Follow These Baking Tips For A Stress-Free Christmas

The holidays may be a time for joy and gratitude, but they also have a naughty habit of sneaking up on us. In the struggle to remember to plan the holiday party and buy the perfect gifts, we sometimes forget some of the other beloved holiday pastimes, like baking.

Whether we make Christmas cookies or gingerbread houses, most of us incorporate holiday baking into our seasonal schedules. To help ensure that it is a hassle-free, successful baking day, follow these tips from Robin Seifert, owner of Etc. Gourmet Kitchen in California. Her tips help you plan ahead for parties and give perfect ideas for packaging cookies as gifts. Find out what she had to say here:

Stick with Tradition

While trying new recipes the night of your big holiday party may seem like a great idea, it's not. Holiday traditions and recipes you know should be your go-to throughout the holiday season. This way, not only are you confident everything will turn out beautifully, but you know what your guests like and what they expect. Don't be discouraged from trying new recipes; just try them when 20 people aren't over for dinner!

Package Cookies for Christmas Gifts

Packaging the treats is a crucial step and one where you can get creative. From simple to elaborate you can do it all even in a time crunch. You can use a clear bag and tie it up with a beautiful ribbon and attach the recipe. Or you can place them in a box, decorate it with ribbon and attach an ornament. If you want more of a presentation, try placing the cookies or treats in a basket along with some baking tools such as a rolling pin, cookie cutters, or a baking book. It makes a great gift for a fellow food lover!

Your Freezer is Your Friend

Many holiday treats are very freezer-friendly, so there is no need for the last-minute panic. Freeze your cookie dough, baked cakes, and pie crusts. Pull them out and, after a few minutes in the oven, you have a freshly baked treat. Simplify your dessert menu by putting some of your pre-made goodies away and serve them along with a beautifully made crème brûlées (also premade a few days ahead). The pistachio bread with a brandy whipped cream and English toffee for topping is a great re-use of already-made sweet treats. Or, if baking isn't in the cards for you, stop by a local bakery like Etc. Gourmet Kitchen to pick up your treats. Many bakeries are open Christmas Eve for those last-second orders.

Plan Ahead for Serving Platters

The most beautifully decorated cake is not going to be at its best served on a dinner plate. I put all my platters out ahead of time and put a sticky note naming what item goes on that platter.