Beyond the sheer amount of effort of making a lot of different cookies, the most difficult part of this is the time. Cooking this much stuff takes a long time and is pretty exhausting. And when I get exhausted making Christmas cookies I get all cranky and weepy and it’s not good for the holiday spirit. I am proud to report that 2016 involved zero tears, however!
I block off an entire weekend on my calendar for this. Get the ingredients during the week before, if possible. This year I actually made some of the dough for the sliced cookies on a weeknight after work, which was a huge help. But generally I start cooking Friday night. I make the things that can be the oldest first: caramels, fudge, pralines. Dough that needs to chill a long time will be made and put into the freezer.
A key point: If it’s 11 PM and you’re considering doing just one more thing…DON’T. Go to bed. You will do something stupid and screw it up and there will be cookie tears.
So I do what I can Friday then wake up Saturday and have at it. It’s really, really important to look at recipes to see what says “make dough…then chill for two hours.” Make that stuff first and then make other things (or clean) in the interim. Have I mentioned you should clean as you go? You should as best you can. It helps me at least stay slightly sane and makes sure I have the tools I need at hand.
My goal is to finish the cooking by Saturday night and devote Sunday to packing things up. Last year this happened. This year it didn’t, but I was mostly done by then. Just aim to have the majority of things done by the end of Saturday. If you find yourself running out of time, look for shortcuts. For example, this year I had a lot of cutout cookies to frost (which is time consuming) and so I decided to just drizzle lots of colors of frosting over them instead. It was much faster!
Also, if you are mailing these, don’t try to find a post office with room in their package drop for 12-15 boxes on a Sunday night. Seriously. I’ve driven to five post offices the weekend before Christmas before in this futile endeavor. Just stop by a post office that is open early on a Monday.
Just be sure to pace yourself, take breaks, sit down sometimes, eat meals, and stop for the day when you begin to hate the sight of all food.
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