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Plan your own Baking Day with friends and family where you bake cookies and make candy for the holidays together. Share the costs, the work, and spoils so everyone leaves with a boat load of Christmas treats. It might be your new favorite tradition!
In the Midwest, people love to get together to make cookies and candy for the holidays. When I was growing up, it was always my mom, grandma, aunt, my mom’s aunt, and my sisters and me (I was young and only helped with taste-testing).
They would choose a dozen or so cookie and candy recipes and split the cost of the ingredients to make double or triple batches of everything. Then, they would get together one day and mix, bake, and frost with reckless abandon.
They shared they work and they divided their spoils. Everybody went home with an equal share of all the treats after having completed 20% of the work. It’s a day of fun, cookies, and life-long memories!
Ready to plan your own epic Baking Day?
Table of Contents
Choose Your Crew
Choose Your Date
You’ll want to plan a full day to get through all your recipes. Weekends are often a solid choice for everyone involved.
Choose Your Recipes
Aim for 2-3 recipes per person. For a group of 4, you might be able to knock out 12 recipes in a day. It depends on everyone’s comfort level in the kitchen and whether you are making brand-new recipes or old family favorites.
You’ll probably want a mix of cookies and candy and different styles of making them (some rolled cookies, some drop cookies, some slice-and-bake cookies). If you choose 8 candy recipes that involve manually dipping small things in chocolate, you won’t have a lot of fun.
Make Your Shopping List
Once you’ve chosen all the recipes, make a list of everything needed to prepare all the recipes on your list. Use my handy shopping list template if that helps you.
Also verify who has cookie cutters, sprinkles, take-home containers, and anything else you may need for the big day. If the host only has a couple of baking sheets, ask others to bring some to supplement (be sure to keep track of whose is whose).
Make Your Game Plan
Look over the recipes you’ve chosen and try to choose a logical order for execution. Consider what kitchen equipment you have and which recipes will need it. Some recipes require that the dough chill for 2 hours or more, so start with those recipes (or divide them up so multiple people can get started at the same time).
If a recipe is extremely intensive, such as preparing royal icing and frosting cookies with intricate decorations, perhaps give that person fewer recipes overall. Try to divide the recipes in a fair manner so that everything can be accomplished efficiently and joyfully.
No matter how many master bakers are in your crew, Baking Day always takes all day. That’s why it’s called Baking Day!
Ideally, plan an easy slow cooker soup or stew for lunch (or order takeout). My aunt’s Corn Chowder was always our go-to: it’s hearty, filling, and the perfect antidote to the endless treats you’ll be sampling all day!
Drop Cookies are some of the easiest cookies to make. All you need to do is drop prepared cookie dough with a spoon or scoop onto a baking sheet. Just be sure to leave enough space for the cookies to spread (chilled dough will spread less than room-temperature or warm dough).
Molded cookies are made by shaping or forming the dough by hand before baking. Sometimes you press into the dough such as when you press a fork into the top of Peanut Butter Cookies, press a candy kiss into Peanut Butter Blossoms, or use your thumb on Thumbprint Cookies. Other molded cookies are rolled into balls before baking. With Biscotti (which means “twice baked in Italian), you shape the dough into loaves, bake, slice it into pieces, and bake again.
Also known as Cut-out Cookies, rolled cookies are made from dough that has been chilled, then rolled out flat. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, biscuit rounds, a pastry wheel, or a knife. You can frost rolled cookies or roll them again into shapes such as with Rugelach.
Falling somewhere between a cookie and cake, Bar Cookies are soft and chewy and often contain mix-ins or are decorated on top. Instead of baking individual cookies on a baking sheet, you press bar dough into a baking pan, then cut the finished bars into individual slices.
Pressed cookies are made by pressing cookie dough through a cookie press, cookie gun, or pastry tube onto a baking sheet. They are the least common cookies because they always require a special tool to make.
While not technically part of the list of “official types of cookies,” Waffle Cookies are a popular holiday cookie made by cooking dough in a Pizzelle iron (either electric or manual). They can be made in different flavors or rolled into shapes to use as ice cream cones, dessert bowls, or tubes for fillings like my Mock Cannoli.
Also known as Refrigerator Cookies or Icebox Cookies, slice-and-bake cookie dough is wrapped in a log shape parchment or plastic wrap and chilled. Once chilled, slice cookies with a knife, place them on a baking sheet, and bake.
There are many types of candies including caramels, chocolates, gummies, hard candy, and lollipops. At the holidays, though, most bakers focus on chocolates, fudge, and caramels (or a highbred of those). Over the years, creative cooks have incorporated cookies, crackers, pretzels, nuts, and nut butters, and cereal into their creative homemade confections.
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.