Saturday, December 06, 2008

Simply Living Saturdays: The Christmas Edition

This week's edition of Simply Living Saturdays is about ways to simplify our Christmas celebrations and focus on what is truly important.

One way we have scaled back and simplified is to limit the amount of Christmas baking we do.

One of our favorite traditions as a couple is to bake Christmas treats together. It started out as a wonderful idea of spending part of a Saturday completing all of our Christmas baking. It ended up, even the first year, as taking a whole lot longer to do with me planning too much and then still frosting and decorating cookies late at night. It became a stressful day instead of the peaceful and enjoyable tradition we had envisioned.

Not to mention that we had way too many cookies and treats left over after the holidays.

Last year, I decided to pare my list down and make it more manageable. Instead of trying to make the same stuff just because that's what I had always done, we prepared my husband and I's top 4 or 5 favorites and left it at that.

It was a little more manageable but still took more time than we wanted. And instead of having too much, we ended up almost running out of treats to share! I do enjoy giving a few plates or bags of treats to friends and sharing them at different get-togethers throughout the season, so I like to have enough for that.

This year, we're spending an evening doing the Christmas baking. I've made a list of 5 favorites. I'm still not sure if we'll do the cut-outs as they tend to take the bulk of time. They are my very favorites, though, and would add a different flavor to our other three favorites which are all chocolate! When deciding what kinds to make, I try to pick out a variety that would look nice on a plate together as that is how I often serve them at get-togethers and parties.

Maybe if I baked the cut-out sugar cookies ahead and only did a small amount, then we'd only have to decorate them.

Another favorite which is quite time-consuming but so yummy is kiffles. This is from my husband's side of the family. We'd like to make some of those to take to his family at Christmas, but only if we really really want to! This would be in addition to our baking night.

So as you can see here, I don't quite have all this figured out. Simplifying and changing what you've been doing for years can be difficult!

So the list of treats that I'm planning to make now is:

1)chocolate-peanut squares
2)chocolate-mint cookies
3)chocolate-dipped pretzel rods
4)oatmeal raisin cookies
5)cut-out sugar cookies(maybe)

Doing less and really enjoying the traditions that we do participate in is what makes the Christmas season so much more enjoyable!

What kinds of treats do you like the most? How have you been able to simplify this fun holiday tradition?

Thanks to Stephanie for hosting Simply Living Saturdays each week!


Kathryn said...

You could get the dough mixed and either freeze or refrigerate ahead for your evening of baking. Than you would have a clean kitchen and could just bake away.

Knox has asked for gingerbread boys, so I plan on making some of those for him. I'm determined to master cut out cookies this year.

I baked some peppermint meltaways and those are frozen waiting to be frosted. Some Lemon Tea Cookies were frozen in logs and then they will be sliced, baked and iced. Together, those two are about 8 doz.

I'll make the Almond Roca candy again this year. Chocolate Crinkle dough can be made ahead. I had two others or so on my list, but this pregnant brain can't remember what right now. Probably some from the Racheal Ray mag. since hers are supposed to be super fast.

Also, one tip from Mom, if you are going to make a bunch of cookie dough ahead--you don't have to wash the mixer bowl and measuring cups if you start with the mildest flavored cookie, then progress to the chocolate and mint flavored ones.

Shawn suggests Red Bull right before you start....LOL!!

Kathryn said...

Well, that was a book!! I could have posted that on my blog for an actual post!! haha

gail said...

i like your idea of making the sugar cookies ahead and just decorating together.

your selection of cookies sounds yummy. i used to do cookies on my own and spread them out over several days. now i've gotton out of the habit of making any, but this year i think i'm going to do one or two. and i just found out i'm invited to a cookie making party at my friends house. so i may have a boat-load of cookies after all.

Anonymous said...

I would like to order the chocolate-dipped pretzel rods---please send me some!

We usually wait until Christmas Eve to make our favorite cookie, red velvet with cream cheese icing and sprinkles. That way our son can leave these for Santa (yum!) and we have some to take to family on Christmas Day.

*carrie* said...

Mary Ann,

I like the idea of doing all the baking at once, so you only have to clean the kitchen once, etc. I still haven't decided which kinds to make this year!