Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Host a Holiday Baking Extravaganza

I woke up last week with a startling thought: OMG! I need to plan my annual holiday baking extravaganza before it's too late. My mind raced for a date check and I realized it's only mid-October. I quickly whipped out my date book and went to planning.

My holiday baking extravangza was such a success last year, I can't imagine not hosting it again. I selected December 5 for my party this year: the perfect date as it follows Thanksgiving, gets everyone in the spirit for the holidays and give us plenty of time to share our holiday cookies and treats at gatherings and events. Oh what? You can't come to the party? You can host your own. Here's how:

My husband's office has a large industrial kitchen and luckily he lets me use it for my party. Truthfully though, you could host the party anywhere - just adjust the number of guests based on the size of your space. You'll want plenty of counter space, tables or work stations for your guests while keeping in mind not everyone will be baking all at once. Some people might be assembling ingredients, munching on snacks or have a no-bake recipes which require minimal time in the kitchen.

I chose to send an e-vite invitation with a cookie-themed invite pattern. After selecting my guest list and event details, I added a cute holiday baking saying to get everyone in the spirit:

'Tis the season for some holiday fun

Think of all the shopping we've yet to get done

Before we get together for some cheer and good eats,

Let's start baking all our homemade holiday treats!

You could easily make hand-made invitations or simply print stationary from a computer printer if you prefer snail mail. In my invitation, I asked everyone to bring an appetizer to share and Tupperware or cookie tins to carry their treats home. I always provide wine and non-alcoholic beverages but you could host yours any way you like.

Encourage your guests to choose 1-3 holiday recipes they're interesting in making at the party. Old family traditions are great as well as fun finds from the internet. One of my friends said she has a holiday recipe that's a mess to make in her own kitchen and asked if she could make it there instead. For sure, I say! Why not make it in someone else's kitchen when you have a bunch of your friends to share the clean-up.

DIVIDE AND CONQUORLast year when I hosted this party for the first time, I had my guests email me their recipes and I tallied up all the ingredients needed for the party. Then I sent back shopping lists for everyone and it worked out fabulously. That way, only one person buys the flour, another buys the sugar, etc. Buying in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club makes it more cost effective for everyone and trims down the number of ingredients you'd have to buy. If someone's recipe calls for a unique ingredient like cardamon for example, I assign that ingredient to the recipe holder to make sure they get exactly what's needed for their recipe. Email out your ingredient list at least a week in advance to allow everyone to pull ingredients together.

Load up some holiday tunes on your iPod and get to baking! As I said before, I ask guests to bring Tupperware or cookie tins to carry their treats home and purchase myself a few rolls of wax paper, Ziploc bags and foil to separate treats for transport. Last year, some gals also brought cooking utensils they wished to share such as their mixers or cookie sheets. If you don't have enough of these items on your own, go ahead and ask your girlfriends to bring extras. When guest's arrive hand them a glass, show them a lay of the kitchen and start cooking!

The greatest parts about a holiday baking party is the variety of recipes you'll have at your holiday functions. Last year, my cookie trays were beautifully decorated and they made perfect gifts for neighbors or friends. Not to mention all the fun girl time you'll have that day as well.

Look for pictures in a few weeks following our bash! Is it the holidays yet? I'm getting excited ...

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