Holiday Baking - The Easy Way
by Arleen M. Kaptur
Baking to many of us is fun and a form of therapy. Many frustrations have been worked out kneading and pushing that dough around. But to others, it may be difficult, or they are not sure of themselves around cookies, cakes, breads, rolls, etc. One quick-word of advice - just dive right in - it’s fun, and the more you bake, the better you become at it. With Christmas and get togethers coming in bloom, sharing baking can be a fun event. Early in the season, family, friends, neighbors, and offices and, factories everywhere should have a Cookie Exchange - it’s not a lot of work - in fact, you only have to bake one kind of cookie - if there are ten guests, you will have an assortment of ten delicious treats to use for the holidays. The more guests, the more of an assortment. There will be a lot of laughter, and no one will be counting calories. Ask each guest to bake one type of Christmas cookie - a family favorite, or one that they found while surfing the net, or reading their favorite magazine. They can be drop cookies, filled cookies, or special ethnic treasures.
Your invitations should be small index size booklets, with several blank cards inside, tied together with a festive ribbon. This way, if your guests write out their recipes on - say six to eight cards, depending on how many guests you are inviting, everyone can get a recipe and keep it in their booklet not only to check back when they want to bake, but as a wonderful memento of a fun time.
If a lot of people are included in your cookie exchange, then printing the recipes for everyone to cut and paste in their booklets might just be a lot easier.
The decor for your party should be holiday-oriented, of course, but with a slant toward baking. Garlands of scented gingerpeople could hang from arches and doorways and a centerpiece could include miniature baking utensils found in toy stores. Tiny cake boxes, spoons, measuring cups, etc. add a whimsical touch.
To serve your cookies, divide a large table into sections with ribbons that have wooden spoons attached to the ends so that the ribbons are weighted down and don't move as people encircle the table. You could ask your guests to prepackage their cookies in individual wrap so that everyone can take just one - or in small packages as they see fit - just make sure that there are enough of each type of cookie so everyone gets to take some home.
Keep your menu simple and informal. You could provide decorative canisters or paper bags that you have enhanced with holiday cheer for taking home all those goodies.
A cookie exchange is a wonderful way to get your holiday baking started - and you get a wonderful array of cookies to serve to your family and friends or just to munch on as you sit by a fire, or watch the snow fall and the cold winds blow. ENJOY! ©Arleen M. Kaptur 2002 November