Part of my cookie baking madness happens so that I can give homemade cookies to my kids’ teachers. My Mom always went overboard with teacher’s gifts and I certainly feel it is important to follow suit as teacher’s deserve to be appreciated!
In the early years of trying to figure out how to package the cookies for the teachers I stumbled across the idea of plain pizza boxes and this is now my signature presentation. I order them from my favorite website – Papermart. I add a bow and a tag or label and I am good to go…
I love them for a number of reasons:
It is a totally unique presentation. You should see people’s faces when you hand them a pizza box!
The cookies are contained and covered (and will not be slipping off the side of the plate as I drive them to their destination).
The flat boxes make them easy to transport. Even with the bow, you can stack them up.
I don’t have to fight with the Saran Wrap.
Inside the box, I arrange an assortment of cookies (trying to separate like colors). Here is a quick shot of what the teachers got yesterday. I still have not hit the point in my cookie baking this year where I am decorating the cookies, so they are slightly less colorful than some years.
It is easy to put together the boxes then add to them assembly-line style.
Once they are loaded and the bows/tags have been added, I throw them in my handy bag (who doesn’t love their 31 Gifts Organizing Utility Tote?!??!) and head to school to play Santa.
There are many creative avenues I love to pursue, but most don’t make me quite as OCD as baking Christmas cookies. It all started one year when I was single, living in San Francisco and working a stressful corporate finance job. One weekend in December, seeking a creative outlet, I started baking Christmas cookies and just DID NOT STOP. At the end of the weekend, I looked around my sugar spattered kitchen and wondered what on earth I was going to do with them all. I decided to have a “Cookie Party” which was to be an Open House where friends and family stop by to enjoy some cookies and holiday cheer. What fun that was!
Fast forward 15+ years, a husband, 2 kids, a move (or 2 or 3) to the suburbs, I still continue this fun tradition. It sometimes gets a little out of hand – both the baking and the party (we once had more than 150 people stop by)! Luckily, my family enjoys it and my husband is great about washing the mounds of dishes required to make so many cookies. I have done it almost every year with just a few exceptions. Last year I took a year off, so this year I really need to turn it up. Having a new double-oven will make it even more fun.
Here is a quick shot of one of the tables from 2011.
Recipes have been gathered from a variety of sources. I always start of with Chocolate Krinkles because my Mom made these cookies the morning I was born (after mopping the floors on her hands and knees and before making it to her 11am doctors appointment, but I digress) and I just think it is a good way to kick things off. Next inspiration came from Southern Living at Home’s Christmas Cookies book.
This is actually the 2nd copy of this book I have owned as the first one nearly disintegrated. I honor that 1st Cookie Party, but making a few of the same recipes that I have made every year (Peppermint Swirls, Coffee Crisps & Oreo Cookie Balls).
My second source of recipes is Better Homes and Garden’s annual Christmas Cookies issue. This magazine comes out around September 1st (I am not going to lie when I say I start “stalking” the news stands not long after that date) and can be found a most craft stores and sometimes even the supermarket. I have these dating back to 1998. I just got the bright idea last week to look for older issues on EBay (duh!). “Viola!” several issues are already on their way to me!
I usually make about 30 different kinds of cookies and nearly 2,000 individual cookies. Because this much crazy baking would involve a thousand trips to the store if I didn’t plan ahead, I do create a spreadsheet to list which recipes I plan to do, where I can find the recipe and what ingredients they require. I do sometimes get inspired by new things along the way or decide to make multiple batches of my favorites, but this gives me an idea of where to start. How else would I know that I needed 40 cups of flour, 31 eggs and 13 cups of butter?
I guess it is time to stop procrastinating and get baking! I will keep you posted on how it is going this year and maybe share a few of my favorite recipes…