Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tips on Starting Your Christmas Cookies Now!

The first week of November is when I start baking my Christmas cookies. Yup, you read that right!

With the right preparation you can bake all your Christmas cookies in November, tuck them away in the freezer and have the whole month of December to enjoy the season.

I have been doing it for 30+ years and I make 10-12 kinds of cookies every year!

There is some prep work and leg work to do ahead of time to make sure all goes smoothly when that first week rolls around just after Halloween.

The idea is to plan, buy, bake, freeze, relax!

I realize that the time to do a few of these first tips has come and gone but you can still catch up and get on schedule. There's still plenty of time! Next year you can get this list out on October 1st and get your head start!

Here is a list of my tips:

1. In late September, early October, make a list of all the ingredients you will need for all the cookies you want to bake. Buy a few of your ingredients every week in October with your regular groceries. Your budget won't feel it as much when done a little at a time. It is also a good time to start saving the nicer plastic containers that store bought foods come in for giving cookies away in....more on that later. Dig out your Christmas cookie tins too! I will have a tip on how to get those returned back to you.
2. Choose a few kinds of cookies to bake each week. I do 2-3 kinds a week because I make so many. Bake in the morning if possible which gives a great sense of accomplishment for the rest of the day! Cool the cookies and DO NOT frost them.

3. Make sure to have plenty of wax paper, foil, and foil pans to freeze in. Put the cookies in layers with wax paper in between in the foil pans, cover with foil and write the name on the outside with marker. FREEZE! This step avoids disappearing cookies at the hands of husbands, little ones or teenage appetites before it's time to really indulge!

4. In mid-December on up to Christmas Day I defrost a variety of cookies as I need them to give away. I frost and decorate the cookies the day I will be delivering them. I always get comments on how fresh they are!

I defrost and decorate cookies for the Post Office clerks, my allergy shot office, the Town Clerk's office, and those that I mail out of town first and package them in a plastic container with wax paper and a bow. All those people are in my life all year and I like to give them a treat. I use the plastic containers for them so that I don't have to worry about getting them back.

Closer to Christmas I defrost, frost and decorate the cookies I will give to my Pastor's and their families, for holiday gatherings, special friends and my family. I layer, with wax paper in between, a variety of cookies and present them in one of my large collection of Christmas tins. I get those tins returned to me every year so that I don't have to keep buying them. They are getting pricey!

Wanna know how I do it?

I hand write this little note on sticky paper and put it on the inside of the cover. I have never NOT gotten a tin back. Maybe because I DO fill them again the next year for those nice people! I have had people panic when they have forgotten to get the tin back to me by January, so worried that I wouldn't give them cookies again. Somehow that makes me feel good!

Most of my recipes are either my grandmother's or the ones I have been making since the 80's. They are mostly Italian Christmas cookies. I add one or two new ones a year along with a different kind of chocolate bark or Christmas candies.

I make the traditional cut outs, gingerbread men and coconut macaroons. The other cookies I make have names like Cuccidari (Italian fig cookies), Chocolate Meatballs and Biscot.

Starting with the first picture at the top of this post and the others of the stages of baking are pictures of the Cuccidari's. Click on the name to get the recipe and tutorial I did a few years ago. In my house  it is NOT Christmas without the Cuccidari's. Of course they have the most ingredients, the most pricey ingredients and are the most labor intensive!

It has been a labor of love for me for 30 years.

I took the Christmas cookie baking over from my mother who took it over from her mother. Still waiting for one of my daughters to take over although I am not sure I am ready it give it up...shhhh!

In December I like to finish shopping, put last minute touches on decorating, go to holiday craft shows and spend time with my girlfriends.

I can do all that and more because my cookies are done!

What kinds of cookies do you bake each year? Are you a last minute baker trying to get them all done the week before Christmas? How many varieties do you make? Do you give them away?

I would love to hear about your Christmas baking adventures!

AnnMarie :)

I am linking up with these great blog parties!


  1. Talk about inspirational AnnMarie !!!
    I don't think I've ever done one thing for 30 years straight ( other then Christmas dinner ) and this year sadly I don't think they'll be any baking time at all lol
    I'll be lucky to have a finished kitchen !!!!!!!!

  2. I used to do the same thing--the 1st week in November, I started baking cookies and had about a dozen kinds by Christmas. Now that I have a sugar problem, it's not a part of my life anymore. I make my kids' favorites, and that's it. I kind of miss it, to be honest.

  3. I would be as big as a house if I baked to give away....I'd end up eating them all!

  4. Thank you so much for these great tips! I love to back goodies for people, but usually wait until December to start baking. I will have to try it your way :) You are a blessing. Hugs!

  5. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing on Sweet and Savoury Sunday!

  6. This totally reminds me of my grandmother......right down to the pictures of almost identical cookies! Great idea & tips, especially the tin return one!! Wonderful!!!

  7. I would even eat them frozen if I had them around. Yes I am that bad.
    I love that you can do it and how organized you are. It is always a pleasure to be the recipient of someones efforts!
    I am considering making fruitcake this year. I really should!

  8. I'm impressed! You are so organized and your cookies look/sound delicious!

  9. Wow, you are organized. I am getting ready to start baking also! Thanks for sharing this at Talking Tuesday!

  10. you are amazing!!! and I think you and I would get along just wonderful . . .I am a baking fiend during the holidays and yes, I too have already started . . .lol I love making goodies for neighbors and the families of the children I work with and I also enjoy taking the extra time to make pretty cookies. I have no doubt you are blessing your friends and neighbors :)

  11. That's a really good idea, I might have to do that! x

  12. I love baking, but I just don't have the time. I will surely bake something before Christmas, but I don't know what it will be yet. I would love to have it all organized like you do!

  13. I make the cuccidate too, and some cutout cookies. These are our favorites. I like to have a couple with my morning coffee. The cutouts are mainly for giving away. The cucci;s I am very stingy with - only the most "deserving" will receive a couple of them. As you can see, I consider them like "gold".

    I do have a ton of much easier cookies to make and will do so depending on the invitations and events of the holiday season. Fudge too.

  14. Fabulous! I married into an Italian family, and I truly love all of the traditions...especially the cookies!! So cool that you've been making these since the 80's. Those lucky people who receive the cuccidati!

  15. Wow, that is pretty inspiring. ... I just started baking cookies for Christmas last year so I will just hope and pray I can attempt it again this year! LOL.

    Love the note in the tin idea. I don't even have any cookie tins so that will be something else for me to work on. And yes, ,you guessed it right...I am not a Martha stewarty kind of gal! :)

  16. Hello AnnMarie!
    What a very sweet blog you have. I like it!
    Wow, what a ministry you have to give all your baked goods to. I would have never thought about putting a note inside about returning the tin. I will have to remember that this year during the cookie gift giving. I bake all the time and I do freeze all of my cookies, I am now very inspired to get baking a little earlier and take some loaded stress off by doing the Christmas baking now. Thank you for all the great tips!
    Thank you so very much for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely comment, after all that is the heart of blogging :) It's so wonderful to have this little blogging community!


  17. You are so organized and your note on the cover of the container is great!

  18. Wow I am impressed. My daughter and I made two kinds of cookies and plan to do more next week. You have it down pat , thanks for sharing your tips.

  19. Wow, you are on top of things! I used to bake a lot, but in the last few years I narrowed it down to my mom's peanut brittle(which is amazing), cookie press and snickerdoodles. I got braces this week, so the peanut brittle is out even though there will be some upset people. I love the sticky note idea!

  20. Wow, you're on top of things! I used to bake a lot, but in the last few years I narrowed it down to my mom's peanut brittle, cookie press and snickerdoodles. I got braces this week, so this year the peanut brittle is out (there will be some irate people). On the bright side, the pounds are already falling off:) I love the sticky note idea:)

  21. AnnMarie you are so well organized. I on the other hand am the mom rushing like a crazy woman a few days before Christmas day baking constantly. How do you make the chocolate meatballs? That sounds yummy!!!!!

  22. You are organized! I need that skill:) Everything sounds so Yumdelish!

  23. Oh my, I'm not there yet. Congrats on being so organized.

    Wonderful to have you at Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

  24. When my kids were small I used to do this to give to their teacher's, the post person, hair dresser etc. A great idea. Now I just do a few and my grown kids do some too. One thing I am still asked to do is cinnamon buns and pies. I also make pies for my 90 year parents.

  25. So organized! I begin my cookie creations in Decemberish. I use different recipes every year. Love your yummy photos!

  26. I've been baking mounds of cookies for more than 40 years. I've gotten it down to 12 to 15 kinds. Every year I eliminate one and substitute another!!! I tried freezing them and did not like the texture except for the cut outs, I also defrost those and then frost them. The Italian lemon cookies are everyone's favorite along with the meatball cookies, thumbprints, biscotti, pecan fingers, pecan tassies, apricot fold overs, almond crescents and oodles more........I start the first week of December, pack them in plastic containers and keep them in the garage on a table where it is nice and cold. I buy bakers boxes to give them away. I also make jam and pickles to give away. I love the holidays!!!!


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