“How do you do it?”
I have been asked this question many times and I thought I would address it in a post. There is something you need to know about me… I am nuts …and my nuttiness has been well established since junior high. I tend to get these great ideas, but fail to think through how much work is truly involved. I always choose things that are difficult. Whether they are difficult classes, master programs, or baking endeavors I always bite off more than I can chew. Its similar to a challenge/quiz or test but I am the administrator and the willing victim and the goal is to see if I can actually do it. I used to stress about making my lists, money, when to make what, and why oh why did I decide on a particular recipe or design! Then I finish the project and think WOW! In the end it is worth the pain, frustration, effort and late nights.
Last year, the first year I made Christmas treats, I was flying by the seat of my pants and I did not know what I was doing. I wasn’t organized but somehow got though it all!
I bought local for everything from packaging to ingredients. I tried to buy Meijer brands if they were available. I saved a lot of money overall compared to last year! I did end up going back to the store three times for things I forgot or did not have enough. I did get frustrated with each recipe for a particular reason, but eventually I found a solution to each problem.
I became very inventive over the past year. Instead of panicking and freaking out I would stand back look at the situation and try to think of another way to get around the problem. A few solutions I came up with were; using a credit card to score the paper, a blender to chop the chocolate, and a spatula to help me form dough in to a rectangle when the dough is too soft.
This year I made lists and had specific days for doing certain recipes. Again, I really just had some general lists and while it was more organized than last year not by much. The week before Christmas I spent almost every day from 8am till 12am working on my feet. My back, hip, and knees took a beating from all the standing. It was difficult to walk at some point which means my way of doing things needs to be tweaked just a tad more.
Here is a list of things I did this year.
1st step : what do I want to do ? I searched blogs, cook books, and websites for ideas.
2nd step: narrow my list.
Santa Sugar Cookie Cut outs
Hot Chocolate mix
Dog treats (obviously for the dogs)
3rd step: organize my ingredients and decide how much I need and what I need.
I made a list of each recipe and what each specific recipe needed. I doubled or quadrupled the batch, added up the similar ingredients across the recipes, and then I make a final list of the ingredients in bulk form. ie 10 cups of flour for all the recipes. Make sure you do this with all of your ingredients otherwise you will end up going back and forth to the store a few times which can be frustrating.
4th step: Buy all of my ingredients in bulk weeks before! To help with the cost and so I am not at the store every week I take my list to the store the first week of the month and I buy everything I can in bulk. If there are things like heavy cream that can spoil easily I star it and buy it the week or day I need it.
5th step: Weeks before I need it I start making the dough and freezing it. This makes it easier to just bake the week of! I started making the sugar cookie dough and biscotti dough weeks in advance so that all I would have to do is bake the week I needed it.
6th step: Bake bake bake, and freeze till ready to box. I bake my treats the week of so they will taste fresh and then I freeze them until I am ready to box and give them away. I freeze in containers and in freezer bags.
7th step: Decorate over 4 days. If I have something I need to decorate ie 186 sugar cookies I take 2 days to outline and flood, and 2 days to decorate. Afterwards I chill them, box them, and then put them in the fridge until I give them away. If I will not see people for a few weeks I put the decorated cookies in Tupperware separated by wax paper and then finally in to the freezer.
8th step: The day before I give out my treats I box everything, put labels on them, organize everything, and then put them in to their bags. I go by the list as I bag things so that I do not forget anyone. Also anything that needs to be fresh (popcorn I make the day I am going to give it).
Whew so that is how I get through the Holiday baking … I plan and plan and plan ….then I bake a lot !
I have come up with a better plan for next year to overcome a few issues I had this year.
1. I am going to buy a lot of containers to freeze my treats in. As of right now I have 2 tubs.
2. I am going to practice making truffles and decorating every other month. My goal is to have so much practice that it becomes natural by the time December comes around. Every recipe on my list I have made before except for the two different truffle recipes. This ensures that I have had some experience with most of the recipes and will reduce the stress when making everything.
3. I am going to start a lot earlier and make 1 batch a day! A batch a day will be my mantra from October -December. This will make it less stressful and will ensure that all my treats come out perfect!
December 2012 Treat list
- Snow flake sugar cookies blue
- Hot chocolate mix
- Cappuccino fudge
- Peanut butter fudge
- Almond biscotti
- Peppermint biscotti
- Macadamia and gold rum white chocolate truffles
- Whole Raspberry bittersweet chocolate
- Dog biscuits
I created a word document with a list of things I need, the recipes, and a table /calendar/timeline!
Paper cutter –
Snow flake cookie cutter
Blue food coloring: Gel in tube and fluid
Ribbon: silver and blue
Labels for treats : Heavy blue construction paper and glue
Boxes from Piece of Cake store
20 boxes for sugar cookies 4 by 4 by 2 price .45c/box
40 1 IB bags for Hot chocolate
80 Boxes 1 Ib each – for biscotti’s, and fudges’
40 truffle boxes- needs to hold 20 truffles per box-
20 Tupper wear to store things in , buy 2 a month
5 for sugar cookies 10 batches X 40 = 400 / 80 per box
1 for Cappuccino fudge 36 X 5 = 180
1 for peanut butter fudge 64 X 3 = 192
1 almond biscotti 4 batches X 30 cookies = 120
1 peppermint biscotti 4 batches X 60 = 240
1-2 Dog treats
1 tub for each type of truffles
1 large tub for cocoa storage!
Need wax paper 2 boxes – cut up sizes for each box!
For the calendar I started from the day before Christmas and worked my way back with things that needed to be finished. I tried to leave extra days in the week in case I do not get to something that night so I do not feel rushed. When the next year rolls around I will blog about each week and what I have accomplished. I hope this helps you get organized for whatever you are making :).
The calendar is cut off and I can not seem to format it so that you can see the whole thing. So here is the calendar in list form.
Christmas Treats 2012
Starting in October and Ending in December
22 Finalize Christmas list
23 Correct spelling of everyone’s name and Mailing addresses
24 Buy all boxes, bags, and ingredients.
25 Make labels for treats and tags for bags.
26 Buy cards and stamps
27 Christmas Letters Finalize design and write a draft
29 Pictures See if Krissy could take some photos of Brian and I
30 Snow flake sugar cookies 1st ( )
31 2nd ( )
1 3rd ( )
2 4th ( )
3 5th( )
5 6th( )
6 7th ( )
7 8th ( )
8 9th ( )
9 10th ( )
10 Hot chocolate mix 1st ( )
12 2nd( )
13 3rd( )
14 4th( )
15 5th ( )
16 6th ( )
17 Cappuccino fudge 1st ( )
19 2nd ( )
20 3rd ( )
21 4th ( )
22 5th( )
23 Peanut butter fudge 1st ( )
24 2nd ( )
26 3rd( )
27 almond Biscotti 1st ( )
28 2nd ( )
293rd ( )
30 4th ( )
1 peppermint biscotti 1st ( )
3. 2nd ( )
4 3rd ( )
5 4th ( )
6 Dog biscuits
1st ( )
7 2nd ( )
8 3rd ( )
9 org letters etc. Send out!
10Macadamia choc truffles 1st ( )
11 Macadamia choc. Truffles 2nd ( )
12 Macadamia choc. Truffles 3rd ( )
13 Macadamia choc. Truffles 4th ( )
14. Macadamia choc. Truffles 5th( )
15. raspberry truffles 1st ( )
16. raspb. Truffles 2nd( )
17 Raspb. truffles.3rd ( )
18. Bake peppermint Biscotti and Raspb. Truffles 4th ( )
19. Bake almond biscotti. And raspb. Truffles 5th ( )
20. Bake sugar cookies 1-5 and store
21. Bake sugar cookies 6-10 and store
22.Flood and Detail work for snowflakes 1-5
23. flood and Detail work for snowflakes 6-10. Bake dog treats and store.
24 Christmas EVE Assemble bags, cards etc. and Freeze any persons goodies I will not see till later!
Where: Time: Bringing:
Christmas Treats 2012
|22 Finalize Christmas list||23 Correct spelling of everyone’s name and Mailing addresses||24 Buy all boxes, bags, and ingredients.||25 Make labels for treats and tags for bags.||26 Buy cards and stamps||27 Christmas Letters Finalize design and write a draft||28|
|29 PicturesSee if Krissy could take some photos of Brian and I||30 Snow flake sugar cookies 1st ( )||31 2nd ( )||1 3rd ( )||2 4th ( )||3 5th( )||4|
|5 6th( )||6 7th ( )||7 8th ( )||8 9th ( )||9 10th ( )||10 Hot chocolate mix 1st ( )||11|
|12 2nd( )||13 3rd( )||14 4th( )||15 5th ( )||16 6th ( )||17 Cappuccino fudge 1st ( )||18|
|19 2nd ( )||20 3rd ( )||21 4th ( )||22 5th( )||23 Peanut butter fudge 1st ( )||24 2nd ( )||25|
|26 3rd( )||27 almond Biscotti1st ( )||28 2nd ( )||293rd ( )||30 4th ( )||1 peppermint biscotti 1st ( )||2|
|3. 2nd ( )||4 3rd ( )||5 4th ( )||6 Dog biscuits1st ( )||7 2nd ( )||8 3rd ( )||9 org letters etc.Send out!|
|10Macadamia choc truffles 1st ( )||11 Macadamia choc. truffles 2nd ( )||12 Macadamia choc. truffles3rd ( )||13 Macadamia choc. truffles4th ( )||14. Macadamia choc. truffles5th( )||15. raspberry truffles1st ( )||16. raspb. truffles2nd( )|
|17Raspb. truffles.3rd ( )||18. Bake peppermint Biscotti
4th ( )
|19. Bake almond biscotti.raspb. truffles
5th ( )
|20. Bake sugar cookies 1-5 and store||21. Bake sugar cookies 6-10 and store||22.Flood and Detail work for snowflakes 1-5||23. flood and Detail work for snowflakes 6-10.Bake dog treats and store.|
|24 Assemble bags, cards etc.
Freeze any persons goodies I will not see till later!
|31:New Years EveWhere: