Top five tips for stress-free holiday baking

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, are you shaking in your oven mitts at the prospect of all the holiday baking you think you should be doing? Never fear, my baking friend. Smart planning and a small investment of time early in the season will pay big dividends in the end. Here are my five favorite tips for stress-free holiday baking.

  1. Make a big batch of sugar cookie dough, divide it and freeze in well-wrapped portions. You can thaw a single portion overnight in the refrigerator and bake it when you have time. This single recipe from Martha Stewart can be turned into four different show-stopping holiday cookies.
  2. Choose your recipes wisely. Amid the elaborately decorated cookies, include some slice and bake or simple bar cookies. Variety makes baking easier and the cookie tray more interesting! I love World Peace Cookies and the kids go crazy over chocolate chip cookie bars sprinkled with festive red and green sugar.
  3. Sometimes specialty baking pans can make your baking more efficient. I love to give small loaves of banana bread as holiday gifts to friends and neighbors. This pan allows you to bake eight mini loaves at one time.
  4. Mix it up! Bake something savory to give some relief from all the sweets. Spiced nuts or salty little cheese crackers are wonderful to have on hand as easy appetizers.
  5. Organize a cookie swap, even if it’s just with one friend. Each of you bakes a double batch and then you trade the goodies. It’s a great way to taste someone else’s holiday favorite!

Finally, don’t let your baking plans get in the way of enjoying the holiday season. If baking isn’t fun, it isn’t worth your time. Involve your family, share with your friends, and let your baked treats be an expression of the joy of the season.

Melissa Jerves writes about food, family and 21st century home economics on her blog, Home Baked.

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