Last weekend I hosted a cookie baking party.
Wait, let me say that again. I HOSTED A COOKIE BAKING PARTY! Like the real, true, responsible adult that I am trying to be.
I planned, invited, prepped, hosted, and managed six people baking holiday cookies together in a new (but still small) kitchen, and no one cried, and we all took home a few containers of holiday cookies to binge eat I MEAN SHARE at holiday get togethers in the next few weeks, and I restrained myself from eating all the caramel corn before the end of the day. Success with a capital S.
Today I am super excited to share with you a few pictures of my best ever family – grandma, mom, sisters, and nephew – and our cookie baking adventures in the new, almost-finished kitchen.
Annnnd because planning something like this is surprisingly sort of a lot of work and recipe math is hard, I am even more excited to share with you some tools that will make it ultra slick for you to host a little par-tay of your own where everyone will walk away with a few containers of holiday cookies and funny memories of you with a frosting face and all the other good feels of the season.
Fun thing: At the end of today’s picture and tips post, you will find a free download of easy holiday cookie recipes that can be magically scaled to fit whatever size group you find yourself hosting.
I took our huge batch recipes that were meant for sharing with six people (like, where everyone takes home a big bucket) and put them in this beautiful thing called a spreadsheet, which, by the way, WHY have I not been on to this trick sooner? ugh. And so the good news is that today you can download my spreadsheets with a little extra column to scale the recipes to your OWN party size to make hosting your own holiday cookie party super easy! If you cannot wait one second longer to start scaling party-sized recipes, they are linked at the end of this post.
Okay, cookie monsters (you’re okay with me calling you that, right?) — happy cookie-baking-Christmas-food-loving-Friday to you.
Assign recipes and shopping lists to each guest – like the ones that are available as FREE DOWNLOADS at the end of this post!
That way you can easily scale recipes up or down depending on how many people are coming, because the free downloads are magic like that. Also, then one person doesn’t end up buying all the ingredients. If you’re the host, I’d suggest have a few backups just in case you want to make just ONE MORE batch of something. In my world, that happens. A lot.
Have each person bring cookie sheets and take home containers.
Even if you don’t need the cookie sheets for baking, they make everything go faster when you can load them up with treats and stick them in the fridge to set faster. And to prevent everyone taking all your food storage containers home, have guests bring their own. For the recipes included here, we each used two 9×13 size foil cake pans with lids. Christmas tins would be cuter if you have them!
Don’t overdo it.
It’s really a lot of work to bake and decorate cookies and treats together. Keep the recipes simple simple simple and don’t try to do more than three or four in one day even if you love the idea of more.
Oh, sorry, you’re a baking wizard with unlimited stamina? Okay then, go for it with all ten recipes and then puhleease tell me your secrets.
Prep your essential materials.
Keep towels, hot pads, paper towels, aluminum foil, etc. within easy reach – maybe set out a box so everywhere always knows where they are.
Clear out as much from your fridge as possible.
The more you can place in your fridge to set or chill throughout the day, the more efficient you can be. If you just can’t make it work with your fridge and if you happen to live in a wintery place like Minnesota, try setting up a table outside so you can set cookies and treats outside to chill as they finish.
And all the warm weather friends are like SAY WHAT?! Yeah, that’s a real thing we do here.
Small kitchens are okay.
Don’t shy away from hosting just because you are worried about the size of your kitchen. This particular line up of cookies and treats only requires about half of the prep to actually happen in the kitchen. Set up a table in an adjacent space (doesn’t have to be a kitchen!) for the rolling, unwrapping, decorating, dipping, etc.
Invite the right number of people.
We had 6 people, and that was about right for the size of our kitchen. That being said, my parents kitchen could hold 15 people and a million and one cookies. So even though you shouldn’t let a small kitchen hold you back, you should think about how many people can realistically be in each area together.
Make a kitchen map so you’re mentally prepared for where to direct people.
I mapped out my kitchen so I could see where people would be able to stand/sit and work. We can fit one at the back counter for dough, one at the sink for dishes, one at the oven for baking, and three to four people at the counter or the table.
Everyone makes, everyone takes.
It’s a lot easier to have one person do all the dipped pretzels and then divvy them up than to try to have every single person make it over to the pretzel dipping station and make their own throughout the afternoon. If you’re all okay with it, just divide up the tasks and let everyone share the results, even if they themselves didn’t make a certain cookie.
Prep a Christmas playlist.
Because everything is more fun with music. May I recommend the Spotify Pop Christmas radio station or Pentatonix? Can’t stop won’t stop.
Arrange a table for holding the finished goods.
Mine was just a big folding table with pieces of labeled tape for each person where everyone could store up their little pile of cookies that they would be taking home. NO STEALING.
Stay organized before and during the party.
Knowing who’s bringing what, when the oven will be available, and roughly when you’re going to do everything so that you don’t end up wanting to bake two things at once. The easy good news is that I have included a proposed schedule (wheee!) in this post based on what we did at our lil party this year.
The beauty is in the mess. Literally.
Just go ahead right now and plan for something to spill, sprinkles to be in every crevice of your floor, and to find almond bark crusted somewhere it doesn’t belong the next few days. Be prepared to clean up messes graciously with a ready stash of paper towels, wet rags, etc. People are more important than things (just a little reminder to my sometimes type A self) and it will all be okay in the end.
And mom, I promise this is NOT me secretly saying anything about the caramel corn incident.
Want to host your own little party? Grab your free holiday cookie party planning downloads right on down here to make assigning lists, scaling recipe amounts, and purchasing the right amount of all ingredients a breezy-breeze.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PLANNING SHEETS.
The download will be a compressed file. Once it shows up in your download folder, just double click to open and start scaling your recipes and printing them. There is an option for both Numbers and Excel files.
If you want the recipes as-is (no downloads, no magical scaling tricks) here is the text for the recipes that we made.
Carmel Corn! So simple and delicious. The perfect holiday treat that everyone will love!
- 4 cups butter
- 4 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups light corn syrup
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 bags Puff Corn popcorn
- Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place Puff Corn in a deep roasting pan.
- Bring the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil. Add the baking soda – the mixture will foam. Stir well and remove from heat.
- Pour over Puff Corn in roasting pan, stir, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Spread on wax paper or foil until the caramel corn is cool and crispy.
I would recommend making half at a time (i.e. 2 cups butter, 2 cups brown sugar instead of the whole 4 cups) because otherwise it gets a little overwhelming and it’s harder to control the consistency of the caramel.
Peanut Butter Blossoms! Soft cookie with just enough delicious chocolate.
- 1 1/2 cups butter
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
- 3 eggs
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2-3 bags Hershey’s kisses
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Beat butter, brown sugar, white sugar, peanut butter, and eggs.
- Mix in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Form into 1-inch balls and roll in a shallow dish of white sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
- Immediately after baking, press one unwrapped Hershey’s kiss into the center of the cookie.
We also pressed a small piece of dough into mini muffin tins, stuck an unwrapped mini Reese’s in the middle, baked for 8-10 minutes, and decorated with sprinkles.
Oreo Truffles. Just 3 ingredients and hardly any time at all! So simple and SO YUM.
- 2 packages Oreo cookies
- 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
- 2 15 ounce packages almond bark
- Pulse the Oreo cookies in a blender or food processor until fine crumbs form.
- Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cream cheese or mash it all together with your hands.
- Roll into small balls and refrigerate or freeze for 15 minutes.
- Melt the almond bark. Dip each ball into the almond bark and place on a foil or wax paper lined surface. Decorate with sprinkles or drizzled chocolate and let set. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup! MMMM! So good for a chilly winter day.
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt (pepper to taste)
- 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
- Place all ingredients except egg noodles in a slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Shred chicken directly in the bowl of the slow cooker using two large forks to pull it apart. Add the egg noodles and season generously with more salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 15-30 minutes, and serve with bread.