Holiday Baking Preparation

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Tomorrow marks one of my favorite days of the holiday season – the start of Christmas baking season. I’m getting a head start this year because our holiday celebrations are happening in two waves. We’ll be visiting my family in Chicago for Thanksgiving (and the exchange of Christmas presents) and then we’ll celebrate Christmas with my husband’s family here in Michigan.

My grandma requests a package of homemade cookies as her gift each year. She freezes the cookies and then enjoys one or two a day until they are gone. It’s always one of my favorite gifts to give because I know how much she enjoys them. To me, it’s an honor to pour lots of love into my baking and then share with my family. I bet everyone that bakes for the holidays feels the same way too. Am I right?

But I’ll admit that as much as it’s an honor for me, I sometimes get a little stressed out by the process. Granted, that stress is entirely my fault since I choose to make so many cookies and so many different kinds. I guess that’s just part of the enjoyment for me though. It wouldn’t feel like Christmas baking without at least a little stress.

Instead of worrying about reducing the stress completely, I focus on minimizing the stress I don’t enjoy. For me, that means making sure I always have all the needed ingredients on hand and that I don’t spend a fortune stocking up on them. Fortunately, this is definitely the time of year I can bake to my heart’s content without breaking the bank.

The best way I’ve found to stay organized and on budget with my baking ingredients is a little labor-intensive, but it works year after year.

A few weeks before I start the actual baking, I write out a list of all the cookies and other goodies that I want to make. Then I go through all the recipes and write out an ingredient list that reflects how much of each ingredient I’ll need to make all of those things. That means I can start watching the ads and cupons and stock up on everything when I find it at the lowest price. I save money this way and guarantee that I don’t run out ingredients before I run out of recipes. It works every time!

How are your holiday baking plans shaping up? What is your best tip for making it as smooth a process as possible?