One of the activities we look forward to every advent is the Cookie Baking party with our local homeschool group. It is a fun time together with friends and in the end we have a lovely assortment of Christmas cookies to share with guests for the holiday season. Since everyone picks their own recipes, we always enjoy both sharing our favorite cookies recipes and also tasting new recipes from our friends. This year we enjoyed a Banana Spice Cookie that one of the families' made that I would never have thought of making. We have done this activity for a few years now and so I would like to share with you some hints and tips that we have discovered by trial and error that might make the idea of hosting a Cookie Baking party in this busy season a little easier.
1. Place First you need to local a place to have the Cookie Bake. We hold ours at the church hall in which we meet for our co-op, but it can be done at a home. You just have to be organized so that the oven can be shared so that everyone is not needed the oven at the same time.
2. Early Sign-Ups Have a sign up in which you ask how many from each family will be participating and what cookies each family will be making. The first year we did the Cookie Bake, we had ten families sign up with multiple children in the families, and it became a bit overwhelming. If you have more than five or six families, you might want to break the Cookie Bake into two parties to prevent this. One year we only had three families participating, so we had each family prepare two recipes, instead of just one so that there would be more variety. The recipe choices should be on a first-come, first-served-type basis, which means that if someone signs up to make chocolate chip cookies, for example, then the later people who sign up cannot also sign up to make chocolate chip cookies.
3. What Cookie Should I Make? The bigger the variety of cookies, the better, so have each member look over the list so far when their family signs up, and choose a cookie that is different from the rest. Make sure that the recipe you choose makes enough cookies. Also, make sure you check the amount of cookies the recipe makes. The rule of thumb is that the recipe should make enough for the family that is making it can take home one dozen, and the other families can take a half-dozen, (with a few leftover for mistakes and for tasting for those kids who are unable to wait). This can be changed, however, to suit the needs of your group as long as everyone knows what the amount your group has chosen for each family to make.
3. Share the Responsibility Each family is responsible for purchasing and bringing everything that their cookie of choice needs to be made. Often times this means bowls, spatulas, baking sheets, cooling racks and the like.
3. The Choice of Cookies There never seems to be enough ovens to be able to bake the cookies all at the same time, but there are ways of making the baking times staggered.
- Make up some of the cookie dough at home before you come so that some of the cookies will be ready to bake as soon as you get to the Cookie Bake. Doughs that have to be chilled, such as Slice and Bake, (such as Pinwheels) or no-bake cookies (such as Chocolate-Peanut Butter Oatmeal No Bake Cookies) are natural choices, but just about any cookie recipe can be made in advance and transported as dough.
- Choose cookies that have alternative ways of cooking such as Welch Cookies, which uses an electric skillet for cooking rather than an oven.
- Cookies that need to be rolled out, such a Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs or Gingerbread Men, take a little longer to be ready to bake and so are also a good recipe to stagger the cooking times. They also can be decorated (don't forget to bring the materials for that as well) once they come out of the oven, while other cookies are baking. If you decide to include decorating at the party, make sure you either have only older kids and adults decorating or lay something under the table to catch the mess for an easier clean-up. The first year we didn't do this and we were sorry.
4. Alternative Activities You might want to provide activities for the participants that have finished making their cookies or are waiting to use the oven(s), especially if you have younger children participating. A small craft project, have some games in mind, some coloring pages and crayons or a Christmas movie are some ideas for simple alternative activities. If possible, do not have very young children come, or have an older child or one of the adults plan to watch over or babysit the young children to keep them safe and not under foot.
5. Another Nice Touch You may want to ask each family to make copies of the recipes they are making and give them to each family participating so they can make them again if they like the cookie.
6. Cookie Tins Each family will need to bring cookie tins, plastic containers or bags to bring home the cookies in. Make sure you bring plenty, as it takes more than you might expect and you don't want to come up short.
Building Traditions and Memories I hope these tips and tricks will help you if you decide to host a Cookie Baking Party. If you have any more, please add your hint in the comments. Remember, a Cookie Baking Party isn't as hard as it might sound, and like I said, it is one of the Christmas traditions that my kids look forward to.
Good recipes for a Cookie Bake:
Good recipes for a Cookie Bake:
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Banana Spice Cookie
- Chocolate-Peanut Butter Oatmeal No Bake Cookies
- Welch Cookies
- Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs
- Chocolate Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Men
Do you have any favorite Christmas cookies recipes that would be good for a Cookie Bake Party?