DIY Christmas Cookie hampers!

    It’s no surprise that Christmas is my favorite time of the year – the first few days of December have had me elbow deep in cookie dough. Rolling, cutting, icing, sprinkling – its been hectic, but super fun. I decided to send out holiday cookies this year and I thought I’d share a how-to post that helps you get in the mood to make a few of your own.
  1. Making your list
  2. Of those who’ve been naughty or nice! Making a list of recipients is the initial step – it helps you keep a figure in mind. If you’re making a variety of items, the list can help with segregating who is getting what, quantity, food allergies, delivery time (it does matter – crushed cookies or soggy cookies are no laughing matter) and finally details like phone numbers and addresses etc.  It’s a matter of making up a simple Excel sheet that you can stick to the refrigerator later.
  3. Picking a recipe(s)
  4. Perhaps the most crucial – it all comes down to picking a recipe or two that you’re comfortable with. I’d highly recommend something that you’ve tried before (a couple of times) because I feel that every recipe needs to be made at least thrice for it to be rid of any surprises. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try a new recipe but I’d keep a back-up recipe just in case. I also think that depending on the number of boxes you want to send out, it helps to pick a recipe that is larger in volume – it reduces some effort and keeps you cheery. This is supposed to be a fun exercise after all! I picked sugar cookies with royal icing and Devil’s Food Cake cookies (will post this in the upcoming week). You could also pick a recipe which is versatile – like this shortbread for example. You could split the dough in twos or fours and add the flavors as per your choice. Most recipes double easily so you shouldn’t face any trouble but remember to taste at every step.
    While making a number of things sounds ideal, it isn’t always so. I strongly feel that during the holidays, people’s houses are crammed with desserts. Which is why, I always send little bit of everything – enough for everyone to get a taste teaser but not so much that they eventually throw away etc. This year I sent out 6 of each – the sugar cookies and Devils Food Cake cookies.
  5. Making a schedule
  6. I find it much easier to work if there’s a schedule in place. Especially if you’re doing this for the first time – it can be overwhelming. There will be a mountain load of cookies waiting to be iced, packaging lying around and gift cards everywhere! But keeping a simple schedule helps to keep your cool. Vaguely, it should be something like this:
    10 days before:
  7. Make a list, check it twice!
  8. Pick a recipe(s) and print out complete process – including frosting if any, batch size etc.
  9. Work on packaging ideas
  10. 5 days before:
  11. Print packaging material
  12. Confirm addresses, telephone numbers etc
  13. Buy paper bags or any other packing material – if any boxes need to be assembled, work on them now.
  14. Make an inventory list – butter, sugar, eggs, icing sugar, flour, vanilla essence, cookie cutters, cookie trays, Silpat and other such equipment that’s required for baking
  15. Ensure there are enough airtight boxes to store cookies-in-waiting (in between the time you bake them and send them off.)
  16. Arrange a delivery service for those places that you may not be able to visit yourself. For Mumbai peeps, I know of an excellent one. Email me for details. It also helps to plan a delivery route if you’re planning to deliver them yourself.
  17. 4 days before:
  18. Check inventory list and order whatever is missing. Its always better to have some extra than to run out mid-cookie dough.
  19. 3 days before:
  20. If you’re recipe allows, bake the cookies (or whatever you choose to give) and store in airtight containers. Double check the quantity.
  21. 2 days before:
  22. If you’re using royal icing like I did, its recommended that you start icing cookies now to give them enough time to dry out.
  23. 1 day before:
  24. Work on packing them up completely and set them out in an accessible place so you can have them ready to be sent out.
  25. Packaging:
  26. While I love googling super cute, super christmasy labels etc, actually packing them up in boxes etc aren’t my strong suit. Especially if wrapping is involved, I’m repulsed. So I get my mother to help me out with them (we sat up late one night packing up sugar cookies and drank way too much eggnog and watched too much of Grey’s Anatomy  – it’s now going down as an annual Christmas tradition!). If you’re anything like me, schedule time with a friend or relative in advance. At this point, you’ll have an exact number to send out so it will help to visualize packing – do you want them in treat bags or boxes? Do you want them stacked up? Are they going to survive delivery (if they’re far off)? You also might want to consider whether you’re upping the budget for some special ones and whether you’re using glass bowls etc for them. Finally, it’s always best to let someone know before you send them out so they can be home to receive it etc.
  27. Having fun with them:
  28. Sending out holiday treats is supposed to be a fun process. Making treats, packing them up etc always needs more helping hands – get the family involved. Kids love to be part of the baking team and moreover, its always enjoyable with more people involved.
    Hope you can amaze everyone next holiday!

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3 responses to “DIY Christmas Cookie hampers!

  1. LUUUUHRVEE Christmas + this super cute idea! I have to say that what you did with the printed paper and tags is very inspiring. I like making similar stationery of course, it used to be on a very small scale before and I’m trying to make the most of it now through my blog and all. 🙂

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