Holiday Baking Tips

November is upon us and December will be here before we know it! I love the celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas! Yet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in these busy months.

One of the big things of the holiday is all the extra cooking and baking. I love baking but I have learned some advance planning helps me love the baking even more. Here are 5 holiday baking tips that I use to get ready for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!

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1. Make a master baking list.

There is so much to plan for with the holidays and food is one of those key things. Start by making a master baking list – or three. Make as many lists as you need to stay organized. Think ahead to all the upcoming events in the next two months and make a plan now. Here are some examples of events.

  • Thanksgiving meal
  • Christmas Eve meals
  • Christmas morning
  • Christmas Day meals
  • Meals while company is visiting
  • Parties you are attending
  • Parties you are hosting
  • Food gifts you want to give

Once you have those events, start gathering your recipes and inspiration. Make a list of the cookies, breakfasts, side dishes, special drinks and main dishes. There is still plenty of time to tweak your plan but the further ahead you plan, the more prepared you will be. Don’t forget to delegate dishes to family who are coming for holiday meals.


2. Make a shopping list and watch for sales.

Now that you have a list of the foods you want to prepare, start watching for sales on ingredients. November and December are full of great sales on sales on holiday foods, canned goods, snacks and baking goods. Buy early to save yourself money!

As a frugal shopper, this is one of my favorite times of year for all the great deals I find! Remember that you can freeze things such as butter and shredded cheese. Flour, cream of chicken soup, canned vegetables and crackers are just a few of the other deals I stock up on this month.

Emily, a sweet blogger friend, recently suggested setting aside a specific place in your pantry and labeling it Christmas so that no one gets into those things before you need them. I thought this was a clever idea to keep your things together, too. Emily has more tips on Christmas baking and a planner for the Christmas season available here. 

3. Make a baking plan and start baking early.

List all the cookies you plan to bake over the holidays. We have several favorites that I make every year as well as some new recipes I like to try. Start baking cookies you can freeze now. Don’t wait until the week before Christmas to do all your baking at once.

If decorating cut out cookies is a family tradition, make your cut out cookies now and freeze them until you’re ready to decorate them with the kids. I plan to make our cut out cookies next week – in both Thanksgiving and Christmas shapes. Nathan can decorate some now and we’ll freeze the Christmas ones to decorate later.

In our house, buckeyes are one of the Christmas cookie standards. I make several hundred every year for us to enjoy, take to parties and give us gifts. Knowing that and knowing that they freeze well, I start making those in early December so I’m not crunched on time. If you have a family tradition of baking a specific cookie, bake them early and freeze them! A freezer is a cook’s best friend.

Here’s our family recipe for buckeyes as well as homemade caramel corn. Both you can make ahead of time and both make marvelous gifts!

4. Cook a freezer meal or two.

It doesn’t seem like a holiday baking tip but this will be a lifesaver in the busy weeks ahead. Make a freezer meal. The simplest way to do this is with the cook once, eat twice principle. Double a dinner now and freeze for the busy December nights ahead. You will be so glad you did did this.

If you’re looking for freezer meal ideas, this crock pot chicken is one of our favorites and you can never go wrong with a pan of poppy seed chicken!

5. Give yourself time – and grace.

Not everything has to accomplished that you put on your list. And most certainly, everything does not have to be accomplished at once!

As a mom with two little ones under the age of two, I need to be intentional with my time and planning for the holidays. Chose now what is most important to you and make those tasks a priority. 

Remember, you have several weeks until Thanksgiving and even more weeks until Christmas! Give yourself time to slowly check things off your list. And if not everything gets checked off your list? Give yourself grace. No will notice the missing batch of cookies or one less side dish. Sometimes, simpler is better! That’s important to remember too. Don’t ever get too busy with your lists and baking that you forget to savor the season. 

What are your best holiday baking tips? 

Be sure to check out these additional ways to get ready for Christmas early. You can really get a good start on your holiday preparations now!

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  1. I do my cookie dough one day and then bake them the next day or two. The clean up is great, and I’m not faced with having to bake and package the cookies when I’m tired. The next day is more enjoyable and I don’t feel so rushed to get everything done, This year, I purchased a tablespoon cookie scoop. Dropped the balls into sugar, then flash froze them on a cookie sheet and popped them into bags. This year, I did start shopping early for the baking supplies – also for my Christmas gifts to my three out-of-state children and grands. Slow cooker/freezer meals are a MUST this year too! ~Blessings!!

  2. When you stash an extra meal in the freezer, just remember you have it, otherwise you could very well forget all about it.

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