Homemade Christmas Cookies
If you haven’t already started baking your homemade Christmas cookies you need to do it now. At the very least you can get a head start on things with a little planning.
- List what homemade cookies you want to bake for the holidays.
- Divide the list into cookies you will give away, cookies for parties, Christmas cookies for school activities, etc. and also list the ones you will be serving for your own family closer to Christmas.
- Make the list of ingredients you will need and then go buy them so you will have them on hand. Stock your pantry.
Get as much as you can done ahead of time (now).
- Most cookie dough can be refrigerated or frozen so mix as many batches as you can. Some great doughs for this are basic chocolate chip or sugar cookie dough. You can take these two and add almost anything to them: chips, dried fruit, candy etc.
- Freeze the dough in small batches. If you only want to bake one or two cookie sheets at a time you don’t have to thaw the whole batch. I do this all year around. I keep small rolls of dough in my freezer. When I hear the grandkids are on their way, I pull out the dough and have a hot pan of cookies when they get here. It makes the house smell good for them, too.
- If you will be using colored sugar or coconut, mix it up now. To make either one, place the sugar or coconut into jars with a couple of drops of food coloring and shake. Store it in there until ready to use.
- If you love shortbread and like to give it as gifts, do it now and store in an airtight container. Shortbread cookies are one of those cookies which are better if they are aged for at least a couple of weeks.
- If nothing else at least measure out your dry ingredients. Place them in plastic bags so they’re ready to use.
Baking Homemade Cookies
- Be sure to use what the recipe calls for, whether it is butter, shortening or margarine and never use margarine that is whipped, soft spread or reduced fat. Your cookies will spread everywhere if you do.
- Pre-heat your oven
- It is best to bake only one sheet of cookies at a time but if you must do more, leave a couple of inches around the sheets for air circulation.
- Let the baking sheet cool between batches because placing dough on a hot sheet can make the cookies spread too much.
- If your recipe calls for oatmeal or nuts, toast them before using them.
- Fill a container that has large holes (like a sugar shaker) with flour to sprinkle your board before rolling out cookies.
- Make sure when you roll out cookies to cut that they are all the same thickness. Each individual cookie must not have thin or thick spots either or they will bake unevenly. You can buy rubber bands to put on your rolling pin to get an exact thickness, but they are expensive.
- I have always used 2 strips of cardboard (the thickness that I need) covered in foil and just lay them on each side of the dough with each edge of the rolling pin laying on a strip.
- If you don’t have cookie cutters or enough time to use them, just roll out your cookies and cut in squares or diamond shapes with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter. Sprinkle with colored sugar and bake.
- Use a wire cheese cutter to slice chilled refrigerator cookie dough.
- If you are making huge batches of homemade cookies and do a lot of baking, you might try using old oven racks to cool them on. Just place something under each corner to make sure it is raised up slightly off of the table.
Storing and Shipping Homemade Christmas Cookies
- Cookies keep very well for a very long time without freezing. Most cookies don’t have ingredients the health department calls “toxic” (their words not mine) and are very safe to keep for long periods.
- Always completely cool cookies before storing and never store crisp cookies and soft cookies together. Store soft cookies in an air tight container and crisp cookies in a container with a loose lid.
- I find that tins work best for storing homemade cookies because sometimes the cookies pick up the flavor of plastic ware if it was previously used to store something like spaghetti with garlic. This is especially true if the cookies have a lot of butter.
- If you have cookies that have ingredients like cream cheese, they will need to be stored in the fridge, but the recipe will usually tell you if you need to do this.
- You can freeze cookies up to 3 months.
- When shipping cookies, be sure to give them plenty of time to get there and always mark “perishable” on the package.
- Soft moist cookies, cookie bars and drop cookies ship the best.
- Metal tins are really the best shipping container for cookies, but if you don’t have one then a sturdy cardboard box will work. Line the box with plastic wrap or foil then place the cookies in it. Crumble up wax paper to place on top sides or anywhere you need cushioning. I then slip the whole thing into 1 or 2 plastic bags.
- I wrap that box in bubble wrap and place inside another box. You could also use newspaper, peanuts or even popcorn for cushioning at this point.
- Cookie ingredients can be very expensive, especially for homemade Christmas cookies. If you need to save money, choose your family’s favorites that have the least expensive ingredients.
- For example, my family loves sugar cookies about the same as chocolate chip cookies. The sugar cookies cost much less because they don’t have things like chocolate chips and nuts in them, so I would bake the sugar cookies.
- Another way to save on ingredients is to use less of things like nuts and baking chips. You really can get by with putting half a bag of chips instead of a whole one into chocolate chip cookies. The same goes for nuts. If that same recipe calls for 1 cup of nuts, use just 1/2 cup.
- When giving cookies as a gift, make them look more attractive by putting them in cellophane bags and tying with a ribbon.
- Instead of just slapping cookies on a platter for your Christmas dinner or party, add a couple of votives or one large candle in the center of the platter for a more festive look.
- Save those dried out cookies or that handful of leftover homemade Christmas cookies. Freeze them and use them in place of any recipe or dessert that calls for a graham cracker crust.
For lots of great recipes and tips for homemade cookies and other scratch cooking, take a look at our Dining On A Dime Cookbook here! You’ll find almost 500 pages of very helpful information to help you learn to work all kinds of magic in the kitchen!