring cups. Less clean up
Some cookie recipes can easily be tweaked to create variety while still using the same base. For example, sugar cookie dough can be divided and flavored differently or topped with assorted sprinkles. Get creative to get more from one recipe.
You can also use a muffin recipe that will work with different mix-ins like fruits, nuts, or spices.
When you’re baking many goodies in a short time, staying organized is a must. These tips will help:
Clear the Clutter
Make sure your counters and workspace are completely clear before baking. Having a clutter-free zone allows you to work smoothly.
Assign Storage Areas
Have a specific area for baked goods that will need to be wrapped or packaged later. And have a certain area for the ingredients you use frequently. Knowing exactly where things go will save you time instead of wasting it by searching for things.
Always label baked goods with the name and date. It’s also helpful to mark batches of dough or cookie dough logs with details like the baking temperature and time. This keeps you from constantly needing to refer back to recipes.
Clean as You Go
Use the same bowl over and over again. Just wipe it out with a paper towel. Wash utensils, pots, and prep bowls if you know you will not be using them again. Long holiday baking sessions go faster when your space stays clean and orderly. This eliminates a huge mess once you are finished with your baking. Clean-up will be a breeze.
When holiday baking, look for reasonable ways to make the baking process easier. You want your treats to still taste great but there is no need to overcomplicate them.
Scale Back Decorating
While beautifully decorated cookies are ideal, simply adding sprinkles or a quick glaze to cookies will cut out lots of time. Just focus more elaborate decorating on one or two items.
Buy Ready-Made Pie Crusts
Making pie dough from scratch is time-consuming. Go for ready-made crusts to save major time while still using your own filling. I absolutely love using the rolled-up pie crusts.
Use Boxed Mixes
While baking from scratch is ideal, it can also be tiring during the busy holiday season. Consider allowing yourself to rely on boxed mixes for some items, like cupcakes or brownies, to save time and effort.
Only Make Your Favorites
As tempting as it is to bake every delicious treat you can, you need to be careful not to take on too much. New untested recipes can eat up time if you hit snags. Stick to guaranteed winners your family loves.
I have certain cookies and cakes that I make every year. And my family expects them. I leave the new recipes for another time.
If you’re feeling really overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to order a few holiday treats from a local bakery, like breads or specialty pastries. You can support your local small businesses while giving yourself a break.
Make Bars Instead of Shaped Cookies
Bars and squares are easier than shaping and cutting out individual cookies. Try recipes like lemon bars, pecan pie bars, pumpkin bars or brownies.
Skip Fancy Shaped Pans
Making a holiday Bundt cake is festive enough without hunting down a specialized snowflake or poinsettia-shaped pan. Save yourself the time and hassle by baking in traditional pans that you most likely already own.
No-bake treats eliminate baking time completely. Try no-bake options like haystack candy, peppermint bark, peanut butter balls or chilled desserts. Kids can help with assembly, too!
With some selective shortcuts, you can still produce amazing holiday treats that don’t eat up all your time and energy. The holidays are for enjoying friends and family, not just slaving away in the kitchen!
The holiday season brings so much joy, but all the extra baking can seem daunting. Remember that your loved ones care more about spending time with you than eating elaborate baked goods. Don’t be afraid to take shortcuts to keep holiday baking enjoyable instead of stressful. Focus on a few favorite treats you feel good about, and don’t be afraid to supplement with store-bought goods. Most importantly, build in time to relax and soak in the holiday spirit with your friends and family. The memories you make are far more important than everything being homemade. Keep things simple, and have a wonderful holiday season!
I hope this article helped to make your holiday baking less stressful. If you have any tips to add, I would love to hear them.
Please leave me a comment below.
And As Always
Keep On Baking!
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Frequently Asked Questions
The holidays are a busy time, and it’s common to have lots of questions about how to get all your baking done efficiently. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about holiday baking.
When should you start holiday baking?
It’s best to start your holiday baking early, around 1-2 months before Christmas or the holidays. This gives you time to plan everything out, shop for ingredients, and then spread out baking over multiple weekends instead of cramming. Aim to finish baking 1 week before your holiday event so cookies stay fresh.
How many cookies do you need per person for Christmas?
A good estimate is to plan 2-3 dozen cookies per household or 4-6 cookies per person if given as individual gifts. Of course, adjust up if you know your recipients have big appetites for holiday sweets! It’s better to bake too many than not enough.
How do you arrange Christmas cookies?
Avoid chaos by organizing cookies attractively on a platter. Place larger cookies around the outer edges, and group together cookies of the same type. Fill in the center gaps with smaller cookies. Always include your signature or most festive-looking cookies in the center. A well-arranged presentation makes cookies even more appetizing!
I’m Taianne, the owner and operator behind We Are Baking. Baking my first cake at age 11 hooked me on creating sweet treats. Though my interest faded during childhood, it was rekindled when I married my apple pie-loving husband. I love trying new recipes, tweaking classics, and helping others learn the science and art of baking. I started We Are Baking to share tips, tricks, and favorite recipes I’ve discovered over the years. When not in the kitchen, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. My goal is to inspire others to embrace their creativity through baking. Feel free to contact me with any questions!