Day 8 - Holiday Baking {12 Days of Being Organized for the Holidays} | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Day 8 - Holiday Baking {12 Days of Being Organized for the Holidays}

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 8 - Holiday Baking {12 Days of Being Organized for the Holidays}

Do you like to bake festive treats for Christmas parties?  Or make holiday desserts for special dinners?  There are so many delicious and beautiful recipes out there and so many occasions to serve them, that it can get overwhelming in the midst of an already busy season.  Today I'm sharing a few tips to help simplify your holiday baking so it can be an enjoyable part of your holiday preparations.

1.  Make a list of all the occasions you'd like to serve baked goods or desserts

This may be a long or a short list, depending on how often you entertain, how many parties or events you attend (and bring treats along), and whether you want to serve something different each time.

2.  Brainstorm the recipes you'd like to make

Flip through your favourite cookbooks, look through family recipes, and browse Pinterest to decide which recipes interest you.  This doesn't mean you'll make all these recipes, but having a list will help you narrow down what you want to make. Make a note of where you find each recipe too so you can find it back when you're ready to make it!

Making Christmas Chocolates

3.  Match up recipes with occasions

Once you've figured out when you need baked goods or treats, and which recipes you might like to make, start matching up what you will make for each event.  Keep in mind how much time your recipe will take to make and whether it is something you can make in advance or not. 

My friend Alli from Scattered Squirrel has a great printable to help you with all of this!

Scattered Squirrel

4.  Keep it SIMPLE!

One of the biggest things that will help you not get overwhelmed with holiday baking is to keep it simple.  Here are a few ways to do that:
  • Choose recipes with only a few ingredients
  • Select recipes with ingredients you already have or can easily buy and will use again
  • Opt for recipes that don't involve a lot of steps (think squares instead of cookies, or at least drop cookies instead of cookie cutter cookies)
  • Pick recipes that give you a lot of yield so you can use them for multiple occasions
  • Decide on recipes that you can make ahead and freeze
 All of these suggestions will help save you time and money, both of which will help you feel less overwhelmed during the holidays!

I'll be sharing a few of my recipes and some of my friends' recipes at the end of this post to give you some ideas for simple options.

5.  Plan when you will make each recipe

Once you know what you're planning to make for each occasion, work out when you will actually do your baking.  Some recipes will need to be made shortly before they will be served, but if you followed the suggestions in step 4, hopefully you will have chosen some that can be made in advance!

You can often make the best use of your time by making several things at once.  Well, not really at the same time, but following each other.  Or while part of one recipe is chilling you can be working on another one.  And definitely while one recipe is in the oven you can be starting another one.  Once you're in the "baking zone" it's easy to keep going, because you've already got your oven preheated, your baking supplies are out, you're probably using a lot of similar ingredients, etc.  There's less prep and clean-up when you make a few things in the same session.

If you don't have a chunk of time to do several recipes at once, it's fine to spread it out too.  Especially if you choose simple recipes (see step #4!).

Here's a printable baking calendar, also from Scattered Squirrel, to help you plan out your baking sessions.

Scattered Squirrel

6.  Make a shopping list and shop early

Once you know what you'll be baking and when, you can put together a comprehensive shopping list.  Add up all the amounts you need of each ingredient for all the recipes it will be used in, so you can make sure you have enough of everything.  That way, you won't have to worry about running out of something in the middle of a baking session.

If you need to buy perishable items you can add them to your regular grocery list right before you plan to make the recipe that requires them.  But everything else you should be able to buy in advance.

You can use the printable above to make your baking grocery list, or just add what you need to buy on your regular grocery list. 

7.  Mix and match

If you bake a variety of different recipes during the holidays, consider creating platters or trays with some of everything on them.  This works especially well for recipes that can be made in advance so you don't have to do all your baking at once.  

We do this every year.  We bring a tray to each of our family's celebrations, which usually means at least two or sometimes three gatherings.  If we have people over we do the same.  Everyone loves the choices and it's a fun way to highlight all the different treats you made!

In the above picture you can see 4 of our super simple baked goods:
  • Traditional Holiday Rice Krispie Squares
  • Very simple shortbread squares (recipe coming soon)
  • Brownies (from a mix) with marshmallows, red and green M&M's, and drizzled chocolate on top
  • Rocky Road bars (Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and walnuts/pecans on top)
Notice that these are all squares?  Very quick and simple :)  And we combine boxed or packaged foods with our own "extras" to keep things simple but look festive.  

8.  Have fun baking!

If you've followed the tips above, you should be able to finish all your baking in as little time as possible.  So, enjoy yourself instead of stressing over complicated recipes with ingredients you're not used to working with.  Involve your whole family and make memories together as you bake yummy treats to serve your family and friends this holiday season!

Simple Holiday Baking Recipes

In case you need some ideas for simple recipes, these ones all look yummy and are simple to make!  Click the links below each picture for the recipes.

  • Cranberry Upside Down Cake

The Charm of Home

  •  Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

This Simple Home

  • Mexican Wedding Cakes

In the Kitchen with Jenny

  •  Raspberry Fool

Love Bakes Good Cakes

  •  Candy Cane Cocoa Blossoms

The Chef Next Door

  •  Rolo Turtles

So Wonderful So Marvelous

  • Cranberry Oatmeal Bars


  • Snowman Cheeseball (for something a little less sweet but oh so cute - what a great simple food to bring to a party or serve to guests!)

Crafts a la mode

  • Peanut-Butter Chocolate Krispy Bites

Shoestring Elegance

  • Triple Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Major Hoff Takes a Wife

  • Butter Toffee (the graphic says 6 ingredients but there are actually only 4 listed so it's even simpler!)

Read Food Simple

Don't those all look delicious?!  And they're all simple recipes using ingredients you probably already have on hand or that you can easily buy at any grocery store.  They're simple enough to hopefully inspire even the most overwhelmed people to do some holiday baking! 

So your task for today (or as soon as possible), is to organize your holiday baking.  Follow the tips in this post and you will be able to serve your friends and family scrumptious treats that will look like you've slaved in the kitchen for hours, but that won't overwhelm you!  So you'll be able to enjoy both the baking and the celebrating :)

If you're looking for other holiday organizing ideas, check out previous posts I've written on the subject in the Organizing tab at the top of the page - choose the Christmas submenu. Or check out my Christmas Organizing board on Pinterest.

Do you bake for the holidays?  How do you choose which recipes to make?  Do you have any other tips for keeping holiday baking simple?

Happy organizing!

Here are all the posts in the 12 Days of Being Organized for the Holidays series!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!