Well, how did your gift planning and shopping go?!? Mine went pretty good, I have a couple of little gifts left to get and a few things to make but otherwise I am all set. I still have to do all the wrapping but I am taking a break from that to begin my Christmas baking. I am not going to be doing as much as I would normally do as we have our house for sale…although if I bake a ton then I am sure the house will sell just so I have to move all those baked goods! LOL
So this week I start to get my baking organized and I try to get a good chunk of it done. With proper planning you can have all of your cookies, squares, candies and chocolates done within a week or 2 AND you could have a lot of the food prep done for any parties that you might host! I have always done my cookies and other baking up with no problem but always struggle with the dinner parties part…I either don’t host them or have had potluck dinners so that I don’t have to prepare too much food. I have wanted to host a full party for sometime now so I have been researching ways to do this and NOT be stuck in the kitchen. (I’ll have some idea’s below and may post a sample dinner later this week…maybe I’ll have to host a party…)
- Start by finding all your favorite Christmas cookies recipes and decide which (if not ALL) of them you will be making and put them in a pile.
- Pull out all the other special yummy recipes you have (bars, squares, chocolates and candies) and pick the ones you want and put them into a pile.
- Now start looking through your pantry at all your baking stuff and start making a list of things that you need to do your baking – the obvious things like butter (which I start buying in October whenever I see it on sale…it freezes really well), eggs, sugars, flour, but don’t forgot all those specials items you need which make Christmas baking soooo good.
- Now the obvious – go shopping! I make this a special trip that I take just to get baking supplies so that I don’t forgot anything while I am also trying to do my weekly shopping trip. (Plus, who doesn’t like to have another excuse to leave the kids with your husband so that you can take your time shopping and possibly enjoying a coffee…maybe that is just me!?! LOL)
- Plan how you are going to do your baking. I usually like to mix the dough for cookies and other things that need to sit in the fridge for a bit so that I can make other items while I wait on those.
- Then get crackin’! I do my baking fairly systematically but I also usually have my oldest helping me so it can generally be fun and messy. Basically I make each item, have them cool for a couple of hours and then place them in the container. I leave the lid off the container for another couple of hours and then the lid goes on and it goes into the freezer (which is why the freezer needs cleaned out).
As for storage, use freezer friendly containers or bags and if you are short on freezer room you could also put the items into a cooler on a deck or outside (in cold weather areas like Alberta where I live). I suggest using a cooler so that it has a good lid that will stay closed in the wind and keep snow off, as well as keep animals away. You could also store in a garage (as long as it’s not heated or has heated floors) as will be as cold – probably colder – than your fridge as well.
Hosting a Party -
- I gave a free printable in the Week 1 post for party planning that contained a meal plan, shopping list and guest list.
- Plan your menu but keep in mind how much time you want to spend in the kitchen
- Have only 1 or 2 items that will need prepared or cooked that day
- Plan other items to be prepared ahead of time and either froze or stored in the fridge to be heated up the day of the party. (Make sure that you don’t store things in the fridge longer than a few days…last thing you want to do is accidently give your guests food poisoning!)
- Buy some of the items, you can get some very yummy appetizers from the stores. If you don’t want to get those generic items from the grocery store then look for a specialty store in your area, or a person you know that might make some items to sell to you.
- Plan for your guests, how many are coming and whether you have enough seats and table settings for them. Then beg, steal or borrow them from people you know…well, maybe just borrow as it is Christmas and you don’t want to be thrown in jail for stealing! LOL
- Now (potentially) the fun part – decorating and table settings. I have small boys so my decor is very simple, as is any table setting as they are also climber. But one day I hope to throw a nice party with pretty decor and a beautiful table all set up. There are tons of beautiful pictures in the blog world and on Pinterest (one of my other addictions…besides fancy coffees).
- Invite your guests…don’t forget that part! Either phone them all, send out emails or you could do formal invitations, they can be fun to make if you have the time…but try to make sure to use recycled material.
Some other things that you can do to make your life easier for December is try to pre-plan and prepare some of your meals. You have a party to go to, or event to attend that isn’t serving food, then pop one of those prepared meals out of the freezer and into your oven/slow cooker/microwave and you are all set. Also, keep on top of the cleaning schedule! If you follow each daily cleaning item then it should only take you an hour or two a day to keep your house in pristine condition…ready for any last minute visitors!
So that is All about the Food. I will share my whipped shortbread, brown sugar shortbread and my sugar cookie recipes along with some quick and easy tips to make preparing and baking them much easier. I will also share a couple of chocolate fun things that I make, super easy and very yummy!
So how is the other organizing going? Have you got your Christmas card list all done up and ready to go for mailing soon? What about clean up? If you have been following the Chore list that I shared you should have your fridge, freezer and deep freeze done and be working on your pantry…just in time to be making a Baking shopping list and storing all those wonderful goodies!
Keep at it, in 3 short weeks you will be ready for Christmas and you will have a stress-free and enjoyable December!