Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Prep

The holidays are coming. This is an exciting time of the year filled with parties, special events, and family gatherings. For precisely the same reasons, the holiday season can also be hectic.    
Anyone who’s been responsible for holiday preparations knows what a challenge it can be to manage the many obligations surrounding this time of the year. The holidays require a lot of prep work and produce that nasty, all too familiar byproduct: stress. 

 The holidays give us two wonderful opportunities. This time we set aside to celebrate ensures that we join together and experience community, for a moment at least. These moments are precious, and unnecessary stress should not mar our happiness during this time of year. The best way I’ve found to take the edge off the holiday season is simple: plan ahead, which is especially helpful when it comes to one very important holiday activity—baking cookies.
Before the holiday festivities get into full swing, I try to do as much legwork as possible. That way, when the time rolls around for parties and gifts, I can enjoy these special moments with my family and friends to their fullest. When it comes to holiday cookies, I have two tricks.

Trick 1
Make and freeze the dough first, then thaw and bake the cookies later. This is a great strategy for cookie-making gatherings, to keep the time commitment reasonable and the labor pleasant.

Trick 2
Make and bake the cookies, then freeze them and bring them to room temperature in the tin. To thaw frozen cookies, just take the tin out of the freezer and let the cookies warm up; you don’t even have to turn on the oven. Afterwards, I make sure to store the cookies in the same tightly sealed tin in a cool, dry place.
By prepping the dough and getting a few batches baked before the holidays rev up, it means I have enough time to make cookies to give away as gifts. Every year, I bring a batch of cookies to our neighbors, either on a Rosanna platter or accompanied by a set of our holiday mugs. Heartfelt gifts are my favorite gifts to give. Homemade gifts are the most heartfelt, the clearest way to express love and goodwill. I often don’t find the time to make gifts but, with a little bit of planning ahead, I’ve found a way to find the time.

Pre-baking your holiday cookies is just one example of how to plan ahead during the holidays. Use this idea as a rule of thumb—apply it to gift shopping, party planning, and holiday meal preparation to ensure you enjoy this holiday season to its fullest, brightest extent.

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