A Composed Christmas

True confession:  I don’t like to cook.

This can be a little bit of a problem at times, since I have to feed 8-9 people three times per day.

I love having company for meals, too.  It’s so much more fun than having people over to fast.  🙂

On the other hand, I love sugar and with it I have a love for baking and candy making.  If I didn’t exhibit some self-control we’d have a pretty rotten diet around my house, and perhaps no teeth.

So, when Christmas rolls around, we like to have lots of sweet treats on hand.  Since a couple of my kids have food allergies, it’s also helpful to have safe alternatives to take with us as we spend time with others.

By the time we get into November and December – with things like Thanksgiving plans, Advent celebrations, parties, Christmas Programs, shopping & wrapping special gifts, and houseguests on top of ministry, homeschooling, homemaking, and parenting it can be hard to squeeze in Christmas goodies.

As much as I like my kids to help in the kitchen – mixing cocoa, sugar, milk, and memories – when life is harried, I end up baking after bedtime or sending them out of the kitchen so I can get it done quickly.  If I do permit them to join me under pressure, it’s not pretty.  We do not have fun. Later on we end up choking down cookies laced with contention.  🙁

If today is the childhood my kids will remember, I want their memories to be good ones.  The only way I can accomplish that with holiday baking is to schedule it when we have plenty of time so we can have fun.

October is a great time to start.  With the advent of freezer space, baking in advance becomes a viable option.

Any given Christmas season, as time allows, we choose from a list of goodies to make.  In late September or early October we choose the goodies we want and make a schedule to prepare them.

We choose from things like:

Fudge
Truffles
Caramels
Mint-Chocolate covered Oreos
Chocolate covered pretzels
Pretzel Treats
Snickerdoodles with red & green cinnamon-sugar
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Gingerbread Cookies (people, shapes, or our gingerbread nativity)
Sugar Cookies in lots of shapes, decorated with lots of icing
Buttermints
Mint-Cream or Coconut- Cream filled candies
Hazelnut Cocoa Mix
Peppermint Syrup
Peppermint Rock Candy

Plus, anything new we’d like to try…

Holiday Baking

Additional considerations:

  1. We schedule candy making and cookie baking for every Friday in October (excepting Halloween or my daughter’s birthday, if it falls on a Friday).
  2. We usually have enough time on a Friday to enjoyably make 1-2 things, so this does limit our options.
  3. If we know someone will visit us during the holidays and one of these treats would be a fun project to do while spending time with them, we’ll hold that item as an activity to include later.
  4. One year, when we didn’t have any grandparents in the house, we made Pretzel Treats and Peppermint Syrup with my step-mom.  We used frequent texts & photos to update each other on our progress and to compare the results.  It was such a sweet afternoon – completely spontaneous – and we felt connected at a time the hearts in our house were aching with a different sorrow.
  5. Use the Freezer!
    • Sometimes we make cookie dough and freeze it to pull out and bake fresh as needed through the holidays.
    • Other times we freeze baked-but-undecorated cookies to prepare closer to eating time.
    • And, if we’ve tempered the chocolate well, we flash-freeze and then freeze (in airtight containers), fudge, truffles, and other chocolate candies.

So!  Are you ready to begin baking?  What are some of your favorite treats at Christmas?  Do you enjoy baking with your kids?

And… the Give Away!

If you’d like some fun recipes to try this year, Share this post on your Facebook wall, Tweet about this post, or Pin it on Pinterest between now and October 6th, and I’ll send you recipes for some of our holiday favorites including our *famous* truffles.

To receive the mini-PDF Cookbook, you’ll need to head to my website and let me know where you shared in the comments section of this post (Scroll to the bottom and look for “Leave a Reply”). I’ll send copies of the mini-PDF cookbook to you via email October 7, 2014!

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Photo Credit:
A Composed Christmas photo by christmasstockimages.com [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons