Friday Faves (Christmas Edition!)

1) Christmas Movies

And telling everyone on Instagram which ones I’m watching:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – the OG version!!

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (the best one!)

Not a movie, but watching the Rockefeller Tree Lighting + Highlights of SNL Christmas pasts is another favorite of mine!

Since December 1st (I’m not a CHRISTMAS STARTS AFTER THANKSGIVING kinda gal ;)), I’ve also watched Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Nightmare Before Christmas (I watch it every year between Halloween & Christmas!). Looking forward to watching It’s a Wonderful Life and I know that A Christmas Story will be playing throughout the day at my grandma’s house on Christmas.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

2) Baking Christmas Cookies

Well, this one is a given. I even told you all about my cookie making plans. I ended up making the first two doughs on Monday and putting them in the freezer until Wednesday (Best idea ever. Saved me a lot of time!), when I baked them up and made a 3rd batch of dough. I’m planning on making another 1-2 kinds of cookies this weekend AND some peppermint bark!

sugar cookie dough sugar cookies 2 sugar cookies pom cookies

Thank goodness for 4 day weekends!

tupperwarecookies

In these Tupperwares, you’ll find my Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies, Brown Eyed Baker’s Sugar Cookies (probably THE BEST sugar cookie recipe I’ve come across), and Two Peas in Their Pod’s Pomegranate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Also, I must add that I listen to Christmas music the entire time I’m baking. It helps keep the stress at bay!

What have you baked so far?

3) Making homemade gifts

So I knew my Christmas gift list, which only included my family and T-Man, would be costly. Because I didn’t want to stress myself out by buying too many gifts (especially since I don’t have a car to drive myself to whatever store I want), there are a few special someones in my life who are getting homemade edible gifts in jars!

homemade gift

When I was in college, my friend Lindsey handed out hot cocoa mixes in jars and I thought it was the cutest thing. When Ashley at Edible Perspective, one of my favorite blogs, started posting ideas for Gifts in Jars, I knew I had to do it! I’m not uploading any pictures of the finished product because some of the recipients are blog readers 🙂 But if you head over to Ashley’s blog you can see the #giftsinjars that a few bloggers (including me) came up with!

Have you ever gotten a gift in a jar?

4) Homemade gift wrap & tags

Oh man, I hope to 8 lb, 6 oz, Newborn Baby Jesus in his golden fleece diapers that I have enough time to do this sometime this weekend. I am most definitely going to wrap my presents using all our unused paper grocery bags…and with any luck, I’ll get my hands on some glitter glue and do something like this:

c/o A Cozy Kitchen

I love what Adrianna did here with the polka dots! And who doesn’t like some sparkles?!

Printable gift tags are something new I discovered this year, and I found a couple that I think are super cute:

c/o Emily McDowell/Poppytalk.blogspot.ca

How good would these look on brown bag wrapping?

c/o eatdrinkchic.com

And I just love the simplicity of these!

I was hoping to print these “Have a cookie!” gift bags for my cookie gifts, but I don’t think it’s in the stars. How adorable are the little flags though? Teri & Jenny over at Spoon Fork Bacon really outdid themselves with some super designs in that post!

5) Our tiny Christmas tree

tiny tree

My roomie and I have a pretty small/crowded apartment. But I think this tree fits juuuust right!

5) Being with family and friends

Yeah…I’m getting murdered for sharing this picture, haha.

Anyway, I’m finding that the stress of making baked goods and bringing gifts all kind of melts away the moment I actually arrive at my friends’ homes to celebrate. We went to a Kinda Classy Christmas party this weekend and I met up with three of my oldest friends last night, and it just feels good to enjoy the company of friends. I tend to start feeling more sentimental every year around this time, but after what happened exactly a week ago in Newtown, I think the feeling of gratefulness is just heightened this year.

And on that sappy note, here’s a sappier photo. Good luck with your last minute gifts and baking, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

IMG_1671

Christmas Cookie Brainstorming Sesh

Something my family (and probably yours too, I imagine) has always done every holiday season is gift giving in the form of baked goods. In addition to a seemingly never ending supply of cookies in our Christmas cookie tins, my mom always made loaves of cranberry bread for our teachers, and cookies for our neighbors. Always perfectly wrapped in cellophane, with perfect ribbon curls.

6 inch ribbon curls? That’s impossible.

So it makes sense that I’ve followed in my mom’s footsteps: I would rather give baked goods to lots of different friends, than personalized gifts to only a few. Okay, okay, lest you think I am a cheapskate, I still give gifts to my family and some close friends.

I’m also part of a group of 10 friends that does a Secret Santa drawing every year, so I get one gift for whichever name I draw, and bring cookies to our gift exchange to serve as a gift for the rest of the group, haha. And the group is mostly guys, so it all gets eaten up REAL quickly. This year, I am actually probably going to host the gift exchange (it is on Christmas Eve morning, so I’ve got all kinds of holiday brunch ideas floating in my head already), but more on that later.

Today I’d like to share some of my favorite goodies to include on my cookie tray, and open it up to you the readers to weigh in and share your favorites as well! Call it a virtual cookie swap, a brainstorming sesh, or what have you. Without further ado…

joanna peppermint bark

Peppermint Bark

A true holiday classic. And it’s best made by my best friend Joanna (see photo above, taken by her lucky roommate, my dear friend Alex). The best part is, it’s super easy. All you have to know how to do is temper chocolate!

Pomegranate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod

I made these cookies last weekend and O-M-G. I knew immediately that I would be making them again as Christmas goodies. I made 2 dozen…the first dozen was almost immediately gobbled down by us and the two couples we were with. The other dozen, which I brought back to T-Man’s house, quickly disappeared. About a day later, his roommate came up to me and was like, “So, uh, Katie… Are you going to make those cookies again?” I wasn’t even offended by the notion that he expected me (the female) to make him (the male) cookies. Because the answer was a resounding, “HELL YEAH!”

I’m also thinking about making this dough with different mix-ins. I bought some peppermint white chocolate M&Ms at Target this weekend and am definitely going to incorporate them into a recipe!

Lemon shortbread squares

My famous Lemon Shortbread Squares

I found this recipe on FoodNetwork.com two years ago and have been making it ever since. Shortbread infused with lemon zest, covered in a lemon glaze….Seriously, nothing could be better. It’s one of my all-time favorite dessert recipes!

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Every year, I throw together a batch of sugar cookies and have fun destroying decorating them. But let’s be honest, the above is a stolen photo. My cookies usually look like this:

Sugar cookies

If I have time this year, I may actually make my own royal icing and use this tutorial from Brown Eyed Baker to do some fancy decorating. That’s a big IF though 🙂

And that’s all I have so far cookie-wise!

I’m also thinking of gifts that I can put in jars, such as spiced or candied nuts, or candied citrus peels (see here or here for my inspiration!)

And I am planning on making this drool-worthy coffee cake from Joy the Baker at least twice.

What cookies and goodies do you love to bake and gift at this time of year?