The thought has probably crossed your mind to have people over for the holidays. But you’d have to get the house cleaned, spend hours figuring out which appetizers you’re going to serve, go on a huge grocery run, buy drinks…. it’s a lot. Today I’ll show you, step by step, how to turn Christmas cookie baking into a creative way to get your friends together for the holidays. You don’t need to be a pro baker to host this type of event. All you need are proven recipes and some key guidelines, both of which I’ve outlined below.
Invite friends who appreciate baking and desserts
I’ve attended all sorts of baking and cooking events, and it’s certainly more fun to be surrounded by people who appreciate the hobby. If one of your friends wants to get into baking, by all means invite her. However, if someone has no interest in it, she might get bored watching the rest of you for hours.
Limit the invite list to 5 people
When I’ve attended cookie baking parties and there were more than 6 people, it got a little out of control. Even if you have two ovens, you probably have a limited amount of counter space and baking tools.
Provide all baking ingredients, but ask your friends to bring snacks
Here comes the smart way to plan a holiday party without going broke. Baking ingredients cost a lot less than drinks, appetizers, or dinner, so this is a great way for you to host your friends in a cost-effective way. Ask your friends to bring a dish to share, so you have something to tide yourselves over until the cookies come out of the oven! It could be meats and cheeses, chips and dip, fruits and veggies… all of those are good finger foods to snack on while baking. Not only will this save you money, it will alleviate some of the pressure on you as the hostess.
Pair up in teams of two
At baking parties I’ve attended in the past, it seems that everyone wants to work on their own batch of cookies. If you do the math, 6 people = 6 batches of cookies x 30 minutes in the oven = 3 hours! And that’s just the baking time. There’s the dough preparation before that. And the chit chatting. You can imagine how long the event can become. Not that I don’t love my friends, but I’ve gotta get to bed, people! If you’re only hosting a few friends, one batch per person is fine.
Don’t let friends choose the recipes unless they’re tested
The last thing you want is to spend hours baking cookies that don’t turn out well. Either choose all of the recipes yourself or let your friends bring their favorite recipe assuming they’ve made it before. Also, make sure to coordinate the recipe list in advance so you can choose complimentary flavors. As much as everyone loves chocolate, you don’t want 6 batches of slightly varied chocolate cookies. Earlier this week I shared my favorite Christmas cookie recipes here, so I would recommend using a few of those. Everyone will love them.
Be aware of recipes that require advanced refrigeration
Some recipes such as cut-out sugar cookies require that you chill the dough for at least an hour or two before rolling it out. If you’re making cut-outs, I would suggest making that dough in advance of the party so it’s ready to roll out when your friends arrive.
Provide to-go containers and get creative
This is an opportunity for you to treat your guests a little. Once the cookies are all cooled, create an assembly line for everyone to package up the treats to take home. You can buy little bakery boxes and twine from your local craft store or Amazon, examples here and here.
Ensure you have enough baking tools
You probably don’t have 5 stand mixers and 5 sets of measuring cups. Depending on how many people you’re inviting, it’s totally okay for you to ask your friends to bring extra tools, such as measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, sheet pans, cookie scoops, etc. This will help speed up the baking process so everyone isn’t waiting to use the same tool.
I hope these tips help you host a fun, impressive cookie baking party for your friends. My guess is next year they’ll be asking you to host again. If you’re like me, hanging at home in leggings baking Christmas cookies and treating my friends to a fun afternoon or evening sounds way more fun than a night out of eating and drinking. Plus, when you wake up the next morning you can eat cookies for breakfast. What’s better than that?