I'm a mother of two under 5 years old and I work full time...maybe the fancy baking for the holidays isn't realistic for my schedule, but I'd love to hear any tips and tricks you may use to get organized early in the season to get everything done. I want to be ready for next year, LOL.
Merry Christmas everyone!
I do my cookie baking early and freeze! I pick a day when I don't have much else going on because I make a huge mess. I also like to use the same recipe for more than one kind of cookie. For instance, I add cocoa powder to sugar cookies for nice chocolate snaps. The kids would probably get a kick out of helping put sprinkles on them or something easy like that.
With two little ones though I wouldn't worry about doing all the fancy stuff. Spend your time enjoying those babies! They'll be grown before you know it and then you'll have all the time you need to decorate!
I had a friend who made cookies to give to her friends and her husband's coworkers. She would make and freeze them ahead of time. She would use large coffee cans as the package, after wrapping the outside in gift paper.
Make a list of all the cookies that you want to make and then make sure that you have all the ingredients on hand. When making the cookies, measure out all the ingredients before starting -- so if you get interrupted you won't be lost on what you've done and what needs to be added.
I bake and freeze as much as my freezer will hold. then, I defrost and ice and decorate them, as it gets closer to the holiday. For my assorted cookies, I try to bake them close to the holiday, so they are nice and fresh. I don't freeze these at all. A trick that I have been using for these cookies, is to buy alot of baggies and measure out all my dry ingredients for each cookie. I put the recipe with the baggies. It seems so much easier to get a batch or 2 done when I get home from work. I hate the mess of measuring. It also saves me on overbuying alot of ingredients.
I organize my baking days by starting with a bar cookie that takes 90 minutes in a slow oven...while that bakes, I lay out parchment sheets and load them up with the next batch (another cookie that bakes a while in a slow oven). I just keep rotating them in and out of the oven and loading up sheets. Some doughs can be made in advance and kept in the fridge...I cut and froze my rolled sugar and gingerbread cookies in advance so I could just position the frozen cookies on parchment and keep going. If I have to mix dough on baking days, I start with the blandest butter cookie and work my way to the darkest spiciest cookie to avoid washing to bowl between batches. The baking days end with meringues. I take a Friday off from work, bake Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday I dip and drizzle chocolate and ice cookies. Everything I give away is extremely fresh!
When my kid was small, I'd farm her out to relatives on baking days...now that I am remarried, I farm my husband out, too (the casino is glad to have him!). But really, the spreadsheet (or very detailed list organized by bake temp and time) is the way to go. No thinking involved, just follow the order, keep whipping stuff in and out of the oven.
Hope you consider the spreadsheet for next year!
I have to go lie down and recover now.
- spreadsheet.png ( 26 KB)
But hey, if it works for you that's wonderful! When I worked I had a secretary like you and it was fabulous! I didn't have to worry about all that computer stuff and she loved doing it!! We were a great pair!!
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