Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tips on Starting Your Christmas Cookies Now!

I first published this post a year ago but it was kinda late for the information I wanted to share. I only realized now is the time for this again because my daughter Jena made me aware of how close my magic date of November 1st is! 

So, I am re-posting it, a teeny bit later than I would start. Most of you probably won't be making 10-12 kinds of cookies, so  there is still plenty of time to accomplish it all. 

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!

Here is a list of my tips:

1. In mid to late October (NOW!), 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 up to the first week of November 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, 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. They are full of figs, dates, walnuts, raisins, orange marmalade and a touch of rum wrapped up in a wonderful cookie dough.

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. Oh, my, you are organized. I do make cuccidari, a cutout (usually star pattern), maybe some fudge. I hate giving them away - because they are so labor intensive and I feel like I deserve to eat them all - but I overcome those stingy inclinations and give some away.

  2. It's never to early to start thinking about Christmas cookies, thanks for a great post and reminder! I love making Christmas Cutout cookies with my 6-yr old son, maybe this year my girls will be old enough to join in too. This year, I also hope to make Missionary Date Balls from a recipe my mom passed along to me from her mom. I also love making Biscotti at Christmas time and hopefully will do that this year too!

  3. I remember this last year. I thought I'd love to do this, but even if I started in July I wouldn't get them done. I will just drool looking at that figgy filling. again..... oh my so yummy looking.

  4. I love how you do the tins! I used to collect tins from thrift shops and garage sales. When I was a newlywed (34 years ago) I thought I had to do Christmas baking like my mom did (she also started in November). Then she would mail me a big box of them. Over the years I've reduced how much I do. Now I make a couple of kinds and always peanut brittle. The food pics are wonderful, better go drink my juice!

  5. You are one organized lady! LOL I never really did the cookie thing, but did make a variety of candy a few years. The last year I did, my home reeked of chocolate/sugar for days afterwards and I gave up the idea.
    Gorgeous Fall weather here this week - hope it is in your area also.

  6. Thanks again for sharing this. I remember it from last year and now I have been reminded early so maybe I will be nice and organized for Christmas like you :)

    Hugs to you, sweet lady!

  7. Dear AnnMarie, I wish I lived near you! ! I would be over to have a cookie with coffee.
    I mom would start baking this early as well. She made all of the Italian cookies and the holiday officially began with her baking. I loved every minute of it. These are such good memories. Blessings to you. Catherine xo

  8. This is a great idea. I don't make nearly that many cookies, but still quite a few. I think I might try that this year. Christmas is always so stressful with so much to do. I'm going to try to do everything earlier this year.
    Blessings, Deborah

  9. I enjoyed this post last year. I definitely hope to plan ahead, so I am not running around frantically baking like a mad woman.

  10. You are right, AnneMarie.....it is a labor of love! I did this last year & was exhausted, but everyone really appreciated it. You certainly are amazing & have boundless amounts of energy! Good for you!! :)

  11. Great post and strategy! Cookies are a weakness. I can't wait to try the Cuccidari recipe. Looks totally yummy! I've always wanted to do a cookie swap but never known enough friends who like to bake.

  12. I keep saying I am going to do this every year, and then I never get organized. These are awesome tips, especially the note at the bottom of the tin. ;)

  13. Oh yum! That looks delicious! You really have gotten it down to a science, girl. I don't do a lot of cookies, but do a ton of candy. My girls, daughter in laws, and older granddaughters have 'a baking day'. I buy all of the ingredients and we cook all day long. My counters are literally filled with goodies. Then everyone fills their tins (that we save from year to year) and takes home for their family. We always fill a tin for my father in law as well. It's a fun time and a lot of hands makes for easier work. Of course, they make me do the harder ones like toffee and caramels. We can't do it too early or it's all gone by Christmas. lol! Usually a week or so before.

  14. Wow you make all those cookies!! I might make a batch of shortbread and some mince pies but that's it lol. I bet those that receive your cookies can't wait for the next years batch! x

  15. AnneMarie, I so enjoyed reading about your Christmas cookie strategies and recipes! It is very evident that you enjoy baking up all these goodies every year for friends and family, who appreciate your efforts so very much. Thanks for sharing!!

    Happy weekend!


  16. What a blessing this must be to those who receive those lovely cookies you make. I wish I was more organized -- I bet in my house we would eat them all before they got into the freezer.

  17. Thanks for getting me going for the Christmas holiday! its a big help to read this! Love if you share this on Fabulous Friday Party
    Maria http://www.simplenaturedecorblog.com/fabulous-fridayhalloween-party/

  18. Such great ideas!! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

  19. How wise you are! We just held an early Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, and I was up until midnight the night before decorating cutout cookies. It would have been so easy if the cookies were already baked!

  20. I love this idea and the idea that I could possibly be that prepared for anything. I used to make 65 pounds of fudge each year and paint 65 Santa gourds with tiny gourd snowmen for all the fellow employees and family gifts we needed. Luckily now we are retired, I no only paint the gourds and have only a few people to make fudge for.

  21. Hi AnnMarie,
    You are so organized. My favorite cookies are Italian cookies. My family is originally from Naples and Palermo, and my great grandmother was a great baker. Whenever we are in Italy I am always hitting bakeries tasting cookies. Always looking for one that reminds me of my grandma.

    Thanks so much for sharing with Adorned From Above's Link Party. We hope to see you at tonight's party.

  22. Great post, AnnMarie! I usually bake a lot of cookies when I have a New Year's party. I love the note in your tins - made me smile! Your fig cookies look amazing...I have to check that recipe out. Now I'm hungry!

  23. Yum! Must be awesome to be on your cookie recipient list, AnnMarie. :) Very nice post with helpful tips. I love the note you tape to the tin's lid. Great idea. xxx ~ Nancy

  24. Thanks for stopping by a few weeks ago at my Fabulous Friday Party and it was really nice to meet you here at the party! Hope you had a great Halloween.
    Stop by this Friday for another Party Thanks Maria p.s. Good start on the cookies

  25. Thank you for this. I'm going to give it a try. I've always wondered about freezing the cookies. :)


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